The traditional cottages that line the main street are often used as shops and restaurants, but they're still very picturesque! These remain private houses. Adare is often described as Ireland’s most picturesque village. It’s nestled in a lush and wooded countryside along the banks of the river Maigue, a tributary of the Shannon River. Its Gaelic name Ath Dara means “ford of the oak.” The village probably dates to about the thirteenth century, but initial settlements may date even earlier. Its strategic location has often centered it in the context of conquests, wars and rebellions. The old town, situated on the northern bank of the Maigue, near the Desmond castle, was actually destroyed during sixteenth-century wars. Thus, almost the whole of the current village was built in the early nineteenth century. From about the 1820s, streets and buildings were laid out according to the Earl of Dunraven’s designs, whereas a more random placement of buildings and streets had occurred before. The Earl evidently built numerous houses and then rented them to tenants who worked his estate lands. Today, Adare village is the site of world famous thatched cottages which line the town’s broad main street. The village is situated about 15 minutes from Limerick City and about 40 minutes from the Shannon Airport. A good place to start exploring is the Historical Exhibition, which highlights the village’s past from its founding in about 1233 through the present day. Tours of the thirteenth-century Norman Castle (Desmond) also operate during the summer. There’s also an annual festival, held in mid-May. Thousands of golf fans also descend on Adare Manor to enjoy the Irish Open Golf Championship.