Bunratty Castle (Caisleán Bhun Raithe or Castle at the Mouth of the Ratty)

Bunratty Castle


Location: Bunratty Map

Constructed: 1425 by MacNamara family

Tel. 061- 360 788
Bus: from Limerick, Ennis & Shannon Airport

Open: 9:30am- 5:30pm daily (Jul- Aug: 9am- 6pm)
Closed: Good Friday, Dec. 24- 26


Present structure of Bunratty Castle was constructed in 1425 by MacNamara family. Although the first motte and bailey castle was constructed here in 1270 by Robert De Muscegros. However due to strategic location and constant warfare and invasions military fortifications were built and subsequently destroyed. Bunratty Castle did not escape the same fate. In the nineteenth century Studdert family that owned the castle at the time left in disrepair and its structure along with surrounding area were used by Royal Irish Constabulary (Irish police). In 1954 Bunratty Castle was bought and restored by 7th Viscount Gort. Today it is famous for its medieval banquets held here.


At the place where Bunratty Castle was built later, around 970, there was a trading place of the Vikings.

The first wooden fortress at this place was built in 1250 by the Norman Robert de Muscegros. 20 years later, Thomas de Clare, to whom the lands were awarded, built a stone castle in the same place. At that time, the town of Bunratty had already 1000 inhabitants. Under the son of Richard de Clare, the castle and the place were completely destroyed during Irish-Norman battles in 1318. It was rebuilt immediately under the direction of the king of England. But already in 1332 she fell victim to the troops of the Irish O'briens and MacNamaras. A new building was built on the ruins 21 years later in 1353 by Sir Thomas Rokeby. Almost immediately after its completion, it was also attacked and subsequently in Irish hands.

The architecture of the fourth building was completed in 1425 by the MacNamaras, but already 50 years later the castle passed into the hands of the powerful O'brien clan from Munster.

During the war of the three kingdoms (Munsters) allowed Barnaby O'brien, Earl of Thomond, British parliamentary garrison to land in Bunratty. The castle was besieged by troops of the Confederate Ireland and, eventually, took. Henry VIII of England gave the title of Earl of Thomond of the O'brien family as a thank you for their loyalty. However, their rule came to an end with the arrival of Oliver Cromwell's troops in 1646.

In 1690, all Irish nobles were expropriated and deprived of power, so that the castle fell into the hands of the British government. Until 1804, it was leased to Protestants from Great Britain (Plantation families), who were specifically located in Catholic Ireland on large estates. Later they moved to the comfortable Bunratty House, which was built by the Studderts family in 1804. The castle remained uninhabited and collapsed, for example, at the end of the 19th century the roof collapsed. In 1950, Lord Gort acquired Bunratty Castle and had it restored in the original style with the support of the state. Bunratty Castler has been open to the public since 1960.