Last week on my way to my talk in Limerick I got lost. Well it was not so much lost as went too far and it was when I drove past Bunratty Castle on the N18 that I realised I had to go back! Fortunately I had left plenty of time so I stopped for a few minutes to get out of the car and take a few photos. It was about 6pm but there were a few coaches and opposite was a ‘Blarney Woolen Mills’ so I assume that this is a popular coach stop for tourists. The fact that there is a heritage park here and the castle hosts meals with entertainments means this must be a bit of a tourist hotspot even though I had no idea it was here – I had other things on my mind.
I will not even try to elaborate the history of the castle which is far to complicated for my feeble brain to comprehend. Suffice it to say that a castle has been here since before 977 and the present castle dates from 1425. In about 1646 the defence of the castle, which was important strategically because of its position on the River Shannon, was controlled by Rear-Admiral Penn, the father of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.
And in the shadow of the castle is Durty Nelly’s.
This is obviously a popular pub and eating place, on the banks of the Ratty (Raithe). Now here things get confusing because the story of Durty Nelly suggests that she made some of her money from extracting a toll from travellers passing over the River Owengarney – maybe it is another name for the same river. Anyway, she made a good business out of collecting the toll and if the traveller did not have the cash she would accept other payment such as food and – yes, you guessed it! She had to get that name some way and she didn’t muck out hens.
One night she was robbed by someone who wanted more than her maidenhood (though it was a bit late for that I suspect) and she lost all her money. She had to do something so set out to make poteen in her still in the woods. Legend has it that she cured a dog’s lameness with it (she put it on its wound – if it had drunk it it would probably have fallen over rather then get up and run off) and word spread of the magical effect of her brew. It apparently cured barrenness in one woman’s husband – maybe it made him so drunk or blind he did not realise who he was in bed with. Anyway, the warm hospitality and news of the ‘cure’ made this a famous place.
Even more unlikely: Donald Trump is now officially the Republican Nominee! God
Bless Help America Everyone