Friday, 20 March 2020

The History of Cabra Castle

The origins of Cabra Castle date back to the 18th Century, where the land contained an old round tower castle, which at the time was known as Cormey Castle. The main building was in ruins, destroyed during the Cromwellian War, however, its adjacent courtyard remained in good repair. In 1808, the Foster Family rebuilt the Castle, however the cost of the project effectively left the family bankrupt. 

In 1813, the Pratt Family purchased Cormey Castle from the Foster Family, along with around 400 acres, and moved into the newly renovated castle. For a few years, they continued to use the original name of Cormey Castle for their new home, but in 1820, Colonel Pratt renamed it Cabra Castle, and it has been known by this name ever since. 

Colonel Pratt had married Jamina, daughter of Sir James Tynte, and had ten children. The eldest - Mervyn, born in 1807 - married Madeleline Jackson, only daughter and heiress of Colonel Jackson of Enniscoe, Co. Mayo. They inherited this property when Colonel Pratt died 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 then died in 1890 and was succeeded on his death by his eldest son - Major Mervyn Pratt, in 1927.

Major Mervyn Pratt was badly wounded in the Boer War and never married. He lived permanently at Enniscoe and left Cabra unoccupied. His younger brother, Colonel Audley Pratt, was killed in the First World war and also was unmarried.

Major Mervyn Pratt died at Enniscoe in December 1950 and left Cabra to his nearest male relative - Mervyn Sheppard, a Malayan Civil Servant. The burden of death duties, taxation, rates, cost of repairs to the castle, and farm losses made it impossible for him to live there. Cabra Castle remained in the possession of the Pratt Family until 1964 when it was reluctantly sold to a local family called The Brennan’s. 

At this point, the Brennan Family renovated the Castle and converted it into a 22-bedroom hotel which they operated until 1986. Cabra Castle was then purchased by a group from the UAE with the intention of turning it back to a private residence once more. However, due to political and economic circumstances in the Middle East it effectively lay idle until 1991. That is when the current owners, the Corscadden Family, a renowned hotelier family, purchased Cabra Castle to add to their Romantic Castles of Ireland collection. Since then, the property has been extensively refurbished and expanded to incorporate the former Courtyard and Gate Lodge. Six cottages were also built on the estate, bringing the total number of bedrooms to 105.

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