The Limerick village of Adare is well known across Ireland. Adare is an historic area with plenty to see and do. Add to that the fact that Adare has some amazing culinary options, excellent pubs and is within easy access of Limerick City as well as close to Shannon Airport. Put all this together and it’s easy to understand why Adare is one of the most popular visitor locations in Ireland. Did I mention Adare is hosting the Ryder Cup in 2027? So, yes, Adare is very popular. As such, you or friends may find yourself planning a trip to the Treaty County. You may be asking yourself…. what to do in Adare once you get there?
This article aims to be your one stop shop with a full guide to what to do in Adare. My recommendation when visiting this part of the country is to make your base in Adare and then branch out to whichever of the many nearby attractions catch your fancy. With that in mind, I’ve also included below lots of attractions that are within a reasonable driving distance from Adare.
What to do in Adare – The Village Itself
Let’s start off with the attractions within Adare itself. The village is walkable from one end to the other for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. Here’s what’s on offer:
Adare River Bank Walk
This is a walking website so we must start with this lovely walk through Adare Village taking in some of the historic buildings in the area. I always finding walking around a new area is a great way to get your bearings. The route is c. 2km and guidebooks are available from the Adare Tourist Information Office (located in the Adare Heritage Centre on Main Street). See also this alltrails link for a map of the trail.
Starting from the Heritage Centre, turn right at the roundabout and walk until you meet the River Maigue. Turn right for the nicest section of the trail along the riverbank path. Then it’s a right turn again when you reach the main road to bring you back to your starting point.
You will pass a few sites of note when completing the Adare River Bank Walk:
Adare Heritage Centre
The Heritage Centre itself has a nice mix of historical exhibitions, shopping and dining. The heritage centre provides a good insight into the history of Adare. The centre is open year-round, 7 days a week, generally from 9a.m. to 5.30p.m.
Adare Castle (also known as Desmond Castle)
Adare Castle is located on the north bank of the River Maigue. The castle is open to visitors between the start of June and end of September each year. Access can only be gained through buying tickets from the Heritage Centre.
The castle is a great example of medieval defensive structures and dates back to the start of the 13th century. Though there is evidence of settlement on the site from much earlier. Initially owned by the earls of Kildare, it changed hands in 1536 and was granted to the Earls of Desmond.
The Augustinian Friary
Across the river from Adare Castle sits the Augustinian Friary. The then Earl of Kildare founded the Friary in the year 1316. Unusually for a building of this age, the Friary is still used as a place of worship.
Where to Eat?
Leaving the Friary, you are spoiled for choice for places to eat as you make your way back to the starting point. First up is the Good Room Café – I’ve eaten here a couple of times and it never fails to impress. Beside the Good Room is The Oak and Apple Restaurant. Next is 1826 Adare which has a fantastic reputation as one of the best eateries in the whole country. Finally, you have the always popular Blue Door restaurant.
The Trinitarian Abbey
The final point of interest before completing the Adare River Bank Walk is the Trinitarian Abbey located just before the Heritage Centre. Now acting as the Roman Catholic Church for the parish of Adare, the building goes back to medieval times. The church is a really interesting place to visit with the light filled stained glass windows being particularly impressive.
Adare Town Park
You will finish the River Bank Walk at the Adare Town Park. The park consists of nice paths and walkways and also contains a lovely, thatched gazebo.
Located at the roundabout in the middle of the village, the Adare Courthouse is a stern looking limestone building. The Earl of Dunraven financed the building of the Courthouse in 1863. The Earl of Dunraven lived in the nearby Adare Manor. The building operated as a courthouse until the early 2000’s before lying vacant until 2018.
Ownership of the Courthouse now resides with the same group who own the Aunt Lena’s pub next door. The ground floor of the courthouse now forms part of the pub with the upstairs section a free museum. The museum focuses on the history of the Dunraven Family and their links to Adare.
Today, the village of Adare is probably best known for Adare Manor – luxury hotel and golf resort and future host of the Ryder Cup. This is a 5-star hotel with a Michelin Star Oak Room Restaurant. As you might expect, the prices match the luxurious facilities. Unfortunately, I have only ever been able to afford to visit the (also wonderful) Carriage House Restaurant for a more leisurely lunch.
As well as golf, the Manor has activities such as falconry on offer.
Old Franciscan Friary
For a small place, Adare really punches above its weight when it comes to Friaries. By punching above its weight, I mean that they have two. Which is two more than most places in fairness. Founded in 1464, the Friary now stands in ruins. Again, construction of the Friary was funded by the then Earl of Kildare from the nearby Adare Castle. This time for the Franciscan Friars of Strict Observance. The Friary is located on the grounds of Adare Manor. According to the Adare Manor website, you need to seek permission from the Adare Manor Golf Club before visiting the Friary. I have never actually been to the site so I am not sure how accommodating the golf club will be in this regard…especially if you are not a guest at Adare Manor.
Spa and Leisure Centres
If you’re looking for a bit of rest and relaxation, the three hotels in Adare all offer leisure centre facilities. Check out their website for more information.
Manor Fields and Playground
If you’re looking for something to keep the children busy, the Manor Fields and Playground might be a good shout. The large playground is really impressive with plenty of playing fields for a kick about.
Adare Pitch and Putt
If you’re not sure about qualification for the Ryder Cup just yet, maybe you could start off at the Adare Pitch and Putt course located beside the playing fields.
Clonshire Equestrian Centre
If you love horses, Clonshire Equestrian Centre may be the place for you. They offer one-off lessons and horse riding holidays for both adults and children.
More Food and Drink Offerings in Adare
The three hotels listed above all provide good options for food and drinks. I particularly like the family friendly offering at the Woodlands Hotel with their outdoor Treehouse dining option.
I’ve already mentioned too the food options along the Adare River Bank Walk trail plus Aunt Lena’s Pub next to the Courthouse.
Other dining options in the village are:
The Arches Restaurant, Main Street (beside Aunt Lena’s)
Stacpoole Coffee House, Main Street
Pat Collins Bar and Restaurant, Main Street
HouFu Chinese Restaurant, Main Street
Sean Collins and Sons Bar, Rathkeale Road
What to do in Adare – Nearby Activities
Ok, so we have spoken above about what to do in Adare village itself. Next, let’s take a look at what attractions are within driving distance. All of the below are within approximately 1 hours’ drive of Adare. I’ve listed them in order of drive time – starting with the closest.
Curragh Chase Forest Park (17 minute drive)
This large estate consists of 300 hectares of rolling parkland, woods and lakes situated around what remains of the 18th century Curraghchase House. The park has a number of marked trails to suit all levels of fitness.
Hunt Museum (20 minute drive)
Located in Limerick City, the Hunt Museum houses a collection of historical artefacts and artistic works donated to the people of Ireland by John and Gertrude Hunt.
Note: The Hunt Museum closes every Monday.
Bunratty Castle (22 minute drive)
Bunratty Castle dates back to the 15th century. Tours are available of the castle and the associated folk park. Other attractions in the park include a 19th century village street, a fairy village, playground, farm animals as well as the Estate House and walled gardens.
Knockfierna (24 minute drive)
This is a walking site so you can’t be too surprised to see walking recommendations in this guide on what to do in Adare. Trails to the top of Knockfierna start in the village of Ballingarry. Along the way you will pass reconstructed cottages abandoned during famine times. The summit offers good views of the surrounding countryside as well as Donn’s Cave and Cairn. The myth is that following Donn’s drowning caused by a magic wave summoned by the Tuatha Dé Danann – Donn became a mountain God and ruled over the plain of Limerick from the summit of Knockfierna.
Lough Gur (29 minute drive)
The Lough Gur Visitor Centre showcases 6,000 years of history at Lough Gur. The location has sites from every period of human history in Ireland – from Neolithic to the modern era.
Foynes (29 minute drive)
Combing a Flying Boat Museum and an Irish Coffee Centre may just be the stroke of genius nobody thought we needed. Both offer a lot of fun less than half an hour away from Adare in the village of Foynes.
Glenstal Abbey (30 Minute Drive)
Glenstal Abbey is a working monastery of Benedictine Monks. Glenstal is also open to visitors who can enjoy religious services complete with Gregorian chanting. You can also visit the church or simply walk the magnificent grounds. For those seeking further reflection, the Abbey also hosts organised spiritual retreats.
Craggaunowen (36 minute drive)
Craggaunowen is a family activity centre based around the 16th century Craggaunowen Castle. The castle was fallen into various stages of disrepair over the years with the most recent restoration completed by one John Hunt of the Hunt Museum fame. As well as the castle there is a currach boat used by Tim Severin to sail from Ireland to America (replicating the voyage of Saint Brendan), a Crannog and a Ringfort. Tickets for Craggaunowen tend to book out fast – especially during the school holidays so best to book in advance.
Glin (43 minute drive)
Glin is a lovely little village on the Shannon Estuary. There are a number of walking trails that start from the village such as The Knights Walk (4km) and the Knockeranna Walking Trail (8.5km). Boyce Gardens and Knockpatrick Gardens are both usually open to visitors but best to check before you go as opening times can vary.
Tarbert (46 minute drive)
Just down the road from Glin is the village of Tarbert. Once in Tarbert you will have entered County Kerry – don’t worry, the locals will definitely remind you of this fact. Tarbert offers the opportunity of crossing the River Shannon via ferry which may be a novel experience for people in your group. While in Tarbert, drop into the Visitor Centre for details on local activities such as the John F. Leslie Woodland Walk (6.5km) or the Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse and Jail Museum.
Ballybunion (1 hour drive)
No holiday is complete without a trip to the beach. While Adare is very much inland, the glorious Ballybunion Beach is still only an hour away. Ballybunion itself is probably Kerry’s most famous seaside resort and that is saying something. The Bromore Cliffs near Ballybunion are also highly recommended for some amazing Atlantic views.
Carrig Island (1 hour drive)
Also an hour from Adare is Carrig Island. This monastic site in Ballylongford, Co. Kerry dates back to the sixth century. Another attraction on the site is a Napoleonic Battery Fortress. The best way to see these (and other local attractions) is by completing the two Ballylongford Heritage Trails (5km and 2km) which takes you via the small causeway that links Carrig Island to the mainland.
Mitchelstown Caves (1 hour and 8 minute drive)
You can get a guided tour through the passageways of one of the largest cave systems in Ireland. If you are looking for some fresher above ground air post your cave adventure – there is a lovely forest trail in nearby Glengarra Woods.
Ratoo Monastery and Round Tower (1 hour and 10-minute drive)
The Round Tower at Ratoo is almost 90 feet tall and dates back to 1100 A.D. This is a nice historical site which is usually not very busy.
Beal Strand (1 hour and 10-minute drive)
Located at the mouth of the River Shannon, Beal Strand offers 3km of sand and rock beach to explore. Best visited when the tide is out. Swimming is not advised due to the strong currents with the river entering the ocean.
Go Visit Adare
Ok, so what I really hope this article has done is make you realise that you need to go visit Adare. I hope the above shows that there is so much to see, do, eat and drink both in Adare and the surrounding areas. You could spend a month there and not be able to sample everything on offer. The best place to start though is by visiting there. Trust me when I say you will definitely have a great time!