Adare, one of Irelandís prettiest towns, owes its reputation to its setting in the woods among rich farmlands by the River Maigue that runs through Irelandís Golden Vale. Thatched cottages add scenic highlights. With the townís quality restaurants and pubs, its three ruined abbeys, its plentiful fishing areas, and its annual festivals, Adare is a desirable destination for tourists. Adare is a favoured wedding location for couples being located 18km from Limerick City and 42km from Shannon Airport on the main N21 route from Limerick to Kerry.
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A small heritage exhibition in a multi-purpose building (Tel 0-61-396255) traces the development of Adare from the 13th century. The site dates from the time of the Norman conquest of Ireland, and the village owes its current streetscape to its status as a model estate village developed by the third Earl of Dunraven In the mid 19th century.
The ruins of three important church centres can be visited: the Augustinian Priory (1315) is the most intact building from that period and still functions as an Anglican/Episcopalian parish church; Irelandís only Trinitarian priory (1230) is now the Catholic parish church; and the Franciscan friary and Desmond Castle (1202). The present Earl of Dunraven still resides in the village with his family.
Adare Manor, the ancestral home of the Dunravens was transformed into an impressive and romantic Tudor-Gothic building between 1832 and 1862. It has a magnificent grand gallery and staircase and is set in 850 acres of beautiful rolling countryside by the banks of the river Maigue. It is now a luxurious hotel where former president of the USA, Bill Clinton, stayed on a visit to Ireland in 1998. A par 72, 7138-yard golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones is in the grounds of the Manor.
Adare hotels include the four star Dunraven Arms Hotel. Established in 1792, it now specialises in equestrian holidays with an all weather cross-country course and a large indoor arena set in 120 acres of private parkland. Adare also has a three star hotel, the Woodlands House, a modern hotel with a leisure centre, pool, and big bar with traditional music.
The equestrian centre offers trail riding to Curraghchase forest park, a 250-hectare plantation situated near Adare on the coastal road route N69. Curaghchase forest incorporates a three star camping and caravan facility.
In the forest are the ruins of Curraghchase House, the 18th century home of Irish poet, Aubrey de Vere (1814-1902), friend of Wordsworth, Carlyle, and Tennyson. For those who enjoy horse riding, the Clonshire Equestrian Centre offers both indoor and outdoor facilities.
The Celtic theme park and gardens at Kilcornan is located on an original celtic settlement. It includes exhibits of the physical structures associated with ancient Ireland such as stone circles, mass rock, dolmens, a lake dwelling, an Ogham stone, a cooking site, a stone church, a holy-well, and an example of an early surviving ringfort. The classic style garden contains a thousand roses, lily ponds, rockery, herbaceous borders, and shrubbery. In the 1650s this became one of the most important Cromwellian plantations in the region.
Information courtesy Shannon Tourism and Regional Development