Adare (Limerick - 18 km) − Ireland
Member of Leading Hotels of the World
Known. That’s how it feels. This is a place where even your first visit feels like a homecoming, where the first glimpse stirs something familiar down in your bones. When you arrive at Adare Manor, that moment of recognition is mutual. It’s your drink the way you like it and the best seat by the fire. It’s the feeling that everything is possible and the knowledge that nothing is left to chance.
A cherished heritage of hospitality has been distilled into the spirit of welcome you feel within these walls. Adare Manor was a labour of love from the very start, created to delight, astonish and impress. That legacy is vividly alive in the manor house itself: sumptuously restored, brimming with gothic splendor, and perfectly appointed in every detail. It is reflected by a world-class staff whose personalised, intimate service centres you in the heart of the home.
As you roam the 840 acres of pristine parkland, play your way through the magnificent golf course, and sound the depths of relaxation in the spa, you will start to understand the soul of Adare Manor. It’s prestige without pretense and magic without nonsense. Above all, it is the sense of belonging. You are known. You are family. You are home.
The Great Hall Reception is a fitting first taste of the breath-taking grandeur that visitors will experience when they walk through the doors of Adare Manor. Here our dedicated guest relations team wait to greet our guests and welcome them home at the beginning of every visit. This is a space where guests can gather around the hearth and share stories of adventures around the estate and further afield. It is also a tribute to the many brilliant creative minds behind the design and building of Adare Manor.
This part of the manor house features designs by legendary 19th century architect and designer Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, whose genius for the Gothic Revival style left a trail of beauty across the British Isles and Ireland. Countless magnificent churches, colleges, schools, and private houses bear his unmistakable signature, perhaps most notably the interiors of the new Palace at Westminster. Pugin was hired by the 3rd Earl of Dunraven as he strived to fulfill his father’s vision, and though progress was slow, the results of the collaboration are magnificent.
The spectacular scale of this room is the first thing you notice: soaring ceilings, vaulted arches, and enormous windows. This ecclesiastical style celebrates the Dunraven family’s love for grand cathedrals and the architect’s prodigious talent for such monumental spaces. Even at this size, however, there is an unmistakable air of warmth and welcome in the room, something that was as important to its first inhabitants as it is to us today. Lady Caroline said of The Great Hall that it was: “...peculiarly adapted to every purpose for which it may be required. It has been frequently used with equal appropriateness as a dining-room, concert room, ballroom; for private theatricals, tableaux vivants, and other amusements. At the same time, when only one person is seated at the ample fireplace, where on medieval fire-dogs huge logs of wood are blazing, the coup de’oeil is so perfect, and the whole aspect of the room so comfortable, that one could not wish it in any way changed or diminished, notwithstanding its great size.”
That black marble fireplace still acts as the centrepiece and heart of The Great Hall Reception, carved with intricate heraldic designs and crowned with an ecclesiastic Old Master painting. Inviting armchairs and ottomans clustered around the hearth and velvet, mohair and silk soft furnishings add a cosy touch to the backdrop of marble and limestone, and bespoke hand-knotted silk and wool Tibetan rugs, so fine that only three inches can be woven in a day, sit boldly on the original parquet floor.
In the Dunraven family’s day, perhaps the most beloved feature of The Great Hall was the astounding pipe organ, designed by the famous Dublin Organ builder, William Telford. It took four years to be completed and occupied an elevated position over two small arches opposite the main entrance. It was well-enjoyed by accomplished musicians in the Dunraven family, particularly by the 3rd Earl’s wife, Augusta. When The Great Hall was redecorated a generation later in 1947, the organ was removed and never reinstalled. A new façade has been created to replicate where the original organ would have been, and now conceals a discreet lift, which provides easy access from The Great Hall Reception to the upper levels of the manor house.
One of the stranger highlights of The Great Hall is a large carved stone figure, dressed in 19th century coat, knee breeches and brogues, crouching with his right hand on his knee and his left under his jaw, with a slight grimace as if suffering from toothache. While his identity is still a mystery, it’s thought he may have a structural function as his feet are set on a ribbed corbel under the Minstrels’ Gallery, although the 3rd Earl of Dunraven appears to have disagreed. He asked his mother “to use your influence and get that frightful stone (figure with toothache) taken away from the Hall, it spoils the whole room and besides it is totally useless”. We must respectfully beg to differ with the 3rd Earl, as this figure is now a firm visitor favourite and an irreplaceable member of the Adare Manor family.
Adare Manor borrows its name from the nearby village of Adare, beloved for its delightful thatched roof cottages, lively pubs, and antique shops. Sitting on the banks of the River Maigue, Adare overlooks the fording point from which the village derives its name: Ath-Dara meaning ‘The Ford of the Oak’.
The plans for the Manor House as it exists today were begun in 1832. Until then, the 2nd Earl of Dunraven and his wife, Lady Caroline Wyndham, lived in a Georgian house known simply as “Adare House” and built in the 1720s by Valentine Quin, grandfather of the 1st Earl of Dunraven. By the 1830s Windham Henry Quin, the 2nd Earl, was laid low by a crippling and painful case of gout. Once an active outdoorsman and now largely confined indoors, he was desperately in need of diversion. His wife encouraged him to immerse himself in the immense and complex task of transforming their home into a spectacular masterpiece modeled after the great houses and cathedrals of Europe, in the hopes that working on the plains would distract him from his ailment.
As it turned out, it was a magnificent and timely suggestion: the building of Adare Manor provided labour for the surrounding villagers during the terrible potato famine that devastated the country during the mid-19th century. The house was built to the highest standards of the day by talented local craftspeople, while the 2nd Earl travelled Ireland, England and continental Europe in search of architectural inspiration. During this time, Lady Caroline Dunraven also established a School of Needlework to develop marketable skills and employment opportunities for local women: some of their magnificent work graced the walls of the Manor House for generations.
Adare Manor is a tribute to the Dunravens’ sense of exuberance, wit, and style. An example of a rare ‘Calendar House’, Adare Manor is adorned with 365 leaded windows, 52 ornate chimneys, 7 stone pillars and 4 towers to mark the annual tally of days, weeks, and seasons in a year. The Manor House is reminiscent of a chateau, sharing many features of the 19th century Gothic Revival in Britain and Ireland, and drawing inspiration from a romantic view of the chivalric past. The building displays a wealth of gargoyles, heraldry and decorative stone and wood carvings. Many of these carvings show creatures and monsters from the Bestiary, a medieval book of mythical beasts.
The interior spaces are designed on a grand scale. One of the most renowned interior spaces is The Gallery: a 132 foot long, 26 ½ foot high expanse inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and lined on either side with 17th Century Flemish choir stalls.
By the 1860s this grand project had transformed the family's seat—a typical Georgian mansion—into the romantic Neo-Gothic gem that is Adare Manor. Though Lady Caroline went to great lengths to establish the myth that Adare Manor was planned entirely by her husband without an architect, it is fairly certain today that much of the design work was done by James Pain who, along with his brother George Richard, had been commissioned to design numerous public buildings and country homes. Over the three decades of construction, other renowned architects also contributed to the plans: PC Hardwick and Augustus Pugin. James Connolly, a local mason, supervised the actual construction until his death in 1852.
The 840 acre estate that surrounds the Manor House consists of sweeping parklands, cultivated gardens, formal French gardens, magnificent mature trees, and the Maigue, one of Ireland’s best trout rivers. PC Hardwick laid out the Formal Gardens in geometric box patterns in the 1850s. Among the trees southwest of the Manor House are Ogham Stones, which were brought to Adare Manor from Kerry by Edwin, the 3rd Earl of Dunraven. Ogham Stones date from the early 5th Century to the middle of the 7th Century. They are mainly Christian in context and are usually associated with old churches or early Christian burial sites. Ogham inscriptions are in an early form of Irish, frequently followed by Latin inscriptions and often read from the bottom upwards. A pet cemetery is located close to the Ogham Stones with carved memorials to the Dunraven pets.
As the seat of the Earls of Dunraven until the early 1980s, Adare Manor was a beloved family home; a place to enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday life and to celebrate holidays, birthdays and weddings. It has also been the setting for hunt balls, game fairs, concerts and even a Hollywood movie, The Last Remake of Beau Geste, starring Spike Milligan and Marty Feldman. Visitors over the years have included prominent politicians, musicians and members of the Royal Family, notably in 1897 from the Duke of York, who became George V on the death of his father in 1910, and his wife, the Duchess of York. One frequent visitor to Adare Manor was the poet Aubrey de Vere, a neighbour and close friend of the 3rd Earl, who remembered his time there with fondness, saying “It was a gay as well as a friendly and hospitable house...after dinner we had private theatricals, games of all sorts, dances, and in the daytime, pleasant wanderings beside the beautiful Maigue.”
That sense of warmth and welcome is still very much at the heart of Adare Manor, and those of us lucky enough to spend our days here experience the love that Lady Caroline expressed when, in 1856, she wrote in her book Memorials of Adare Manor:
“This charming spot was my home of unclouded happiness for forty years: may Heaven’s choicest blessings be poured with equal abundance on its present and future possessors!”
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 Adare Manor’s restoration 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 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 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.
The Internal Fabric
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.
+353 (0) 61 605200 Fax: +353 (0) 61 396124 email@example.com
Official website: http://www.adaremanor.com
Where to find Adare Manor
Adare Manor is situated in the heart of Adare Village in Co. Limerick and sits neatly on the gateway to south-west Ireland.
Shannon International Airport is a 25 minute drive away, Cork city lies 62 miles due south on the N20 and Killarney a similar distance on the N21. Limerick is a mere 10 miles north-east.
Staying at Adare Manor provides the ideal base from which to explore some of Ireland's most notable visitor attractions. The Cliffs of Moher (an hour and a half drive), The Dingle Penninsula (a two hour drive), Bunratty Castle & Folk Park (a 20 minute drive) and Killarney (an hour and fifteen minutes drive).
Connecting flights to most major European and US cities can be taken from Shannon, Dublin and Cork Airports.