Desmond Castle (aka Adare Castle) is a great place to step back in time.
Situated on the edge of Adare Town, it was constructed during the 12th-century and is now in ruins.
It’s one of several castles in Limerick with the name Desmond (you’ll find the others in Askeaton and Newcastle West).
However, it’s still an impressive structure with a fine bit of history tied to it, as you’ll discover below.
Some quick need-to-knows about Desmond Castle
Although a visit to Adare Castle in County Limerick is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Desmond Castle is located on the edge of Adare on the Limerick Road. We wouldn’t recommend attempting to walk to it from the town centre as a good chunk of the route is without a footpath.
2. Opening hours
Adare Castle is open seven days a week from 9 am to 6 pm. It’s at its busiest during the summer season as Adare is one of the first stops for many people flying into nearby Shannon Airport.
You can get tickets from the reception area of the Adare Heritage Centre or you can book them online in advance, They cost:
- Adult Ticket: €10
- Student/Senior Ticket: €8
- Family Ticket (2 Adults + 5 Children under 18): €22
4. The tours
Tours of Adare Castle operate daily from June to September and you can get a shuttle bus from the Heritage Centre located on Main Street. Pre-booking is essential and for large group bookings.
The history of Adare Castle
It’s said that Adare Castle was constructed on the site of an ancient Ringfort in 1202 by Thomas Fitzgerald – the 7th Earl of Desmond.
It holds a strategic position right on the banks of the River Maigue and it was designed and constructed in the Norman style. In its heyday, Desmond Castle had towering battlemented walls and a large moat.
Thanks to its position, the castle allowed its owners to control the traffic coming in and out of the busy Shannon Estuary.
Over the years, like many castles in Ireland, Desmond Castle passed through several hands until it eventually became a key bastion of the earls of Desmond during the 16th century.
It wasn’t until the Second Desmond Rebellion (157 – 1583) that the castle fell to Cromwell’s forces who subsequently destroyed the structure in 1657.
Much work has gone into restoring Adare Castle over the years and a visit here is now one of the most popular things to do in Adare.
Things to do around Desmond Castle
There’s plenty of things to see and do in and around Desmond Castle, for those of you debating a visit over the coming months:
1. Explore the historical exhibition first
Make sure to arrive at the Visitor Centre a few minutes in advance to explore the historical exhibition. This exhibition will take you back in time and offer an insight into the origins of Adare, from the arrival of the Normans to the Middle Ages.
You’ll also learn about the impact that the Earls of Dunraven had on the development of Adare through realistic imagery and immersive storyboards. The exhibition is open all year round.
Related read: Check out our guide to 7 of the finest guesthouses and hotels in Adare to explore from.
2. Then take the castle tour
After taking a look at the exhibition, it’s now time to jump on the shuttle bus to Desmond Castle. The main part of the castle consists of a square keep standing within a walled area surrounded by a moat.
The castle is also characterised by an inner ward where the Great Hall is located. Next to this, you’ll find the remains of the kitchen and the service rooms.
3. Followed up by lunch at Café Lógr
Here you’ll find a breakfast menu as well as a lunch menu offering a mix of light and hearty dishes.
Prices are in the middle range and you can expect to pay from €10.00 to €15.00 for a main.
Things to do near Desmond Castle
One of the beauties of Adare Castle is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Limerick.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the castle!
1. Adare Town (2-minute drive)
There’s plenty of things to do in Adare and, in particular, it’s a beaut of a spot for a ramble. You’ll find gorgeous thatch cottages dotted around the town along with a beautiful big park (and the lavish Adare Manor hotel!).
2. Curraghchase Forest Park (10-minute drive)
Curraghchase Forest Park is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle for a while. A handy 10-minute spin away, it’s home to numerous trails to tackle.
3. Limerick City (15-minute drive)
4. Lough Gur (30-minute drive)
Lough Gur is a tranquil lake that’s home to numerous ancient features, like wedge tombs and the largest stone circle in Ireland. There’s some mighty walks here, too!
FAQs about Desmond Castle
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘When is it open?’ to ‘How much is it?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Adare Castle worth visiting?
Yes! This is an excellent example of an Irish castle and the tours are well run, immersive and have excellent reviews online.
Can you walk to Desmond Castle in Adare?
No. There’s no path leading to the castle. If you buy a ticket from the Heritage Centre you can get a bus straight to it.
I was born in a quiet corner of a Gaeltacht on the Dingle Peninsula. Over the years, I’ve explored Ireland far and wide, from the wilds of West Clare to the shores of Sherkin. Particularly fond of heritage, history and hikes (and words beginning with ‘H’, apparently…).