Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodland and glittering lakes, Castle Leslie Estate is one of the last great Irish castle estates still in the hands of its founding family. The estate is home to some of the most unique and enchanting accommodation on one of Ireland’s most breath-taking estates.
A Little Bit of History...
The Estate at Glaslough was acquired in 1665 by the ‘Fighting Bishop’ John Leslie, Bishop of Clogher, with a reward he received upon the restoration of King Charles II for his opposition to Cromwell whilst serving as Bishop of Raphoe in Co. Donegal in the 1630s. Christened Castle Leslie, the house was altered and extended several times in the intervening years, before being completely remodelled in the 1870s to designs drawn up by Charles Lanyon and William Henry Lynn, giving it a Scots Baronial meets Victorian Gothic makeover for Sir John Leslie, 1st Baronet of Glaslough.
The Library at Castle Leslie is adjacent to the Billiards Room, both of which are situated in the last remaining part of the old pre-1870s building, and are separated from the rest of the house by the Long Gallery – which served as an exhibition space for many of the fine paintings produced by Sir John during his artistic career. The most notable feature of the Library is the large portrait of the three children of Sir Shane Leslie, 3rd Baronet - John (affectionately referred to as ‘Uncle Jack’), Anita, and Desmond, standing by the shores of Glaslough Lake – painted by Edward Stanley Mercer in the late 1920s.
The Library consists of about 2000 volumes built up over time from books acquired by (as well as works written by) the Bishop and the generations of Leslies who came after him. The collection reflects the varied interests of the family, especially those of Sir Shane, an avid book lover who wrote extensively on Irish historical and literary subjects. The works of many literary figures from the 18th and 19th centuries feature within the collection, as well as memoirs, biographical works, and local and general histories relating to Ireland, adding strength to the library’s established interest in the history of Irish culture.
The aesthetic interests of the Leslie family, (especially for art with an Italianate influence) are also illustrated in the selection of landscape, art, and architecture books within the collection, and a keen interest in the natural world is conveyed particularly in those books belonging to the late Sir John (Jack).
The presence of a well-stocked library and a strong literary tradition at Castle Leslie is attested to by none other than Jonathan Swift, a regular visitor to the house during the 1700s, who wrote the wry verse:
Here I am in Castle Leslie,
With rows and rows of books upon the shelves,
Written by the Leslies,
All about themselves.
The legacy of writing within the family emerged first with Rev. Charles Leslie, son of the Bishop and a nonjuring theological controversialist and opponent of the Penal Laws. It was revived in a rather different mode by Sir Shane Leslie, who was a fervent Nationalist, Catholic convert, Irish speaker and poet. The author of almost fifty books including a book of memoirs, Long Shadows, he was also a journalist. Shane’s daughter Anita followed in her father’s footsteps, writing entertaining biographies of many famous figures as well as her own relations, such as Leonard Jerome, Jennie Churchill, and her esteemed cousin, the sculptress Clare Sheridan. Shane’s son Desmond also wrote a number of novels, co-authored the influential study of the extra-terrestrial, Flying Saucers have Landed, with George Adamski in 1953, and is also infamously remembered for punching the theatre critic Bernard Levin on live television. Sir John (Jack) Leslie, published his own memoirs, Never A Dull Moment, in 2006.
Today, Castle Leslie is still home to the family and is also open to guests.
Click here for more information about Castle Leslie Estate
You might also enjoy: