Finest collection of medieval furniture in the country
Bunratty Castle was in ruins in the mid 20th century and was in danger of being demolished for stone.
Viscount Gort, a mediaevalist bought the castle in 1953 for a nominal sum, saving it for posterity. Encouraged by a small group of individuals, including the archaeologist John Hunt, they set about returning the castle to its former splendour.
Lord and Lady Gort had always been deeply interested in early furniture and works of art. Over the years they, together with John Hunt endowed the castle with a splendid collection of early furniture and works of art to re- create the atmosphere of the early centuries of the castle. Bunratty Castle and its contents are now held in trust for the Nation. Those who visit the Castle will appreciate the measure of the nation's indebtedness to Lord and Lady Gort and John and Gertrude Hunt.
The collections of artifacts in Bunratty Castle are protected by the Gort Furniture Trust and are managed on a daily basis by Shannon Heritage. The Castle welcomes thousands of visitors daily all year round and also provides the unique location for the world renowned Bunratty Mediecal Castle Banquets, which take, place in the Castle nightly at 5.30pm & 8.45pm year round.
Mr Brian O Connell, Chairman of Shannon Heritage invested much energy and enthusiasm into a detailed work aimed at providing access to the collection to a much wider audience than ever before.
Like so many of the great cultural collections in museums and galleries around the world the Gort Furniture Collection at Bunratty Castle mainly owes its existence to the generosity of a great benefactor.
In this case the benefactor was Lord Gort, or to give him his full title the Honourable Standish Robert Gage Prendergast Vereker M.C., the 7th Viscount Gort. He had inherited the title in 1946 from his more famous brother, Field Marshall Gort, known as the "Hero of Dunkirk" from his time as Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in 1940.
For centuries the Vereker family had extensive ties throughout the mid-west region of Ireland. Colonel Vereker, on being created the first Viscount Gort in 1816 had taken the name of his title from the town of Gort on the Galway/Clare border. The family seat was located just outside Gort at Lough Cutra Castle until the ravages of the famine had forced the sale of the estate in 1849. Several of the Verekers were prominent in the life of Limerick particularly in the mid- nineteenth century with no less than six of the family serving a total of ten terms as Mayors of Limerick City.
With guidance and advice from the internationally renowned experts on medieval art, John and Putzel Hunt, Gort re-acquired the family estate at Lough Cutra in 1952 and shortly afterwards purchased Bunratty Castle. In conjunction with the Office of Public Works and Bord Failte and again working closely with John Hunt as his main advisor, Lord Gort set about restoring the National Monument that was Bunratty Castle as a place where the public could enjoy a sense of life in the castle as it was in medieval times.
In parallel with the work of restoring the castle, Gort and Hunt also set about filling its rooms with, the furniture, artworks and everyday objects of the era when the castle was the home of the McNamara and O'Brien chieftains. In the setting at Bunratty Castle this extensive collection, sourced mainly from continental Europe, now constitutes the most extensive showcase anywhere in Ireland of the late medieval and early renaissance period.
Shannon Heritage is constantly looking at ways to enhance our customer experiences with value adding products and services.
We are delighted to offer our customers an Annual Membership programme that offers many benefits to users.
Both cards offer special admission rates to all Shannon Heritage day visitor attractions and evening entertainments in Counties: Clare, Limerick, Galway and Dublin.
Members can also avail of discounts on all purchases at Shannon Heritage operated Tea Rooms and Gift Shops.