ADARE, Ireland -- Although staying in bed-and-breakfasts might be a
comfortable, intimate, way of discovering the Emerald Isle, couples
who want to indulge themselves -- even for only a night or two --
might follow the road to Adare Manor.
Shannon Airport is
just 22 miles away, but as guests pass through the property's
gates, meander up the long, winding drive and glimpse this 19th
century Gothic marvel through the trees, they quickly realize they
have found a place far from the crowds.
The exterior of the 64-room property consists of towers and
turrets and elaborate stonework adorned with eye-catching
gargoyles. Upstairs, the bedrooms are decorated individually, and
many boast working fireplaces and breathtaking views. Two rooms
worth noting are No. 203, Lady Dunraven's ornate apartment
(actually an oversized bedroom and large sitting area), and, in the
center of the manor, stateroom No. 302, with beautiful stone arches
and a fantastic view of the gardens.
Guests should sample
the dinner menu, which features French haute cuisine with a touch
of Irish flavor. Although the food is delicious, the service can be
a bit stuffy. A more relaxed atmosphere prevails in the Tack Room,
where guests sing along to old favorites as they sip after-dinner
The public room most appreciated by guests is the Minstrel's
Gallery. Spanning 132 feet, rising 26-and-a-half feet and lined
with 17th century Flemish choir stalls, the gallery is said to have
been inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.
Plans to build Adare Manor fist took shape when the second Earl
of Dunraven became ill and was unable to fish or hunt. His wife,
Lady Caroline, suggested he keep himself busy by designing a new
home. Construction began in 1832, with the help of architect James
Pain. The property took more than 30 years to build.
Adare Manore was transformed into a hotel in 1988. In 1995, a
portion of the 840-acre estate, which sprawls along the Maigue
River, was turned into an 18-hole golf course. In addition to golf,
guests can enjoy a number of activities here, including horseback
riding, fox hunting, clay-pigeon shooting, fishing, cycling, garden
walks and archery.
Points of interest on the estate include the Augustinian Priory,
dating from 1315, and the Franciscan Friary, founded in 1464.
Immediately outside the manor gates is the charming village of
Adare. Its thatched cottages, housing touristy galleries and
antique shops, make for a popular tourist stop, and in the summer,
throngs of visitors clog the village's streets.
Located in County Limerick, 11 miles from Limerick City, Adare
Manor is a gateway to the attractions of Ireland's southwest.
Nightly rates at the property through Sept. 30 range from about
$265 for a standard room to $435 for the Dunraven Staterooms. A
golf package, including three nights' accommodations, daily
breakfasts, two dinners and two rounds at Adare Golf Club, is
priced from about $570 per person, double occupancy; $480 is
charged for a nongolfer.
Adare Manor, Phone: (800) 462-3273, Fax: (561) 776-5855.