bunratty castle banquet

Mar 20th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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bunratty castle banquet

Going to Ireland in august. will be 1 night in bunratty, and plan to do castle and folk park. Is it worth spending 45.50 euros per adult, for the evening banquet. To convert to Cnadian dollars, the cost is phenomenal for a family of 4 , considering 1 of our kids is 14 we will be paying an adult price for him. So, if we do the math the evenings meal and entertainment will be in excess of $300 CDN. I just cannot seem to justify spending that amount, but neither do we want to miss something if it is a Must See, as I do not know when I would go back to Ireland as we have many other places we would like to visIt in the future. Any candid advice appreciated.
DOCK is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 09:43 PM
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Well, don't do it for the food! After nearly 2 weeks in Ireland, I am willing to admit that the Irish win the fight over who has the least appealing food.

As for the castle show, I think it touristy, touristy to the extent it was really phony. I think my friend Clara who eats up that kind of tourist attraction and enjoys rolling about isolated from reality in the those tin cocoons called tour buses, would have given it a rave review.

Now, if you want to go and be a quintessenial tourist, have a go. But I got a little tired of being called "My Lord" when it was definitely an act. And the price I paid to eat college boarding house food struck me as absurd. Even adjusting for inflation that meal alone would have bought a week's rations at the boarding house table. And, at the same time, we were "entertained" by jibbering host who should have shut up and let the singers sing and the other muscians play. (They were good, and their singing and playing was not touristy.)

I doubt if any Irish folks will be there other than those working the event. It is a show put on the for the tour bus crowd, and any other who happened to drop in. The place was deserted before the tour buses began to arrive, and it reverted to form as soon as the last bus loaded up.

I can buy artificial tinsel more cheaply.

If you want the real Ireland, find a pub off the beaten tourist track.

My peresonal advice: Save your Canadian bucks for a good hockey match.
bob_brown is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 10:34 PM
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Dock: While I wouldn't be as criticakl as Bob_Brown, the banquet is definately not a must see. It is fun, an evenings entertainment, but clearly not a must see. Save your Canadian dollars.
I don't know where Bob_Brown ate and I mean no disrespect, but Irish food has come a long way. If you stick to the Bistros, an occaisional pub and a good Irish Restaurant for Irish Stew, you will eat well. There have been articles about the evolvement of Irish food and the young chefs that have gone abroad to hone their skills. We had very good food all over Ireland. Have a great trip.
joegri is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 10:36 PM
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DOCK: another thought: spend the evening at Dirty Lills. Have a pint, listen to the stories and sing along when the mood strikes you. Great fun.
joegri is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 03:55 AM
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Bob obviously doesn't know where or what to eat in Ireland. The food has improved greatly over the past 10 years, and you can get a good meal just about anywhere these days, except for those nasty cafe things. Also, there actually are quite a few Irish at the banquets. Mainly older people. Ulsterbus does regular trips there from the North, and a lot of my friends' parents like to go.

It is fun, and the music's good. My husband's from Ireland and we had to drag him there, but in the end he loved it (unlimited wine had something to do with it).

HOWEVER, given the price for your family, I would skip it. It's just something fun, not a must-do.
Ann41 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 04:33 AM
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Had friends who did this a couple of years ago - against our advice - and they felt it was a complete waste of time and money. The food was very poor (steam table) and the entertainment was - well vaudeville was their only word for it.

About food generally - I have found it to be quite good overall -as long as you are careful where you go and order appropriate local items. However, there are some places where the food can be ghastley - and its often not the least expensive ones. we were at Jury's hotel in Dublin - not our choice, it was for a meeting - and they undoubtedly had the most miserable food it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. At dinner one evening (we were stuck eating in the hotel) I asked for any other type of potato except fries (which were frozen and then semi-cooked in an incredible amount of grease) and was told it was impossible becasue potatoes were "out of season"! In addition to the dreaful food the hotel/restaurant also has incredibly pretentious and condescending service.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 05:36 AM
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Well I guess you can just call me "tourist". I enjoyed most everything we did, saw, and ate in Ireland. We've been three times and it was three great times. We're have some pretty tasty food and some that was "plain cooking" but always better than fast food.

Bunratty Castle was part of our first visit and it was truly fun. Yes, it was touristy, and they gave you only a fork and a dagger with which to eat but the food they served us was not what i'd call "steam table". We've enjoyed our memories of that for years now. I don't know if the University music students are still doing the show or not but when they did the music and song were excellent.

I've not been to many places that have been as welcoming as the Irish have been to us each time and for that reason I'll continue to return.

As to hotels - we tried them on our first visit and haven't stayed at a hotel since. We use B & B's and always have the current B & B select the next place for us to stay - works like a charm.
LN is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 07:23 AM
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Look folks, those of you who say I don't know about food, I grew up eating it. Had it all my life.

In Ireland, we went to the best places we could find on our trip. We solicited suggetions from various local people before we went. Part of the trip was on a so-called premium tour where meals were included in the umbrella cost of the trip. The food served to us at the hotels where we stayed was not very good, and these were reputed to be the better hotels around the area, except for that abomination in Ennis. I don't recall one memorable meal at any of them. The one I remember best was for non food reasons - the waitress told one of the ladies in my tour group she could not have a secone cup of tea at dinner.

And and an Irish breakfast comes in a distant 3rd to those served in most Austrian and south German hotels. Even the Sallerhof south of Salzburg put on a feast for breakfast; so did the Carlton Opera in Vienna and the Astoria in Munich.

I have repeatedly found good food in restaurants in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, and everywhere else I go in Europe except London.

I think the people who say "Irish food has come a long way," probably think the Burger King serves a gourmet chicken sandwich or that O'Charley's is a gourmet restaurant. (So I have retorts too if you want to get rhetorical!)

I will be quite blunt about it: the worst meal I have had in Austria was better than 60% of the meals I ate in Ireland. Of course the hotel in Heiligenblut was one of the best places I have found. Its Wienerschnitzel beat the best I found in several tries in Vienna. Now I will admit that the food at Der Alt Wienerhof in Vienna was outstanding, but that is a 5-star restaurant where one can easily spend $100 per head per meal. And the deserts left over were put on the breakfast table the following morning for the hotel guests. Now that was luxury eating even it it would bruise anyone's diet. (So don't tell me I don't know top level food when I have sampled it frequently in Munich, Paris, Zürich, Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren, Salzburg, Vienna and several towns in Finland. Even Austrian train dinners beat what I got in Ireland!!)

When you seek out a pizza place because it is the best around, I think it characterizes the sitution.

We did find a good meal in Dublin, but only after looking hard. It was not great, but it beat the castle food.
What we had there was mass produced tourist food. I don't care how else you want to describe it.

I am quite willing to admit I enjoy good food, and I am not going to say it was good when it was not. I don't care where I am or what my ancestry happens to be, which is a lot Irish.
bob_brown is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 12:29 PM
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Bit defensive bobby baby. Let's see, if you can't disprove the statement made, then, lash out at the statement maker; Standard illogical argument. Frankly, I couldn't give a hoot if you know good food or not, or if you think I do. Clearly though, you don't know where to go. Hotel restaurants are not typically gourmet meccas in any country and are even less if part of a tour package. The fact is (accept it or not, I don't care), Ireland has established a current reputation for good dinning and a host of young chefs who have taken Irish dinning to a whole new and much acclaimed level.
By the way. I don't dine at pizza places or fast food restaurants. Nothing against them. Just not my style. Have a good day.
joegri is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 01:23 PM
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I'm not quite sure what Bob's ancestry has to do with the quality of food in Ireland.

Pizza in Ireland, along with pretty much all fast food, is garbage. But just about everything else you find here is very good. Actually, the best meal I have ever had was at a hotel in the republic. And I've traveled all over the world as well as all 50 U.S. states, and because of my work stay and work at the best hotels and restaurants (love my expense account).

I live in Ireland now and only miss two food-related things in the US--good bagels and real pancakes.

The bread here is amazing, as are any potato-related product. Good wine is inexpensive and easy to find at any licensed restaurant. The seafood is incomparable, and I love the chicken. Steaks usually aren't that great, as "medium" almost always tend to come out well done. Vegetables are fresh, and I now eat them here since they stopped boiling them to death a few years ago. Desserts still need some work, but there are highlights from time to time.

I live in a small community (have to drive 5 miles to the nearest stop light), and yet I can name 5 restaurants within walking distance where I would take my best clients (all in the hospitality trade), and they all would leave impressed.

Oh, and Bob, the lady in your tour group could have had a second cup of tea if she paid for it. Free refills are not a right worldwide. Tour groups always go to lousy places, anyway.
Ann41 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 01:25 PM
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nytraveler--I seem to be the only other person on this entire board that does not like Jurys in Ireland. I've tried to warn people away time after time, and I always get abused by people who love the place. Go figure.
Ann41 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 01:27 PM
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Bob, wouldn't you agree that it might be a bit unfair to judge a country's food based on the meals served to a tour group in hotel dining rooms?
MaryZ is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 01:49 PM
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Ann41 -

No the others attending the meeting I was at all agreed that the place was miserable. Although I did notice that the lobby was mobbed with locals at tea time (but perhaps tourists from other parts of Ireland) and the hotel was used for a "society" wedding while I was there.

Other times I have been in Dublin (vacation and meetings) I have stayed at the Westbury and at the Berkley. The former was a very pleasant hotel and the food - while not great - was always acceptable. The latter was a beautiful property with incredible service and excellent food in all of the restuaruants - from simple smoked salmon on brown bread sanwiches through elaborate dinners - much better than I would expect at any hotel. We also had a bunch of good meals at various restaurants - a couple of them in Temple Bar - and one superb one (Patrick Guilbaud sp?)while in Dublin. But Jury's was a disaster both as a hotel and for meals. I think it must be living off a past reputation when there was nothing better available.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 02:02 PM
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I went to Bunratty for the show and Durty Nelly's (not Lil's I think) 30-odd years ago and it was so kitschy then it made my teeth ache. I kept thinking about all those people in bad 70s leisure suits (yes) fresh off the planes at nearby Shannon, standing at Nelly's choking on bad Guinness (the worst pint of Guinness I ever had in Ireland) and thinking they had arrived in "real Ireland," only to go into the castle to have £20 or whatever it was then, extracted from their resources. Ouch. If it's better now I wouldn't be surprised, because if it's as bad as it was, what with RiverDance and everything else glorifying Olde Ireland that's transpired in the meantime, it would be a horrible testament to P.T. Barnum's adage.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 21st, 2004, 04:14 PM
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Thanks for the advice. We have decided to skip the banquet and show. Anywhere in bunratty you would eat or just syick with pub food?
DOCK is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 10:35 PM
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Gardyloo: Ooops! Of course you are right. It is Durty Nelly's. Momentary lapse. However, I have a much different recollection of the place. We were there in July (my wife was in education and we always had to travel in July). You might recall the pub is made up of several rooms. We ordered our beer (not Guinness) and wandered into a smaller room occupied by about twelve people. There were two ladies from Germany and the rest were locals. We were greeted and invited to sit down. As we listened to the conversation, it soon turned into story telling. Can anyone tell a story like an Irishman? Sometime later, one gentleman broke into song. Seems to me it was requested and he complied. Before long, everone took his turn, though we deferred to the others. I can't sing a note. We had a very enjoyable couple of hours. Spontaneous and very genuine. Of course, this was a lot less than 30 years ago.
joegri is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2004, 07:44 AM
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Check out www.irelandexpert.com and www.irelandyes.com--both have bulletin boards run by experts who answer questions. Pat's site (the irelandexpert one) includes tons of recommended restaurants, b&bs, etc. You can search Michelle's bulletin board (the other one) for opinions on places to eat in Bunratty. Based on Pat's recommendation--I haven't been there--you might consider Kathleen's Irish Pub (which occasionally hosts Irish Nights).
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