Cabra Castle, Kingscourt, County Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

contact: Howard Corscadden.
Tel: 042-9667030
www.cabracastle.com
Open in 2022: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-4pm
Fee: Free

Stephen and the Knight have a heart to heart. We attended a wedding in Cabra Castle in 2011 and I took this photograph.

Stephen and I visited Cabra Castle in December 2020. I contacted the owner, Howard Corscadden, in advance, to request a tour of the castle. The Corscadden family own several beautiful Irish properties which provide unique castle accommodation. As well as Cabra Castle, they own Markree Castle in County Sligo and Ballyseede Castle in County Kerry, both of which are on the Section 482 list, as well as Bellingham Castle in County Louth. They are all hotels except the latter which is available as a four star venue for weddings and events, with accommodation. Howard’s parents and grandparents were also in the hotel business in Ireland, as are his siblings – Ballyseede is run by his sister Marnie, Castle Bellingham by his brother Patrick and Markree Castle by his sister Patricia. Howard worked in the Waldorf hotel in Switzerland and in Dromoland Castle in Ireland before purchasing Cabra Castle in 1991. [1] It had been converted to a hotel in 1964 by the local Brennan family. In 1986 it was sold to become a private house once more, but with a change in fortune the family sold to Howard Corscadden.

The early history of the castle is the history of two land-owning families, the Fosters and the Pratts. The building now known as Cabra Castle was originally known as Cormy Castle. At that time, an adjacent property was called “Cabra.” Cormy Castle was named after the townland of Cormy.

In 1795 the land, which contained an old round tower castle called Cormy Castle, belonged to John Thomas Foster (1747-1796), who had been MP for Dunleer, County Louth, and for Ennis, County Clare. The main building of Cormy Castle was in ruins, destroyed during the Cromwellian War, but its adjacent courtyard remained in good repair.

The Foster family owned large amounts of land in County Louth and their family seat was in Dunleer. The family produced many members of the Irish Parliament. John Thomas’s grandfather John Foster (1665-1747) had been MP for Dunleer. His father, Reverend Thomas Foster (1709-1784) was Rector at Dunleer. His uncle Anthony Foster (1705-1778) had also been MP for Dunleer and for County Louth, and was Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and lived at Collon, County Louth. [2] Anthony’s son John Foster (1740-1828) was Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, created 1st Baron Oriel of Ferrard, and also owned property which is now part of University College Dublin and the adjacent road Foster Avenue is named after him.

John Foster, 1st Baron Oriel, by Francesco Bartolozzi, after Unknown artist, stipple engraving, late 18th century. Photograph from National Portrait Gallery, London.

Turtle Bunbury tells us that John Thomas Foster’s father Reverend Thomas, the rector of Dunleer, acquired land in County Louth in the 1750s and 1760. He then acquired the 700 acre manor of Killany, County Louth, from 1763 on a series of long leases from the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College Dublin. He purchased Stonehouse, Dunleer, around 1787. [3]

Stone House, County Louth, built around 1760 and purchased by Reverend Thomas Foster in around 1787. Photograph from National Archive of Architectural Heritage.

In 1776 John Thomas Foster married Elizabeth Christina Hervey, daughter of the 4th Earl of Bristol. After the marriage they lived with her father in Suffolk. They had two sons: Frederick Thomas (1777-1853) and Augustus John (1780-1848). [4] 

The marriage of John Thomas and Elizabeth Christina was not a success, and they separated after five years. Foster took the sons, and she did not see them for fourteen years. [5]

Elizabeth Christina Hervey, Lady Foster, painted by Thomas Lawrence in around 1805, as the Tiburtine Sybil, the Roman prophetess who foretold the coming of Christ. In 1782 she became the lover of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and they lived together at Chatworth, Derbyshire, with his wife Georgiana. Following the birth of a number if illegitimate children, she married the Duke in 1809. Portait in the National Gallery of Ireland.

In 1783 John Thomas Foster inherited a property named Rosy Park in Louth from his uncle, John William Foster. In 1820 it was renamed Glyde Park by his son, Augustus. [6] It is unfortunately now a ruin.

The ruin of Glyde Court, County Louth, built around 1780. Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

John Thomas died in 1796, when his sons were still minors. They moved back to England to live with their mother, who by this time was living with William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, along with his wife, Georgiana, and had born him two children. A film starring Keira Knightly, “The Duchess,” is based on their story. [7] She married him in 1809 when his wife died.

Meanwhile, a cousin of John Thomas Foster, Henry Foster (c. 1747-1838), was appointed Trustee and Executor of the property of Cormy. He lived at Cormy Castle while acting as Trustee for his wards. According to Turtle Bunbury, he was a magistrate for Meath, Cavan and Louth. There is a record in the National Library of Ireland of a Grant of Arms to Henry Foster of Cormy Castle from March 13th 1806, when he was about to be created a baronet, but “the creation did not eventuate” (i.e. he was not made baronet). The National Library also has a map of the demesne of Cormy Castle from 1810, named as the seat of Henry Foster. In 1808 he began to rebuild and enlarge the castle. However, he exhausted the personal estate of his wards in doing so, and incurred debts, and the castle and land had to be sold. In about 1813 his wards sold the estate to Colonel Joseph Pratt, who lived on the adjacent property. [8]

John Thomas Foster’s son Frederick Thomas Foster may have remained in England, as he served as MP for Bury St. Edwards between 1812 and 1818. His brother Augustus John Foster became a politician and diplomat. Between roughly 1802 and 1804 he was Secretary to the British Legion in Naples. He held the office of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the U.S.A. in 1812. He wrote about his American experiences in Notes on the United States of America.

From 1814-1824 he held the office of Minister Plenipotentiary to Denmark. He was created 1st Baronet Foster of Glyde Court in 1831, and was appointed Privy Counsellor. His final posting was to Turin, in the Kingdom of Sardinia. 

Colonel Joseph Pratt, who owned the adjacent Cabra estate, continued the enlargement of Cormy Castle, and the work was completed in 1837. In 1820 he renamed it Cabra Castle. [9]

Before we examine the development of Cabra Castle, let’s look at the history of the property of Cabra across the road from the current Cabra Castle. 

Old Cabra, in Dun Na Ri Forest Park

Old Cabra, in Dun Na Ri Forest Park
The former stable block of Old Cabra, popularly known as “The Barracks,” in Dun Na Ri Forest Park

According to the Cabra Castle website, this area belonged to the O’Reilly family. In 1607 Gerald Fleming, who had been granted territory by King James I, built a castle on the property. He lost his lands, however, when he supported James II against William III, and Colonel Thomas Cooch (1632-1699) acquired the property. [10]

Colonel Thomas Cooch married Elizabeth Mervyn, (sister of Audley Mervyn, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons), and they had an only daughter and heiress, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth’s first husband (Nathaniel Pole, who lived in County Meath) died in 1685, before they had any children, and Elizabeth then married Joseph Pratt, who lived not far off at Garadice, Co. Meath, a property which his father received for his support of Oliver Cromwell. [11] This marriage (which was also Joseph Pratt’s second) took place in 1686 and a son, Mervyn Pratt, was born in 1687. Joseph Pratt held the office of High Sheriff of County Meath in 1698. He and Elizabeth had several other children.

Colonel Thomas Cooch left his Cabra property to his grandson Mervyn. 

Mervyn Pratt was only 12 years old when his grandfather died. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin and married Elizabeth Coote, daughter of Sir Thomas Coote, Judge, of Bellamont, Coote Hill, County Cavan. Mervyn and Elizabeth lived at Cabra near the Wishing Well. He followed in his father’s footsteps and held the office of High Sheriff, but of County Cavan rather than Meath. He was also an MP for County Cavan.

The Fleming castle was modernised by Mervyn Pratt. The new villa may have been designed by Edward Lovett Pearce, who was a cousin of Elizabeth Coote. The Irish Aesthete quotes a visitor to Mervyn Pratt in Cabra:

On August 25th 1732, the future Mrs Delany (then the merrily widowed Mrs Pendarves) embarked on a journey from Navan, County Meath to Cootehill, County Cavan. She wrote in her journal, ‘travelled through bad roads and a dull, uninhabited country, till we came to Cabaragh, Mr Prat’s house, an old castle modernized, and made very pretty: the master of it is a virtuoso, and discovers whim in all his improvements. The house stands on the side of a high hill; has some tall old trees about it; the gardens are small but neat; there are two little terrace walks, and down in a hollow is a little commodious lodge where Mr Prat lived whilst his house was repairing. But the thing that most pleased me, was a rivulet that tumbles down from rocks in a little glen, full of shrub-wood and trees; here a fine spring joins the river, of the sweetest water in the world.’” [12]

Cabra Castle by Robert French, Lawrence Photograph Collection NLI flickr constant commons.

Mervyn and Elizabeth Pratt had three daughters and one son. Their son Joseph joined the clergy. Reverend Joseph married Elizabeth Chetwood and had five children.

Of the five children of Reverend Joseph Pratt, a daughter Anne married her neighbour Henry Foster the trustee for Cormy Castle. [13] A son, James Butler Pratt, married a sibling of Henry Foster, Margaret. Another son entered the clergy, Reverend Joseph Pratt (1738-1831).

This second Reverend Joseph Pratt married Sarah Morres, daughter of the 1st Viscount Mountmorres, of Castle Morres, County Kilkenny (which has been demolished). Their son, Colonel Joseph Pratt (1775-1863), purchased Cormy Castle from Henry Foster. Their other son, Hervey Randall Saville Pratt inherited the property of Castle Morres through his mother.

The house at Cabra was destroyed by fire in the 1950s, and is now part of Dun na Ri Forest Park, a lovely place to explore, owned by Coillte. After Joseph Pratt moved to Cormy Castle and created a new seat for his family, his former property became known as Old Cabra. [14] 

Now let us travel back across the road to the former Cormy Castle, now Cabra Castle. Cabra Castle is a mixture of Norman and Gothic styles.

The entrance is in a Norman-style “donjon” or square tower house, with corner turret. The door is in a deeply recessed pointed arch.

The building has two, three and four story sections over a basement. The building, including outbuildings, is castellated, and has several round and square towers.

The windows are of various shape, some with hood mouldings. 

A recent creation to one side of the tower is “Mitzi’s garden,” a formal garden with fountain, tribute to the mother of the current generation of Corscaddens, who is nicknamed Mitzi. This area used to be used for parking. 

View of Mitzi’s Garden from the balcony above.

There are statue-filled niches, and a side entrance, up a flight of steps, leads to the recently refurbished ballroom.

The steps leading to the entry to the Ballroom.

The other side of the building has a terrace which contains a seating area outside the bar, which also serves food.

This is a photograph of the terrace from 2011, which has been altered slightly, as you can see in the photograph below.

The bar on the ground floor.
The ogee arched shaped windows and doors mirror those of the entrance.

This courtyard looks out to a lawn area that has a giant chess set and places to sit.

This path leads out to a golf course.
The castle is permanently inhabited by some beautiful Irish wolf hounds, who make a picturesque and atmospheric addition to wedding photographs.
This is the area beyond the courtyard and bar, and is the outer walls of the courtyard to the rear of the castle.
This arial photograph was taken before Mitzi’s Garden was developed. The square turret in the inside corner of the L bend of the castle contains our en suite. The courtyard with further accommodation, of one square within a larger square, is at the rear.

The oldest part of the castle can be pinpointed in the aerial view. According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage the “earlier house of c.1750 [is] embedded within northern section of south-east side concealed behind extension of c.1990, junction marked by square-plan rendered turret corresponding to north-west side in simplified form.” This square plan turret actually contains our bathroom!

Beyond Mitzi’s Garden a path leads to the car park and further self-catering accommodation, beyond the tennis court. A branch of this path and driveway curves around to the courtyard at the back of the castle. One can also enter this courtyard through the castle. The courtyard originally contained the stables, but these have been converted into more hotel accommodation. There are about sixty rooms in the courtyard.

The outside of the courtyard buildings.

Some of the buildings in the courtyard have been newly constructed. My amateur eye cannot distinguish the new from the old.

In the middle of the courtyard is Karl’s Garden, named after a former groundsman. 

The Cabra Castle website tells us:

“Colonel Joseph Pratt had married Jamima, daughter of Sir James Tynte [of Tynte Park, County Wicklow – the beautiful house that stands there today wasn’t built until around 1820; Jamima married in 1806], and had ten children. The eldest – Mervyn, born in 1807 – married Madeline Jackson, only daughter and heiress of Colonel Jackson of Enniscoe, Co. Mayo. They inherited this property when Colonel Pratt died. 

He succeeded his father, Col. Joseph Pratt, as owner of Cabra in 1863, but from this time onwards, the interests of the Pratt Family were divided between Cabra in Co. Cavan and Enniscoe in Co. Mayo. Mervyn Pratt died in 1890 and was succeeded on his death by his eldest son – Major Mervyn Pratt, in 1927.”

Enniscoe, by the way, is another Section 482 property which I look forward to visiting, which also provides accommodation. The house was completed in 1798. [15] 

Mervyn Pratt (1807-1890) who married into Enniscoe had several brothers. Joseph Pratt took the name of Tynte in 1836 from his mother and lived in Tynte Park. Mervyn held the offices of High Sheriff of County Cavan in 1841 and High Sheriff of County Mayo in 1843. He was also Justice of the Peace for County Cavan and High Sheriff for County Meath in 1875. His son Joseph Pratt (1843-1929) inherited Enniscoe and Cabra Castle, and then Joseph’s son Mervyn (1873-1950) lived at Enniscoe and left Cabra Castle unoccupied. He served in the military, and was a Justice of the Peace, and never married. He bequeathed Cabra to his nearest male relative, Mervyn Sheppard (1905-1994), a Malayan Civil Servant. [16] According to the Cabra Castle website, death duties and taxes, rates, the cost of repairs, and farm losses, meant he could not afford to live there, and he had to sell it. It was sold in 1964 to the Brennans and turned into a 22 bedroom hotel.

The manager of the hotel, Johnny, took us on a tour. While we waited for him we sat by an open fire in a small sitting room off the reception hall.

Reception area within the front entrance.
Small room off the reception area, where we waited for the Manager for our tour.

Beyond the reception area is the staircase hall with a bifurcating staircase with metalwork balustrade ascending to the first floor. Two statues very similar to the ones that were recently removed from outside the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin while the owners determined whether they represented slave girls or not (they do not) adorn the staircase. [17]

On the second floor the staircase hall is surrounded by a gallery, and has ceiling work of thin fretting.

At the top of the stairs on the first floor is a Victorian drawing room with an original gilt wallpaper.

The ceiling has matching gilt decoration. Next to this room, facing the staircase, is the dining area – a suite of several rooms. The arches between the rooms reflect the entrance arch to the castle and the arched windows.

This is the bay window we can see as the canted three storey tower outside.

The historic elegance of the rooms is maintained with original fireplace, antique mirrors, portraits and chandeliers.

On the second floor is more cosy sitting room, decorated in dark green William Morris style wallpaper, making it more like a den or library.

This den overlooks an outdoor seating area. This is the seating area overlooking Mitzi’s Garden.

Beautiful antiques adorn the rooms. I love these porcelain cranes on the  fine desk.
I can’t find this Cecil Pratt in the family tree. I would love to identify all the sitters in the portraits. Most, however, were bought after the Pratts’ belongings went elsewhere.

The manager then took us through to the most recent piece de resistance, the Ballroom. It has been sensitively built and decorated to reflect the style of the older parts of the castle, and I loved the ceiling, which is quite amazing and looks like heavy medieval carved wood but is actually manufactured using a modern technique. In the hallway leading to the ballroom, our guide pointed out that the original round stone tower of the castle has been incorporated.

The original round stone tower of the castle has been incorporated into the newer wing. A pair of ogee arched doorways lead to the bar.
A tripartite stone window is also incorporated into the newer area.
I asked our guide whether this door was a genuine old one, and he told me it is not, but was carefully crafted.
 

The ballroom includes a large “minstrels’ gallery.”

Tipperary crystal chandelier.
The tower has been incorporated to form a little nook for a wedding cake.
The cake tower room comes complete with a sword to cut the cake!

Off the ballroom is a small kitchen, called Josephine’s Kitchen after one of the staff who worked here for thirty years.

In Josephine’s kitchen, guests can help themselves to tea and coffee. A painting of Cormy Bridge, near where Old Cabra was located, is by Josephine herself!

Our guide told us that Howard Corscadden likes to pick up antiques to add to the décor. I love these additions, making me feel like I was a visitor in the days of the Pratts when the castle must have boasted its full glory. After our tour, I explored the nooks and crannies, enjoying the irregularity of the stairways and corridors.

There was a great photograph of Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan on the way up to our bedroom.

Even the back corridors have wonderful artworks. I love this series of portraits. I wonder who they are?

I also really like these Arabic scenes:

Our guide showed us to one of his favourite bedrooms, which has a ceiling recently adorned with plasterwork. He particularly loves the use of the round tower, renovated into a gorgeous bathroom.

He then took us outside to the courtyard, and showed us the Bridal Suite in the courtyard area.

I loved the detail of the fish tank built into the wall.

The room has its own jacuzzi.

There is another Bridal Suite, inside the castle. I have saved the best until last, because this was our room! It used to be three bedrooms, a hallway and an office, all now incorporated into a luxurious suite. It has a canopied four poster bed, a comfortable seating area with fireplace, and a beautiful clawfoot bath.

I love the antique desk.
I wonder who is in the portraits? 

The ensuite bathroom has the largest walk-in shower that I’ve ever seen, and the muted lighting feels particularly luxurious.

The bathroom has a door to a large private patio, with stunning views over Mitzi’s Garden and the landscape beyond. And best of all, we had our own private outdoor jacuzzi!

The view from our balcony.
Stephen prepares to soak in the jacuzzi, under the tower which is attached to the oldest part of the castle.

There are self-catering cottages where one can also stay. It is a beautiful part of the country. Before heading home, we availed of the opportunity to visit the impressive remnants nearby of Castle Saunderson.

Castle Saunderson, County Cavan.

[1] http://audrey.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/cabra-castle.pdf

See also Ballyseede Castle: https://www.ballyseedecastle.com

Markree Castle: https://www.markreecastle.ie

Castle Bellingham: https://www.bellinghamcastle.ie

[2] Collon House now runs a B&B and you can also request a tour. www.collonhouse.com

[3] http://www.turtlebunbury.com/family/bunburyfamily_related/bunbury_family_related_foster.html

It is interesting to note that his neighbour, Dr. Benjamin Pratt, son of Joseph Pratt and Elizabeth Cooch, was a Provost of Trinity College Dublin in 1710.

[4] http://www.thepeerage.com/p957.htm#i9561

[5] Chapman, Caroline & Jane Dormer, Elizabeth and Georgiana: The Duke of Devonshire and his Two Duchesses, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2002

[6] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/04/20/the-scattering/

[7] Hicks, David. Irish Country Houses, Portraits and Painters. The Collins Press, Cork, 2014.

[8] https://archiseek.com/2020/1808-cabra-castle-kingscourt-co-cavan/

[9] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/40403506/cabra-castle-cormey-co-cavan

Also http://www.dunari.ie/history.html

[10] www.cabracastle.com

[11] http://www.bomford.net/IrishBomfords/Chapters/Chapter20/Chapter20.htm

[12] https://theirishaesthete.com/2020/04/20/cabra-demesne/

[13] http://www.thepeerage.com/p38140.htm#i381397

[14] Mark Bence-Jones. 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.

[15] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/31303803/enniscoe-house-originally-inishcoe-house-prospect-co-mayo

and https://www.enniscoe.com

[16] Imagine inheriting a castle from a distant relative! Mervyn Pratt died in 1950 and his siblings had predeceased him and had no children. Louisa Catherine Hannah Pratt was his aunt. It was through her line that Mervyn Sheppard inherited.

Louisa Pratt was the sister of Joseph Pratt (1843-1929), who lived at Enniscoe, the father of Mervyn Pratt. Louisa Pratt married Thomas Rothwell. Thomas Rothwell served in County Meath militia, and was High Sheriff of County Meath in 1867, and also served as Justice of the Peace for County Meath. He lived at Rockfield, County Meath. 

Louisa and Thomas had four daughters. Louisa Frances Rothwell must have been the oldest of the daughters, as it was through her son that Mervyn Sheppard inherited. Mervyn Sheppard was the son of Canon James William ffrank Sheppard and Louisa Frances Rothwell. Mervyn probably grew up in England where father was rector. He had a twin, Frank Baden ffrank Sheppard, who served in the military, and a younger brother. 

[17] An Irish Times article by Ronan McGreevy from Thursday Sept 24th 2020  explains the origin of the Shelbourne hotel statues. They were designed and sculpted by Mathurin Moreau (1822-1912) and were cast in a foundry in Paris. The statues represent Egyptian and Nubian women.

County Cavan, historic houses to see and stay

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.

Cabra Castle, County Cavan, December 2020.

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/03/28/cabra-castle-kingscourt-county-cavan/
contact: Howard Corscadden.
Tel: 042-9667030
www.cabracastle.com
Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-4pm
Fee: Free

2. Castle Saunderson, Co. Cavan – a ruin 

Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
The castle, which dates from 1840, was destroyed by fire in 1990.

https://www.thisiscavan.ie/fun/article/luanch-of-new-heritage-trail-at-castle-saunderson

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.” [1]

The land belonged to the O’Reilly clan in the 16th century, rulers of Breifne, which covered much of modern County Cavan. Scottish mercenatry Alexander Sanderson (the ‘u’ was added later), was first granted lands in Cavan and Tyrone in 1618. The estate passed to his son Robert, the first recorded Sanderson to live here, in 1633. The castle that was there at that time was burned to the ground in 1641 during the Rebellion. Robert Sanderson helped Oliver Cromwell’s troops to reconquer, and he was awarded with more land.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
In 1828, Alexander Saunderson, MP for Cavan, married Sarah Maxwell, daughter of Reverend Henry Maxwell 6th Baron Farnham, head of another of Cavan’s powerful Anglo-Irish families (Farnham Estate is now a hotel). Through marriage, the Maxwells are reputed to be able to trace their lineage back to the High King Brian Boru, and to the Scottish Robert Bruce. Alexander was a kind landlord, suspending rent collection from 1845-51 due to the famine.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
In the late 19th century, Colonel Edward Saunderson opposed Charles Stewart Parnell. Saunderson was the founder of Irish Unionism, a movement to preserve British rule in Ireland.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
Castle Saunderson, County Cavan, December 2020.
The last Saunderson, Alexander, or “Sandy,” was a prisoner of war in WWII, sharing a cell with Sir John Leslie of Castle Leslie. In prison he studied law and later worked at the Nuremburg Nazi war crimes trials.
A Scout centre nearby has been established, and is a World Peace Centre for the Scouts.

3. Clough Oughter, County Cavan

https://www.discoverireland.ie/Activities-Adventure/clough-oughter-castle/48729

Clough Oughter Castle, County Cavan, photograph by Chris Hill 2018 for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [2]

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.” [3]

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]

4. Corravahan House & Gardens, Drung, Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan – section 482

Corravahan, County Cavan, photograph from Ian Elliot.

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/08/28/corravahan-house-and-gardens-drung-county-cavan/
contact: Ian Elliott
Tel: 087-9772224
www.corravahan.com
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

and lodges

2. Clover Hill Gate Lodge, Cloverhill, Belturbet, Cavan

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/4962376?source_impression_id=p3_1646316400_8H59V8wuqVzXlMog

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]. [5] 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. [6] 

3. Farnham House, Farnham Estate, Cavan – Farnham Estate hotel 

https://www.farnhamestate.ie

Farnham House, photograph from National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

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.

The South Front of Farnham House. Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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.

Photograph of Farnham House from Country Life, A Chinese Chippendale chair in the hall at Farnham House. Pub Orig CL 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker. 
The staircase at Farnham House designed by Francis Johnston. Pub Orig Country Life 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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 portico is now incorporated into the interior of Farnham Estate hotel. Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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 drawing room at Farnham House. The portrait to the right is of thr Rt Hon John, 5th Baron Farnham by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Pub Orig Country Life 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker.
Photograph of Farnham House from Country Life, Pub Orig Country Life 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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.”

The entrance front of Farnham House, as remodelled in 1961. In an attempt to alleviate dry rot, the oldest part of the house was demolished. Pub Orig Country Life 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker.

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 dining room at Farnham House. Pub Orig Country Life 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker.
Photograph of Farnham House from Country Life, Pub Orig Country Life 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker.
Photograph of Farnham House from Country Life, Pub Orig Country Life 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker.
The fireplace in Lady Farnham’s bedroom at Farnham House. The pastels of the family arranged over the chimneypiece are by Hugh Douglas Hamilton and the portrait in the centre is by Sir Francis Grant. Pub Orig Country Life 02/01/2003, volume CXCVII. Photographer Paul Barker.

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.”

As former Radisson Blu, Farnham Estate, Cavan 2013.
Walk on Farnham Estate, Cavan, Sept 2013
Walk on Farnham Estate, Cavan, Sept 2013
Walk on Farnham Estate, Cavan, Sept 2013

4. Killinagh House, McNean Court, Blacklion, County Cavan – whole house rental and a lodge

Killinagh House, built 1827, a former Glebe House, three-bay two-storey over basement. Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.discoverireland.ie/accommodation/killinagh-house

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 reasonable 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.”

Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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.

Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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.

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/27674042?source_impression_id=p3_1646316758_vwGIKKMTwiWKK%2FB7

Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. The Inventory tells us it is: “Symmetrical pair of detached six-bay two-storey flanking wings to former Lismore House, built c.1730, having advanced outermost end bays to each block, single-bay two-stage flanking tower formerly attached to south corner of house having single-bay extension to north…Rubble stone walls having red brick quoins, eaves course, and string course. Red brick surrounds to oculi at first floor over round-headed ground-floor windows and central segmental-headed door.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “Blind lunette and oculus to gables facing former house.”
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “Tower having mansard slate roof, rubble stone walls with cut-stone platbands, cut-stone surrounds to window openings, round-headed openings with raised keystone and impost blocks to former ground floor, and segmental-headed openings to former basement level.”

The house was restored by Richard and Sonya Beer. [8]

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 [7].

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. [9] 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.” 

Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

6. Olde Post Inn, Cloverhill, County Cavan

https://www.theoldepostinn.com

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)

https://www.ross-castle.com

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 

https://www.originalirishhotels.com/destinations/irelands-ancient-east

Slieve Russel hotel, County Cavan, photograph by Geoffrey Arrowsmith, 2019 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

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

WWW.VIRGINIAPARKLODGE.COM

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.

*************************

[1] 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.

[2] Ireland’s Content Pool, https://www.irelandscontentpool.com/en

[3] https://www.discoverireland.ie/Activities-Adventure/clough-oughter-castle/48729 

[4] http://www.discoverbelturbet.ie/unesco-geopark/clough-oughter/

[5] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/09/09/a-mere-shell/

[6]  see Timothy William Ferres: http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Cavan%20Landowners?updated-max=2018-07-03T12:32:00%2B01:00&max-results=20&start=10&by-date=false

[7] ibid.

[8] https://www.anglocelt.ie/news/roundup/articles/2018/06/17/4157489-bringing-lismore-back-from-the-dead/ 

[9] https://nisbetts.co.uk/archives/nesalx.htm