Tuesday 20 March 2018

A quick history lesson and you'll understand why Adare has a bright future

5/2/2015 John and Melinda Glavin, Michigan, USA, second time visiting Adare.
Pic: Gareth Williams / Press 22
5/2/2015 John and Melinda Glavin, Michigan, USA, second time visiting Adare. Pic: Gareth Williams / Press 22

David Raleigh

The secret to the extraordinary booming economy in the village of Adare, Co Limerick, lies in its rich aristocratic history - but the fact that celebrities like to get married here and movie stars and US presidents like to visit doesn't hurt either.

However, Adare has another unique weapon in its economic arsenal, ensuring it has long remained the tourism jewel in the crown of the mid-west.

In 1832, the second Earl of Dunraven began rebuilding the village's original 18th century Manor House, eventually replacing it with a Tudor manor.

Why the history lesson? Well, as Anita Higgins explained, the construction of the manor provided labour and substance for the surrounding villagers during the Great Famine, and in turn, sowed the seeds for a future sound local economy.

Ms Higgins, general manager of the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort, said the secret to Adare's economic success is, no doubt, largely due to the colossal stately property.

celebrities. More importantly, it has raised over €100m for local charities, and the spin-off for businesses has been massive.

The golf tournament will return in 2016 or 2017 after a break in 2015. A recent deal which saw billionaire horse owner and businessman JP McManus take over ownership of Adare Manor is also seen locally as the catalyst for continued economic growth here.

"When you have a property that's marketing in North America every day of the week - and its called Adare Manor - then that's going to bring (tourists)," Ms Higgins added.

There are in fact three hotels in this 'quaint' village, including the Dunraven Arms, which has hosted members of the British royal family, and the Woodlands House Hotel.

Claire Staunton, owner of the Good Room restaurant, opened her doors here in 2008, just as the economic recession hit. Despite this, she admits "business is good".

"The (tourist) season is probably from April the whole way through until October but we would see tourists all year round."

Maeve Martin-Kelly, PRO of the Adare Business Association, acknowledged "Adare has bucked the trend" in recession times but that, locals "don't rest on their laurels".

Pointing to the Manor's influence, Ms Martin-Kelly, who is manager of the Adare Heritage Association, added: "It's a classy place. Here, in our visitor centre, we tell the story about the landlords, who were actually particularly kind and good to the tenants years ago.

"And, I think all of that, and the fact that we've had a Manor House and that tradition, along with what people have inherited - gives them a pride."

American tourists John and Melinda Glavin, from Michigan, gently sauntered around the village, both in love with the quaintness of it all.

"We've been to Ireland five times and we've been to Adare twice. We honeymooned in Ireland and we had to stop off in Adare as part of it," they said.

"Go back to what happened in Ireland when this house was being built. It took 30 years to build and it started being built in 1832. (During the famine) this house was being built, so people were (employed) here. I'm sure they weren't hungry. Did they emigrate? (No)," she explained.

It's an interesting point, and the more you look beyond the pretty frontages of the designer Irish craft and clothes shops in their truly idyllic rural setting, it starts to become clear that most of it would not survive without the attraction of the village Manor.

Every five years for the past two decades, Adare Manor has been the setting for the JP McManus Pro Am, which has attracted the world's best golfers as well as a host of A-list

Irish Independent

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