Cabra Castle Hotel
|Condition:||Converted to a hotel|
|Owned by:||Corscadden family|
Cabra Castle is the name of a country house in County Cavan and of the ruined castle in its grounds. The house now used as a luxury hotel. They are near the hamlet of Cabra, which is very near Kingscourt in south-east of the county.
The house stands just off the R179 road, known locally as the Carrickmacross Road. It is in the eastern tip of Cavan, by the border of Meath to the south and to the east, and County Monaghan’s border a short distance to the north.
The current house was built in a mixture of the "neo-Norman-style" and the "Gothick-style" in the first decade of the 19th century. Much of the exterior is in a form of what might be described as the "neo-Norman-style", while the interior is mainly "Gothick" (as opposed to the later neo-Gothic styles). This structure was originally called Cormey (or Cormy) Castle, after the local townland where it was built. It was constructed for the Foster family, a local "Ascendancy" family. However, the cost of building the new country house effectively bankrupted the Foster family, so in 1813, shortly after the new Cormey Castle had been completed, the Fosters sold their new country house to their much wealthier neighbours, the Pratt dynasty, who were another local 'Ascendancy' family.
The Pratt family lived just across the Carrickmacross Road at the original Cabra House (also sometimes known as Cabra Castle) on the Cabra Estate, the family's huge country estate. The Pratt family had owned the Cabra Estate since 1699. In 1813, Colonel Joseph Pratt added the new Cormey Castle and much of the Fosters' Cormey Estate to his own Cabra Estate. Cormey Castle replaced the original Cabra House as the chief "seat" of the Pratt dynasty in County Cavan. Around 1820, the Pratt family renamed Cormey Castle as Cabra Castle, the name it retains to this day.
The ruins of the original Cabra House, or Cabra Castle, can be seen on a slight height near the Wishing Well in what is now Dún a' Rí Forest Park, formerly part of the Cabra Estate. The forest park is now owned by Coillte, the Irish Government's forestry company, hence its new-made Gaelic name.
Major Mervyn Pratt owned Cabra Castle and the Cabra Estate from 1927 until his death in December 1950. The Major, however, mainly lived at Enniscoe, another country estate that the Pratt family had owned since the 1860s near Crossmolina in County Mayo. He was succeeded by his nephew, Tan Sri Dr. Mervyn Sheppard, a long-serving civil servant with the British Colonial Service in Malaya, who was the last member of the Pratt dynasty to own Cabra Castle.
Due to the mounting costs of running the castle and running what remained of the Cabra Estate, he sold the country house to a local Roman Catholic family, the Brennans, in 1964. The Brennan family turned the castle into a hotel, which it remained up until they sold it in 1986 to a Mr Mansour, a senior politician and businessman from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Mansour closed the hotel with the intention of turning Cabra Castle back into a private country house once more. However, he never actually got round to restoring the castle as a private residence or restoring it to its former glory.
In 1991, Mansour sold Cabra Castle to the Corscadden family, who run a number of hotels. They restored the castle and turned it into a luxury four-star hotel, reopening it as such in the early 1990s. It continues to be owned by the Corscadden family, and the castle remains a luxury hotel.
About a hundred acres of land now makes up the surrounding demesne (or park) of Cabra Castle.
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