Sunday, October 3, 2010

Adare Manor

October 2
Adare Manor was completed in 1862 and was the family seat of the earls of Dunraven.  It has been converted into a five-star hotel and is set within 840 acres of formal gardens and parkland beside the River Maigue.  The nearby village, also built by the Dunraven family, is “one of the prettiest in Ireland”.  Building work on the manor began in 1832 and was completed 30 years later.  During the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, building work provided vital employment for many villagers.  I happened to stay at the B&B owned by one of the descendents of the original builders.  His name was Sean Collins and he his son was the seventh generation to have gone to the local school.  In walking through the manor, I sensed the importance that this building had to the workers who built it.  They exerted enormous effort to work under what I sensed was a capricious, but beneficent family.  Even today, the building reeks of class conflict as being an “exclusive” resort meant that it was gated and guarded, almost to an obnoxious degree.  As I wasn’t a guest, I felt like I was going to be ejected at any moment for trespassing.  Apparently, it is owned by an American businessman named Kent, whose commercial interests seemed to make an uneven blend with the natives. 
As I observed the house carefully, the spirit of the workers was everywhere.  There is writing in the railing which says “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that built it”  This is from Psalm 127.  When I mentioned this to the wife of Sean Collins, she agreed with my interpretation that this was a statement by the workers that the house represented more than just a lord’s house, but many years of labour by the people who built it, and ultimately that depended on it for their lives.  There is an inner truth to be found in Adare Manor that reveals how pride of ownership doesn’t necessarily relate well to pride of construction.  Though Earl of Dunraven could say that this was his house, he didn’t build it and therefore didn’t really “own” it.  The manor does have a plan, nonetheless, that was the product of the tastes of its owners.  The result is a fascinating evocation of Victorianism reflecting the personalities of the two generations of the family that built it.

 There is a 300 year old Cedar of Lebanon on the grounds that is just exceptional as well. 

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