Adare Manor Castle Hopping & Golf in Ireland

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By Joe Alexander

Spring and summer signal travel and golf to adventurous New Yorkers. Adare Manor combines historic charm and world-class golf in the picturesque, thatched roof village of Adare, County Limerick. Nearby are some of Ireland's most intriguing sights including Desmond Castle built in 13th century, Blarney Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, Killarney Lakes and the Dingle Peninsula. Limerick City is a 15-minute drive from the estate.

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Bill Clinton, who traces his ancestry back to Ireland, regularly visits the Emerald Isle to stay at his favorite castle, play golf with pals and beat the drum for Hillary's assault on Washington and her dream of winning the American crown. Recently, the possible "First Man" flew into Shannon on a private jet with his Secret Service detail and his monogrammed golf bag. The former president was returning to Adare Manor, the whimsical castle built by the Earl of Dunraven between 1832 and 1862, to play on the resort's championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones. This historic property and its iconic greens are nestled alongside the River Maigue, which meanders through the fairways famous for its undulating putting surfaces, cloverleaf bunkers and rock-walled streams. Tiger Woods, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have all teed off on their two world-class courses. Condé Nast traveler recently voted it the Number 1 Golf Resort in Ireland and the UK.

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Adare Manor's most intriguing architectural secret is that it was conceived as a "Calendar House" with 365 stained glass windows for each day of the year, 52 chimneys for each week of the year, seven pillars in the cathedral-ceilinged lobby for each day of the week and four towers for each season. We moved into the Presidential Suite three hours after Bill Clinton checked out and searched high and low for any artifact he might have forgotten, sadly, we came up empty handed. This is the Manor's grandest suite with a dozen gothic, lead-paned windows overlooking the 840 acres of manicured grounds and parkland. There were sitting and dining areas appointed with important antique period furniture. The luxurious bedroom was anchored by a handsome hand-carved fireplace and the dressing room featured a freestanding bathtub that had a bird's-eye view of the formal gardens and rushing river.

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco, Hugh Grant and Kyle MacLachlan have also stayed in one of Adare Manor's 62 guest rooms. A hearty breakfast is served here and a formal afternoon tea is available in the palatial Drawing Room. Chef Mark Donohue heads up the Oakroom Restaurant and its accompanying colonnade, which is illuminated only by candlelight. He serves up a delicious contemporary Irish cuisine featuring local produce and an extensive wine list featuring over 300 bottles. New addtions include a gym and a spa with a heated indoor pool built on the edge of the river. The resort also offers fishing, horseback riding, archery, clay pigeon shooting and falconry that recreates the lifestyle of the country squire who built the Manor, which provided work for the surrounding villagers during the potato famine that devastated Ireland during the mid-19th century. The estate remained in the Dunraven family until 1982 when it was sold to an Irish-American businessman named Tom Kane who bought it sight unseen for 2.5 million dollars.

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