On the banks of the River Maigue, this once-upon-a-time-ified village dotted with thatched cottages is famed as one of Ireland's prettiest spots. It was given a beauty makeover by a rich Anglo lord, the 3rd Earl of Dunraven, in the 1820s and 1830s, in an effort to create the "perfect rustic village." To a great extent, he succeeded.
Few local feathers were ruffled since Dunraven won goodwill by restoring many villagers' houses. Playing into the mid-19th-century vogue for romantic rusticity, the earl "picturesquely" restored many of the town's historic sights, including the remains of two 13th-century abbeys, a 15th-century friary, and the keep of the 13th-century Desmond Castle (now the centerpiece of a private golf course). Adjacent to the Adare Heritage Centre you'll find the Trinitarian Priory, founded in 1230 and now a convent. From the main bridge (where you can best view the castle), head to the Augustinian Priory and its gracious cloister. The most fetching time-burnished allure is provided by Adare's stone-built, thatched-roof cottages, often adorned with colorful, flower-filled window boxes and built for the earl's estate tenants. Some now house boutiques selling Irish crafts and antiques, along with several fine restaurants. Adare Manor, an imposing Tudor–Gothic Revival mansion, which was once the grand house of the Dunraven peerage, is now a celebrated hotel; on its grounds you can view two 12th-century ruins, the St. Nicholas Chapel and the Chantry Chapel.