A modest Georgian home in the 1830, the 2nd Earl of Dunraven was faced with gout and took the time to design what we see today at Adare Manor. For nearly thirty years he worked on his inventive design, which is laid out as a Calendar House with 365 stained windows and 52 chimneys that mark the annual tally of days and weeks. The entire estate was purchased in 1982 from the Dunraven family, and completely restored to update this historical masterpiece.
Dromoland Castle is one of the most famous baronial castles in Ireland; and was the ancestral home of the O’Briens, Barons of Inchiquin, who are one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood and direct descendants of Brian Boroimhe (Boru) High King of Ireland in the eleventh century. Though it has seen many transformations over the years, Dromoland’s rich history goes back to 1014 when Donough O’Brien, a son of Brian Boru, controlled Dromoland as a defensive stronghold.
Adare Manor Castle & Golf Resort
With an early morning departure out of Dublin, I arrived to Adare Manor, just south of Limerick, in only a few short hours. Beyond the fields of sheep, cows and horses; I arrived to the grandiose Adare Manor Castle and Golf Resort. With only time for a quick visit to Adare Manor for a round of golf before checking in north of Limerick at Dromoland Castle, I was fortunate to also be meeting with John Dooley for a round of golf.
Dooley has a fascinating background complete with being a teaching professional and now operating Concierge Golf Ireland, which provides the ultimate golf vacation experiences to those visiting Ireland. Joining a few others from Adare Manor, the course proved to be a perfect place to begin my golf experience in Ireland… complete with mild temperatures, pristine course conditions and scenery beyond compare. In addition to the enjoyable round of golf, it was easy to understand why so many groups put their trust in John Dooley and Concierge Golf – the amount of knowledge shared about the golf world in Ireland and the UK, area hotel and restaurant options and even a few tips about my specific golf swing was simply priceless. I left the course slightly humbled, but also more aware of the golf in Ireland and the UK after our conversations between holes.
Gary and David of Adare Manor Golf Club and John Dooley collectively made the early morning round of golf and lunch in the stately clubhouse a lovely experience. Though I was disappointed to leave Adare Manor so quickly, I had a thirty-minute drive ahead of me up to Dromoland Castle, so I was on my way…
Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate
Welcome to Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate. Having been told that this was the must-visit hotel in Ireland, I was very eager to check-in and begin the quintessential Dromoland experience. It would be a simple task to develop a full story based solely on the Dromoland visit, but will make a point to share enough details here to highlight this truly unique property that possesses everything you would expect from a castle experience, plus so many more hidden treasures.
I was fortunate to have the Conor Stateroom, which was just beyond the large double windows at the base of the tallest tower seen above, and honestly a bit difficult to fully explain. With towering ceilings, a plush sitting room, additional dressing room and very well-appointed bathroom, the grand room can almost compete with the expansive views outside the over-sized windows. To begin, a walk around the estate for a few minutes to become somewhat acquainted with Dromoland was followed by Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room. As expected, the combination of sweet and savory was perfection, and was enjoyed while looking out over the 18th hole of the golf course, kids playing on the hill along the rear of the castle, and even a horse and buggy gliding along the pathways. Torn between escaping to the stateroom following tea to unwind and relax, or rushing out to explore more of the estate; I decided to further tour the property, followed by a glass of wine in the rose garden before retiring for the evening. What a place to fully unwind…
Day two began with the famous Dromoland Castle breakfast. The starters had all one could desire from breads, fruit, juice, coffee and tea, meats, cheeses and more; before the main dish arrives. I opted for the full Irish Breakfast. However, having seen the Baked Eggs Florentine at the table next to me, I wish I could sit another half hour and order a second breakfast. With my golf bag on my back, I strolled through the estate towards the clubhouse to tee off on this parkland golf course that is not long, but has a reputation of being challenging for golfers of all levels. The fog is an everyday issue here, so the first tee time is not until ten o’clock. The course was a pure joy, even with the dense fog on the first few holes, and very sandy greens before maintenance finally swept them on the back nine. Following golf, I grabbed a bite to eat on the garden patio at the Fig Tree Restaurant, which I highly recommend when the weather allows.
The afternoon allowed for a visit to the spa for a massage so that I could relax before the much-anticipated six-course tasting dinner at the Earl of Thomond restaurant. The massage was nice, and the staff downstairs was genuinely helpful and friendly throughout the check-in process. I am always one who enjoys having a nice locker room with steam, sauna and more to enjoy before and/or after the treatment to have a full spa experience, which Dromoland does not have for guests. So with the exception of an outside hydro spa, there’s no reason to arrive early for your appointment. Somewhat disappointing, but with all this property has to offer, I guess that I can’t expect every single amenity to be perfect. Taking the last opportunity for an evening walk around the estate, Dromoland certainly knows how to make an impression. Executive Chef David McCann at the Earl of Thomond proved to be a master of his craft during each course of the tasting menu, which was perfectly paired with the wine by the sommelier. Disappointed I must leave the following morning, Dromoland is, without a doubt, a place I will be visiting again very soon.