Adare has always been regarded as one of Ireland’s most attractive villages. Thatched cottages with snug rustic proportions line one side of the street while the other is dominated by the more commanding Trinitarian Priory. The overall appearance is not typically Irish, and this can be ascribed to the influence of the Dunraven family, who planned and built the existing streets and townhouses in the early nineteenth century.
The village’s history did not always run smooth. As a ford on the river Maigue, it was a natural focal point for regional power brokers from the 1200s onward. Long periods of peace did prevail during which Adare thrived as a market town, but when sorrows came they were prone to arriving in battalions. Friaries, priories and castles burned, collapsed or changed hands over the centuries. Much of this history can be explored in the Heritage Centre on the main street.
These days, things are less dramatic and more convivial. Antiques shops, pubs, a gallery and other retailers jostle for space with a half dozen or so restaurants, while the ruins that surround the village add their own counterpoint of timeworn and venerable character.