Desmond, as well as his stories, was always charming and larger than life. He stumbled his way through his education and finally ended up in Trinity College, Dublin. He later joined the Royal Air Force where he confessed to doing ‘very little indeed, bar drink tea and smoke cigarettes’! Desmond would entertain all at the Castle Leslie Estate dinner table with exciting and terrifying yarns about his time as a dashing Spitfire pilot, boasting of bravely destroying large numbers of aircraft – unfortunately most of which he happened to be piloting at the time!
Desmond went on to marry an actress, Agnes Bernelle. They lived a thespian life in London and raised three children, Sean, Mark and Antonia, in between nightclubbing with the likes of Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful. During that time, Desmond wrote many novels, as well as an international best-selling collaboration with George Adamski on Ufology, entitled Flying Saucers have Landed.
As well as probing into the possibilities of life on other planets, Desmond was a pioneer of electronic music, and in the late 1950s experimented with an avant-garde genre known as ‘musique concrete’. In 1960 he produced the album Music of the Future, an experimental album of electronic music with an otherworldly quality. Desmond would play with all kinds of sounds - including church bells, bird sounds, motor horns and engines - to create music. Desmond’s works were used in some BBC programmes of the period, including the cult classic Doctor Who, as well as a children’s radio series, called The Lost Noises Office.
Desmond went on to open one of the first rural nightclubs in Ireland in the form of ‘Annabel on the Bogs’, which was held in the Lodge in the mid 1960s and even featured on an episode of RTE’s Nationwide in 1966!
He is also infamously remembered for punching Bernard Levin in 1962 on the live satirical television show That was the Week that Was, in response to a scathing review of Bernelle’s play An Evening of Savagery and Delight. Whilst he claimed that this was to protect his wife’s honour, Agnes would later claim in her biography that the show was poorly received because Desmond’s custom-built loudspeakers were placed incorrectly under the stage and as a result those further back in the theatre could not hear her singing. She claimed that he punched Levin more out of embarrassment than anything!
After marrying his second wife Helen, he moved back to Castle Leslie Estate along with their two daughters, Samantha and Camilla. Here he became the country squire and concentrated on turning the Estate into a heavenly place to ride horses. He retired to the south of France but his heart always belonged to his beloved green lake, Glaslough. He passed away in 2001.
Desmond's Room has recently undergone a luxurious refurbishment and gives beautiful views of the Castle lawns and lake. The decadent surroundings make it ideal for a romantic getaway in Ireland.