Our Visit to Historic Adare

 

A small but select group travelled to Adare on 31st May to take a closer look at the famed historic village in County Limerick. Starting with some sustenance in the form of coffee and scones at the village’s Heritage Centre, our group set off on a village walk in brilliant sunshine, led by Pat Naughton from Ballincollig, himself an Adareman by birth. All remarked on the bustling activity of the place, as busloads of tourists from many countries thronged the Centre.

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Pat welcomes the group to Adare.

The 13th century Trinitarian Abbey was the first site visited. This Catholic church has a long history, involving centuries of worship, attacks by English forces, a massacre of monks in 1539, reduction to ruins in the dissolution of the monasteries, and eventual restoration in the 1800s as a place of prayer. Many of the building’s original stone features continue to impress some 800 years later. Pat talked about the huge contribution the Earls of Dunraven have made to the development of the village over the past 200 years, including restoring the churches, planning the village’s streets and providing employment through the years. Their original seat, Adare Manor, is now a high-prestige hotel and golf resort.

The terraces of thatched cottages remain the iconic image of Adare that most people recognise. Pat talked of their history (built in 1826) but lamented that almost all are now commercial premises rather than family dwellings. Along the street, we viewed the attractive town park, the washing pool, the courthouse and interesting shopfronts. Our attention was drawn to the plaque outside the Garda station commemorating Garda Jerry McCabe, killed on the village street in 1996. Further on our walk we saw the old blacksmith’s forge, the former RIC barracks, and the former Christian Brothers’ primary school from 1830. Last point of interest was the plaque in memory of Seán Ó Riada, who grew up in Adare in the 1930s and ‘40s.

It was time for lunch and we ate and were satisfied – Adare has plenty choices for those with an appetite! Our final visit was to the Augustinian Abbey (Church of Ireland) dating from the early 1300s, where we were treated to a most interesting tour of the buildings by local man John Bradley. For most of us the day was rounded off by a short riverbank walk by the River Maigue, while a few lingered to explore some of the village’s varied shops.

I expect most who were there will return before too long to savour some more of this unique village’s attractions and charms. All in all, a most enjoyable day in Adare.

With thanks to Elizabeth O’Connell for the photographs.

Doneraile Park Visit

Enjoying Our Doneraile Park May 10th   by Seán Ó Callanáin
Visiting places of high regard is often coloured by the reports of those who have gone before. Poet Pat O Kelly’s review of his 1808 visit was less than five star praise:-
“Alas how dismal is my tale,
I lost my watch in Doneraile ___
May curses wholesale and retail
Pour with full force on Doneraile “

Thankfully the 30 plus RTAI walkers who visited Doneraile Park, came open-minded. Our visit was rewarded with a memorable walk, sunny weather and the best of company. All praise to Mary Fitzgerald for organising our outing and sourcing our guide —Michael O Sullivan. He wore his depth of knowledge lightly as he opened our eyes to an attraction that half a million visitors enjoyed last year.Like a latter day shepherd— staff in hand— he joined for us  dots of today’s Doneraile, to its elaborate mini – Versailles past.The ambition shown in diverting the river, creating a waterfall and terracing the main view from the house ,showed a flight of imagination and investment that is perhaps beyond todays best efforts.
The preparation for a visit by King George IV were well beyond a “ a lick of paint” proportions and must have lightened the pockets of the St. Leger family. That he failed to arrive must have tempted them to republicanism. The Kings “ Gabh mo leithscéal” note was nowhere in sight. Our guide had the happy knack of leading us to viewing spots that coupled with his words, illuminated the estates past and ambitious future. With Government support and local enthusiasm, we the people of Ireland-have a treasure in Doneraile of great worth.
The uplift of the outing ensured sharpened appetite to which the “ Tea Rooms” ensured a happy ending. The soup, light meals and desserts were top class and worthy of many stars.

As we left we felt rather like poet Pat O Reilly when the Lady of the Big House presented him with a new watch.
“May all from Belfast to Kinsale ,be half as good as Doneraile —-
May every wish and prayer avail, to crown the peace of Doneraile “