West front of the Castle
Castle Leslie stands at the heart of the Castle Leslie Estate in County Monaghan, and is home to an Irish branch of Clan Leslie. It is a country house built as a castle in 1870-1871 in the Scots baronial stye.
The castle is fashioned in the Scottish Baronial style and was designed by the firm of Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon in 1870 for Sir John Leslie, 1st Baronet, Member of Parliament. It is situated where an earlier castle stood and never had a defensive purpose. The country house presents a rather dour and austere façade and is sited in such a way so as to mask the gardens to an approaching visitor. To the rear of the house the gardens are relieved by a Renaissance style cloister which links the main house to a single story wing containing the Library and Billiard Room. In contrast to the exterior designed by W H Lynn, the interior shows the hands of Lanyon and John Leslie himself through its strong Italian Renaissance feel.
The Estate has three lakes: the largest, Glaslough (from the Irish Glas Loch or Glasloch, meaning Green Lake), shares its name with the local village; Kilvey Lake is to the north; and, finally, there is Dream Lake, which features a crannóg. The 1,000 acres of the estate comprise park land, meandering streams and several forests.
The house is still home to the Leslie family, the late Sir Jack Leslie (6 December 1916 - 16 April 2016) returned to live at Castle Leslie at the age of 78 and the principal owner is Samantha (Sammy) Leslie. Other family members still assert their influence on the running of the estate through a family trust.
The estate is open to paying guests, who can stay in the former Hunting Lodge, the main house itself, the recently constructed traditional-style holiday cottages located in the village or the fully restored and refitted "Old Stable Mews".
While restoration of the house and grounds is ongoing, many new features have been added to the estate, including a spa, a bar and restaurant, and a cookery school. A new pavilion, adjacent to the long gallery of the main house, facilitates conferences, weddings and other large events. Work on restoring the walled garden is also continuing, though for now they remain overgrown and locked.
2002 saw Castle Leslie hosting of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills wedding in the St Salvator's Church. After this, guests flooded the Estate and pay rates were going through the roof. The money was used to make the refurbishment that they planned some three years before.
2004 saw the return to the estate of the Equestrian Centre and Hunting Lodge which had been sold out of the family twenty years previously. The estate now features miles of new horse trails and jumps, a state-of-the-art indoor horse arena and new stabling. Walkers are also catered for with many trails upgraded and clearly signposted, a new estate map being available from the Hunting lodge.
2005 saw five new sub-ground floor bedrooms being added to the castle, including the Desmond Leslie room, the Agnes Bernelle Room, the Helen Strong Room, and the only room in the castle not named after a family member, The Calm Room.
By the end of 2007, Castle Leslie saw the completion of major updates as the Equestrian Centre, Hunting Lodge, Spa, and other parts of the Estate were opened to paying guests.
Events and visitors
Castle Leslie reached the newsstands in 2002 when Sir Paul McCartney married Heather Mills in the family church located on the estate, followed by a wedding banquet for 300 guests prepared by then executive chef, Noel McMeel.
Throughout the years many a famous face has frequented the house. This includes Irish poet WB Yeats, Irish rebel-turned-politician Michael Collins, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger (1966), astronomer Sir Patrick Moore and the Duc de Valentinois. The estate has also had various members of the Churchill family within the house due to familial ties with the Leslies.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Castle Leslie)
- 'McCartney and Mills arrive at Castle Leslie': The Irish Times 9 June 2002
- '1000 Years of Leslie Family History and American Irish Family History'