Bunratty (Irish: Bun na Raite, meaning "End of the Raite river") is a small village in the parish of Newmarket on Fergus in County Clare, Ireland. It is located right next to a major tourist attraction, Bunratty Castle, on the N18 connecting Limerick to Galway. The Raite river flows into the Shannon estuary to the south of the village.
Between ca. 1250 and 1355, Bunratty was the site of three castles that were destroyed in the fighting between the Normans/English and the local Irish. In the late 13th century, Bunrattty had about 1,000 inhabitants. The current Bunratty Castle was built by the MacNamara family in the early part of the 15th century. It later became property of the O'Briens, who eventually made it their principal seat as Earls of Thomond. In the early 18th century it came into the possession of the Studdert family who built Bunratty House in 1804.
Bunratty village had reached it peak in 1804. At the time, Bunratty Bridge was the largest single arched bridge in the country. Throughout the famine years, Bunratty's population fell into decline. For some time in the mid-19th century, the castle was used as a barracks by the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Bunratty has the distinction of being the location of the death of the last British soldier to die in Clare during the Irish War of Independence. Private William Reginald Williams of the Royal Welch Fusiliers was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident on 7 July 1921, just four days before both sides came to a truce. Though Williams' body was never recovered, a Commonwealth War Grave in his memory lies in the north-east corner of the old Bunratty graveyard adjacent to the Bunratty Castle Hotel.[page needed].
In the 1950s, Bunratty’s most prominent structure, the then ruined Bunratty Castle, attracted the attention of John Hunt, Lord Gort and the Irish Government. The castle was extensively renovated and opened to the public in 1960. Although Bunratty Castle thrived, becoming a major draw for early transatlantic tourists, the village population continued to decline.
Today, the village does not have many permanent residents and is not counted as a village in its own right in the Irish Census. Bunratty village caters mainly to tourists visiting Bunratty Castle and the Bunratty Folk Park. Prior to the construction of the N18 bypass, the main road from Limerick and Shannon Airport to Ennis passed through the village.
Besides Durty Nellys, styling itself as one of Ireland's oldest pubs, there are a number of other pubs/restaurants. The village also provides accommodation in the form of hotels and bed&breakfasts. Several shops also cater to the needs of travellers and tourists.
- Ryan, William Gerrard (1979). "A Survey of Monuments of Archaeological and Historical Interest in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, Co. Clare, Part 4: Castles and tower houses c.1500, Chapter 33: Bunratty Parish". Clare Library. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- Lynch, Christopher (1977), "Bunratty Castle - a short history", The Other Clare 1: 17–18
- "Landed estates database: Bunratty House". NUI Galway. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "Landed estates database: Bunratty Castle". NUI Galway. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- Ó Ruairc, Pádraig Óg, Blood on the Banner: The Republican Struggle in Clare (Cork, 2009)
- "Landed estates database: Studdert (Bunratty)". NUI Galway. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- Village website
- National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: Bunratty Castle
- National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: Bunratty Bridge
- National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: Bunratty House
- National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: Bunratty Castle Hotel