Summer Wedding Showcase July 2nd 12-4pm

See award-winning Markree as it would be on your wedding day, enjoy Irish castle hospitality and chat to one of Markree’s experienced, dedicated wedding co-ordinators. Markree Castle has a longstanding reputation as one of Ireland’s top wedding venues. This is a unique opportunity to take in the castle’s gorgeous grounds, exclusive wedding facilities and immerse yourself in all that Markree has to offer. A discount on all packages will be offered to all couple who book and confirm on the day… as well as a host of other specials!



Travel with your horse

April 13, 2011

So I think we had our record for total number of dogs staying in one night on Monday night.  There were possibly more dogs here than people, many of them belonging to the bride and groom, but all of them very welcome.  We were thinking that we could extend our animal welcome a bit further, setting up new holiday with your horse package!  Add to that the pleasure of being able to enjoy miles of countryside hacking, sandy beaches and mountain rides, then what could be nicer than bringing your horse along to enjoy the best of Yeats’ Country.  Especially if you could arrange someone else to do mucking out and morning feeds if you wanted-  the best of both worlds!!

With that we are delighted to announce our new ‘holiday with your horse’ packages.  Take a look at our special offers, room rates and self catering cottages and add our nightly stable rates and book yourself a holiday!  The stables are located just a short walk (or very short drive) from the castle, next to the Homefarm Apartments.  Incidentally, these rates are only for short term stays much as you might like to give up the mucking out for good!  The stables are American barn style, with a small sand arena close-by.  Woodland riding on site and beach and mountain hacks a short drive away.

1-3 Nights €25 per horse  €6 per night after that

Mucking out €5 per horse per day

Morning feed €5 for 1-3 horse €2 per horse after that

Haylage and extra bedding (wood shavings) available at cost per bag.

Please leave the stables as found (or €25 per stable clean-up fee)

For bookings or enquiries please contact us directly on 071-9167800 or email

All things wooly

March 1, 2011

Phew! Just been having a look and realised that a new blog post is way, way, way overdue. As those of you who get our regular newsletter (sign up here) will know, we’ve been doing some serious redecorating ahead of the busy season and we’ll be fully back up and running in time for St Patrick’s day.  Paint brushes and sewing machines have been going non-stop since the beginning of January and we are really excited for our guests to see the fruits of our labours.

All the while, spring has started showing signs of arrival.  The grass is looking greener and daffodils are making serious efforts.  Our resident flock of Wensleydale sheep are starting to look very pregnant, with lambs hopefully arriving in a couple of weeks.  We have been selling their fleece and spun wool at reception in the castle for the last couple of years and it has turned into a mini-cottage (castle?) industry.  You can also buy online through our etsy shop.  To celebrate the diversity that this extra side-business brings to the hotel and the estate we have organised a Woolcraft Weekend Workshop, details below:

March 26th & 27th 2011

Our resident flock of Wensleydale sheep are the inspiration for this weekend of wool related fun.  Suitable for total beginners or those with a little experience, you can learn something of the miriad of things you can do with a bit of wooly fleece:  Needle Felting, Wet Felting, Dying & Spinning.  Experts Mary O’Rourke and Clare Ballard will be your tutors.  Places are strictly limited to a maximum of 8 per group and you get to chose between two workshops on each day.

€180 per person sharing including:  2 full days workshop (with all materials), lunch and tea/coffee breaks & 1 night B&B and dinner with the Cooper family.  You can download the application form here.


Wedding Fairs

December 16, 2010

We are really excited about our, now annual, Wedding Showcase.   This year to be held on  Saturday January 22nd 2011.  The chefs are busy planning some tasty canapés and Jeremy will be honing his mulled wine making skills over Christmas in time for the big event.  When we meet with couples and invite them to have a look around the castle, there is always a certain amount of imagination required on their part.  The day of a wedding the whole place is transformed-  trailing ivy on the entrance staircase, co-ordinating flower arrangements through out the castle, the reception drinks making a gorgeous display in the hall awaiting guests’ arrival… Our showcase gives potential brides and grooms, as well as their friends and families, the chance to see it how it will be on their big day.  It also gives people a chance to have an informal snoop around, although most of our couples have already been handed a master key for their own private tour!  Our wedding staff will be on hand to answer any questions or queries that come up and we will be offering special discounts to couples who book and pay deposits on the day.  On top of all that there is a really special rate for couples travelling long distance to come and see us-  €85 per person sharing for dinner, bed and breakfast and this rate is available both the night before and the night of the showcase event.

As well as hosting our own event, we will be in attendance at one of Ireland’s biggest wedding fairs, the Wedding Journal Show in Dublin’s Citywest Complex on January 14th, 15th & 16th.  We’ll be at stand C17 and so anyone who wants to check us out before making the journey to Sligo, please come along and say hello.  Book tickets in advance for a discounted price

We are also involved in an exciting new venture-  The Wedding Centre.  It’s sort of a permanent wedding fair and a one-stop shop for all your wedding needs.  The Wedding Centre is located in Rathfarnham and is opening in January.  We think it’s a great idea as it allows couples to relax and take their own time browsing the various options on display.  Wedding Fairs can be really overwhelming experiences, with leaflets being pushed at you from all directions and everyone trying to sell their wares.  This will afford couples all the advantages of being able to compare suppliers while avoiding the hard-sell aspect., one of Ireland’s leading wedding websites and forums, is hosting their own version of a wedding fair  WOLfest will be taking place this March, at Punchestown, and we hope to be there too.   It promises to be something different from the usual wedding fair set up with three stages with live bands, fashions shows and more.  There will be prizes for the best wellies and we’re hoping that this applies to exhibitors too!

Latest Tripadvisor Review

December 8, 2010

We arrived on a Friday afternoon on a two nights B&B with one dinner deal and a third night free. Amazingly we were directed to the Johnny Cash Room…a large room with enormous bathroom. Two double beds…the one we chose was exceptionally comfortable and we got three nights wonderful sleep. The floorboards creeked and the floor sloped a bit – but it was a wonderful experience. I am sure Johnny Cash found it quaint and quirky on his visit when he sang a duo with Sandy Kelly on the stairs leading up from reception. We visited a new hotel nearby which is claiming superstar status…but it is all new glass and chrome and has none of the charm of Markree. The Markree is quirky and all the more welcome in this day and age of health spas and instant access to the world wide web. The attraction is that the Markree is a world apart…a journey into the quaint styles of yesteryear but enough of the modern world to strike a perfect balance. The staff were excellent and we spent our last night in the castle as the only two guests. The storm raged outside on that last night…we sat by the huge fireplace in reception and enjoyed a drink before retiring to listen to the storm as we nestled comfortably in bed. Excellent experience. We came to recharge our batteries and we succeeded. As I said…Bloody Marvellous!

Winter Warmers Wine Tasting & Dinner-  Saturday, November 27th 2010

The evenings are getting darker and darker, and the weather colder but at Markree we are focusing on all the good things that winter has to offer.  Our wine dinner is the perfect tonic for seasonal blues so if you’re finding the weather gloomy and the economic outlook even gloomier, come and join us for a night of good food, great wine and excellent company.  The idea is to provide you with the know-how to select wines to get you through the darkening days, into the festive season and beyond while providing you with handy pointers on matching wine to food and at the same time having a bit of craic.  Expert wine blender and importer Anthony Tindal, founder of Tindal Wines will be your host and tutor.  The evening kicks off with a informal (but informative!) tasting followed by a 6 course meal where you’ll get to sample the wines with food.

€122 pps for wine tasting, wine with dinner, bed and breakfast

For more information and booking contact us on 071-9167800 or email

A recent YouTube discovery of Johnny Cash & local artist Sandy Kelly making a TV recording of “Woodcarver” on the staircase at Markree, had us thinking that we should find out a little more about the Man in Black’s time at Markree. Johnny Cash and June Carter stayed at Markree in October 1990. He did sign the visitor’s book and a paper clip marks the page to save guests hours of searching. The signature itself is disappointingly ambiguous June Carter’s signature on the line below is a little more legiable and makes the whole thing a bit more believable!   There is of course a signed photo that he left behind as a thank you to the Cooper family but it isn’t on display.  He stayed here on a break from touring and made a TV recording which has recently surfaced on youtube (thanks to yourtubetv, whoever they are and whereever they got the clip from!)  

How he came to Markree is best summed up in Sandy Kelly’s own words in a newspaper article about her time touring with him in the USA and Europe, that she wrote shortly after his death:
“When we did the concert hall in Dublin we had three days off after the show and we had arranged to video ‘Wood-Carver’, our duet, and also record clips and interviews for my television series.
Instead of going into RTé studios I though it would be nice for John, family and the band to travel to Markree Castle in Sligo to record and film.
His manager, Lou Robin, almost had a fit. We were standing on the side of the stage, I was waiting to rehearse ‘Wood-Carver’ with Johnny.
I told Lou about my great idea, our filming in Sligo, and he said absolutely no way as it was far too long a journey to bring everyone and that John and June needed to rest.
I was really disappointed and worried as I’d booked the whole of Markree Castle for the three days. So I walked out on the stage at the concert hall when Johnny called me to rehearse.
And I said to him “I am so sorry about the trip to Sligo, I honestly thought you’d enjoy it.”
He said: “What trip to Sligo?”
So I explained what I’d planned. And he said” “Well Sandy, I guess we are all going to Sligo.”
Then he told Lou to make arrangements, Lou was not happy with me, but I can assure you, once everyone arrived in Sligo next day and settled into Markree, the moods were great all round.
John and June loved the Castle. He had the rare luxury of being able to walk around the gardens and fields by himself, undisturbed, he looked so happy. I will always remember that.
When he returned from his walk he went behind the bar and poured himself a glass of Guinness – he also loved Guinness.
And this little voice from the sofa shouted: “Hey Johnny, where is my drink?” It was little Barbara Kelly, my daughter, only nine years old and well able to protest the unfairness of her not getting a drink.
I was stunned, Johnny said: “Well hun, you are right. Come over here, and sit down at the bar. What would you like?”
She said: “A Coke please,” and he laughed, poured her one, and handed it to her. Now that was a picture!
The next day was a work day filming etc., and we had a wonderful dinner that night. He and June were at each end of a long table, and really looked like they lived there.
As it was Halloween they had a fancy dress party the next night, searching Sligo up and down for costumes. Johnny was dressed as an Indian and June a ‘page 3 girl’. They couldn’t believe their good fortune in spending Halloween in a castle on the west coast of Ireland. Spooky!
I believe they were sad to leave, and Johnny told me that he would return there to write! Of course he never had the chance.
Every time I go to Markree, I think of him and his family. John, June, June’s sisters Anita and Helen, all now gone. It’s very hard to really believe it.
I attended the private funeral of Johnny Cash in Hendersonville, Nashville. As he was in life. The service was simple, graceful, honest and very emotional. All his family and friends gathered in a small church to say goodbye.”

The full text of the article which details Sandy’s time touring with Johnny is available by clicking here.

It’s nice to know that some things don’t change  our more famous guests (and the rest of us too!) still enjoy the luxury of being able to walk in the grounds undisturbed, and the relaxation that comes with being able to while the time away in front of the fire in peace and quiet.

Summer Holiday Ideas

March 9, 2010

Family Holiday Ideas

One of our regular guests gave us a brilliant idea last Summer when they rented one of our beautiful cottages at Markree Home Farm.  They booked the kids into a local summer camp which left Mum and Dad free to enjoy some well-earned peace and quiet.  Family barbeques on the deck in the evenings and day-trips to local attractions made for “one of the best holidays ever”!

There are a huge range of kid’s summer camps available in the Sligo area, but two of our favourites are those run by Strandhill Surf School and the brilliant range of workshops from cartoon-making to Spanish & art at local pottery studio Rulabula

Dog’s Holiday

We have already had a blog post discussing the joys of travelling with dogs, which you can read here, and recently we’ve seen a huge number of dogs of all shapes and sizes enjoying short breaks away with their owners.  Finding somewhere where your dog can stay with you for free makes much more sense than forking out for kennels.  Not to mention the fact that dogs have just as good a time here as their owners do!  We allow dogs in bedrooms and they are free to enjoy off-lead walks in the grounds (provided they are kept under control).  For health and safety reasons we can’t allow dogs anywhere that we serve food but other than that they are as welcome as our human guests (and usually a lot less messy!).  Sligo is a haven for dog walkers and we are happy to recommend local beaches and mountain trails where you and your dog can enjoy some healthy fresh air.  So why leave the most important part of your family at home?

Creative Writing Retreat, May 24th-27th 2010

This four day writing retreat is for the creative traveler and writer who wants to discover and develop their writing skills as they source inner creativity and imagination through the medium of writing. This is an exclusive residential Writer’s Retreat for eleven writers. The workshop is open to new and established writers.  For details and booking visit

Ace Study Tours, Yeats Country Archaeological Tour, June 4th-11th 2010

Land of Heart’s Desire, Where beauty has no ebb” – these words epitomise W B Yeats’ love of County Sligo,where the young poet spent so many happy childhood holidays. This tour explores the landscape, archaeology and mythology in and around Yeats’ spiritual home, both in Sligo itself and in nearby Lower Lough Erne.  For details and booking visit


All you have to do is add your favourite or best photo taken in or around Markree Castle and Markree Castle Homefarm to our fan photos on our facebook page.

The categories are:
+ Architecture
+ Landscape
+ People & Animals
+ Humour (amuse us please!D)
+ Wedding
+ Professional (please see rules below to see if you qualify)

#Please label any photos that you would like to submit for judging “facebook photo comp” and make a note of the category otherwise we’ll assume they aren’t entered! The same goes for any photos that you’d like to enter that are already uploaded#

Please note there is a limit of 3 entries per person in each category.

If you would like to enter but would rather not upload you photo to facebook, please email it to, making it clear what it’s for! Please bear in mind though that we would like to publish the winning photo and runners up photos on facebook and our blog/website.

– Winners (one in each category); A voucher 2 people to spend three nights in a superior room at Markree Castle or a Markree Homefarm cottage, champagne on arrival, breakfast each morning and dinner on two evenings (with a bottle of wine of course!)

-Runners up (two in each category); A voucher for one night’s B&B for 2 in a superior room at Makree Castle

-Please don’t submit anything that could be deamed rude or offensive or that violates facebook’s terms & conditions
-Please make sure you have all indiviuals in the photo’s permision before you upload photos of them.
-Please make sure that you own the copyright to the photograph submited by you.
-Markree Castle reserves the right to remove any photographs from their page and the competition without consent of the entrant.
-By entering the competition you are consenting to allow Markree Castle to publish your photo (credited to you, of course) on their website and social networking sites (facebook, blog etc).
-Closing date for entries is February 28th 2010
-If you either make your main living from taking photographs or if you have used the photograph that you are submitting for commerical gain or took it as part of a professional shoot, please enter in the “professional” category. This includes professional wedding photography. If you aren’t sure please email us at
-Limit of 3 photos per person in any one category!
-We reserve the right to change any rules without notice.


All people, in Sligo at least, seem to have been able to talk about all through Christmas and the New Year is the weather.  It has been very exciting to say the least-  rain, freeze, rain, frozen fog, freeze, snow, freeze, hail, frozen fog, thaw, rain, freeze and, today, snow again!  Unlike horror stories we’ve heard through the grapevine about other hotels locally, Makree has remained 100% accessible, with both running water and heat fully functioning.  We are really seeing the benefit of being close to main roads and having willing and able staff with grit to salvage both the avenue and car park and business has continued as normal.  Even some very dedicated members of staff have been rescued from their homes by other dedicated staff members with 4 wheel drive and are now living in the basement.  When all this started on December 20th it was quite exciting, now the novelty has worn off for most and it seems as though the cold is here to stay for at least another week.  We’re looking on the bright side and enjoying the excuse to continue Christmas-like celebrations into the New Year with mince pies and hot chocolate and blazing log fires.

Incidentally Markree is no stranger to cold weather.  In fact Ireland’s coldest ever air temperature was recorded at Markree in January 16th 1881 at -19.1 degrees C.  That’s cold.  Read Met Eireann’s analysis of Ireland’s temperature extremes here.  Markree Castle is home to one of Ireland’s longest running weather stations that was orginially linked to its world class observatory, home to the world’s largest telescope for a period in the 1800s.  So when you see the little cloud or temperature bubble over Sligo on the RTE weather forecast, that’s what the weather was doing at Markree today.  If you are into astronomy and such a quick google search on Markree Observatory will come up with a host of results most mortals can’t understand.  However, if you’re not into trawling though NASA’s Astrophysics Data System there’s always Wikipedia which gives us the bare, but accurate facts.

Our message to would be visitors:  If you can get to the main road, you can get to us!  And we have tea, freshly baked scones and log fires…