Bunratty Castle Banshee

There has been a castle at Bunratty since 1250 when Robert De Muscegro built a Norman-style motte and bailey castle out of timber. The castle was rebuilt in stone by Thomas de Clare, and upon his death in 1318 at the Battle of Dysert O'Dea, the castle was burned to the ground by his wife before she set sail for England.

Bunratty Castle


The castle was at the center of riffs between the Kings of England and prominent Irish families, who fought the King and fought each other. The castle was destroyed and rebuilt several times, with the 4th and final castle built around 1425 by the MacNamaras. The castle would pass to the O'Briens about a half-century later.

In 1642, Lady Fanshawe was staying at Bunratty Castle as a guest of the O'Briens. During the night, she woke from her sleep to see the figure of a pale woman with red hair outside the castle window in the moonlight. Then she realized the woman was floating at the same level as her upper-story window above the river.

Lady Fanshawe remained in her bed as the spirit moaned in agonizing despair. The following day she learned that a member of the family had died in the night, and it was the Bunratty Banshee that she had seen, who appeared as a harbinger of doom. The Banshee is said to be the tormented soul of a drowned servant girl.