This summer has been all about the ‘staycation’ for us. When the sun shines (and let’s be honest, even when it doesn’t!) Ireland is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There is so much to explore on this little island of ours. When it comes to fun-filled days out with the kids, sometimes there are some true gems right under our noses! For me, Bunratty is somewhere that I always visited as a child and I have incredibly fond memories of summer days spent exploring the castle and folk park. Lots has changed since the days of my youth, and now Bunratty has more than ever to keep the kids entertained, informed and enchanted!
Bunratty is situated on the main Galway to Limerick road and very close to where I grew up in Co.Clare. The castle itself is, by all means, impressive and what lies around it, equally so. The park is set up in such a way that kids have the freedom to run ahead and explore in a fun, engaging and educational setting with incredible things to see in every direction. My boys are young (age 4, 2.5yrs and just 8 months) and yet there was something for each of them to enjoy.
Highlights from around the park at Bunratty
The playground was a big hit with each of the boys! With swings to suit every age, adventurous slides, climbing frames and bridges. Plenty of green space for a picnic blanket for Andy to sit and watch and a moveable digger in the sand kept the 2 year old happy.
Pa’s Pet Farm
This is a new addition to the park since our last visit and it was absolutely brilliant! Lot’s of informative posters and facts about the animals which was a nice touch. The barn itself was set up really well and gave the boys the opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals! We got to rub some lovely black sheep and befriended a gorgeous calf during our visit.
The Fairy Trail
I have yet to discover a fairy trail in Ireland as magical as the one the fairies in Bunratty have created! It is truly magical and now has been extended to cover quite a large area throughout the park which kept the boys engaged and entertained. They loved looking out for the numbered plaques along the route and we used our fairy trail map & guide which we received on arrival to navigate our way. The detail was really beyond brilliant, from treetop dwellings to toadstools and wishing wells, they were captivated from beginning to end!
It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer size of the castle. It is an absolutely incredible structure which has clearly been lovingly restored and preserved to allow visitors to soak up an incredible period in history. Luke (aged 4) really enjoyed the ‘thrones’, seeing the dungeons and different rooms around the castle. We bravely made the climb to the top turret of the castle and got to enjoy amazing views of the surrounding landscape. The steps are steep and winding and so for younger kids, they definitely do need a little help from an adult (says the woman who decided it was a good idea to wear the baby whilst helping the 4-year-old up the 100+ steps!!!).
The Main Street (Shops & School)
The main street of the village is steeped with character. It really feels like you are stepping back in time strolling down the cobbled streets. The boys enjoyed ducking in and out of the little shops, seeing what was on offer. The schoolhouse at the end of the street is always good for a laugh, the headmaster gave us a big spiel about the goings-on in the classroom back in the day and the boys were well entertained (and possibly a little terrified!!!)
The Walled Garden
Whether you’re a green-fingered god or clueless novice when it comes to the world of flora (like myself!) the walled garden is a sea of colour, and frankly, it would be hard not to be impressed! I really enjoyed taking photos of the boys hiding behind the flowers and running through the paths.
Planning your trip
- There are lots of little stops along the way to pick up a nice slice of cake, sandwich, coffee or ice-cream. The food and drink around the park is very reasonably priced. I was really delighted to see lot’s of local produce on offer including Adare Farm ice-cream (which I must warn you is dangerously nice!). We brought a few bits in our picnic basket too to keep us going (my kids are partial to constantly eating). We then stopped off at the lovely tea rooms at the halfway mark for some Babychinos, scones and cake.
- We visited the park early in the day (arriving at 11) and as the day went on it obviously got busier. So as I say with any family day out, it’s always best to get in early!
- There was loads of parking very close by the entrance to the park. The park is very buggy friendly. The only place that was not buggy accessible was the castle itself. I put Andy in the baby-carrier and parked the buggy in the basement of the castle which was perfect.
- It’s worth noting that there is 10% off admission if you book online on www.bunrattycastle.ie