Adare in Irish is pronounced ‘Áth Dara’ which translates as “ford of oak”, as previously mentioned Adare is renowned as one of the prettiest villages in Ireland and it certainly lives up to this herald, the Irish Government even agree having given Adare the designation ‘Heritage Town’. Situated on the river Maigue, a tributary of the river Shannon, Adare is steeped in history dating back to the 12th Century.
Adare originated as a settlement on the eastern side of the crossing point over the River Maigue some 16km from the Viking forged City of Limerick. Historically a market town, in the Middle Ages, Adare was a major settlement with three monasteries and a castle.
Adare’s three Monasteries:
The Adare Friary formerly known as the “Black Abbey” is an Augustinian Friary which was founded in 1316 by friars invited to Adare by the 1st Earl of Kildare, John Fitzthomas Fitzgerald. They set up home here building a beautiful abbey which due to extensive care and restoration still retains many of its original features; they also owned some land and cottages in and around the village and a fishing weir on the River Maigue. However after the reign of Henry VIII and his Tudor Suppression of Irish Monasteries, by the end of the 16th Century the Augustinians had fled to Limerick City. In 1807 the friary was given to the local Church of Ireland congregation for use as their parish church, St. Nicholas Church of Ireland. It also now houses St. Nicolas National School which was built in the abbey’s refectory. It has been extensively restored by the Dunraven family throughout the 19th Century.
The Franciscan Abbey in Adare was founded in 1464 by Thomas Fitz-Maurice, the 7th Earl of Kildare taking two years to complete. It is currently a ruin and is located inside the Adare Manor Golf Club.
A fortress type structure is said to have first been built by the O’Donovans, who were rulers of the region into the late 12th century, and afterwards to have passed to the Kildare branch of the FitzGerald dynasty, who may be responsible for the majority of the remains of the present fortress. Desmond Castle, as it is popularly known, stands on the north bank of the River Maigue.
The castle was fortified with an ancient ring-fort, around the early part of the 13th century. There is a large square tower, close to the main road and bridge over the River Maigue. It is surrounded by a strong battlemented rampart with semicircular bastions. A gate to the south has a drawbridge. It became a strategic fortress during the following turbulent years. It was the property of the Earls of Kildare for nearly 300 years until the rebellion in 1536, when it was forfeited and granted to the Earls of Desmond who gave the castle its present name.
An extensive renovation has been in progress on the castle since 1996 but there is limited access granted to visitors via organised tours, not all areas are accessible due to the works but beautiful views of the castle can always be seen from the bridge.
Adare has been the subject of many rebellions, wars and conquests, leaving behind a legacy of historical monuments. In the early 19th century, the Earl of Desmond, laid the plan for the existing streets and townhouses of Adare. These lands and dwellings were rented to tenants, under various agreements, some of which still exist today.
Today, Adare village houses an architectural wealth of contrasting structures from beautifully crafted stone buildings, thatched cottages, medieval monasteries and haunting ruins, all permeated with a beautiful village park. A walk through Adare is a must for all visitors.
Adare Manor is a 19th century manor house located on the banks of the River Maigue and is the former seat of the Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, now transformed into a luxury five star resort hotel, The Adare Manor Hotel. The 2nd Earl of Dunraven painstakingly built, re-built, re-modelled and redesigned his superior residence, due to ill health he was relatively house-bound so the works essentially kept his mind occupied and off his illness. The result is awe inspiring and a wonderful monument to man with eccentric and beautiful taste.
Adare Golf Club
The Adare Golf Club is a world famous course. It is an 18 hole championship course which was designed by famous golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Senior and opened in 1995. It was the venue for the Irish Open in 2007 and 2008.