Adare Manor, the romantic Victorian mansion in County Limerick, Ireland, isn’t a stranger to reinvention. It began life as Adare House, a Georgian pile born in the usual way, after the owner hooked a deep-pocketed heiress. A century later, the male issue of the day, now the 2nd Earl of Dunraven, was in bed with gout and looking for a distraction. His wife, Lady Caroline, suggested that he transform their home into an estate in the Neo-Gothic style, garnished with lancet arches and heraldic tapestries. The construction took over thirty years, but the resulting castle was extraordinary enough to remain largely unaltered from the 3rd Earl to the 7th, who sold the family seat in the 1980s.
By comparison, Adare's most recent renovation— completed this spring after two years of construction—was duck soup. The castle was already a luxury hotel when the Irish racehorse tycoon J. P. McManus bought it in 2015. However, McManus’s plans included a substantial addition to the existing castle, built in the same architectural style with local limestone, and a world-class golf course that will make a bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2026. Months before the hotel reopened, rumors frothed about the bills for the renovation (so high you have to squint) and about the fine staff, poached like so many estate-laid eggs from the kitchens and doorways of other properties. Press photos circulated of afternoon tea in the former picture gallery, a room designed like a church nave with stained glass windows and a two-story ceiling, and of four-poster bedroom suites with views across the River Maigue.
Arriving guests are received in the Great Hall, another double-height room with ecclesiastical overtones. At one end of the hall is an imposing staircase carved with ravens (a wink from the Dunraven brood) and at the other is an alcove housing two check-in desks. The original 19th-century pipe organ has been replaced with a small elevator, and there’s a new boot room tucked behind the old panelling, stocked with Dubarry jackets and wellies for guests to borrow, but otherwise it feels like an interior that the 2nd Earl might recognize. The atmosphere is busy and formal, and as we’re taken to our room, the halls are full of people who appear to be wedding guests, made conspicuous by their fascinators and satin shoes. The bellhop nods—the property is already popular with locals, and there will be two receptions held during the five days that we’re here.
A Weekend at Ireland’s Adare Manor
Our suite, located on the ground floor, has a sitting room with bay windows and a rose-colored marble fireplace. There are books of Irish poetry on the nightstands and a yawning tub in the bathroom, but the most winning feature is the view. All of the windows look out on the river, abundant with trout and irresistible to herons and moorhens. Beyond the river is the golf course, which stretches into acres of neat hillocks and ponds. The sight of the fairways, to a non-golfer, is not as invigorating as plain countryside, but the vista is still undeniably pretty.
Activities on the estate are the outdoorsy kind: There are good walks to two nearby ruins, a Franciscan friary and a Trinitarian abbey, and bicycles that you can borrow to go further afield. The property offers fishing and falconry (a nice choice for children as interaction with the birds is heavily supervised—the estate’s Snowy Owl, Olaf, is a particular hit with the under-10s), and of course, golfing. A short drive away is an excellent independent stable, the Clonshire Equestrian Centre, which shares its land with the County Limerick Hunt (listen for the foxhounds crooning and you know you’ve found the right road). My husband and I spend one of the best mornings of our trip here riding in the rain, squelching through fields on two Irish Hunters. We return to the estate stiff with mud, and find cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows waiting.
The main restaurant at the castle is The Oak Room, which looks exactly as it sounds—an elegant clutch of tables surrounded by wood panelling, the upper walls covered with green Irish wool. Head chef Michael Tweedie invites guests into the kitchen (we eat a sublime dish of foie gras and rhubarb in there) while he arranges plates of hogget with asparagus, and swaddles of pasta stuffed with fresh goat’s cheese and hazelnuts. It’s a meal worth seeking out whether or not you’re staying the night. A fifteen-minute walk from the hotel is another terrific restaurant, 1826 Adare, a gem of a place located in a thatched cottage in the village. On the night of our reservation, we sit in front of a fire and eat braised beef short ribs, followed by sticky toffee pudding.
Adare Manor is an ambitious property, unapologetically grand and efficient. Its competitors are not the wonderful countryside inns that thrive in Britain and Ireland, but the large-scale international resorts that push the standards of luxury travel. If your tastes run to the latter, the staff will have to pry you from the raven-topped banister.
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/tripideas/old-world-meets-new-at-adare-manor-ireland-e2-80-99s-just-renovated-castle-hotel/ar-AAvtnpq