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The original Cabra Castle, the ruins of which still stand on high ground above the Wishing Well - not far from Cromwell's Bridge, was situated to the west of the Kingscourt - Carrickmacross Road.

The castle and the land surrounding it is believed to have belonged to the O'Reilly Family until it was confiscated in the mid 17th century by Cromwell's orders and given to Colonel Thomas Cooch. Colonel T. Cooch was born in Donegal in 1632 and was the grandson of Sir Thomas Cooch K.C. Sir Thomas Cooch K.C. had migrated to Ireland very early in the 17th century and was given a grant of 1,000 acres in Donegal by James 1.

Colonel Thomas Cooch, first owner of Cabra Estate, married Elizabeth Mervyn, sister of Audley Mervyn (Speaker of the Irish House of Commons), and they had an only daughter and heiress, Elizabeth. This Elizabeth Cooch married firstly Nathaniel Pole, Sergeant of Arms of Ireland, of Geraldstown, Co. Meath, but he died in 1685 without any heirs.

Elizabeth then married Joseph Pratt, who lived not far off at Jaradice, Co. Meath, a property which he received when he migrated from Leicestershire to Ireland in 1641. This marriage (which was also Joseph Pratt's second) took place in 1686 and a son, Mervyn Pratt, was born in 1687.

At this time, Colonel T. Cooch was still the owner of Cabra, but in 1695 he made a will leaving all his property to Mervyn Pratt, his grandson, and when Colonel T. Cooch died in 1699 the Cabra property came into the possession of the Pratt Family. Mervyn Pratt was then only twelve years old. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin and married Elizabeth Coote, daughter of Sir T. Coote, Judge, and lived at Cabra near the Wishing Well.

The castle had been destroyed during the Cromwellian War and the Pratt Family at that time is summarised in the following information.

The Pratt Family continued to reside near the Wishing Well and to occupy Cabra land, including the site of the present town of Kingscourt. There was an old village of Cabra near the site of Kingscourt, but in 1780 Mervyn Pratt ( Grandson of Captain Mervyn Pratt, and son of the Reverend Joseph Pratt, who succeeded Captain Marvyn Pratt as owner of Cabra) laid out a new town of Kingscourt - an Anglicisation of Dun A Ri. He leased town plots with one rood of garden adjoining each, for 999 years, for one guinea a year per acre.

This scheme was continued by Mervyn Pratt's brother - another Reverend Joseph - and it was during his time that the Kingscourt Rectory was built in 1816 with a gift of £100 and the site, and a loan of £825 from the Braid of First Fruits.

During this period the land on the opposite side (East) of the Carrickmacross Rd (where the present Cabra Castle stands) was owned by the Foster Family - whose main seat was at Dunleer. This land contained an old round tower castle, called Cormey Castle. The main building was in ruins - destroyed during the Cromwellian War, however its adjacent courtyard remained in good repair. In 1795 this land and castle belonged to John Tomas Foster but he died leaving two young sons, both minors (Augustus being the eldest), who went to live with their mother (the Dowager Duchess of (Devonshire) in England. Next Page.

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