Adare was the classic Irish village of my memories; memories formed long ago, in another century, and romanticized over a few intervening decades. By the time we drove through this part of West Ireland, Adare was so crowded with traffic congestion, we decided to forgo our plan for a lunch stop. Since driving through the main road was painstakingly slow, parking would have been impossible. We must have arrived on a market day or during a festival. Adare, it appears, had succumbed to the tourist hoards and been overbuilt to the point where I did not recognize it. I had to wonder if the old timers even recognized their own town. I couldn't tell because we only drove through, but I do hope it's charm is still intact for all parties concerned, the villagers and the tourists.
Adare was the first stop, after arriving in Shannon on my first trip to Ireland with a college friend, who still sends me St Paddy's Day cards. It was filled with quaint thatched roof cottages that lined the main road. Adare Manor was a beautiful old mansion we toured after we got over our jet lag. We were a bit saddened that the owners had to give tours to contribute to the upkeep of such a lovely property, but delighted that we were able to see the elegant interior and furnishings. It was in Adare that we stayed at our first B&B run by an elderly widow who baked and served us our first taste of Irish brown bread, so memorably accompanied by our first taste of unsalted Irish butter. We looked out of the second storey window of the stone house the next morning to see what was making all the noise. It was a pony cart being driven down the main thoroughfare and a flock of Rooks cawing so loudly it was surreal. We giggled, as young women would, embarking on the adventure of their first trip away from home. I can't imagine a pony cart on this road today.Adare's cottages are still images on which dreams are made, dreams of a simpler place and time. I hope to return one day when traffic is not so unbearable, so I can spend some time there, looking for the old manor house, finding the B&B. Until that happens I'll think of it as it was, when times actually were simpler and Adare struck two young women as a small, quaint hamlet and their gateway to the world.