Conservation & Restoration at Adare Manor
Preserving the Legacy for Centuries to Come
Undertaken in the same spirit of creative exuberance which inspired the Dunravens to build their magnificent Manor House almost two centuries ago, the recent conservation and restoration project at Adare Manor was a love letter to architecture and virtuosity. A profound attention to detail has underpinned every decision along the way, and our passion for quality craftsmanship is evident in every repair and enhancement.
The highly-skilled craftsmen and women who have worked on the restoration of the Adare Manor Estate over the last two years have applied their talents to every corner of the Manor House: from floors, ceilings and panelling to the chimneypieces, roof and windows. A total of 670 construction employees worked on a daily basis during the Adare Manor renovation work, and their immense cooperation has had spectacular results.
There is a very special quality to the limestone from which Adare Manor was built. Exquisitely worked by local stone masons, it boasts very finely carved details including: gargoyles, parapets and mouldings, as well as over 50 carved stone chimney stacks, each with a different ornamentation. The Limestone was extracted from local quarries, tying the Manor House back to the soul of the land on which it stands. This Lower Carboniferous limestone has an innate character of beauty: blue and grey shot through with thin bands of red and purple colouring, caused by iron content. An original survey of the limestone back in 1860 worried that the multicoloured stone might not stand up to the rigors of outdoor building and “exposure to the atmosphere,” but thankfully its integrity has not been compromised over the years, and it still stands firm.
Where the stone had run into trouble over the centuries, the Manor House restoration restoration process addressed these issues. Chimney stacks and bay windows were repaired and rebuilt, using newly carved limestone to match. Cracked and deteriorated details in carvings and mullions were repaired with matching stone types. We carefully repointed every wall of the manor with lime mortar. The stone wall parapet and steps of the east side of the Manor closest to the river were beginning to collapse, so they were gently taken down and rebuilt to perfectly match the original detail and style.
The fantastical angles and pitches of the original Killaloe slate roofs and towers are a major part of the Adare Manor’s charm, but they were extensively worn and damaged by many years of facing the weather. The decision was made to completely strip and re-roof the entire Manor House. Using Killaloe Slates from a local quarry, all thirteen pitched roofs were related. All of the old leadwork on the gutters, downpipes and other rainwater goods were in bad condition. We salvaged a few, and carefully copied the rest, using copper in some instances.
The decorative character of some of the most distinctive roof fixtures was carefully preserved. The original cast iron gutter to the pitched roof above the bay on the west wall, decorated with copper gargoyles was repaired in-situ to minimise damage. The wrought iron brandishing with copper finials on the top of the Hardwick tower was taken down, repaired and reinstated, along with the decorative leadwork and the timber structure supporting it.
Adare Manor’s many windows are a wonderful mix, from a simple timber sliding sash to ornate leaded bay windows. One by one, we carefully restored and repaired the framing and the glass wherever it was showing its age. We kept original glass to reuse wherever possible, and all the non-historic single panes were replaced with slim double glazing. New frames of bronze replaced the aluminium of previous restoration and provided firm structure to windows where the glass was once directly glazed to the stonework. Perhaps the most delicate and impressive window conservation was the repair of The Gallery’s iconic stained glass windows, which now shine with brilliant colour and renewed clarity.
In a house as fine and as old as Adare Manor, over-restoration is always a point for consideration. We took an approach of retaining the characteristics of aging and the existing elements of the building as far as possible, treating every venerable material with great care. Original timber in the doors, panelling and floors were cleaned, repaired, and reinstated. The original stone floors and walls were gently cleaned and restored to their original beauty. Chimneys were repaired, and wherever an inlaid tile was missing, it was carefully copied and seamlessly replaced. Original lime plastered walls and ceilings were repaired and augmented wherever required, then decorated using historically appropriate materials and finishes, including breathable paints, papers, and even gold leaf.
Throughout the restoration project, we have had a commitment to honour the past and preserve as much of the original character and material of Adare Manor as possible. With the supervision of an RIAI Grade 1 conservation architect and an adherence to best international conservation practice and with reference to the ICOMOS Charters, all new work was informed by the building methods and materials used in the original construction. When taken as a whole, these conservation works make up the next chapter in Adare Manor’s story. Just as the Earls of Dunraven built the Manor house with a future legacy in mind, we believe it that it is now our privilege and duty to preserve this beautiful place and its history for the enjoyment of many generations to come.