Lionel Leslie was the youngest of four brothers, Shane Seymour, Norman and Lionel, sons of Sir John, 2nd Bt. and his wife Lady Leonie Leslie. Born in 1900, an avenue of oak trees was planted to commemorate his birth as well as the new century. Indeed, amazing views of the extensive trees to the front of the Castle can be seen from the window.
An incredibly tough child, Lionel's elder brothers used him as a kind of football, something which he always said he found quite amusing. His portrait as a little boy with a hoop hangs on the main staircase at the Castle.
He was educated at Eton but was ‘sent down’ for being 'unteachable', but still got into Trinity College in Dublin where he saved on his heating bills by cutting up the floorboards for fuel. He also attended Sandhurst and served several years as an officer in the Cameron Highlanders regiment, a position he resumed in the 1940s during World War II.
As a young man, Lionel became an avid explorer, especially of Africa, and he wrote several interesting books based on his experiences, such as Wilderness Trails. Once in Africa he woke up to find a hungry lion outside his tent waiting for its breakfast. Grabbing his gun, he shot the lion and puzzled his family by writing home, ‘This morning I shot a lion in pyjamas.’ His amused father responded with a sketch of Lionel standing triumphantly by a dead lion wearing Lionel’s best pyjamas!
Later Lionel would also publish several books of verse. The four Leslie brothers could never resist a chance to ‘upstage’ one another when it came to their writings. When Lionel proudly presented his new book on water monsters, Seymour promptly scribbled ‘Not proven’ on the first page, while Shane added some witticism about ‘flying snowmen and abominable saucers’ – a furious Lionel threatened to fill their books with much ruder remarks!
A cheerful character and a great individualist, Lionel took up sculpture and learned to carve in wood and stone. Guests will see his beautifully sculpted animals throughout Castle Leslie, especially on the top floor landing. His art work add to the luxury that makes the estate one of Ireland's premier Castle Hotels. Upon his marriage to Barbara Enever, Lionel moved to the Isle of Mull, where the couple raised one daughter, Leonie. An acknowledged expert (and hunter!) of the Loch Ness and Loch Fadder monsters, Lionel was also appointed 'Arch Druid of the Western Isles', where he conducted Solstice and Equinoxial ceremonies to improve the climate! Fondly remembered as a cheerful and unconventional character, Lionel passed away in 1987.