I set out today to do a write up of County Cavan the way I did of Dublin, of all the big houses to visit or that offer accommodation. There are only two listings in Section 482 for County Cavan and one is a hotel. It turns out that, despite multiple beautiful historic houses, there are not many to visit. I researched places to stay in Cavan as Stephen and I travel through there regularly on our way to Donegal where his mum lives.
From my research I have a list of forty historic houses in County Cavan. Of those, at least eleven no longer exist or are in ruins, and most of the rest are private. Ballyhaise House is now an agricultural college. Farnham Estate and Virginia Park’s hunting lodge are now hotels. Owendoon House is now the Jampa Ling Buddhist Centre and Dromkeen is a Loreto College. Kilnacrott House also appears to belong to a religious order.
1. Cabra Castle, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan – section 482
This is a hotel but unlike some heritage house or castle hotels, they do allow visitors to view the building: the website states that they are open between 11am to 4pm for visitors for viewing all year round, except at Christmastime.
see my write-up:
contact: Howard Corscadden.
Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-4pm
2. Castle Saunderson, Co. Cavan – a ruin
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 75. “(Saunderson/IFR) A large castellated mansion combining both baronial and Tudor-Revival elements, built ca 1840; from its close stylistic resemlance to Crom Casle, about five miles away in County Fermanagh, it can be attributed to Edward Blore. Entrance front symmetrical, with a battlemented parapet, square end turrets and a tall central gatehouse tower which is unusual in having the entrance door in its side rather than in its front. The adjoining garden front is more irregular, with a recessed centre between two projecting wings of unequal size and fenestration, each having a Tudor gable; the two wings being joined at ground floor level by a rather fragile Gothic arcade. To the left of this front, a lower “L”-shaped wing with a battlemented parapet and various turrets, ending in a long Gothic conservatory. Castle Saunderson has stood empty for years and is now semi-derelict.” 
3. Clough Oughter, County Cavan
“Clough Oughter Castle is a ruined circular castle, situated on a small island in Lough Oughter, four kilometres east of the town of Killeshandra in County Cavan.
The castle is located in what was once the historic Kingdom of Breifne. In the latter part of the 12th century, it was under the control of the O’Rourkes, but it seems to have come into the hands of the Anglo-Norman William Gorm de Lacy. While the exact date construction began is unknown, it is estimated to have started in the first quarter of the 13th century.
In 1233, the O’Reilly clan took possession of the area and completed the castle. They retained it for centuries in the midst of their ongoing conflicts with the O’Rourkes and with members of their own clan. It was there that Philip O’Reilly was imprisoned in the 1360s.
Lough Oughter is regarded as the best inland example of a flooded drumlin landscape in Ireland and has rich and varied wildlife. The number of whooper swans which winter in the area represents about 3% of the total European population, while the lake also houses the largest concentration of breeding great crested grebes in the Republic of Ireland.
Lough Oughter is a popular angling lake and is also popular with canoeists and boating enthusiasts. The Lough Oughter complex, along with Killykeen Forest Park, is a designated Natura 2000 habitat, Special Area for Conservation (SAC), and Special Protection Area (SPA) under EU legislation.
Canoes and kayaks are available for hire from Cavan Canoe Centre, which also offers guided boat trips around the lake and out to the castle.” 
On the Discover Belturbet website, we are told the history of Clough Oughter:
“Clough is the Gaelic word for stone, so literally this is Castle of Stone. The island was made by man, and the castle which sits upon it was also made by man and one can only speculate as to what a marvellous feat of engineering it took to accomplish such a build.
The castle would have been part of the historical kingdom of Breifne, and specifically a part of East Breifne, (Roughly speaking the same borders as modern day Cavan). It is likely that the Crannog itself came sometime before the castle, and in the latter part of the 12th century, it was under the control of the O’Rourke clan, but with the invasion of the Anglo Normans, the crannog came to be controlled by the Anglo-Norman William Gorm De Lacy. No concrete dates exist for the construction of the castle, but architectural elements from the lower two storeys suggest it was begun during the early 13th century.
In 1233, the O’Reilly clan gained possession of the castle. They seem to have retained the castle for centuries throughout ongoing conflicts with the O’Rourkes, and indeed with members of their own clan. Philip O’Reilly was imprisoned here in the 1360’s with “no allowance save a sheaf of oats for day and night and a cup of water, so that he was compelled to drink his own urine”.
After the Ulster Plantation, the castle was given to servitor Hugh Culme. Philip O’Reilly who was a Cavan MP and leader of the rebel forces during the Rebellion of 1641 seized control of the castle and kept it as an island fortress for the next decade. During this period it was mainly used as a prison. Its most notable prisoner would have been the Anglican Bishop of Kilmore, William Bedell, who was held here and is said to have died because of the harsh winter conditions in the prison.
Clough Oughter castle became the last remaining stronghold for the rebels during the Cromwell era, but sometime in March of 1653 the castle fell to Cromwells canons. The castle walls were breached by the canon and the castle was never rebuilt after this point.
Visitors will be astounded to note the thickness of the walls which can now be seen because of the canon bombardment. The island and the castle have received considerable refurbishments since 1987, making it safe to visit, and well worth the visit.” 
4. Corravahan House & Gardens, Drung, Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan – section 482
see my write-up:
contact: Ian Elliott
Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, Mar 1-2, 8-9, May 4- 5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, 30-31, June 1-4, Aug 14-31, Sept 1-2, 9am-1pm, Sundays 2pm- 6pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5
Places to stay, County Cavan
1. Cabra Castle, on section 482 – hotel – see above www.cabracastle.com
2. Clover Hill Gate Lodge, Cloverhill, Belturbet, Cavan
Cloverhill House is now a ruin. Mark Bence-Jones tells us the house was built 1799-1804 for James Saunderson [1763-1842] to the design of Francis Johnston. Robert O’Byrne adds that it was in fact extended in 1799, but built originally in 1758 [thus was built for James’s father Alexander, who married Lucy Madden of the Hilton Park House Madden family, another Section 482 property. A date stone gives us the date of 1758].  Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the house passed by inheritance to the Purdons, and was sold by Major J.N. Purdon ca 1958. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that the Sanderson family were instrumental in the development of Cloverhill village with the building of the Church of Ireland church and estate workers’ houses.
The house is featured in Tarquin Blake’s Abandoned Mansions of Ireland, Collins Press, Cork, 2010.
The house passed down through the Sanderson family until James Sanderson (1763-1842), and then passed down through the female line since the son, also named James, had no heirs. It passed first to Mary Anne, who was unmarried, and then to her sister’s son, Samuel Sanderson Winter (1834-1912), whose parents were Lucy Sanderson and Samuel Winter (1796-1867) of Agher, County Meath. Samuel Sanderson Winter married Ann, daughter of John Armytage Nicholson of Balrath Bury, County Meath (we came across this family as Enniscoe in County Mayo was inherited by Jack Nicholson, of the Balrath Bury family). Samuel Sanderson Winter’s son died young so Cloverhill passed to the son of his sister, Elizabeth Ann Winter, who married George Nugent Purdon (1819-1910). This is how the house passed to the Purdon family.
The house passed to their son, John James Purdon, who died childless so it passed to his nephew, John Nugent Purdon, son of Charles Sanderson Purdon. John Nugent Purdon sold Cloverhill demesne ca 1958 to Mr Thomas Mee. 
3. Farnham House, Farnham Estate, Cavan – Farnham Estate hotel
The website gives us a history of the estate:
“1664- The Waldrons of Dromellan Castle (early name of Farnham House) were forced to sell the estate to settle gambling debts. Bought by Bishop Robert Maxwell, thus beginning the Maxwell family connection that was to continue for more than 330 years (family motto is Je suis prêt – I am ready’).”
Mark Bence-Jones adds in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988, p. 123):
“The estate here was granted by James I to the Waldrons; Henry Waldron, later in C17, followed the popular custom of naming it after his wife; but instead of giving it a name incorporating her Christian name, he gave it her maiden name, which was Farnham. A few years later the estate was sold to Robert Maxwell, Bishop of Kilmore, whose cathedral was nearby. The Bishop’s son, John Maxwell, built a new house here ca 1700, which was improved ca 1780 by Barry Maxwell, 3rd Lord Farnham and first Earl of Farnham of 2nd creation, who added a library designed by James Wyatt.“
The Bishop’s son John Maxwell died childless in 1713 so the estate passed through his brother Henry to Henry’s son John Maxwell (d. 1759).
The website continues: “1756- John Maxwell (d. 1759) was ennobled, created Baron Farnham of Farnham, conferring prestige and social status.
1761- Robert, Earl of Farnham [1720-1779, son of the 1st Baron Farnham], was a keen agriculturalist and agent of improvement who put the most technologically and scientifically advanced agricultural methods into action.
In 1777, noted agricultural scientist and topographer Arthur Young said of Farnham; “…upon the whole Farnham is one of the finest places that I have ever seen in Ireland; the water wood and hill are all in great stile and abound in a variety of capabilities. The woodland plantations of Derrygid coupled with the lakes of Farnham and Derrygid were noted by Young who described them as being ‘uncommonly beautiful; extensive and have a shore extremely varied.” In the 1770’s, approximately 100 labourers were employed in maintaining the landscape at Farnham. [When Robert died his title died with him but his brother Barry (1723-1800) was created 1st Earl Farnham, of second creation.]
In 1795, Earl of Farnham Barry asked James Wyatt, one of the most fashionable architects of that time, to draw designs for three ceilings. Although there is no evidence of them being installed at Farnham, these plans are now housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Some work was undertaken by Wyatt though around the 1795 timeframe and to this day, a library case where his design has been noted stands inserted in an alcove on the staircase landing.
In the early 1800’s, a coat of arms was incorporated onto the façade of the house. Comprised of the arms of the Maxwell and Barry family [John Maxwell the 1st Baron Farnham married Judith Barry in 1719], they are supported by two bucks, with a buck’s head on top of the Baron’s coronet as the crest.
In 1802 Francis Johnston, architect for Dublin’s famous GPO building, was engaged to complete an extension of the existing house to provide an edifice to the southwest garden front. [Barry Maxwell, the 1st Earl of Farnham of second creation’s son was John James Barry, 2nd Earl of Farnham (1760-1823). He had no children so the title became extinct again when he died. The title of Baron Farnham passed to the son of Barry’s other brother, the Reverend Henry Maxwell (1723-1798)]. This is the latter day surviving Farnham House, which is now incorporated as the centrepiece of the hotel complex design.
Mark Bence-Jones describes the house as built by Francis Johnston:
“Johnston produced a house consisting of two somewhat conservative 3 storey ranges at right angles to one another; one of them, which incorporated part of the earlier house, including Wyatt’s library, having a front of 8 bays, with a die over a 2 bay breakfront, and a single-storey Doric portico; the other having a front of 9 bays with a 3 bay pedimented breakfront; prolonged by 1 bay in the end of the adjoining range. The interior was spacious but restrained, the principal rooms having simple ovolo or dentil cornices. Elliptical staircase hall, with simple geometrical design in the ceiling; stone stair with elegant metal balustrade.“
The website continues: “In the depths of the earth beneath Farnham lies a myriad of passages. These passages were constructed to allow food, supplies and heating fuels to be brought into the mansion house by the servants. Such underground passages kept the servants out of sight from Lords and Ladies Farnham and their guests and no doubt were used by the servants to enjoy some activities of their own, which they would not have wanted Lord and Lady Farnham to witness!
In 1823, a new system of management for the Farnham estate was introduced, employing persons as inspectors of districts, buildings, bog and land and a moral agent! The main duties of the moral agent were to encourage the tenantry to adhere to the main principles contained in Lord Farnham’s address to them. These included: keeping of the Sabbath, responsibility towards the education of their children, imbuing within their children a strict moral sense and to ensure that they abstained from all evil habits, including cursing and the distillation or consumption of alcohol. [at this time the estate would have been in the possession of Reverend Henry Maxwell’s son, John Maxwell Barry Maxwell, 5th Baron Farnham, of Farnham, Co. Cavan. He died childless in 1838, so his brother Reverend Henry Maxwell became the 6th Baron Farnham. He married Anne Butler, daughter of the 3nd Earl of Carrick. Their son Henry became the 7th Baron Farnham (1799-1868). His brothers became 8th and 9th Baron and then the son of their brother Richard Thomas Maxwell, Somerset Henry Maxwell, became the 10th Baron.]
Mark Bence-Jones tells us: “In 1839, 7th Lord Farnham (a distinguished scholar and genealogist who, with his wife, was burnt to death 1868 when the Irish mail train caught fire at Abergele, North Wales), enlarged the house by building new offices in the re-entrant between the two ranges. Also probably at this time the main rooms were changed around; the library becoming the dining room, and losing any Wyatt decoration it might have had; Wyatt’s bookcases being moved to the former drawing room.“
The website continues the timeline:
“1911- [in the time of the 11th Baron, Arthur Kenlis Maxwell (1879-1957)] Records mention a staff of 11: butler, cook, governess, nursery maid, nurse, footman, ladies’ maid and several house and kitchen maids. Some 3,000 of Farnham’s then 24,000 statute acres were sold off.
1914-1918- Lord Farnham rejoined the military; he was captured, imprisoned and released after the Armistice. His political efforts failed to prevent the exclusion of three counties from the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.
1921-1931- Lord and Lady Farnham left for England. They emptied the house of its furniture, due to widespread burning and looting of country houses. The 1923 Land Act would ultimately end landlordism in Ireland: by 1931, Lord Farnham retained only his demesne lands at Farnham, which he operated in a more intensive fashion in order to increase much-needed revenue.
1950- Economic decline had by now affected the demesne. A Farnham Tintorreto ’Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples’ was sold in 1955; the Canadian National Art Gallery in Ontario paid some $100,000. 1956- Barry Owen Somerset Maxwell, 12th Baron Farnham [grandson of the 11th Baron] became the last member of the Maxwell family to reside at Farnham House.
In 1961, dry rot was discovered within the Farnham house and in an attempt to alleviate it, the oldest part of the house looking across the parkland, and the additions made to the house in 1839, were demolished.”
Mark Bence-Jones describes the changes: “Ca 1960, the present Lord Farnham, finding the hosue to be badly infested with dryrot, demolished the range where the entrance had formerly been situated, as well as the additions of 1839; and remodelled the surviving Johnston range to form a house in itself; being assisted in the work by Mr Philip Cullivan. The pedimented front is still the garden front, as it was formerly; the back of the range being now the entrance front, with the portico re-erected at one end of it; so that the entrance is directly into the staircase hall. The surviving range contains Johnston’s dining room, which has been the drawing room since 19C rearrangement; as well as the boudoir and the former study, now the dining room. One of Wyatt’s bookcases is now in the alcove of the former staircase window. The demesne of Farnham has long been famous for its beauty; a landscape of woods, distant mountain views and lakes, which are part of the great network of loughs and islands stretching southwards from Upper Lough Erne.“
The website continues:
“1995 – 2001 – Lord Farnham abandoned farming and leased the agricultural lands to local farmers. One of his last acts on the Farnham demesne was the planting of a group of trees to mark the New Millennium. Lord Farnham died in March 2001 and his wife, Diana, Baroness Farnham now resides in England where she is a current Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth II. Farnham House estate was sold to a local entrepreneur who developed it into a hotel resort.
Present Day – The resort is owned by Mr. Thomas Röggla and along with his team at the resort, every effort is made to provide genuine hospitality in this new phase in the evolution of this magnificent location. Thus, the indelible-mark made by the Maxwell family, as far back as 1664 on the landscape of Farnham Estate will continue to be appreciated by future generations.”
4. Killinagh House, McNean Court, Blacklion, County Cavan – whole house rental and a lodge
and Killinagh Lodge, https://killinaghlodge.com/facilities.html on the grounds of Killinagh House:
“Killinagh Lodge is situated within 1 mile from the village of Blacklion in the picturesque grounds of Killinagh House, a former Church of Ireland manse dating back to Georgian times.
Set in the courtyard, Killinagh Lodge offers luxurious, purpose built, self catering accommodation on the shores of Lough MacNean. Boasting its own private access to the Lough, Killinagh Lodge is set in one of the most beautiful and tranquil locations where you can enjoy the grounds of the wider Estate.“
The house website tells us:
“Killinagh House is a unique, Georgian Country House, situated in the heart of the Marble Arch Global Geo Park, in west County Cavan. The perfect getaway for peace and relaxation. We cater for customer comforts, special requests and resonable prices.
The perfect retreat to unwind and recharge the batteries. Peaceful and quiet with relaxed garden views. Killinagh House is at the heart of Marble Arch Global Geo Park, ideally located for outdoor pursuits, including golf, fishing and nature walks.”
The National Inventory further describes it: “Roughcast rendered lime-washed walls with string course above basement. Three-over-six timber sash windows to first floor and six-over-six to ground floor all with stone sills and timber internal window shutters. Front door set in smooth-rendered segmental-arched recess, having four-panelled door in classical surround of slender Doric pilasters, metope frieze and cobweb fanlight above. Basement well to east, north and west side. Stone steps leading to entrance with recent metal railings.“
5. Lismore House, Co Cavan – was a ruin. Place to stay: Peacock House on the demesne:
Lismore House, Co Cavan – restored house (believed to have been the agent’s house) and a place to stay, Peacock House, available on airbnb. Of the original Lismore House, attributed to Edward Lovett Pearce (1699-1733), only the two wings and tower survive.
The house was restored by Richard and Sonya Beer. 
It was probably built for Thomas Nesbitt, (c1672-1750), of Grangemore, County Westmeath, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1720, MP for Cavan Borough, 1715-50 .
Mark Bence-Jones writes about Lismore House in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988), p. 186:
“Originally the seat of the Nesbitts, passed to the Burrowes through the marriage of Mary [Mary Anne, born 1826, daughter of John Nesbitt and Elizabeth Tatam] Nesbitt to James Burrowes [1820-1860, of Stradone House, County Cavan] in 1854; Lismore passed to the Lucas-Clements family through the marriage of Miss Rosamund Burrowes to the late Major Shuckburgh Lucas-Clements in 1922.“
Mary Anne and James had a son, Thomas Cosby Burrowes (1856-1925). He married in 1885 Anna
Frances, daughter of Richard Thomas Maxwell, and grand-daughter of the sixth Baron Farnham (of Farnham Estate), by whom he has issue two daughters. One daughter, Rosamund Charlotte Cosby Burrowes, of Lismore, married, in 1922, Major Shuckburgh Upton Lucas-Clements in 1922.  The main house was vacated c.1870 when the family relocated to Lismore Lodge, formerly the agent’s house.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “Having stood empty for many years, the house fell into ruin and was demolished ca 1952, with the exception of the “tower” wings. The office wings are now used as farm buildings, and the family now live in the former agent’s house, an early house with a Victorian wing and other additions.”
6. Olde Post Inn, Cloverhill, County Cavan
The website tells us: “The Olde Post inn was built in the 1800s. It opened as a post office in 1884, grocery & residence. It had a number of owners and was for some time derelict before it was renovated into a restaurant with accommodation in early 1990s. It has been run as a restaurant since and was taken over by Gearoid & Tara Lynch in November 2002. Since then it has gone under further refurbishment and been extended to include two Hampton Conservatories.“
7. Ross Castle, Co Cavan (address is in Mountnugent, County Meath, A82HF89, on the border of Cavan)
Whole castle rental, or nearby Castle Cottage, Quarry House or Tea Rose Cottage.
The website tells us:
“Ross Castle is situated on the shores of Lough Sheelin in the rolling countryside of County Meath. The Norman Tower House was strategically built in 1520 commanding views of Cavan, Westmeath, Longford, Meath and Lough Sheelin for the Nugent Family. 500 years later Ross Castle has retained its medieval charm while also providing the comforts of today’s world. The Castle is an ideal venue for conferences, small weddings, family get togethers, tour groups and private parties.
With the new addition of the Great Room and the Bishop’s Suite bedroom at the Castle, combined with our two cottages and Farm House, you now have the option of booking the combined properties for up to 31 guests. Individual property rentals for smaller groups are also possible. While Ross Castle was a Bed & Breakfast in the past, it can now only be booked for groups and events.”
8. Slieve Russel Hotel, Cavan
Stands on the site of what was once Cranaghan House, which was the Church of Ireland rectory for Tomregan parish from 1850 to 1959.
9. Virginia Park Lodge, Co Cavan
This was formerly the hunting lodge of the Taylours, Marquess Headfort, who also owned Headfort House in County Meath. It was built for the First Earl of Bective, Thomas Taylour (1724-1795), son of Thomas Taylor 2nd Baronet Taylor, of Kells, co. Meath, who served as MP for Kells and as a Privy Counsellor in Ireland. His mother was Sarah Graham from Platten, County Meath. Thomas the 1st Earl of Bective also served as Privy Counsellor. He married Jane Rowley, from Summerhill, County Meath.
It was their one of their younger sons, Reverend Henry Edward Taylour (1768-1852), who lived at Ardgillan Castle in Dublin. Their son Thomas the second earl became the 1st Marquess of Headfort, and added to Virginia Park Lodge and imported plants to create the parkland surrounding the Lodge. He married Mary Quin, from Quinsborough, County Clare. The Lodge passed through the family to the 4th Marquess, Geoffrey Thomas Taylour, son of the second wife of the 3rd Marquess. He married a music hall star, Rosie Boote, which scandalised society, but they moved to the Lodge and lived happily and had many children.
The Lodge was bought by chef Richard Corrigan in 2014, and he has undertaken much work to restore it to its former glory.
 Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
 Ireland’s Content Pool, https://www.irelandscontentpool.com/en