The little pub/restaurant beside it....known as "Durty Nellys" http://durtynellys.ie/contact/ Call into this pub on a Friday evening and there are often local singers joining in with the local pianist....all unrehearsed and very genuine. The food is great too.
The Vikings recognised the original sites strategic importance for protecting trade and fortified it during their stay. In fact you can still see the moat.
The first castle on the site was built by the Normans but they lost control.
Then in 1460 the Macnamaras built the castle that stands today.
Also in the grounds stands Bunratty Folk Park which is a complete reconstruction of a nineteenth century village.
Although it is extremely touristy the castle and village are worth a visit on any tours of Ireland that take you close.
But the real hidden gem is the little pub on a Friday night !!!