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Clonabreany House and Courtyard lie at the gateway to the Boyne Valley in Clonabreany near Crossakiel, Co. Meath. The area has a rich cultural and political heritage from mesolithic times through to the present day. It has been the seat successively of the O'Reilly clan, the Anglo Norman Plunketts of St. Oliver Plunkett fame and the Wade family in the wake of the Cromwellian Settlement.
The presence of decorated megalithic stones in the nearby graveyard indicate that Clonabreany, or Russagh as it was also known, had been an exceptional place in the prehistoric community of North West Meath. The site is part of the region traversed by Slighe Assail, one the major route ways of Ancient Ireland. The early Christian settlement at Clonabreany can be dated back to 500 AD. Clonabreany later played host to Richard Detuit from the 11th century and later formed part of the primary Anglo-Norman settlement of the area under James Ormond in the 15th century.
The Plunkett family came into possession of Clonabreany during the 14th century and continued to rule it through to the dramatic Cromwellian settlement until it fell under the ownership of the Wade family. Indeed, the Plunkett family remained at Clonabreany and later inter-married with the Wade family. The Wade family themselves were very prominent in the administration of the county, holding the positions at various times of High Sheriff and Master of the Rolls. Members of the Wade family were also involved in leading academic and cultural institutions. The Wades remained at Clonabreany until the start of the 20th century and held approximately 5,000 acres in Meath throughout that time. In the late 1700s and early 1800s the Norman castle and original houses were demolished and Clonabreany House and demesne were commissioned and constructed by the Wade family. The house and courtyard were reputedly designed by the celebrated Charles Robert Cockerell (1788-1863) although no conclusive evidence of this can be found. The estate was split up after World War 1 when the Wade family left it, and the old courtyard homes were given to returning soldiers from the war. Afterwards the Land Commission divided up the remainder of the property.
For the remainder of the 20th century the property fell into disrepair and eventual dereliction until part of the old servant’s hall was purchased by the current owners in 1998. Over the following 10 years and after a number of purchases they acquired the remaining buildings that formed part of the original demesne.
The opening of Clonabreany House in 2009 marked the unveiling of a major restoration project of the 18th century estate manager's house and adjoining courtyard. The restoration work, which took place over almost a decade, was carried out by Principal Construction Services and conservation architects Paul Arnold and Associates were brought on board to ensure that the work carried out was in accordance with best conservation practise. In 2008, Clonabreany Courtyard received an Ellison Award from An Taisce, for excellence in conservation.
Clonabreany offers people from all over the world a chance to come to one of the most beautiful and ancient parts of Ireland and really sample all of what the region has to offer. Although Clonabreany was almost forgotten for the last century, it now has the opportunity to return in some way to its former prominence when it stood in the centre of what was the fifth province of Ireland, the ancient province of Meath where tribes came from all over Ireland to celebrate their cultural, ritual and spiritual beliefs.