The current building (or parts of it) date from the early 1800s and it is spectacular. The place has beauty, a little haunting history and some amazing rooms. The dining room itself was a feast for the eyes, from the stunning portraits to the beautiful and elegant decor. It's apparently a popular wedding venue- one was occurring when I arrived and I was told another was due to check in the next day. I can see why- the background, woodlands and a sprawling golf green- are stunning.
For a very decent price I had breakfast, dinner and a beautiful, second-story room in what I believe were once the stables, but are now stunning quarters. There are also cottages on the estate for larger groups to book and these were beautiful too. All up there were, I believe, 80 bedrooms, and I think that they were totally booked out when I stayed.
Dinner was amazing- Reached through a winding, but thankfully covered walkway that took me through towering hallways decorated with old portraits in a scene a little reminiscent of Disney's The Haunted Mansion, although far more charming and without the eerie sensation- although there is a distinct sense of history lingering. Dinner was a five course meal- the Irish Chicken was a standout- beautifully cooked and accompanied by fresh vegetables. Having snagged the best table- right by the central window (and very much in demand, if the loud requests of the man in front of me at checkin were anything to go by- Sorry sir, first come, first served!)- This meant a stunning view over the outdoor area, lit in a very Christmassy sense by fairylights. The rain was a pity- it must be amazing in summer.
breakfast was in the same beautiful dining hall- I must be an early riser, the place was deserted at 7am (and always confusing for Australians, who don't understand how it can be dark at this hour)- but the food was excellent-finally a good coffee, polite, attentive service and the option to order cooked food in addition to a nice buffet of fruits, cheese, pastries and cereal with chilled juices. From reading the hotel information it appears clay-pigeon shooting, horse riding, tennis and golf can all be arranged, although sitting and reading by the fire in one of the sitting rooms looked pretty tempting too, as did a nice drink in the very traditional and beautiful bar.
As an Australian, the chance to stay in castles isn't exactly an everyday thing- we don't have them! And Cabra was beautiful, the staff friendly and the food amazing. My second Irish castle stay (After the beautiful and haunted Ballygally in Northern Ireland) and maybe the best.