Corravahan – Explore Cavan’s built heritage

Corravahan House

A story can be told about almost any building, but the 1840s Georgian-style Corravahan House, near Drung, Co. Cavan is one of those rare, intriguing buildings that tells its own story.

The elegant country house and gardens remained in the ownership of two of the country’s most influential families for most of its 170-year history, dynasties, who in spite of their lofty status, were touched by both tragedy and war, all which played a decisive role in Corravahan’s story.

The house was originally constructed in 1841 for the local rector, Marcus Gervais Beresford, second son of the then-Bishop of Kilmore. In 1854, it passed into the ownership of Reverend Charles Leslie, of the well-known Leslie family of Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan. The house remained in the Leslie family until 1972, and was purchased by its present owners in 2003.

Current owner Ian Elliott is an archaeo-geophysical survey consultant and a founding member of the Irish Historic Houses Association. He has spent the past twelve years painstakingly restoring the house to its former glory, preferring to peel back the layers of its past rather than opt for a blanket all-in-one renovation, so as to ensure its heritage is properly preserved and no detail is missed.

Ian can offer a unique insight into the thought process of the house’s architect, William Farrell (who, incidentally, also designed Cavan Town’s Court House), and has traced the house’s development from that 1841 design to its present incarnation. A deviation in the width of a solitary floor board, for example, provides a clue that one particularly striking window bay may have been added up to thirty years after Corravahan was originally built.

Ian is quick to point out that Corravahan is “not a museum” but is very much a family home, and while framed pictures of Charles Robert Leslie might sit side by side on the mantelpiece with the visages of Cavan rock sensations The Strypes, this is a house that is firmly rooted in its own heritage. Rather than opt for the veneer of history like the owners of many country houses have done, the current incumbents of Corravahan have gone to great lengths to accurately preserve its integrity, so much so that the fingerprints of modern living dotted around the home in no way take from what is a historically enriching experience.

It’s an engaging tour that is a must for anyone with an interest in architecture, conservation, design or the history of Cavan. After all, the story of Corravahan stretches from the medieval Kilmore Cathedral all the way to the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Corravahan is open to the public for sixty days a year and opening hours are available on www.corravahan.com.

Due to occasional ongoing restoration works in the house and gardens, parking, and occasionally access, may be slightly restricted.  Therefore, phoning in advance of a visit, on 087 9772224, is advisable.  Alternatively, email corravahanhouse@eircom.net.

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