What's a trip to Ireland without seeing a castle? You'll have to put up with my dark photography for this post as it was a bit tough to get the right lighting this time of year even with a few momentary spots of blue sky. The castle here is Bunratty (c. 1250), one of the better preserved examples of what it was like to live in a castle. The link will give you a little tour (if you're thinking about a trip to Ireland this was one to see).
We wondered around the grounds first. Through what was the local village surrounding the castle including a beautiful little church. I was surprised when we got to the castle and saw that the drawbridge was not what I was expecting. I thought it would be wider ... for horses, carts and the like. But we found this one to be the size of a normal door. Right above the door (within the castle) was a hole called the "murder hole" where enemies who ventured in during a raid would be doused with boiling hot oil. Ouch!
Once inside the castle we were amazed that the way to move around were tight spiral stairways that would open up to large rooms. I was even more lighting challenged inside! But managed to get a few pics of armor, carvings, tapestries and stain glass windows. Just for a bit of fun I was looking for history behind the castles and ran across an episode of haunted ones. It actually has some beautiful scenery across Ireland if you can get past all the silly ghost stories!
I didn't take pictures of the village. Apparently the castle is turned into Santa's Grotto during the holidays. So weird to see fake, felt snow on the thatch roofs with Snow White and her dwarfs out in the yard? I just have to ask ... what is it with people and their Christmas sweaters? We saw them everywhere, in their ridiculous glory. And what says Christmas better than a gigantic blow up sweater (the size of a house!)? Yes, right in the middle of Santa's Grotto.