From Limerick take the M/N20 to 'Ireland’s Prettiest Village', Adare, stopping en route for a breath of fresh air and a walk by the beautiful River Maigue in Croom.
Adare is an old world village of quaint thatched cottages, medieval buildings and rich heritage and is truly a gem in Limerick’s crown. Antiques shops, boutiques, a Heritage Centre, cozy country pubs and other retailers jostle for space with a half dozen or so restaurants, while the ruins that surround the village add their own counterpoint of timeworn and venerable character.
Further enhance your experience of Adare with a visit to the farmers market which takes place every Saturday, indulge in the finest afternoon tea, go horse riding, take in a day at the races at Limerick Racecourse at nearby Patrickswell, or go golfing in the area’s world-class and much renowned golf courses.
Why not further explore the open roads of Co. Limerick or the Wild Atlantic Way with a classic car or retro motorcycle hire from RetroVentures Ireland, located just outside Croagh village, just beyond Adare.
Continue along the N21 to Rathkeale, 11km west of Adare. In the 18th century, Sir Thomas Southwell introduced the Palatines to the area, a group of Germanspeaking Protestant refugees who settled here. Today, the Irish Palatine Heritage Centre, highlighting the heritage of this group of people can be found here. Continue through the village of Ardagh, where the world famous Ardagh Chalice, dating from the 8th century was found.
Continue through the attractive village of Athea. Hidden away in Athea village, behind the Memorial Hall is a quirky and unique Fairy Trail, home to ten fairies who each have their own fairy door. There is also a worry-tree called ‘Croga’ which promises to take away any worries you might have if you place your hand on the plaque attached to it!
From here, continue to Newcastle West, the largest town in Limerick County. There’s loads to do here including a visit to the almost perfectly preserved Desmond Banqueting Hall, take a stroll through the magnificent parkland of the Demesne or get some retail therapy in the town’s excellent fashion and accessory boutiques.
Stop at Abbeyfeale and explore this appealing market town, or get off the beaten track and explore on foot or by bike, part of the Great Southern Trail Greenway, a unique 96km stretch of countryside which follows the route of the former Limerick to Tralee/Fenit Railway line.
Continue through Mountcollins, Ashford and Broadford villages at the foothills of the Mullaghareik Mountains. Take note of the simple yet poignant memorial to the Great Irish Famine in the Church grounds at Broadford and the village library, which is one of the Carnegie libraries built by the American Carnegie Foundation in the early 1900’s.
Finish up your scenic West Limerick Drive in Ballingarry, where the ruins of the DeLacy Castle, originally built by the Knights Templar and Knockfierna (the Hill of Truth) can be seen.