Take the main road west (N21) out of Limerick on the south side of the Shannon River and you will come to the charming thatch-roofed town of Adare. It's about 18 miles from the Limerick town center. Shortly before you enter the center of Adare to your left is the entrance to Adare Manor and the Robert Trent Jones designed golf course.
Adare Manor and Golf Club Adare Manor looks like a French chateau, yet its Gothic exterior is more suggestive of a British manor house. The magnificent house with its formal gardens was built in the 1830's at the suggestion of Lady Caroline Wyndham, wife of The Second Earl of Dunraven who had contracted gout and was unable to participate in many activities in the couple's former home. Lady Wyndham, so the story goes, decided that overseeing the construction of the new house would give her lord something important to do.
Designed by a local mason, the Adare Manor was built by hundreds of surrounding villagers during the Irish Potato Famine. The house has a turreted tower, 52 chimneys to commemorate the weeks of the year, 75 fire places and 365 leaded glass windows. It also has arches, bays, gargoyles and a massive interior, including a great hall and a gallery inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. The second Earl did not live to see his home completed but his son, the third Earl of Dunraven, did, and the home remained in the family until 1982, when the Thomas F. Kane family of Summit, N.J. acquired it. The American family restored the house to original grandeur and transformed the 840-acre estate into a world-class resort.
Here, it can be truly said that a river runs through it. The Maigue River, well known in Ireland for its first-class trout fishing, runs through the rolling parkland property that includes French gardens, lakes and mature trees.
The golf course opened in 1995 and during my visit was in the final stages of a renovation project which has seen improvements in the underground drainage system. The project was to have been completed well before the women's world championship tournament in the fall. As I found it, the course was in poor playing condition but I was assured that in time the course would attain a level of maintenance that would rival any in Ireland.
Aerial of the Adare Golf Club Adare Golf Club is a fine layout with an interesting mix of holes that parade through the trees and around several lakes. There are a few nice elevation changes such as Hole 5, a grand 419-yard dogleg right to a green perched on a hill overlooking much of the course. The course plays to a par 72 and ranges from 5,389 to 7,138 yards. The course has Trent Jones written all over it, as it features large contoured greens, a lot of doglegs, and large deep bunkers. From the correct tee markers, it is a delightful walk that won't have you gasping for breath wishing you were back having tea at the manor house.
After the 9th hole, a straight-away open 544 yarder that heads directly toward the manor house, the course heads back to the woods. The 187-yard 11th is one of four fine par 3s. It requires a shot over a lake to a huge, narrow green. Hole 16 is also over a lake and stretches to 170 yards.
The 550-yard 12th may be the best hole on the course. It starts from a tee box down in a hollow and carries up to a crest some 250 yards out where it bends left through the trees to a slightly elevated green with deep bunkers on both sides. You truly feel you are taking a walk through the woods on this hole.
The same can be said for the 13th which doglegs right this time from a wooded tee box, through a tree-lined alley, and then down slightly to the green. The entire hole is surrounded in woods. No. 14 bends to the left and offers an elevated green surrounded, in part, by a small lake. Hole 15 is only 324 yards from the whites but distance isn't the key here, as the river runs along the entire right side of the hole.
After a straight-away short par 4 17th, the layout finishes up with a hole that runs along the right side of the river which crosses the fairway just in front of the green. At 544 yards it is similar to the 9th, as it runs straight back to the manor house. It is the course's signature hole.
The course can be set up to be extremely demanding from any of the tees, yet it has the earmarks of an excellent resort course, certainly superior to most. The course is served by a large clubhouse with service that includes carts or caddies and the other usual amenities. There is also a large, informal bar and restaurant in the clubhouse which offers dining in a less formal atmosphere than the main dining room in the manor house. The fare at both locations is first class.
I found Adare Manor less attractive than Mt. Juliet though it certainly offered fine golf in a friendly setting. The Adare property doesn't have the sweeping, rolling views of Juliet, and at Adare Manor I felt I was closer to the city. During my visit, unfortunately, I was distracted by the sound of what seemed like stock car races which must have going on nearby.
The manor house itself has lovely rooms with top-grade furnishings and fixtures. And guests have the option of staying at cottages near the clubhouse which is a short drive away. The modern informal architecture of the row of cottages seemed out of place at this resort where the predominant motif was vintage and somewhat formal. Also, the clubhouse setup was not quite as convenient as at Juliet. The practice area was expansive but located at a somewhat longer distance away from the clubhouse.
For all these caveats, I would still recommend Adare Manor. The golf is great and the location is convenient as it is only minutes from both Limerick and Shannon Airport.
An Irish Golf Adventure