Traditional Irish Name

Áth Dara – ford of the oak.

Associated Families

De Marisco.
FitzGerald/Earls of Kildare.


Civil ParishAdare.
OS Map RefSheet 21.

Protected Structure Record

Reg. No: 835.
Ref. No: M21N(9)B.


‘The Desmonds’ Castle’ at Adare, ‘as it is inappropriately called,’1 was a Munster stronghold of the FitzGerald earls of Kildare.

One Irish source claims that Domnall Mór Ua Briain, king of Limerick/Thomond (1168-94) built  the ‘Black Castle’ of Adare and the great hall to the south of the castle.2

There is debate as to whether or not the castle was built on an pre-existing Irish ring-fort.3

Adare is a baronial castle on the river Maigue; with a keep, an inner and outer court, protected by an outer and inner fosse.


The castle is in a very good state of repair. Ongoing restoration is carried out by the OPW.


The castle is open to the public. Tours operated by Adare Heritage Centre (June-Sept).

Historical Timeline

1200-26:Geoffrey de Marisco, Norman justiciar of Ireland (1215–21, 1226–28), is said to have built the castle in the early 1200s.
1226:De Marisco granted royal rights to hold a yearly fair at his manor at Adare.
1266:Manor of Adare granted to Sir Maurice FitzGerald and his wife, Lady Agnes de Valence. Owned (bar a brief period) by the FitzGerald earls of Kildare (earldom from 1316) until the late 17th century.
1331:Royal inquisition/survey of the castle.
1334:Repairs carried out on the castle.
1464:Castle burned by Turlough O’Brien.
1535:Estate forfeited after the Kildare/Silken Thomas rebellion.
1537:Manor leased to the FitzGerald Desmonds.
1552-54:Earldom of Kildare restored along with the castle and manor of Adare.
1578-80:Strategic castle before and during second Desmond Rebellion (1579-83). Attacked by Desmond forces, but repulsed by crown forces and their Irish allies.
1598:Garrisoned by English forces during the Nine Years War (1594-1603), but taken by Irish forces.
1600:Castle retaken by the English.
1641:Castle held by insurgents, but they are driven out, and garrisoned by Lord Castlehaven.
1653:Castle dismantled by Cromwell’s forces.
1683:Manor leased to Thady Quin, whose descendants became earls of Dunraven.
1692:Act passed allowing earl of Kildare to sell Adare to pay encumbrances.


1 T.J. Westropp, ‘The Ancient Castles of the County of Limerick’ in PRIA, xxvi (1906-07), 166.

2 T. Ó Donnchadha (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní [The Book of Munster] (1940), 342.
3 See, E. Rynne, ‘Was Desmond Castle, Adare, erected on a Ringfort?’ in NMAJ, vol. viii (1961), 193-202; and C. Devane, ‘The Black Castle of Adare: A History of Adare Castle’ in L. Dunne and J. Kiely, Archaeological Excavation Report, Adare Castle, Co. Limerick, Medieval Castle in Eachtra Journal, No. 16 (2013), 1-28.


All historical information is compiled from archival material; primary sources (such as State Papers); secondary sources; plus authoritative digital sources (such as CELT). Any direct quote or a further reading suggestion is footnoted.

For queries, suggested amendments, or other relevant information, or if you would like to contribute an archival image of Adare Castle (of which you own the copyright), please leave a comment at the bottom of the page, or email (below).


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Castle location on map

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