Destinations, Ireland

Day 6 – Bunratty Castle and Adare Manor

Rob, Tom & Winnie went to Bunratty Castle in the morning and I decided to sit this one out.  I was ready for some time to myself (as I so often am), so I enjoyed a wonderful nap, downloaded pictures from my camera, and took the opportunity to jot down some notes for blogging purposes later.  The 3 of them had a really nice time at Bunratty Castle and they were very happy they went (that stop was almost crossed off the list due to bad reviews by Rick Steves.  What does he know anyway!).  I don’t know all of the details of their visit, but apparently it involved a donkey, a pig, Irish sheepdogs, and an arm wrestling match.  Photos courtesy of Tom’s camera.

After the crew returned from Bunratty we walked into town for lunch.  We sat outside at a cute little place called the Good Room Cafe.  Everyone was very pleased with their meals and Winnie and I raved about the carrot soup.  After lunch, we went back to the villa and then it was just about time for our scheduled tour of Adare Manor.  They let me drive to the manor and I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.  Seemed easy enough to me! ; )

The tour and story of Adare Manor was fascinating.  Owned by the Earl of Dunraven, Adare Manor was once a typical Georgian house.  Lord Dunraven was an active outdoors man until he was affected by gout which left him an invalid.  His wife, Lady Caroline, tried to keep Lord Dunraven occupied after succumbing to his disease by suggesting he redesign the manor.  This new project gave the Lord a sense of purpose since he could no longer enjoy his outdoor sporting activities.  The result of this project is the gorgeous Neo-Gothic Manor that still stands today.  The transformation from the old Georgian house to the new Adare Manor took 30 years to complete and Lord Dunraven didn’t get to see the completely finished project.  He died just a couple of years before it was finished.

Adare Manor is known as a calendar house.  It has 365 stained glass windows and 52 chimneys to represent the number of days and weeks in a year.  There are also other references throughout the manor to the 7 days of the week, 12 months of the year and the 4 seasons.  There are other such calendar houses, but they are very rare and nobody is quite sure why Lord Dunraven selected this type of symbolism.  The manor remained in the family until 1982 when the 7th Earl of Dunraven put it on the market.  It was purchased by a consortium of investors that did nothing at all with property the entire time they owned it.  Five years later, it was purchased (sight unseen) by an American (former Marine) named Thomas Kane.  As the story goes, the manor was in desperate need of repair, but the gardens and grounds were absolutely immaculate.  It is thought that the people of Adare had such a wonderful relationship with the Dunravens and such pride for the manor that they kept the grounds from being overgrown on their own accord.

Realizing that the 12 bedrooms (calendar reference) of the manor would not be enough for a successful resort, Thomas Kane added a new wing to the manor with 50 additional bedrooms.  The new wing of the manor was built in the same style and is even made of stone from the same exact quarry.  After it was pointed out, you could see the slight difference in color in the limestone (from age), but had it not been pointed out, I never would have noticed the difference and assumed it was all part of the original manor.

After our tour was complete we decided it would be fun to have afternoon tea in the manor.  The tea room was quite fancy and it had been so long since I had scones with real clotted cream!



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