Traditional Irish Name
Áth Dara, ford of the oak.
Civil Parish, Adare.
OS Map Ref: Sheet 19.
Families Associated With Castle
De Marisco; FitzGerald/Earls of Kildare.
‘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 King Domhnall Mór Ua Briain (d.1194) 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.
|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 was the earls of Dunraven.|
|1692:||Act passed allowing earl of Kildare to sell Adare to pay encumbrances.|
Note: 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.
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1 T.J. Westropp, ‘The Ancient Castles of the County of Limerick’ [‘ACCL’] 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.
The castle is open to the public. Tours operated by Adare Heritage Centre (June-Sept.).