Castle Leslie Estate
Follow M1/N2 to the Monaghan bypass. Do not enter town. At first R'about follow N2 to Derry. Continue on Monaghan bypass to third R'About. Exit at third exit. N12 to Armagh. Follow N12 for 2 miles, turn left at signpost for Glaslough (N185). Drive through Glaslough village to the gates of the estate.
Tracing your ancestors and Who Do You Think You are is huge business these days but most people probably can’t go back much further than their great grand parents. Imagine being able to trace your ancestors back to Attila the Hun, taking in Winston Churchill, and so along the way. Well I am referring to the Samantha Leslie of Castle Leslie in County Monaghan. The Leslie family has been in residence at Castle Leslie since the 1660’s and their lineage just groans with characters and luminaries.
Samantha is Chatelaine and keeper of the flame at Castle Leslie this magnificent house and estate, which was thrown into the public eye in a really big international way when Paul McCartney got married there. Samantha goes about running this Great House and Estate, opening it to the public in a really professional way; she is an absolutely tireless worker and conservationist who has restored Castle Leslie yet retaining its unique character and personality.
Located on 1000 acres of undulating countryside, dotted with woodland and glittering lakes, there is just so much to do here. You have three choices of accommodation alone. You can stay in The Castle itself in one of its 21 historic bedrooms. Each bathroom is unique and features include the oldest plumbed bath in Ireland, a throne toilet and a complete bathroom hidden away in a doll’s house. The staircase alone is amazing and makes you feel very tiny. Lounge around in the wonderful Drawing Room with its grand piano and famous De La Robbia fireplace.
You can also stay in The Lodge, which has 50 plush bedroom with all facilities. The superior bedrooms are very spacious, some have balconies overlooking the Equestrian Centre or courtyards. Self catering accommodation is available at The Old Stable Mews which are perfect for larger families or groups who like to combine independence with the facilities of a top hotel close by.
The Victorian Treatment Rooms are based in the lodge and you can be pampered with a range of traditional organic therapies from the ‘Eminence Organics’ and ‘Voya’ Ranges. I just love that sort of indulgence when I am away.
Food at Castle Leslie is a serious business, under talented Executive Head Chef Aaron Duffy, whether it's in their fab Snaffles Restaurant or the more casual Conor's Bar & Lounge, and they have been winning Awards for their efforts including RAI Best Casual Dining in Monaghan with The Lodge, and 2 AA Rosettes for Snaffles Restaurant.
The food, as I say, at Snaffles Restaurant at The Lodge is seriously good. Obviously the menu changes but starters might include dishes such pan seared king scallops with prawn boudin, caramelised cauliflower puree, sea urchin powder, sea herbs and prawn oil. Fivemiletown goats cheese cannelloni, is paired with caramelised red onion gelee, Estate honeycomb, candied walnut, and pickled beetroot, while rosemary confit pork belly is with glazed pork cheek, burnt apple, baby toffee apple, summer peas, pickled shallot and Calvados jus– this is the sort of food I really love. They do a superb pan fried halibut, with a Comte crust crumble, shrimp in brown butter, samphire & capers with an intense roast bone sauce. The excellent local Silverhill duck is by way of duck breast with a duck leg nougatine, wild asparagus, duck fat fondant, pickled beetroot, blackberries, cured egg yolk and duck jus. Of course there's beef - and fabulous beef. Hereford 28 day aged loin of beef is with pressed daube of beef cheek, potato & mushroom terrine, shitake mushroom, celeriac puree, salt baked carrot & veal jus.
The sweet tooth will love the Estate honey bavarois, honeycomb, honeyied meringue, milk sponge, bee pollen, vanilla tuille & milk ice cream. Or if chocolate is your thing, start salivating at the thought of 70% chocolate pave with chocolate ganache, aerated white chocolate, sea buckthorn sorbet. Irish artisan cheeses come with quince jelly, Estate apple & pear chutney, pickled grapes and wholemeal seeded cracker.
So think about it, Castle, Lodge, Old Stable Mews, 1000 acres, Spa, Restaurants, Equestrian Centre.........
There is a lot of magic at Castle Leslie…….a place apart.