Bunratty… and a Few Rest Days

They say it never rains but it pours. Well it’s pouring now and it’s been raining for a few days. We had seen the weather forecast and planned accordingly. First we thought we’d head off to visit Bunratty Castle. After this we planned a few days driving along The Wild Atlantic Way, after all it is a driving tour! However, life had other plans for us.

The 15th century Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentic castle in Ireland. The site it stands on what was originally a Viking trading camp built in 970 and the present structure is the last of four castles that have been built here. We bought our tickets online again. It saves a lot of time at the cash desk and they had a separate queue for online tickets. We first headed off to the castle.

There was a large group ahead of us, following actors who were explaining about life in the castle. We decided to jump ahead and miss the presentation, it meant we could explore the other sections of the castle alone and return later to those rooms when the crowds had gone; it was a good plan!

The entire site is really well presented. There are lots of displays of life throughout the ages, Cottages and houses and farms from different ages and within each homestead there are lots of folks in costume, who are happy to chat with you as you meander around the castle and the grounds. There is also a little village full of cottages and shops, again with villagers all dressed in their original finery to show how life would have been over the last few centuries. Set on 26 acres of unspolit Clare countryside, Bunratty Folk Park features over 30 buildings in a ‘living’ village and rural setting.

Rural farmhouses, village shops and streets are recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at that time according to their social standing, from the poorest one roomed dwelling to Bunratty House a fine example of a Georgian residence built 1804 home of the Studdarts, the last family to occupy Bunratty Castle.

At times it felt like we were in Devon with cob whitewashed cottages with thatched roofs and at other times I could have easily been walking through the Galician countryside in Spain. Its amazing how these green Celtic places all feel so similar.

The walled garden was a bit of a highlight for us. I would love to have a house with a walled garden, although I travel so much I don’t think it would look as quite as good as this one! So what started as a wet weather day to fill time, just because we couldn’t go walking, ended up being a long gentle stroll through lovely grounds and open countryside and not a drop of rain fell on us; albeit we were under a cold grey sky.

We stopped for a pub lunch, Gerry found alcohol free Guinness but sadly no GF beer for me. The lunch was ok but a bit overpriced and touristy and whilst we ate the heavens had opened and it rained and rained and rained. We decided to curtail any further walking and headed homewards.

The following morning we planned to head off on more travels but as we made ready for the day disaster struck. Gerry “tweaked” his back, which translates as he can’t move and will need to stay in bed for at least a day or two. I got him into bed and brought him his laptop so that he could as least do some work… and yes I know he’s retired but there is still a few loose ends to finish. I decided to spend some time planning our future adventures because no matter how much we want things to change, we both know that there’s nothing we can do but wait it out. But waiting it out would have been too simple for us.

I suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I cannot eat any gluten nor can I tolerate any kind of animal milk or milk products. I am very very careful with what I eat. Occasionally I know I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t have, but I don’t recall that happening so far on this trip. However sometimes it doesn’t need food to cause a flare. It just happens. And by mid afternoon I knew that we had a storm approaching.

Things got worse as day turned to evening and in the end we had no choice but to call a doctor. This was a bad flare. She decided I needed to be in hospital and called an ambulance. So whilst Gerry was stuck in bed, alone in the house and unable to move, I was driven off to Limerick hospital where I was attached to a drip and monitored for 24 hours until the storm passed.

This wasn’t the holiday we planned but at least we were both on the road to recovery, no real harm done and both very much looking forward to getting back to exploring again!

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