Adare Manor

Conor Pass on Dingle Peninsula

Run off stream in Conor Pass

Sheep’s butt!

We slept well again at Heaton’s Guesthouse, with no weird or work related dreams for Nic – excellent! We had another scrumptious breakfast at Heaton’s, although we were not inventive at all with our choices – another serve of those delicious eggs on sautéed spinach with Dijon mustard sauce.

Nic, taking a pic of the 18th hole of the golf course at Adare Manor

Bath rim and gardens

Gardens, golf green and ivy

We leisurely made our way out of Dingle Town, driving through the gorgeous and winding scenery of Conor Pass on our way to Tralee (of course making stops on the way for John to steal moments when the sun dared show itself for mere seconds at a time!)

Our bed in our stateroom – loving the royal blue carpet! The leo is purring!

From this window we could see the weir – the rushing water was the perfect soundtrack with which to fall asleep

Down the staircase to the reception hall of Adare Manor

Our setting for lunch in the library

After leaving Dingle Peninsula, we were once again in the midst of everyone else’s regular lives, peak hour traffic on narrow single carriage ways is not a lot of fun (glad it’s not our regular day to day gig! But then again, Sydney traffic craps all over this – it’s death on a stick, we just don’t have to do battle with it every day, so we forget how revolting it is!!)

Library ceiling (and our wingback chairs)

One of the many nooks for lunch or afternoon tea

Stunning crystal chandelier (but not from Waterford, from Venice)

Reception hall

We arrived at Adare Manor in the early afternoon and, of course, our room was ready. In fact, we had been upgraded . . . and not just to the next level (from standard to deluxe), but up TWO levels to a . . . STATEROOM! Now, if any of you reading this have been following the updates and check-ins on Facebook, you would have already seen some of the pics, but we cannot stress enough how completely over-whelmed we were by the sheer beauty and splendour of this hotel. And not just in our sublime room, that oozed taste, grace and opulence, but in every fibre of every nook and cranny of every space, in every staff member and service on offer. Nic felt like she was coming home – not because this level of plush luxury is part of her real life, but because she PASSIONATELY believes it SHOULD BE! No, really, it SHOULD be! Actually, NOT kidding!! Adare Manor is so far beyond expectations that you couldn’t see ‘expectations’ with a telescope!!

Chair detail

The moustache is quite intense

The green finery to the right of the entrance

But that is one of the most wonderful things about Adare Manor, the staff treat every person who walks through the door as though they know you, as though you DO live like that everyday, and that makes the experience so very memorable, almost a once in an lifetime moment, but one that you will be determined to repeat!

The Dunraven Stateroom

The Tackroom, which is now a bar (Harry Connick Jnr has played here!)

Walled garden

Duck and ducklings – they weren’t very old

Our corner stateroom was on the top floor of the old manor house, and after Neil had carried our bags up the three flights of stairs and left us with our jaws agape, we settled in by doing several laps of our stateroom, squeaking out exclamations of inarticulate noise! The first priority (after squealing!) was taking pics with the iphone and posting them online for the world to see how truly blessed we are! We could see the 18th hole of the golf course from our bathroom window – actually, THREE neo-gothic windows that are part of the original architecture of the manor. AND this bathroom is bigger than our entire living room!

Adare Manor

…with lovely lamp post

…with park bench

After managing to affect a calm demeanour, we reluctantly left the room to explore the rest of the manor. Food was calling (it was 2pm, and we hadn’t had any lunch!), so we made our way to the drawing room and library where lunch was still being served (or high tea, if we preferred). We selected two elegant wingback chairs in the library with views of the garden and the prettily sculpted box hedge in the shape of a Celtic cross, and ordered champagne (of course!) and carrot and coriander soup. Delicious and light – didn’t want to spoil our appetites for our extensive dinner by chef Mark Donohue (and it’s ALWAYS the right time for champagne! – this one was a de Venoge – tastes a bit like Verve, must investigate!).

Swan taking a dive over the weir

Just before the weir

Weir, without swans

More of the grounds

At 3pm daily there are historical tours of the house, and being the eager little pupils we are, we jumped at the opportunity to learn more about this stunning building. Neil was our tour guide; his patter was informative and his lovely manner so helpful and obliging with our many questions. We were shown the Presidential Suite (on the website as Lady Caroline’s room), which used to be a private dining room, so the ornate ceiling is quite spectacular. But it was not as fabulous as the Dunraven Stateroom – its lush red velvet furnishings were quite divine, and the dark oak carved four-poster bed screamed royalty . . . or a least celebrity (Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones have stayed there!).

Beautiful berries

Young ivy

The sun decided to grace us with her presence so we took a turn about the grounds. It was nice to get up a bit of a pace in the great outdoors without it being a rain escaping dash! We explored the rose garden, with the immaculately pruned bushes, covered in young shoots in preparation for their nurturing of buds, planted in smooth, graceful lines, echoing the form and symmetry of every aspect of the grand house.

Charles Laughton in the reception hall

One of the many shields carved into the stone exterior

Discreet exterior

These vines are so old and established that to remove them would damage the foundations

We delighted in the presence of a duck being followed by her very tiny, young ducklings, and we carefully and quietly pursued her in an effort to get a pic. It wasn’t long before we noticed the 2 predatory birds hovering (the real reason mum and bubs were on the move). One of the hunters fled when we got closer, but the other was more persistent. Mumma duck was doing her best to get her little ones to safety, and kept managing to put herself between the villain and her young, lunging at the pursuer in anger and fear. This focused predator was not fazed at all by the presence of us humans, but when Nic made her cat meow (that she uses to chat to felines), it flew off into the trees and gave the little family some moments of reprieve. Sure, they will return, but it didn’t happen on our watch!

Nic & John at the entrance to the Manor

Close up – ready for dinner!

The gorgeous drawing room

John, with his bubbles and grin

Starter – goat’s cheese and spinach strudel

Starter – smoked salmon

Main – pan-fried seabass and prawns

Dressing for dinner was a bit of fun in our stunning stateroom – it’s always nice to bling up a bit when travelling, especially in the cold climes, when so much of the time is about rugging up to stay warm! Our maître d’, Guillaume, and waitress, Theresa, were perfect in their ministering to our every desire – including substituting the ever present Irish potato with some lightly steamed green vegetables. Nothing was too much trouble! Are you ready for the marathon of dishes with which we were wooed? These listed below were our choices – there were many more options for the carnivores that would melt your brains! STARTERS – Goats cheese, spinach and pinenut strudel, apple and raisin salad; Herb and citrus marinated salmon, gribiche salad, Dijon mustard; MIDDLE COURSES (yes, middle courses!) – Mojito sorbet; Pea, broad bean and feta salad, lemon dressing; MAIN COURSES – Pan-fried seabass and prawns, confit fennel puree, herb gnocchi; Roast fillet of halibut, colcannon, sauté salsify, red wine shallot jus (we dropped the carbs from the mains and asked for greens on the side – got broccoli, beans and asparagus); DESSERTS – lemon and sage drizzle cake with yoghurt crème brulee, blueberry compote; Chocolate dome of mousse, with a vanilla parfait centre, all dusted with chocolate and accompanying white chocolate piccolo and toffee twist. 

Main – roast fillet of halibut

Dessert – chocolate dome

Dessert – lemon and sage drizzle cake

Adare Manor from the garden – Nic is in the stateroom (top right hand corner with the light on)

A little closer (Nic’s light is still on)

After dinner, we managed to climb the three flights of stairs back to our stateroom, with the hand-carved gargoyles watching benignly from the balustrades. A cognac was called for, as a fitting end to our sole night in this timewarp; the best kind of timewarp – not where Nic is the scullery maid, and John the third footman, but one where we are the Lord and Lady of the Manor. How’s the serenity? Go to Adare Manor

The weir, evening

The Oakroom Restaurant windows, just after dusk

Adare Manor at night

About bontaks

Nic is the the ‘Bon’ part of ‘Bontaks.’ Together we are Nic and John – two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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