Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet-Part 2

April16

When it was time to move downstairs we were hesitant- the majesty of the room had captured us or perhaps it was because we noticed that there was still poured mead that needed to be drunk.  But we eventually did head back down the ancient staircase to the Main Guard. 

This is a vaulted hall with a Minstrel’s Gallery that had been the main living room of the common soldiers and the Earl’s retainers.  A small gate leads to a dungeon and part of the evening’s entertainment is deciding who of the assembly, should spend his time down there.

The gorgeous room was appointed with long wooden banquet tables and benches and we were the last to be sat. 

This meant that we were directly underneath the said Minstrel’s balcony and as a result, when the host of the evening was outlining the festivities, we had a direct look right up his nose.

The first thing that we noticed about the beautiful table were that there were knives set at every place and that was the only utensil.  This was going to prove interesting.

First up was a creamy potato and leek soup poured from jugs into our bowls.  Since there was no spoon, we lifted the bowls to our mouths and drank the soup as you would the sweet milk left in your cereal bowl after a good feed of honey nut cheerios.  This was opportune as the soup was so delicious, we didn’t have to take the time to spoon each taste into our eager mouths.

Next out were huge platters of ribs accompanied by enormous wooden bowls to throw our bones into.  These were so tender and tasty that we could have concluded supper right then, but there was still much more to come.

Capons arrived topped with white herb gravy, and surrounded by turnip, carrot and roasted baby potatoes.  Broccoli was also served and I thought this strange because I thought that it was a rather “modern” vegetable.  There were still no utensils and so we mastered the art of spearing each morsel with our knives.

Dessert was a light custard sitting atop a thin sponge cake and topped with a raspberry glaze and mint leaves.  There were jugs a plenty of both red and white wine and we were content to stay put for another round of entertainment.

The harmonies of the minstrels easily took us back to a time when events like this were common place.  They were accompanied by an Irish harp and an extremely skilled violinist.  His eyes were so enormous that we commented that he looked just like a character out of a Dickens novel.

When the evening was over and we were making our way out we happened to hear him speaking to other travelers in the courtyard.  He said “Yes, I’ve spent some time in America.  I went to a music school called Julliard.  Do you know it?’  No wonder the entertainment was so impressive!

Kath’s quote: “If music be the food of love, play on…”-William Shakespeare


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