ST. CLERAN'S MANOR HOUSE
St. Cleran’s Manor House is an 18th century country house, and a stunning example of Georgian architecture. The manor house has also witnessed the lives of some remarkable people who have called it home.
St. Cleran’s was built by the Burke family in 1784, when they abandoned their ancestral castle nearby. The house was designed by Sir Richard Morrison, a prominent Irish architect who also worked on Trinity College Dublin and Kilruddery House in Wicklow. The house has a distinctive front façade with a three-bay breakfront and three arched recesses, one of which forms the entrance portico.
The Burke family were prominent landowners and politicians in Galway, and one of their sons, Robert O’Hara Burke, became famous as an Australian explorer. He led the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition across Australia in 1860-1861, which aimed to be the first to cross the continent from south to north. Although he succeeded in reaching the northern coast, he died on his return journey along with his companion William Wills and several others.
Robert O’Hara Burke was born at St. Cleran’s in 1821, and his childhood home still preserves some of his memorabilia, including his portrait and his death mask. His niece, who inherited the house in 1914, was the mother of Horace de Vere Cole, a notorious prankster who once fooled the British navy into saluting him as he sailed past them in a fake battleship. She was also the mother of Anne Chamberlain, the wife of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
In 1954, St. Cleran’s was sold to John Huston, the acclaimed film director who made classics such as The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Huston fell in love with Ireland and its countryside, and became an avid hunter and horseman. He hosted many celebrities at St. Cleran’s, including Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Gregory Peck and Peter O’Toole.
Huston sold St. Cleran’s in 1971, and it changed hands several times until it was bought by Merv Griffin, the American TV host and producer who created shows such as Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Griffin restored St. Cleran’s to its original splendor and decorated it with art treasures from around the world. He also added a golf course and a helipad to the estate.
Griffin died in 2007, and St. Cleran’s is now in private ownership and not normally open to the public. However, you can still admire its exterior and its surroundings from the roadside or with the owner’s permission. St. Cleran’s is a truly magical place that has witnessed history and glamour, and that still retains its form, character and much of its historic fabric.
Please note that St Clerans is a private residence and not open to visitors, so please respect the privacy of its owners and do not trespass on their property, unless with the owner’s permission.
Fiona Rodgers Adams
I took my mother there when I came home from America where I live and we stayed the night in the Orange and White room.. I’m originally from Armagh and our Gaelic football team’s colours are orange and white….wasn’t planned but it was the all Ireland semi final and and Armagh were in it.! All I can say is it was such a beautiful relaxed place to stay with fireplace in the bathroom my mum could soak in supervised due to epilepsy and we ate in the 5 star restaurant with fireplace roaring. Spectacular service morning paper and reading nooks and baby grand playing for pre dinner cocktails.. One of the most beautiful experiences of casual luxury.
I’d love to buy this place….Fiona