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The name Adare comes from the Irish Áth Dara meaning the 'ford of the oaks'. The parish of Adare is made up of the old parishes of Adare, Drehidtrasna and Clonshire. Also, the older parishes of Kilgobbin and Castle Robert were merged with Adare.

Members of the Kildare family founded Adare's three monasteries. The Trinitarian abbey was founded about the year 1230 for the Trinitarian Canons of the Redemption of Captives, and was the only house of the Order in Ireland.

The Augustinian Friary was founded in 1315 by Thomas, Earl of Kildare, and his Countess Joan, who was buried within the friary itself. It was restored in 1807 by the Earl of Dunraven and has since been used as a Church of Ireland church. The friary of St Augustine was inhabited by the Order of the Eremites. The friary, which was situated on the west bridge of Adare, was called the Black Abbey due to the black habit of the monks.

A Franciscan friary was founded here, the remains of which are situated in the demesne of Adare Manor, on the bank of the river Maigue. These remains are very extensive. They include a nave, choir, the south transept of the church, cloisters, etc. This Franciscan Friary, founded in 1464, was attacked and burned in 1647.

At this time, Limerick County had suffered greatly from raids by the parliamentary troops. Having entered Limerick, the troops proceeded as far as Adare, where they burned the Franciscan convent. Locals believe that four of the friars were consumed in the flames, and that three who escaped were later taken prisoners.

Stone Plaque commemorating John Wesley's visit to Adare
© Plaque commemorating John Wesley's visit

John Wesley preached to the people of Adare in 1765 from the shade of an ash tree close to the east wall of the Franciscan friary. This tree was still there until about 1860. Today a stone marks the site where this tree stood. The Methodists hold a ceremony here in June each year.

The contribution of the Kildare Geraldines to the development of Adare in medieval times was matched by the contribution of the Earls of Dunraven in the 19th century. The building of Adare manor, designed in Tudor Gothic style, began in 1831. The modern village was largely an early 19th century creation of the Dunravens.

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