This weekend gone we went to Markree Castle in Sligo. It is a stunning place, totally unspoilt and a really authentic experience - down to the dodgy boot-camp showers, cool bedrooms (temperature-wise) and the threat of an appearance by the resident ghost! It is a throw-your-boots-off and throw-your-leg-up on the coffee table, type of place! The drawing rooms are filled with elegant ancestral paintings, huge fireplaces and big comfortable old couches. I spent most of the weekend wandering around in my socks. They allow dogs which is lovely and there were a mixed assortment from pooches to big smelly hounds including my sisters's totally mad border terrier. The bedrooms are a real surprise; I had a big "frilly" (my brother's description) four poster bed in a lovely room with the most amazing view. It had some very interesting antique furniture as well. The other bedrooms were not quite as impressive but they were quirky. One had steep steps down to the en suite - I could imagine a few worse-for-wear guests found that a challenge in the middle of the night!
|View from the knot garden|
The beauty of the place was that we all felt as if we could really make ourselves at home and as if we were the only guests (even though it was full on the Saturday night). The staff were mostly eastern European and were efficient as they tend to be but they lacked the real charm and friendliness of the Irish staff or the willingness to think "sideways". One late night barman when asked for a pot of tea answered "it is not my service to provide". The bar and the whole place was empty by this time and we were the only stragglers left. We wanted nibbles earlier before dinner and were unable to get them so one of our party drove to the local filling station. However we did feel that if we arrived in with our own wine and nibbles we would not have been challenged.
|View from my window|
Overall the experience was very positive and we all agreed we would be very happy to go back again. It could have been amazing though and that makes me sad. There was no sign of either the owners or even a general manager all weekend and one or two staff cover both the reception, the bar and the bar food service so when you go to order drinks you had to go look for someone! However, all that said we had a great time and are already looking forward to another get together.
|The very elegant dining room|