Life in an Irish Castle – Markree Castle
From the moment you make your way up the drive and the massive crenellated neo-Gothic exterior first comes into view, you know that Markree Castle is going to be a very special place. This magnificent house has been in the Cooper family for ten generations and staying here is the perfect way to experience life in an Irish castle.
Walk up the grand staircase and you are in a huge galleried hall with log fire that seems to stretch forever. Wander through the public rooms and you find a resident’s pub open 24 hours a day, an enormous sitting room, and just beyond a lovely formal garden.
The dining room is surely one of the most impressive in Ireland and has been beautifully restored with white stucco and gold leaf. The restaurant offers fine dining (and I had a very good seafood chowder and crab salad) and if you’re feeling less formal you can also order a simple but good meal in the pub.
The feeling here is one of solid comfort and amazing atmosphere rather than luxury – it’s a joy to be able to share in the preservation of this historic building, even if only for a night. Make sure you take a peek at the chapel to the side of the front stairs.
Nearby is Sligo Town, with the excellent collection of Jack B Yeats paintings at the Model Gallery, as well as WB Yeats’ grave further north, and to the east the beauty of Lough Gill and the famous Isle of Innisfree and Parke’s Castle.