Caisleán Bhun Raithe
, meaning "Castle at the Mouth of the Ratty". In 1220 the first fortress was built on the current location of the castle, but years of war and disuse turned it to ruin. In 1954 it was restored to the castle we see today, and even offers a dinner banquet so you can pretend to live in medieval times. Alongside the castle is an extensive folk park, featuring reconstructions of historical cottages and buildings, recreating the general feel of the 19th century, The Folk Park shows life in all classes from around Ireland throughout recent history and is basically a living museum. After walking through and up and down, I think I would have preferred the peasant housing over the castle - too many winding staircases. I can't imagine how the servants carried food and water all over that place! And heating brings up even more issues.
After spending an enjoyable day at the castle we drove to Limerick where we were staying the night
. For a little bit of rock and roll history - this is where the band The Cranberries came from. Our hotel was right on the River Shannon, so we decided to walk along the river into town to see the sights. Surprise - another castle awaited us! The castle on the River Shannon is King John's Castle. It was closed when we got there, and having just spent quite a bit of time in Bunratty we weren't too disappointed. Either these castles in Ireland are a lot older than the English ones we went in or the Irish were just a no frills people, because they were not warm and cozy. And then when you compare them to the ones we saw in Germany, well there's just no comparison. Nowhere do you have the ornate wood carving or the gilt and paintings you see in Bavarian castles. It's very interesting to see how different they all are. We walked around the town taking in the scenery and, of course, taking pictures. I love the way the ivy grows on the outside of the homes here - that and the colored doors make it look so inviting.
Since we didn't have the same interests in for dinner, we split up and went looking for food. We checked several pubs that were either closed or just not what we wanted. I'm ashamed to say our first meal in Ireland was Burger King. We were going to keep this a secret, but after a lengthy back and forth of "but where did YOU eat" we caved. The best part is while we ate at Burger King, they ate at Papa Johns. However, there's is not as sad as ours since they don't have that type of food in Germany and were really wanting an American pizza which we can get any time.
Our first stop after landing at the Shannon airport was Bunratty Castle, or if you understand Gaelic -