Monday, November 11, 2013

Bunratty Castle, Ireland

Bunratty Castle is the site of two previous castles. In 1251 a wooden fort was built here which was upgraded to stone in 1277. Another castle was built in 1353. The current castle dates from 1450. In the 1500s and 1600s it was the base of the O'Briens, kings and (when Ireland had one king) earls of northern Munster. Admiral Penn was besieged here in 1646; his son William (founder of Pennsylvania) was an infant at the castle. By 1700 it was deserted after Ireland lost the wars with Cromwell and William of Orange.

The current castle is entered through a massive door. The courtyard is defended by several pieces of artillery that probably don't work anymore.

Bunratty Castle

Massive front door

Guns for defense

Visitors can peek in the basement for a few exhibits about the history of the castle and some bits of storage. It was probably used as a store room or a stable.

Storage in the basement

After climbing a wooden staircase, visitors enter through a small hall into the Main Guard, the large hall where soldiers and the Earl's retainers would congregate and dine. The wall has a small window through which the Earl could listen to conversations. It was probably covered by a tapestry, allowing for eavesdropping.

Main Guard

Earl's-eye view of Main Guard

Just off this hall is the Captain's Quarters, where the head of the soldiers would keep himself a bit apart from the regular ranks.

Captain's Quarters

Captain's business suit

A small kitchen storage room, like a modern day pantry, also serves the hall.

Storage for the Main Guard

On the next floor is the Great Hall, where the Earl would hold audiences and banquets. If he was consulted on local matters, it happened here. The oak cupboard dates from 1570.

Great Hall

16th century cabinet

Just above here is a private chapel for the Earl, as well as his bedroom, which may have suffered from overly exuberant decorating.

Earl's chapel

Earl's bedchamber

Earl's questionable taste in light fixtures

Earl's scientific equipment

Earl's fireplace

The public chapel is a bit more decorated and a bit larger. A nearby clock probably helped keep services running on time.

Public chapel

Statues and paintings

A naked clock!

The earl also had a private pantry, which could have been a servant's quarters or a kitchen. I prefer to think it was a snack area.

Earl's pantry

A small and winding staircase led to the roof of the fort. As we climbed, my wife was worried. J reassured her, "Believe in God and hold on to the handrail."

Winding stairs!

The views were quite worth it.

Roof view of the roof

View of the river

The modern highway

More roof

We saw another couple of bedrooms, either for guests or special guests. The decor is similar to other rooms.

Vesting room for priests

Guest bedroom

Bedroom for more important guests

The South Solar is an office for visiting guests and made me wish I was a guest.

South Solar

Another tight staircase led us out of the castle and on to the rest of the estate.

Back of the castle

The castle is part of a larger folk park which we will explore in the coming blog posts!

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