There’s so much to see and do in Adare and the wider area. Some of our favourite local attractions are listed below. To discover even more of what the region has to offer, why not read/download the Explore West Limerick guide.
Adare (Ath Dara in Irish, translates to ‘Ford of the Oak’) is an ancient town, the early history of which is now lost. It is situated partly in the barony of Kerry, but chiefly in the barony of Coshma, County Limerick. The village has some threaded (semi-detached) cottages and the name Palatine formally applied to the district recalls the German Lutherans, who settled here during the 18th century.
The Trinitarian Monastery
Situated next to the Heritage Center, this is the only recorded Trinitarian monastery in Ireland. It was originally built by the Fitzgerald Clan for the Trinitarian order of monks in the early 13th century. This order of friars was founded in France, following the Holy-Land Crusades, with the main purpose of raising ransom money in order to rescue Christian captive taken, by the Moors, during the crusade wars. It is believed that the Trinitarian monks who came to Adare may have come from Scotland. The monastery was suppressed and badly damaged during the reign of King Henry VIII. Repaired and enlarged in the mid 19th century, the building is, today, called the “Holy Trinity Abbey” and is used as the local Roman Catholic Church. A visit to this historical and beautiful building is highly recommended.
The Desmond Castle
The time-worn remains of this Anglo-Norman fortress stands on the bank of the “Maigue” river and viewable from the bridge. This castle was erected, within an ancient ring-fort, around the early part of the 13th century. 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 Silken Thomas’s rebellion of 1536, when it was forfeited and granted to the Earls of Desmond (they gave the castle its present name). Barely forty years later, in 1578, the Munster Geraldines were themselves in rebellion and lost the castle to English troops after an eleven-day siege.
Attempts to retrieve the castle resulted in a series of notably bloody sieges in 1579, 1581 and 1600, leaving the fabric badly damaged. In 1657, it was dismantled by the Parliamentary forces of Oliver Cromwell.
The castle initially comprised a large square tower and an enclosing D-shaped fosse, together with a hall block to the south in an outer ward. The tower, notable for having corner turrets projecting from the side walls, was remodelled in the fifteenth century and is thus difficult to assess confidently, though it appears originally to have had three storeys with a first floor entrance. No doubt it served as the lord’s accommodation and thus complemented the more public function of the Great Hall by the river, which was clearly built to entertain visitors: a spacious rectangular apartment with round-headed lights with roll mouldings.
At a later period its basement was subdivided and a latrine added on the south side. The curtain walls around the inner ward and along the west side of the outer ward were possibly built around 1240, no doubt replacing timber palisades. The inner ward has a south gate tower and an open-gorged bastion on the west side, while there is a square westgate tower into the outer ward.
The very ruined aisled Great Hall, to the east of the old hall, may have been added in 1326 when the second Earl of Kildare undertook extensive works at the castle. It is flanked by kitchens and service rooms, which extend to the eastern perimeter of the outer ward – whose well-preserved battlemented walls may be largely fifteenth century in date.
In the early 19th century and in the years that followed, considerable repairs were implemented but full restoration was deemed, economically, to be impossible. However, the castle ruins remain of considerable extent and make an interesting and picturesque group of buildings. Extensive maintenance and renovation work has been carried out in recent years. The castle is regarded as being one of the most interesting examples of feudal architecture in Ireland.
Adare Heritage Centre operates guided tours daily from the beginning of June to the end of September. Private group tours may be accommodated during October to May on request. Tours are conducted in English, however, multilingual options are available by prior arrangement.
The Franciscan Friary
Located in the grounds of the Adare Manor Golf Club, the friary is a characteristic example of the monasteries erected in Ireland during the 14th and 15th centuries. It was founded in 1464 by the 7th Earl of Kildare for the “Franciscan Friars of the Strict Observance”. Although now in ruins, the remaining walls show a remarkable outline of its former elegance. Many of it’s excellent proportioned gables remain in a good state, as does it’s graceful and beautiful seventy two foot central tower, soaring over a roofless nave and transepts, with gable ends gaunt against the skyline.
The Village Park
Next to the Washing Pool is the lovely Village Park. The land for this park was once part of the Dunraven estate. Here visitors and locals, alike, can stroll along the park’s winding paths or relax on the park benches, soaking up the unique atmosphere of Adare village. An attractive feature in the park is the thatched wooden gazebo. This is used, several times weekly, as a unique photo backdrop for the many weddings that occur in Adare.