The main event this day was Bunratty Castle and its Folk Park.
An overall view of the castle.
|Photo from Wikimedia Commons|
We marched in across the drawbridge.
Two guides showed us through the large rooms in the castle, and we toured the smaller rooms by ourselves.
None of the furnishings are original to the times, but not to the castle. The contents were sold off and scattered long ago when the castle was abandoned. The building has been restored from a ruin.
The large table shown here is 500 years old and its top is made from a single piece of wood. The photo shows only a part of the table; it's about 30 feet long.
Some objects made their way from the far corners of the world to the wealthy, even in the middle ages. This medieval bell is from China.
Chandeliers made from antlers and a figure of a woman were common at this time; this castle has at least two.
Figures like this were supposed to protect from evil spirits.
Various rooms in the castle, including one with another of the antlers-and-woman chandeliers.
A view of one of the turrets from atop another turret.
A grand view of the countryside from one of the turrets.
The stairs are spiral, narrow, steep, and uneven. Did I mention that they are treacherous? We wondered how they got some of the furniture in.
One of the rooms of the lord of the manor.
A view from the garden just outside, and a couple of the roses in the garden.
The Folk Park on the castle grounds presents life as the peasantry would have lived and worked. This thatched cottage was home to a fisherman and his family, apparently, based on the boats and fishing gear in the side yard. An unexpected blue color, but surely it's appropriate. Note that every decoration in the bedroom is religious.
Chickens have the run of the area where the cottages are.
The bed chamber in another cottage. Again, all of the ornamentation is religious. This was not true in a prosperous farmer's house also in the Folk Park. There, pictures and tapestries were secular.
I understand putting "Handmade in Ireland" on textiles and other craft objects, but this one seemed to be stretching it a bit. I spent too long taking pictures, so I had to grab lunch from the tea room.
We next visited Coole Park, a large country estate. It was the home of Lady Augusta Gregory, a prominent figure in the literary life of Ireland. She was co-founder of the Abbey Theatre along with Edward Martyn and William Butler Yeats. Many writers visited her estate, including especially Yeats. The manor house no longer exists; it was demolished early in the 20th century. The estate is now a nature preserve.
The estate's gardens still exist, and contain a large copper beech called the Autograph Tree. Many of Ireland's literary lights carved their initials into the tree's bark, and they can still be seen today.
Coole Park's café appears to have been converted from a stables building.
This was an interesting structure, or what remains of one. The holes in the top of the walls look like birdhouses. Perhaps it was some massive sort of dovecote.
We saw this family of deer as we walked to the site of the house.
These steps formed part of the main walk leading to the front door of the house.
The rock walls mark the location of the house's foundations. It was quite a large structure.
The Autograph Tree is inside a walled garden.
The tree itself, surrounded by a protective fence.
Some of the writers' initials can be difficult to make out, but not those of George Bernard Shaw.
Not far from Coole Park we visited Thoor Ballylee, a 13th-century Norman tower in which Yeats and his family lived during the 1920s. He paid only £35 for the property, a price which is probably not attainable today.
Then it was on to our hotel in Galway. We all had a great dinner at McSwiggan's Restaurant.
Here's the path of our trip today.
And here's where the photos were taken.
Tomorrow we're in The Burren and see the Cliffs of Moher.