Bunratty Castle and Folk Park deserves at least half a day. Which half really depends on the age of your children.
If your kids are young, as Brenna was when we visited, I would suggest making this your morning stop. Explore the castle, wander through the folk park and let the kids run off their energy at the wonderful castle playground.
If your kids are older- and not picky eaters- I suggest making this your afternoon and evening entertainment and joining the festivities at the Medieval Banquet. I really enjoyed the banquet on my first trip to Ireland (I was single at the time and went alone- just me, a car & a map) and highly recommend it.
Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 and restored in 1954 and contains 15th and 16the century furnishings, art and tapestries. You are allowed to wander through the castle at your own pace. It is possible to climb to the roof of the castle and look out over the “kingdom”.
Just keep in mind that anything above the main level is centuries old and therefore accessible only by very narrow,very steep, very windy steps. If your kids aren’t walking don’t forget your carriers.
The Bunratty Folk Park is a fabulous adventure for the whole family. Filled with examples of Irish homes, shops and a village there is plenty to explore. Many of the buildings were disassembled at their original locations and rebuilt at Bunratty; you really get a feel of what Irish life was like from medieval times until quite recently.
The village is “fully functioning” with costumed performers going about their “lives”. It includes a school, a doctor, a pub, pawnbroker, printer and post office- to list just a few. Be prepared to stop and chat with both the “citizens” of Bunratty as well as other visitors. And don’t forget to take time to sample the fresh baked items in the Tea Room or a pint at the pub.
If you like to garden- or just enjoy looking at a beautiful garden- don’t miss the Bunratty Walled Garden, modeled after gardens of the Regency era. It is beautifully laid out and a joy to wander through.
If the Medieval Banquet isn’t on your agenda but you would like to have an Irish Experience you might enjoy the Traditional Irish Night. This evening is not so formal as the banquet but no less enjoyable.