On our second full day in Ireland we visited King John’s Castle in Limerick, the Village of Adare (and Desmond Castle), and Ardfert Cathedral, before making our way to the town of Dingle on the Dingle Peninsula.
Limerick is not a real tourist destination; it’s more of working city, and the third largest in Ireland. King John’s Castle near the center of town looks better from the exterior than the interior. The interior is mainly set up for modern exhibits. The castle was built in 1200 by King John (of Magna Carta fame). It does have a great setting on the River Shannon.
From Limerick we drove south to the little village of Adare, which is considered one of Ireland’s prettiest villages. It is a quaint village with thatched roof houses, with Desmond Castle (often called Adare Castle) on the outskirts, in addition to the famous castle-hotel of Adare Manor, which is one of the “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” in the book by Patricia Schultz (she actually lists 29 sites in the Republic of Ireland, a pretty good share of the 1,000!).
Ardfert Cathedral is part of the Heritage Ireland system and the Cathedral ruins date from the 12th century, although a monastery was believed to have been founded here in the 6thcentury by St. Brendan the Navigator, who legend says visited the American continent (there is actually some evidence of this in Connecticut, in an archeological site called the “Gungywamp”). There are three medieval churches on the site today, and a short walk away you will find the very substantial ruins of a Franciscan Friary. Ardfert is good for quick stop if you like medieval church buildings. As with many other locations, this site is completely ignored by Rick Steve’s book on Ireland, although he does share some information on St. Brendan.
From Ardfert, we drove southwest to the Dingle Peninsula and the town of Dingle, on the southwest side of the peninsula. This drive is quite pretty, with the rolling hills, sheep grazing in the green pastures and views of the sea coast as you get closer to Dingle. A few miles east of Dingle and off the road a mile or so to the south is the little ruin of Minard Castle, a jump-off point in medieval times for sailing to the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. This castle is in a cow pasture, and we treaded lightly to avoid any trespassing issues. The castle sits above a beautiful beach (Storm Beach) and bay.