A future steeped in History
This magnificent Georgian mansion, built by Charles Lanyon for the McCausland family in 1837, exudes elegance and grandeur. From the exquisite period interiors to the handsome parkland setting, guests can’t help but relax in the tranquility and comfort of this beautiful stately home.
Situated near Limavady, at the northern stretch of the exhilarating Antrim coastline, Drenagh is a wonderful place from which to explore some of Northern Ireland’s greatest natural and cultural treasures – the Giant’s Causeway, Benone Beach, Downhill, Mussenden Temple and the historic City of Derry.
Taken under new management in 2015 the Drenagh estate continues to flourish and develop as a private events venue and boutique accommodation space with real character and authentic country house charm. Its reputation for excellence and fine dining have meant that Drenagh will continue to go from strength to strength.
A Family History
Drenagh is a 19th-century house and garden in Limavady, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The property is located on the road to Coleraine.
The present house was designed by Charles Lanyon and was the architect’s first major commission. It was completed in 1835 and has been the home of the McCausland family since. There are terraced gardens in the Italian style, an arboretum, and a fountain inspired by one at the Villa d’Este, near Rome. As well as being a family home, the house and grounds are hired out for conferences, weddings and as a film location. Shooting and fishing are also available in the grounds. Lady Margaret McCausland, daughter of Earl Mount Edgecombe, embellished the botanical beauty of its park with a pink and blue English garden and an all-white moon garden.
The family name McCausland goes back more than 900 years to an O’Cahan named Anselan, son of Kyan, King of Ulster. Anselan was forced to leave Ireland in about 1016 on account of his share in a ‘memorable stratagem where he and other young Irishmen dressed in women’s attire surprised and slaughtered their Danish oppressors’ (The Vikings). The family traces its roots to Malcolm II of Scotland’s 11th century noble court. When Malcolm II of Scotland heard of Anselan’s feats he invited him to become his Master Of Arms and ‘bestowed ample lands upon him in The Lennox’.
Twelve generations later, in the 1540s, his descendant Baron Alexander McAuslane returned to Ulster with his brother Andrew and settled in the Strabane area. The first McCausland to live at Drenagh (then called Fruithill) was Robert McCausland, Alexander’s grandson. Robert was bequeathed the Estates when he married the daughter of William Conolly, a wealthy self-made man and speaker of the Irish Parliament. Robert named his first son Conolly McCausland in reverence to his father-in-law, the name is still used in alternate generations to this day. A large painting of Robert and his family now hangs in the dining room at Drenagh. The first Conolly McCausland married the heiress Elizabeth Gage and had a son, Conolly McCausland, who married Theodosia Mahon from Strokestown, County Roscommon. Their son, Marcus McCausland (1787-1862), was responsible for commissioning Sir Charles Lanyon to build the present house. The former house (“Fruithill”) can be seen through a window painted in the portrait of Robert McCausland and his family. Marcus and his wife, Marianne (née Tyndall) produced an heir, Conolly Thomas McCausland(1828-1902).
Conolly Thomas McCausland was High Sheriff of County Londonderry in 1866. He married Laura St John, daughter of St Andrew Beauchamp St John, 15th Baron St John of Bletso. Their daughter Laura married Reginald Gibbs and was the mother of Michael McCausland Gibbs. Conolly’s son Maurice Marcus McCausland (1872-1938) lived through both the best and worst of times at Drenagh as in 1902, through the Irish Land Acts, the Government compulsorily purchased 75% of the estate. Many other estates, in comparison, were taken off their owners in their entirety. Some were burned to the ground before they could be sold at any price. His daughter Helen married Lucius Thompson-McCausland.