Whether you are looking for horseback riding through Ireland’s ancient woodlands, walking next to sparkling lakes or simply wish (like me) to stay overnight in a castle, your vacation dreams will become reality at Castle Leslie. The family owned estate can trace its Irish roots back to the 16th century when the Leslie family purchased the historic property. Situated on 1,000 acres in Glaslough, this treasure in County Monaghan is only 80 minutes from Dublin.
Nancy Brown riding side saddle on Percy, an Irish Cob from Castle Leslie Equestrian Center
Where do I begin? As I slipped my leg into the three hundred year old side saddle and arranged my full skirt over the handsome body of the Irish Cob, I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t have to use this horse-centric mode of transportation to travel across the private estate’s 1,000 wooded acres. Nor did I have to rely on drinking water delivered from a gravity operated well – still visible on the grounds of Castle Leslie. Instead, I was ushered smartly into a warm and inviting castle, flooded in natural light from modern sky lights and escorted up a staircase adorned with expensive works of art.
The Mauve Room, an antique-filled suite suitable for royalty, offered a marvelous view of Glaslough Lake – wait until you see the bathtub! At €400 – €500, including full Irish Breakfast, or €375 for the 2 night Country Getaway package, you’ll be treated like a Queen. I’ll bet you didn’t know that Queen Margaret of Sweden slept here, as did Mick Jagger. And since we’re name dropping, I’m also told that Sir Paul McCartney got married on the family-owned estate, renting the entire property for a weeks worth of lavish parties.
After a hack around the property on an Irish Cob horse named Paddy, I joined my husband in the gorgeous drawing room to partake in the relaxing Irish ritual of afternoon tea. For 25 Euro guests are treated to assorted finger sandwiches, home made scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, pastries, macaroons and a delightfully flavorful pot of tea. If only for a moment, email and text messages are put on hold. The forgotten art of conversation with eye contact comes back to life. Smart phones switched off, we are drawn back in time to a period without cell phones and Facebook. In fact, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and Prince Pierre of Monaco probably sat in this very place enjoying a spot of tea with only tweets from the birds, no Twitter or Snapchat.
In keeping with the theme of Ireland’s high society, we wander down to the green lake and watch the elegant white swans glide by, two by two, a sort of promenade down a watery lane for the winged jet set. After sunset, a bit of mist descended on the grounds, so we opted to summon the house Range Rover to take us over to the chic, country house Lodge. Often referred to as the hub of the Estate, it’s important to note that you do not need to be a guest of the hotel to dine at the Lodge or Conor’s Bar.
Dinner that evening, at the award-winning Snaffles restaurant, rewarded us with a multi-course menu of roast loin of spring lamb and spiced battered Atlantic scallops, followed with hot chocolate mousse souffle. This Country Getaway, a two night package, included full Irish breakfast for two and dinner for two at Snaffles. We stayed in March to take advantage of off season specials – our weather was wonderful by the way. While I can’t guarantee the weather, I suggest you check the website for current pricing and specials.
Need to know:
Breakfast is served from 8:00 a.m-11:00 a.m. Afternoon tea is served in The Castle from 2:00-4:30 p.m. The estate does welcome dogs, but they must overnight in the stables. If guests are staying at The Lodge/Castle or Village Cottages, however, their pets are welcome to stay at the Old Stable Mews. There are a host of activities on offer including horse riding, (see insider tip) fishing, boating, walking, picnics, clay pigeon shooting, falconry, kayaking, hot air balloons rides and spa treatments.
Rates start at €90 – €110 per night sharing at The Lodge or €100-€175 per night sharing at The Castle.
Castle Leslie is a member of Andrew Harper and Ireland’s Blue Book.
Check in: 3:00 p.m.
Check out: 12:00 p.m.
Want to learn how to ride a horse in five days? Castle Leslie has a program for beginning riders or equestrians that want to polish up their horseback riding skills. Riders receive daily lessons on horseback, ending with a two hour ride around the estate grounds. For more information on this horseback riding bed & breakfast package, visit the website.
My other insider tip is a visit to Glaslough Chocolates. I discovered these creamy bits of heaven in our hotel room – they also sell the locally-made chocolates at the front desk. You can walk into the village easily from the castle, or hop in the ever trusty Range Rover. Whatever you do, don’t miss these chocolates! For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and @Castle_Leslie on Twitter and Instagram at Castle Leslie Estate.
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