Askeaton friary - just a few km from Bunratty
The Franciscan Friary of Askeaton was founded at the end of the 14th century and you will be able to get there easily from Bunratty.No entrance-fee and no further restrictions, just walk into the abbey-ruins and take a look on your own:
Askeaton Friary still shows some great cloisters with a total length of 60 meters, carved out from limestone, some beautiful transepts, the east window, the carving of St Francis and the chapter room, which is the final resting place of two Irish martyrs. Some Earls of Desmond are buried in the abbey as well. Like many other abbeys in Ireland Askeaton Abbey was destroyed several times but always rebuilt again untill it had burned down in 1847.
Askeaton is in County Limerick, in order to get there take road N69 and drive into the west of the town of Limerick.
In the South Solar and in the Great Hall, look up. You will see a leuchterweilben, flamboyant female characters and deer antlers, used as chandeliers with a difference. As the name suggests, they are of German origin.
Bunratty Castle Folk Park
Set in the village, there is a school, which I found interesting.
Written onto the chalkboard was an interesting description of what was known as “hedge schools”. Evidently, the penal laws of 1700 forbade Catholics from going to school. This led to “hedge schools” which was, basically, a shed or shelter from the weather constructed inside a hedge or ditch, at which Catholic children would get some schooling from a hedge schoolmaster. Parents would have to pay the hedge schoolmaster for his time.
The national School system was established in 1831, allowing everyone an education, and Ireland was, probably, the first country in Europe to have such a system introduced at primary level.
If you get a chance, attend the medieval feast held at Bunratty Castle every evening. There are usually two sittings.
The food is OK, the wine is actually quite awful, but you'll definitely be entertained. The performers are very talented and work awfully hard -- not only do they sing and play instruments, they feed you, too!