Last Day with The Band
Today is our last full day traveling with Father Son and Friends on their 2018 Road Agents Tour of Ireland. For this, we are spending a special day at Bunratty Castle, touring the grounds, checking in to our nearby hotel, and then returning in the evening for a Medieval Banquet as our final meal together as one group.
Bunratty (Caisleán Bhun Raithe) is majestic 15th century Bunratty Castle that has been renovated within the last hundred years and establishes as one of the leading tourist destinations in the region. Before the stone structure that still stands today, there were wooden castles and towers built on the same site, but they had been burned down of overtaken as time had passed. The fourth castle, the present structure, was built by the MacNamara family after around 1425, and then around 1500, Bunratty Castle came into the hands of the O’Briens (or O’Brians), the most powerful clan in Munster and later Earls of Thomond. They expanded the site and eventually made it their chief seat, moving it there from Ennis. it passed through the hands and ownership of many through the next few centuries, until in 1956, when the castle was purchased and restored by the 7th Viscount Gort, with assistance from the Office of Public Works. He reroofed the castle and saved it from ruin. The castle was opened to the public in 1960, sporting furniture, tapestries and works of art dating to around 1600, all from Gort’s private collections.
One of the events this castle is known for is the medieval dinners they serve, complete with music and Our meal for the night was served with plate-ware and a knife. Anything you would have eaten with a fort or a spoon was slurped from a bowl or picked up with your fingers. It was actually really fun to eat in such a primal sort of way. I will have to keep that in mind for future friend and family dinners.
The menu for the evening was as follows:
- Bunratty Mead
- Spiced Parsnip Soup
- Spare Ribs with Honey & Whiskey Sauce
- Pan Fried supreme of Chicken with Fresh Garden Vegetables and Baby Roast Potato topped with a Bordelaise Sauce
- Rastin Bramley Apple & Cinnamon Crunch, Chantilly Cream
- Followed by Coffee or Tea
As we were leaving the dinner, a bagpiper was playing in the courtyard below. We stood and listened to him play for a bit and then tipped him on our way back to the bus. At the hotel, our whole group was asked to gather in the hotel bar, where we celebrated the birthdays of two of the women in our group, carving up a huge cake and passing pieces around to everyone, including strangers at the bar who were offered what extra cake was left. The band brought down their instruments for one final jam session, and everyone took turns talking to people for a few more minutes here and there. We knew that with getting up early and heading to the airport, the chance to talk more after tonight was slim. The band played crowd favorites ( I sang Carrickfergus with them once more) and songs from the new album, and when we came to the end of the night, “the crowd went wild” one last time, and we all took off to repack and sleep to prepare for the long day ahead.