Adare Manor in County Limerick is a cornucopia of interesting architecture, stunning craftsmanship and beautiful land built by the 2nd Earl of Dunraven in the early 1800s.
The Earl was a vigorous and outdoor man so the intricacies of the Manor may never have existed, but for an onset of gout that reduced him to an invalid. His wife, Countess Caroline, was unwilling to watch him become idle and soon convinced him to undertake a vast challenge—to make their Manor wondrous to behold.
Their imagination ran wild and every detail of the architecture and decoration tells a story or hides a secret. The most obvious of these is that the Manor contains 365 stained windows and 52 chimneys to mark the days and weeks of the year. Other features of ascending size are intended to represent the seven days of the week and the four seasons. Along the rooftops are carved words that when put altogether are a Bible verse and they are constantly guarded and adorned by carved gargoyles.
Inside, the large receiving room features elaborate wood and stone carvings, crystal chandeliers, stained glass and tiled fireplaces. The most repeated motto inside and out is “Quae Sursum Volo Vidare”, which translates to “What is Heavenly I would See”. Perhaps the most amazing fact about this manor is that the Earl and his wife made all their changes without incurring any debt, despite how elaborate and unusual their preferences were.
However, when the Manor was transferred to the 3rd Earl of Dunraven, it was still incomplete and he was determined to continue the massive overhaul. He turned to the land and created lush, labyrinthine gardens and landscaped paths throughout the property, putting many people to work even during Ireland’s Great Famine, when other landowners were leaving their workers to starve or immigrate. The Manor was completed in the early 1860s and the Dunraven family’s reputation for sustaining and providing for their workers and people was both rare and appreciated in Ireland. In fact, the 4th Earl was instrumental in the politics that led to land reform and the gradual closing or dismantling of many large estates in Ireland, including the eventual loss of 39,000 acres of his own.
In 1982 the 7th Earl of Dunraven put the property up for sale. It was purchased by the Kane family of Florida in the United States who undertook restoring the Manor to its original glory and re-opened the home as a luxurious 5 star hotel. It is an awesome display of architecture, stories, and original stone and wood craftsmanship and the Manor still feels more like a historical home than a modern hotel. It also houses a restaurant and a gift shop.