Victorian Hunting Lodge in the grounds of the Castle Leslie estate with state-of-the-art equestrian centre, spa, cookery school and acres of Irish border country
When Sammy Leslie took custody of her family’s crumbling ancestral pile in 1992, she faced a conundrum: how to save the estate without selling out.
The castle roof was leaking, the land was running wild, County
Monaghan was a bit too close to ‘the troubles’, and there was no money in the bank. But she was determined to turn the place around without losing an ounce of its character or losing a single square inch of her legacy.
Her dream realised, the 1,000-acre estate now provides an ‘equestrian playground’, with a riding school and 21 miles of cross-country rides. The revamped Hunting Lodge – featured here – offers luxury accommodation in the original Victorian house and a newer wing, as well as a fabulous organic spa, a cathedral-like Brasserie, and a good old-fashioned Irish pub.
Up in the Castle itself, you can book a cookery course in the old kitchens, or dine by candelight in its opulent hall. One of the very few Irish country houses that remain in family ownership, the place is not just a taste of the real Ireland, but a big generous dollop.
The Hunting Lodge at Castle Leslie has 30 rooms and 12 self catering cottages, doubles cost from €190 for B&B and a cottage that sleeps 8-10 people is from €340 per night.