“Be aware when climbing to the top of the tower. People will be going down as you go up!”

I thought the tour guide of Bunratty Castle was being a bit dramatic when she warned up about the castle’s spiral stairs, but soon after, I realized she was understating the entire experience! The stone spiral stairs were just wide enough to squeeze a medium-build man against the wall, steep enough to make me appreciate the hiking boots I wore, and narrow enough to force you to turn your feet sideways, unless you wanted your heels to hang off. It was difficult enough to climb about four stories of these stairs unbothered.

I managed not to tumble down the stairs of Bunratty Castle.

I managed not to tumble down the stairs of Bunratty Castle.

But then the French tour group arrived.

Like their ancestors the Normans, they pillaged the stairwell swiftly, separated me from my friends unmercifully, and trapped me against the wall halfway up the stairwell. I was climbing up, with three of my classmates. Without a care to others, they came down, assuming we’d move for them. All of them were elderly, but I was not about to risk my life on the inside of the stairwell for a group that wasn’t kind to me. In desperation, I asked, “How many are there of you? Would it be better for me to wait for you to come down or me to go up?” They all turned their heads to with blank stares. A lady in pumps, gripping the handrail, said something to me in French. For all I know she could have been giving a history lesson of the Gaeltacht, but the tone of her voice was not nice at all.

It’s not my fault she and her forty comrades didn’t even attempt to speak English in Ireland. I laughed in frustration and held my tongue, despite the fact she wouldn’t have understood me anyway.

So I forced my wave through the French wave, minded my step, thanked God he blessed me with balance and prayed he’d keep my patience in check, and at last, surfaced to the sound of English words.

The view from the tower was almost worth the near-death experience in the stairwell.

The view from Bunratty Castle

The view from Bunratty Castle

It was beautiful! My heart finally stopped racing and I turned to make the trek down. But lo and behold, THEY WERE BACK.

The French mob

The French mob

Flabbergasted, I camped out on the tower and waited for them to disperse. They did much more quickly than I expected, and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the day trip. If you ever get the chance, visit Bunratty Castle, so long as you avoid getting mobbed in the tower.

Thanks for reading,


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