Papa Jack’s Heritage Room
Stay: The Castle
‘Papa Jack’ was the pet name given to the second Sir John Leslie in order to distinguish him from his father, the first baronet, and from his own son John who took up the Irish cause and changed his name to Shane. Views of the front of the Castle and splendid tree-lined avenue can be seen from the window. The first Sir John painted Papa Jack in a Grenadier Guards officer uniform and this picture hangs outside the room today.
Jack led a successful career with the regiment, serving in various campaigns with the force in Egypt and across the African continent, as well as the Second Boer War in South Africa towards the end of the 19th century. He remained faithful to the Crown even after his wartime career concluded, taking up arms against Home Rule and drilling UVF soldiers on the Estate in the 1910s. He was also Colonel of the Monaghan Militia, Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff for Monaghan. However, he hated his duty of attending public hangings, failed to blow up a certain bridge during the Irish civil war through plain ignorance and even drilled the enemy IRA militia by mistake. The family anecdote goes that he spotted a platoon of uniformed men making their way towards Castle Leslie, so he marched over to meet them, put them through their paces and highly commended their drill before sending them on their way. He failed to notice however that the uniforms he had earlier complimented the men on differed from those of the Militia!
Absent-minded and amiable, he was an amusing storyteller who could entertain the dinner table for hours on end. He married the lovely Leonie Jerome, the younger sister of Jenny Churchill and daughter of the wealthy New York stock broker and financier Leonard Jerome, and the couple took over Castle Leslie Estate from his aging parents at the turn of the century when they decided to settle in London.
Jack was also a skilled hobbyist painter. The two swan panels, located on the top floor Nursery landing opposite the staircase, are painted by him, as are the portraits of himself and his wife Leonie in the Blue Drawing Room. He died in his eighties in January 1944 and was laid in the family vault in St. Salvator’s.
In this room, guests will find gothic marbles with saints’ niches, ogee arches and a marble relief depicting the baptism of Christ in Jordan by St. John. This decadent decoration makes it a premier hotel in Monaghan, and indeed Ireland. Sammy Leslie rescued these treasures – they had been removed from the once beautiful high altar in Monaghan Cathedral and put in storage in the 1960s. Sir John Leslie, 4th Bt., brought the Italian pictures and furniture home to Glaslough from his former residence in Rome.
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The Castle at Castle Leslie Estate exudes old world grandeur and offers complete respite from the world.