Sligo’s oldest inhabited house has been home to the Cooper family for 350 years. Set in magnificent park and farmland, this is a proper castle, with a huge portico leading to a covered stone stairway that sweeps up to an impressive hall, where an enormous log fire always burns.
Everything is on a very large scale, and it is greatly to the credit of the present owners, Charles and Mary Cooper, that they have achieved the present level of renovation and comfort since they took it on in a sad state of disrepair in 1989 - and they have always been generous with the heating.
Ground floor reception areas include a spacious, comfortably furnished double drawing room (where light food, including afternoon tea, is served); with windows on three sides and two fireplaces, it is a bright and cosy place to relax.
A lot of investment has taken place recently, with standards raised in both the common areas and the rooms. Although there may still be idiosyncrasies - this is a real castle after all, and its character is what people love about it - this slightly eccentric place has got real heart; do, however, beware of times when very inexpensive offers are available, as it can be noisy and children are not always kept under control.
There is a lift and also disabled toilets, but the layout of the castle makes it difficult for elderly people or wheelchair users to get around; a phone call ahead to ensure the (very willing) staff are available to help would be wise.
The Restaurant at Markree Castle
The Restaurant at Markree Castle is open to non-residents for dinner, and lunch on Sunday, and any meal here (even breakfast) is always a special treat as the dining room is a very beautiful room with stunning plasterwork.
The food has always been good at Markree, and the Head Chef - Strandhill native, Dave Mullan - trained in the famous cateirng college at Killybegs and at Ballymaloe, and has worked in London and several of Dublin's top restaurants.
Not surprisingly, considering his background, he is committed to using the very best of local and Irish produce in his innovative modern classic menus.