Friday, August 7, 2009

Shannon, Bunratty Castle and a Medieval Banquet

We were up at 5:00 a.m. and then flew from London to Dublin to Shannon. We were met in Shannon by a lovely man from Royal Irish Tours who escorted us and four other Canadians to the hotel.

Here is Bunratty Castle Hotel, our stay for the first night of our tour. Our room wasn't ready so we went off in search of some lunch.

Along the way we found this sign, which of course made me think of (in your best Scottish brogue), "Ye take the high road, and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye!"

We ended up at Durty Nelly's, a well-known pub in the area.

It almost looks like I'm drinking Guinness, but you know for sure that it's Jim's!

A lovely Irish saying...

We decided to walk to Bunratty Castle and do a tour. The dwellings on this site were part of a Viking trading camp in 970 A.D. The castle was built in 1425 by the O'Brien's, kings and later earls of Thomond. It fell into ruin in the 18th century and was restored in 1960s. It is now a thriving tourist attraction.

The castle grounds include Bunratty Folk Park, a living reconstruction of the homes and environment of Ireland over a century ago. Farmhouses, shops, and streets, and the Bunratty House have been recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at the time.

This is a typical small fisher-farming folk house. The thatch is roped down to protect it against the Atlantic gales.

Jim and Kim at the castle...

The village bobby...

One of the streets in the reconstructed village, complete with old bicycles.

A deer grazing on the grounds of Bunratty House. The house is typical of a late Georgian dwelling, built in 1805. It would have been occupied by minor gentry at the time.

Here is the Church of Ireland, moved stone by stone from Ardcroney and recreated in the park.

The walled garden at the Bunratty House.

After the tour, we headed back to the hotel and sat outside enjoying the rare sunshine. It was a beautiful day!

After meeting up with Joe, our tour guide, we headed back to the Castle for our medieval banquet. At the Castle, we were greeted by an Irish(!) piper and directed to the Great Room. Now that's a crazy walk up an old, steep spiral staircase. You wouldn't want to meet anyone coming down!

We were handed a glass of mead and listened to the music of the King's court.

By now it's almost 9:00 p.m. and the wine and mead is going to our heads!! Here I am with Pat and Marlyn from Saskatchewan. Slainte!! (Cheers!)

After the reception, we headed back down the windy staircase to have dinner. Ah, dinner at last! However, no forks or spoons...only a knife. So we slurped delicious soup from the bowl and stabbed ribs, chicken and vegetables and ate them with our fingers. It was so good!!

We were serenaded by our servers during the meal. The main male singer was quite a character. If he caught anyone in the audience looking at their cell phone or Blackberry, he would mimic them and make faces so everyone could find the culprit!

We were soon singing "No, Nay, Never!" which got louder with each chorus.

Here we are with our tummies full and our heads buzzing with mead. Rather like the olden days!

After a wonderful evening, we opted to walk back to our hotel rather than take the bus. This lovely picture of the Castle at night ended our first day in Ireland..

1 comment:

Stephanie and Randy Build First Canoe said...

Is it just me, or does the woman in the foreground of the first video look a lot like Jennifer? Look forward to following your travels.