Day 2 in Ireland began with a slightly sore head and vague recollections of stalking cute Irish boys around bars! Once we’d had another lovely breakfast we began our (almost) full second day of being tourists!
During our flight over to Shannon, I’d seen an advert for Blarney castle and decided I really wanted to go because I love castles! I didn’t realise it was about 2 hours from where we were so was a no go on this trip. Seeing as our flight home was later that evening, we didn’t want to risk potentially missing our flight! As a compromise, our host took us to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.
Now, Bunratty Castle is a proper touristy cheesy thing to do but I love shit like that! It’s basically a medieval castle originally built in the 1400s and a load of replica buildings that demonstrate life in Ireland in the past. There’s a school house, a pub, a mill, hardware shop plus houses for varying classes of society. There’s people dressed up and all the sights, sounds and smells so you can get a better idea of life back in the day!
It was slightly expensive, something like 15 euros, but if you like history or a bit of a cheesy tourist attraction, then it’s worth a visit. It’s somewhere I’d take a school trip if I was teaching Ireland in the 19th century!
Once we’d seen all the folk park, we headed over to Bunratty castle itself. Shannon Heritage’s website has informed me that the site of Bunratty castle was originally a viking trading camp in 970. Several castles or fortresses have been built on that site, with the current one being the fourth. The present fortress was originally built in 1425 by the MacNamara family and was owned by various families throughout history. The castle was bought by Viscount Lord Gort in 1954 who restored it to it’s present state and has been open to the public since.
Inside the castle are various tapestries and furnishings which show it’s medieval origins. I personally find medieval history fascinating so, for me, the castle was worth the trip! You can go up the turrets and through various winding staircases to find different rooms. I think they also hold regular medieval banquets where you get to experience a four course traditional medieval meal complete with a goblet of mead! I would love to join in with this festivity!
Once we’d had enough of the castle (and after I forgot to stoop to go through a doorway so bashed my head on a concrete wall! I seriously thought I would have concussion!) we crossed the street to visit the world famous Durty Nelly’s pub.
There’s a fantastic story about who Durty Nelly was which I really hope is true! Read it on Durty Nelly’s website. Inside, it’s a traditional pub, with dark, wooden beams and chairs, how a pub should be! The walls are filled with foreign currency and Tshirts from visitors (mainly American!). Whilst we were there, a group of elderly people asked me to take a photo of them. It turns out that the two couples used to be best friends, but one couple moved to Canada years ago. They’d come over to visit and it was the first time they’d seen each other for something like 40/50 years! Amazing!
Obviously, Durty Nelly’s is popular and busy! And as with a lot of touristy places, it may be a tad expensive but I suppose your paying for the privilege of being there and the history. It’s not extortionate, just more than you may pay in a similar, less well known establishment.
After our pit stop in the pub, it was sadly time to head to the airport. *sad face*
Shannon airport was really strange. When we initially checked in, it was so quiet, we were practically the only ones there but as soon as we got through security, into duty free, there were literally hundreds of people! Bizarre! Also, there were hundreds of American military personnel in uniform waiting for flights so it became a bit of a joke that we always see American armed forces on holiday! Whilst we were in Cairns, there were 1,000 marines based there as they were training with the Australian marines. We’d see them in the evenings, play flip cup, have a chat and then they’d have to disappear by midnight, like macho Cinderella’s! They REALLY wouldn’t break their curfews!
The final hurdle was boarding that tiny plane with propellers to make our way back to rainy Manchester! Luckily it was possibly the smoothest flight I’ve ever been on! Good job!
I’d had a lovely weekend in the gorgeous Emerald Isle! Can’t wait to go back!