Adare Manor Hotel
Often regarded as a comfortable stopover for those travelling between Limerick and Killarney, the town of Adare has seen it’s profile upped considerably in recent years with the wonderful restoration and overhaul of the nearby Adare Manor Hotel. Resting on the banks of the river Maigue, and overseeing 840 acres of rolling parkland the hotel itself is a gothic delight, impeccably adorned and featuring one of the more highly regarded golf courses in the country.
The creation of the building is a thoroughly fascinating tale. An inscription in ornate Gothic lettering on the south front of the hotel reads ‘This goodly house was erected by William Henry, Earl of Dunraven, and Caroline his Countess without borrowing, selling or leaving a debt’.
The Earl appeared to be a remarkable man, a graduate of Trinity and a Member of Parliament with a special concern for Religious education. This interest led to the creation of 2 catholic schools in Adare and thus very strong community ties for the Earl. These ties were particularly strengthened by the construction of the manor as the famine stricken townspeople became gainfully employed in its building. The Earl and his wife had been living in a Georgian house built in the 1720's by Valentine Quin, grandfather of the first Earl.
As a young man the Earl was a keen participator in many typical country pursuits, such as shooting and fishing, but as middle age approached he found himself a victim of gout, and its crippling disabilities put paid to the more leisurely physical activities so commonly enjoyed by the landed gentry. It is regarded that during this time he developed an interest in architecture to try and occupy his mind and Lady Caroline set him the rather grand task of designing a new home for the couple—quite a project for a hobby. The story often implies that the Earl alone was responsible for a large portion of the manor’s design but on closer inspection history reveals that an architect named James Pain had a huge involvement in the drawings. He and his brother, George Richard, had previously worked on such projects as Mitchelstown Castle, an obvious influence on Adare Manor.
Indeed drawings have been found with Pain’s signature on them, and considering the Dunravens weren’t present for 2 years of the property’s construction it seems unimaginable that they would have left the construction in the hands of anyone other than a trained architect. The truth is probably that Pain assisted the Earl in realising the ideas he may have had but that Pain oversaw the more practical affairs of the design. The construction itself was supervised by a talented mason called James Connolly.
The features of the design are as extraordinary as its inception. The building bears many grand allusions to the more ornate English and Irish country homes of the time. There are 365 leaded glass windows, a turret entrance tower at the corner of the building rather than the centre, 75 fire places and, most curiously, 52 chimneys to commemorate each week of the year. Throughout the house are fine examples of remarkable craftsmanship - grotesque gothic masks and heads adorn the gallery and opulent gargoyles, stonework arches, bays and window frames are found throughout- very much giving the impression that the house was built with a love for design and grandeur foremost over any more conventional practicalities.
One of the most renowned interior spaces is the Minstrel's Gallery: 132 foot long, 40 foot high expanse inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and lined on either side with 17th Century Flemish Choir Stalls. The costly varieties of stone from such places as Tough and Kilbreedy give an impression that the manor was built with great love and enthusiasm rather than economy of design. Upon the Earl’s death in 1850 the house was only two-thirds complete, having been subjected to 14 years or so of his architectural flights of fancy, and a more sensible approach was taken until it’s completion.
Taking great care to accentuate the beautiful design work and original fittings, Adare Manor now comprises 63 luxury bedrooms, as well as a number of clubhouse rooms and townhouses, at the very highest international standards of hotel accommodation while still retaining its unique charms and idiosyncrasies. Apart from the magnificent Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed championship golf course, other features of Adare Manor include sweeping parklands, cultivated gardens and formal French gardens.
The assortment of trees include the magnificent 300 year old Cedar of Lebanon on the river bank, the 180 year old Beeches, Monkey Puzzles, Cork, and Flowering Cherry. Among the trees Southwest of the Manor are the Ogham Stones which were "imported" from Kerry by Edwin, the Third Earl of Dunraven. Amongst the Hotel’s facilities are a luxurious Spa, an Equestrian Center with a scenic and challenging cross-country trail, several fine restaurants, entertaining bars and fully equipped conference rooms. It’s heartening to see that the current owners of Adare Manor appear to be applying the same kind of enthusiasm and extravagant detailing that surely would have appealed to it’s original owners.
- ornate Gothic lettering
- James Pain
- Adare Manor
- James Connolly
- leaded glass windows
- grotesque gothic masks and heads