We arrived at about 5:00 p.m. for the 5:30 p.m. banquet only to find that the castle was essentially locked down in preparation for the banquet with the only greeting being a sign that said "doors open at 5:15 p.m. Looking about at the relatively tiny, delapidated castle grounds composed of mossy stones, rusting gates and scruffy courtyard, we were immediately overcome by an impending sense of doom. By the time the doors opened, only one other couple had appeared to attend. We figured that we'd give it 30 minutes and then bail if things did not look up.
However, once the doors opened, we were ushered inside and offered an essentially bottomless glass of tasty mead. We chatted with the host performers and a few other couples while a harpist played traditional tunes and a busload of about 50 tourists from Galway streamed in to join us. The staff of performers/servers was friendly and entertaining. After an initial toast, we were led to the small and cozy banquet room upstairs. In the subdued lighting and rustic surroundings, we were quickly immersed in the medieval period. The performers proceded with poems, songs and stories from a small stage and involved several attendees in the proceedings as lord/lady of the manor and awarding a claddaugh ring to one person celebrating a special occassion. The food was hot and good, nothing too exciting, soup, salad, banquet chicken & vegetables and apple pie but the red/white wine was freely flowing and the mood was jovial all around.
In the end, we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the entire experience and remember it as one of the highlights of our trip.
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