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HOME AT FIRST'S

ADVENTURE

CENTRAL IRELAND

Taken from Home At First’s "Ireland Activity Guide"

Picture Perfect Irish village?

Adare

CO. LIMERICK, CENTRAL IRELAND

adare: idealized thatch COTTAGes and brightly colored shops

          We like Adare. We start with that just in case you come to the conclusion that we don’t. Adare is a fancy, a folly, more than a little bit tongue-in-cheek, and, perhaps, all the more Irish for it. Like Main Street in the original Disneyland, Adare is all about fulfilled expectations, about images becoming reality, and about nostalgia turning a profit. Adare is Irish slight-of-hand, and the selling of an Ireland-that-never-was to the Irish-who-really-aren’t.

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN MARCH, 2004.                                          MOST RECENT UPDATE: 2013.

 

ADARE — DREAMS FULFILLED

          Adare — a small town southwest of Limerick city in Central Ireland — is cleverly enough disguised not to be an embarrassing cliché. The town is a perennial finalist in

 

the Irish "Tidy Towns" competition, and

Photo © Home At First.
TODAY'S ADARE: IRELAND THAT NEVER WAS?
Photo © Home At First.

its fame as a showpiece has spread far and wide. In fairness, its conception resulted more from the self-delusion of the town’s own landed gentry than a scheme to commit liposuction on visitors’ wallets. Still, the town seems blissfully schizophrenic: perfectly comfortable going about its business while busloads of shutterbugs descend on its Main Street every day.
          Adare begins its slight-of-hand by appearing to be largely medieval. Driving into Adare from Limerick you must pass by a
15th century Franciscan Friary, and the substantial ruins of the

 

13th century Norman Desmond Castle, before

crossing the 14th century road bridge over the River Maigue and entering the town. Adare boasts (a honest use of the verb) no fewer than three ancient church buildings including an Augustinian Priory (14th century), and the only Irish example of Trinitarian monastery (14th century), these now being (respectively) the town’s Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.

          All of these ruined or remodeled structures are window dressing for Adare’s real drawing card: its row of fairy-tale-cute thatched cottages that line Main Street just as one drives into town. And they are pretty. The pastel painted cottages each carry heavy, drooping, ornamental thatches that seem more like blankets than the neatly trimmed utilitarian thatches one still can see on some Irish cottages. No, these are Snow White thatches so perfect that one expects the Seven Dwarves to be tenants here, dressed as leprechauns, of course.

Photo © Home At First.
THE ADARE COTTAGE SHOP — GOT LEPRECHAUNS?
Photo © Home At First.

          The original medieval village of

 

 

Adare would have been built in the

Photo © Home At First.
DO ADARE'S PRICEY THATCHED RESTAURANTS
PROVIDE A GLIMPSE OF MODERN IRELAND...
Photo © Home At First.

shadow of the castle for protection. When the castle was badly damaged by troops of the English Crown suppressing a 16th century rebellion, and then ruined by Oliver Cromwell’s English Parliamentary forces in the 17th century, Adare town disappeared too. New Adare arose on the opposite bank of the river from old Adare during the first half of the 19th century when the Second Earl of Dunraven built the new town for the workers and tenants on his estate.

          The famous Adare thatches, therefore, were an expression of nostalgia even then for a romantic
feudal vision that was a sanitized plentiful labor involved in the

 

version of Irish history. Ironically, the

construction of new Adare and the Earl’s

 

own majestic manor may have helped local residents avoid some of the worst suffering of the Great Famine of the 1840s.

        Whatever the economic realities of the 19th century earldom, Adare’s 21st century realities suggest a prosperity disproportionate with its pastoral setting in an otherwise unremarkable corner of Central Ireland. The theme park nostalgia of thatched Adare presents a shocking contrast with the Limerick of Frank McCourt’s "Angela’s Ashes" just fifteen minutes to the north. Yet both images are exports that cash in on

Photo © Home At First.
...AND A SANITIZED VERSION OF IRISH HISTORY?
Photo © Home At First.

American images of Ireland as a once-

 

pleasant peasant landscape perpetually plagued with a system that lacked a middle class.

Adare, like much of Ireland, is within day-trip range of Home at First's cottages along Lough Derg in Central Ireland.

 Home At First’s Central Ireland cottages are a short day trip away from Adare
in and near pretty Irish villages of their own. Visit Adare and most of the
Republic of Ireland from your home base in
CENTRAL IRELAND.

 

Photo © Home At First.
 ADARE — SHOCKING CONTRAST WITH THE
LIMERICK OF 'ANGELA'S ASHES'?
Photo © Home At First.

          Today’s Ireland — full of Eurocrats, High-Techies, entrepreneurs, and well-educated managers and businessmen — doesn’t much resemble what Irish-Americans remember as the green motherland they fled. Ireland was never greener than it is today and much of that green — until the Great Recession of 2008 applied the brakes to the economic engine — has been gold. Adare’s pricey thatched restaurants and shops and its Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort tell us more about Ireland as a member of the European Union and Ireland the world travel destination than it does about Ireland the once chronically impoverished land of demi-

 

royalty and their oppressed subjects.

          Go to Adare — it’s just an hour’s drive south of

 

Home At First’s cottages in Central Ireland. Park in the big lot behind the Adare Heritage Centre by the Trinitarian Abbey church. Walk up and down Main Street, and photograph the idealized thatches and the brightly colored shops. Stroll through the town park — there might even be a wedding party posing for photos. Have a look at the Second Earl’s great manor that welcomes 21st century royalty. Have lunch in one of the many restaurants and pubs that range from simple to elegant. Then leave town by a back road and head east cross-country through the maze of lanes leading after most of an hour to the market town of Tipperary. Park your car and take a 30-minute walk through Tipperary and discover more about traditional rural Ireland on this impromptu visit than Adare will dare let you see.

ADARE PARK — BEWARE OF WEDDINGS
Photo © Home At First.

Photo © Home At First.

   

FIND THE IRELAND OF YOUR DREAMS
as part of your next visit to Central Ireland.
 
This article comes from Home At First's exclusive
"Ireland Activities Guide" that comes to you as part of your trip.
 
Learn all about Home At First's travel programs to: IRELAND
 
Home At First offers travel to four great regions of Ireland. Have your own cottage in
CENTRAL IRELAND, SOUTHERN IRELAND, NORTHWESTERN IRELAND, OR NORTHERN IRELAND.
Minimum rental is one week, and you can mix and match with other Home At First destinations
throughout ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, and WALES. Or, for complete information about travel with
Home At First to Britain & Ireland, see: BRITISH ISLES.

YOUR DREAM TRIP BEGINS BY CONTACTING 
HOME AT FIRST

WE KNOW IRELAND