Country House Bed & Breakfast Castlerea, Co. Roscommon
Clonalis House is the ancestral home of the O’Conor family, direct descendants of Ireland’s last High King and traditional Kings of Connacht. The family has lived on this heavily wooded 700 acre estate on the banks of the River Suck for more than 1,000 years–an achievement unrivaled elsewhere in Ireland. The present Victorian house, the latest in a series on the estate, is a large, comfortable Italianate building on an elevated site. Clonalis is furnished with family portraits and memorabilia, including the harp of Turlough O’Carolan, the famous blind harpist. The spacious bedrooms – many with four-poster beds – have beautiful views over the park.
The present owner, Pyers O'Conor Nash, is the most recent of his family to live here, an unbroken line of descent stretching back for more than a thousand years. The present Clonalis House is the most recent dwelling on the family's lands and was built between 1878 and 1880 to the designs of the English architect, Samuel Pepys Cockrell. The result is a comfortable Victorian mansion of some 45 rooms, in the Italianate style. The bedrooms, many of which have four poster or half-tester beds, are large and comfortable with fine views over the demesne. Pyers's wife, Marguerite, welcomes the visitors, organises the house and the meals, and looks after her guests in an exemplary way.
The O'Conor family are an unique example of a Catholic Irish family who have remained prominent in affairs and retained their ancestral lands despite the vicissitudes of the last five centuries, and the contents of Clonalis House provide guests with an opportunity to explore their rich history. These include the harp of the blind Irish composer and harpist, Turlough O'Carolan, the last and perhaps the best known of Ireland's travelling bards; a fine collection of family portraits, the library of the famous 18th century antiquarian, Charles O'Conor of Belnagare (which includes the largest private collection of original documents in Irish) and the O'Conor Coronation Stone, on which the Kings of Connacht were crowned from time immemorial.
The well-wooded acre estate, now reduced to just over 700 acres just outside the town of Castlerea, was originally laid out for pheasant shooting, but in recent times it has become better known as a first class woodcock shoot.
There is a good deal to see and do in the area: Roscommon Castle, the ruined O'Conor castle at Ballintubber and the King House in Boyle, while the despoiled demesne at Rockingham with it many gates and lodges is still well worth visiting. Guests at can fish for trout in the River Suck which flows thorough the estate, or on nearby Lough O'Flynn, or they can walk through the area along the Suck Way. Clonalis House is the ideal base for touring County Roscommon and the adjoining parts of County Galway, County Mayo and County Sligo.