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Eleven kilometres northeast of Monaghan lies the somewhat otherworldly estate village of GLASLOUGH, dominated by a lengthy Famine wall which surrounds the estate of Castle Leslie. The Leslie family can reputedly trace back its origins to Attila the Hun and arrived in Ireland in 1633 in the shape of John Leslie who had been appointed Bishop of Raphoe. A colourful character, Leslie became known as the “fighting bishop”, thanks to his victory as leader of an army over Cromwell at the Battle of Raphoe. When Charles II was restored to the throne, Leslie received £2000 as a reward for loyalty and used the sum to purchase Glaslough Castle and its demesne in 1665. His descendants have remained in occupation ever since and have included some equally intriguing figures. John Leslie’s son Charles was charged with high treason for arguing a little too strenuously against the penal laws, but escaped and fled to France. Subsequently pardoned by George I, he returned to Glaslough where his children often entertained Jonathan Swift, who was not always complimentary about them in return:

Here I am In Castle Leslie
With Rows And Rows Of Books Upon The Shelves
Written By The Leslies
All About Themselves.

The current and very grand castle was built in the late nineteenth century and the family became connected by marriage to the Churchills – both Randolph and Winston stayed here. Later owners included Desmond Leslie who authored Flying Saucers Have Landed, a supposedly factual account of the first alien contact with humans.

Nowadays Castle Leslie (whttp://www.castleleslie.com) is an utterly majestic, thoroughly relaxing place to stay, and is often patronized by the rich and famous. Even if you’re not planning to stay overnight, you can still enjoy the atmosphere here by taking afternoon tea, or sampling the evening menu. Otherwise you’re free to wander the estate, arrange fishing in the lake (renowned for its enormous pike), take a course at the cookery school, or book one of the many riding packages provided by the equestrian centre.

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