King John's Castle

Two Castles to admire

Summer in Ireland. During this time many tourists delight in some of the lovely places where we make a living. Including Limerick, the third biggest city in Ireland. There are many pretty spots for people to enjoy in this city, like beautiful churches, shops, markets and parks. Then there are two castles – one in the city and one on the outskirts – to admire. Very unique and special.

The city LimerickLuimneach – was founded by the Vikings in 922 when they sailed up the Shannon estuary and established a colony there. Some 200 years later – in 1194 – the Normans entered the city. The Cathedral of St Mary and King John’s Castle both date from this period.  This original Viking City is almost 1100 years old and is also the place where the longest river in Ireland, the Shannon River, ends and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.  In a previous blog post I wrote about how the historical age of the Cathedrals, castles, ruins and stone walls wherever you go in Ireland really takes your breath away.

King John’s Castle

Recently I visited King John’s Castle with a friend. The Castle with its five drum towers, gatehouse, battlegrounds and solid walls is a pretty beautiful site.

King John’s Castle still has many of its original features, which made its structure really exceptional for the day.  It is named after John, King of England (before Lord of Ireland), who succeeded his brother, King Richard, also known as Richard the Lionheart. John, evidently one of the worst English kings, was however a formidable force in battle. He was apparently also the first King of England since the Norman conquest, who could speak English.

Also the castle is within walking distance from the city centre, so you have no excuse to not go there when visiting the city. You also walk past the castle when you do the popular Three Bridges Walking route in Limerick.

Bunratty Castle

Another castle close to Limerick (between Limerick and Ennis) and one we’ve frequented often over the years, is Bunratty Castle. This castle is in County Clare and really a lovely spot to enjoy a day out.  Not only can you enjoy this magnificent Castle, but there is a whole folk park surrounding the castle to explore. Bring a picnic or enjoy the tearooms while strolling through the grounds.

Bunratty Castle

In 1250 the beginnings of the Castle started. Around 1425 the MacNamara family built the present structure  with the O’Brien clan taking it over around 1475.  More than 30 buildings are incorporated in the Bunratty Folk Park which makes it almost a ‘living’ village and rural setting. These include examples of rural farmhouses housing the poorest to the richest, as well as village shops and streets recreated and furnished as from old.

Activities include a pet farm, a walled garden, the village street, tearooms and many more. And then there are other activities like the world famous Medieval Banquet where you encounter a unique experience dining in the iconic setting of the Great Hall of Bunratty Castle.  You enjoy a glass of mead while listening to medieval music. After that you savour an extensive four course meal, while still appreciating medieval music. And having recently experience this banquet I can assure you, you will definitely not go hungry.  Be aware, you have to behave …

Getting a glass of Mead before the banquet starts

Until next time.

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