Clonalis House , County Roscommon

If you are on tours of Ireland visit Clonalis House….its a real hidden gem.

Clonalis House is the ancestral home of the O’Conor clan , which claims to be Europe’s oldest family ;  traditional kings of Connacht and the last High Kings of Ireland , the O’Conors can trace their family back to one Feredach the Just in 75 AD) — although an even more fanciful family tree preserved in the house goes back to the fifteenth century BC.

Unlike most noble Irish families , the O’Conors always remained Catholic and , although their royal past allowed them to hang onto some of their ancestral lands , they weren’t in a position to flaunt their wealth — much of it derived from astute marriages to rich heiresses — until the late nineteenth century the house , still very much lived in , is a fascinating jumble of furniture , paintings — many of them portraits charting the family’s colourful history at home and abroad — and mementos.

There’s a modest chapel displaying a chalice , which unscrews into three parts to make it easy to hide. The manuscript room contains the oldest surviving judgement (c. 1580) under the ancient Irish Brebon law system , as well as a number of letters from Douglas Hyde.

Pride of place, however , is shared between the inauguration stone of the kings of Connacht and the harp of the blind harpist Turlough O’Carolan (1670—1738) , who numbered the then O’Conor Don among his patrons.

Worth a visit on Ireland tours.