Emerald Isle Escape
Adare Manor, one of Europe’s top destination resorts, is set to host the Ryder Cup in 2026—but don’t wait until then to visit. To the Manor reborn!
Written byNorene Sheehan
Built on the banks of the River Maigue in the village of Adare, County Limerick, Ireland—the former seat of the Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl—the five-star Adare Manor and Golf Resort has a storied history dating back to the 1700s.
Adare Manor is no stranger to reinvention. The 2nd Earl of Dunraven and his wife Lady Caroline first transformed their home, “Adare House,” into an estate in the Neo-Gothic style, featuring lancet arches and heraldic tapestries that took over 30 years to complete. Begun in 1832, construction provided work for the people from the surrounding villages during the potato famine. Using local masons and artisans to work on their design was important to the Dunraven family.
Recently, Adare Manor has undergone yet another transformation, this time at the hands of racehorse tycoon JP McManus and his family. Starting in 2014, McManus launched a massive, 21-month remodel of the property. His 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 won the bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2026. It boasts 104 rooms and suites, 42 of which are located in the new wing; other assets include luxury wedding packages (often drawing international clientele), spa experiences, and extensive gardens. Again, local artisans were hired to carefully complete this large-scale renovation.
This past spring, I had the pleasure of experiencing this historical wonder. After a two-hour drive from Dublin, Adare Manor appeared, unapologetically grand, set on 840 acres of estate (the size of Manhattan’s Central Park) in the Irish countryside. I began to understand why World Travel Awards named it Ireland’s Leading Hotel for 2019—following such 2018 accolades as Virtuoso’s Hotel of the Year and spots on both Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List” and Travel + Leisure’s “It List”.
At the gated entrance, warm smiles greeted us, along with the genuine hospitably that one comes to expect in Ireland. Much like the opening scene of Downtown Abbey, I knew a grand reveal would continue. Indeed, we were received in the Great Hall before an imposing staircase dramatically carved with ravens. A 19th-century pipe organ had been replaced during the remodel with a small elevator, and there was a new boot room tucked behind the old paneling, stocked with Dubarry jackets and wellies for guests to borrow. The atmosphere was busy and formal, curated yet understated, and gave us an immediate sense of ease and relaxation.
Our first-floor suite had a spacious sitting room with bay windows that looked out on manicured gardens and the impeccably groomed golf course. Books of Irish poetry thoughtfully stocked the nightstands, along with fresh fruit to enjoy. The luxurious bathroom beckoned a soak in the beautiful bath with a choice of Acqua Di Parma beauty products.
Before settling in, a full tour of the hotel, spa, and gardens by Adare Manor’s Sarah Ormston awaited. Ormston shared the many activities available to estate guests, from walks to two nearby ruins, a Franciscan friary, and a Trinitarian abbey, to bicycles for exploring further afield (alternatively, the staff will happily drive you to any local destination of your choice). The property also offers fishing as well as falconry that we later enjoyed as spectators while sipping wonderful cocktails in the lounge.
Following cocktails, we indulged in a seven-course dinner in the Oak Room, the main restaurant in the castle. Head Chef Michael Tweedie (former Head Chef of Ballyfin Demesne) and his team take pride in their seasonal menu. Our delightful server shared with us that during Adare Manor’s renovation, culinary director Loughlin Druhan loaded his team into a camper van and road tripped around Ireland to find the best vendors for every ingredient they needed. They now work with over 100 different suppliers from across the country, sourcing everything from game meats to that addictive Irish butter. The extensive wine list, at the selection of Resort Wine and Spirits Manager Jurica Gojevic, boasts some incredible vintages.
Feeling perfectly satiated, we had to visit the Tack Room, which offers a selection of 160 Irish whiskies alone! (Don’t miss a shot of their exclusive Adare Manor Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey, crafted by Master Distiller Emeritus Barry Crockett.)
The next morning, we enjoyed a late relaxing breakfast with the local newspapers in the Gallery dining room. This exquisite room, with its gothic-inspired oak carvings, ornate design, and beautiful original stained glass windows, was once the Dunraven family’s favorite room.
Afterwards, we met with Paul Heery, Adare Manor’s affable General Manager, and asked him about the many awards. “The magic [of the Manor] and distinguished awards,” Heery said, “are testament to the outstanding quality of our team at the resort, who consistently demonstrate their genuine care and passion for the Adare Manor true guest experience.” A staff of over 600 allows plenty of manpower to focus intensively on guests’ needs. Plus, a certain “gra`”—the Gaelic word for “love” and meaning, “the warm, loving Irish way”—is key.
In the early afternoon, we took a 10-minute stroll to the village of Adare, passing the Carriage House, abustle with patrons enjoying a relaxing lunch. The village alone is worth a visit, with its delightful thatched cottages, charming stores and restaurants, and a chance to mingle with locals.
Alas, it was time to leave, but not before yet another thoughtful surprise: two leather luggage tags, a key ring, and an Adare Manor suit holder for a single sports jacket were already set out for us in our car.
Back stateside, we have been waxing lyrical to friends about the enviable luxury and heritage the Manor has to offer and why they simply must have it on their list when visiting Ireland.
Adare Manor has been well and truly reborn!