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.
With its woodland setting, beautiful stonework, picturesque thatched cottages and fine broad Main Street, Adare is a very special place. Historically, Adare belonged to the Kildare branch of the Fitzgerald's or Geraldine's and was later maintained and restored by the Dunraven family over the last two centuries.
Spend time browsing through the antique and clothing boutiques and getting acquainted with the local people in one of the many restaurants and pubs. One should truly experience the Irish people and learn what they have made an art form...conversation.
The Adare Heritage Centre with exhibition and audio-visual show takes you back to share the excitement and colour of the town's rich and varied history. Also features tourist information office, restaurant, woolen mills outlet and craft shop. Open: Daily 9.30am to 4.30pm.
Take a tour of The Desmond Castle from the Heritage Centre from June to September. This is one of the most interesting examples of feudal architecture in Ireland and is comprised of a square keep, curtain walls and two great halls, kitchen, bakery and stable nearby the main gateway.
Founded in 1464 by Thomas, Earl of Kildare, and his wife for Franciscan Friars of the Strick Observance, it was attacked and burned in 1646 by parliamentary forces.
The ruin, located in the heart of the Adare Manor Golf Club, is still beautifully preserved with numerous gables.
Founded by the Fitzgerald's around the year 1230 for the Trinitarian Canons of the Order of the Redemption of Captives, it was the only house of the Order in Ireland.
It was suppressed in 1535 and gradually fell into ruin in 1811, part of the building, consisting of the tower, nave and choir, was restored by the First Earl of Dunraven and given to the Catholics of Adare as their parish church and remains so to this day.
Founded in 1315 by John Fitzgerald, son of the Earl of Kildare, and restored in 1807 by the first Earl of Dunraven, this monastery has since been used as the Church of Ireland.