Sir John (Jack) Leslie in Caledon Photo: © Michael Fisher

Sir John (Jack) Leslie in Caledon Photo: © Michael Fisher

Sorry to learn this morning of the death of Sir John (Jack) Leslie eight months before his 100th birthday. He was single. His age did not stop him from dancing his way around various nightclubs in Ibiza and Monaghan! The news was conveyed by the family on social media @Castle_Leslie, adding that he died peacefully at his home.

In November last year (then aged 98) at the residence of the French Ambassador in Dublin, family and friends of Sir Jack joined the celebrations as the World War II veteran was awarded France’s highest distinction. The former Irish Guards officer was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, adding to his formal title of fourth baronet. The distinction was bestowed by the French Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, M. Jean-Marc Todeschini. Representatives of the British Army and the Irish Defence Forces were present for this important occasion that was another chapter in the historical friendship between Ireland and France. The Bishop of Clogher Dr Liam Mac Daid and Donagh Parish Priest Fr Hubert Martin were also among the guests.

Sir Jack said he wished to accept the award on behalf of all soldiers from the island of Ireland who fought and died in the two great wars. As a second Lieutenant in the Irish Guards, Jack Leslie commanded a unit at Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1940 that took on the advancing Panzers of the German army and held them back for several days allowing thousands of other British soldiers to be evacuated from Dunkerque. He was taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war in a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany.

Born on 6th December 1916 he was the eldest son of Sir Shane Leslie, 3rd Bt, and Marjorie Ide. He became the fourth baronet when his father died in 1971. He was educated at Downside School and Magdalene College, Cambridge. During World War II, he served as an officer in the Irish Guards during the Battle of France before being captured at Boulogne-sur-Mer. He then spent five years in POW camps. After the war he moved to New York and later travelled around Europe, settling in Rome. At the age of 78 he returned to his family’s homestead and traveled to Ibiza for his 85th birthday in 2001. He revealed the wedding location of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills by admitting to reporters it was to take place in Castle Leslie, but that it was “a secret”. In January 2012 he appeared in the TV special “Secrets of the Manor House”, which discussed the Leslie family and Castle Leslie, among other manor homes. In 2015 he featured in the TV series “Tales of Irish Castles”. He was presented with the Legion d’Honneur at the French embassy in Dublin on 9 November 2015.

Jack Leslie survived his older sister, the author Anita Leslie (Anita King d.1985) and his younger brother, Desmond Leslie (d.2001). In the immediate line of succession for the baronetcy are nephew Shaun and nephew Mark. His father was a first cousin of the former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. His paternal grandmother, Leonie Jerome, and Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill (born Jennie Jerome), were sisters – the daughters of American financier Leonard Jerome. His mother, Marjorie Ide, was the daughter of Henry Clay Ide, a former Governor-General of the Philippines.

A repeat of my article in 2014:

Among the family stories examined in a current World War One exhibition at the National Library in Dublin was that of the Leslies of Castle Leslie, Glaslough, County Monaghan. Sir John was a veteran of the Second World War and was there to help with the opening of the exhibition. It was attended by the British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD, from County Monaghan.

I reported in 2014 how the display will run for four years and features letters, diaries, newspapers, leaflets and photographs from the library’s archives and aims to depict the various aspects of the Irish experience of the war, and Ireland’s response to the conflict. It is supported by the British Embassy and is part of the National Library’s programme for the Decade of Commemorations.

Nikki Ralston, exhibition curator for the NLI, said: “Irish people had very diverse and complex reactions to World War I. This exhibition captures those sentiments, and also recounts the tense domestic situation in the Ireland of 1914. We felt one of the best ways to illustrate how Ireland experienced the war was to explore a range of themes through real-life stories. We have chosen to focus on four people who had very different experiences, and we have featured their writings – including personal diaries and letters– in this exhibition. These primary sources are complemented by audio, video and touchscreen installations to create a multi-layered, multimedia experience for all visitors.”

Among the four real-life stories featured in the new exhibition focus on:


Sir John (Jack) Leslie at Monaghan County Museum Photo: © Michael Fisher

**Captain Norman Leslie, 28 Rifle Brigade, second son of the well-known Leslie family from Castle Leslie, had become heir to the family estate when his elder brother, Shane, converted to Catholicism and became a supporter of Irish Home Rule. An experienced soldier when the war broke out, Norman was shot and killed in October 1914, while charging a German machine gun armed only with a sword (it was considered ungentlemanly for officers to carry guns). He is buried in France at Chapelle d’Armentieres Old Military Cemetery. The sword he was carrying when he died was eventually returned to the Leslie family, and now hangs in the gallery of Castle Leslie. It was carried by Jack, his nephew, for the opening of the exhibition.

Jack’s nephew, Mark Leslie; and Mark’s son, Luke were also present at the launch of the exhibition. The family spoke of how Norman’s memory is kept alive at Castle Leslie, where his sporting trophies adorn the entrance hall and his sword – considered a symbol of good luck – is used to cut all wedding cakes at the Castle.

Launching the exhibition at the time, Minister Heather Humphreys said: “This exhibition in the National Library allows us to understand the sheer magnitude of the First World War through very personal stories. By choosing to focus on four people and their different experiences, the Library has brought to life the real-life challenges and dilemmas which they faced 100 years ago. We can walk in their shoes, hear their words and see their hand-written letters. I was interested to see the Leslie family from Co Monaghan featuring in the exhibition. The story of the tragic death of Norman Leslie in 1914 gives us just one of example of the brutal way in which tens of thousands of Irish men lost their lives during the War. This fascinating exhibition is part of the Library’s programme for the Decade of Commemorations, and I would encourage as many people as possible to check it out.”

Addressing the launch, British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott said: “The British government are very pleased to be supporting the National Library of Ireland’s excellent work of commemorating the events of 100 years ago. The National Library’s archive of First World War documents is a rich one; and our understanding of the Great War and the Irish experience of it benefits hugely from this collection. The part of this exhibition that the British government helped to fund is the ‘listening post’, where you can hear period songs and readings of poetry and letters. The generation that went to war was a highly literary one. They wrote huge numbers of letters as well as much poetry and many books and diaries recording their experiences at the Front. We are fortunate in having so much material to explore.”

More details of the exhibition can be found here.


Lesley Goggins, Monaghan Lions Club, is congratulated on receiving her Emerging Lion Award 2015 by Past International President Lion Jim Ervine and Past International Director Lion Phil Nathan

Lesley Goggins, Monaghan Lions Club, is congratulated on receiving her Emerging Lion Award 2015 by Past International President Lion Jim Ervine and Past International Director Lion Phil Nathan

MONAGHAN LION RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD  Northern Standard Thursday 16th April

Monaghan Lions Club Vice-President Lesley Goggins from Corcaghan has been rewarded for her achievements since becoming a member of the international organisation six years ago. At the recent District Convention in Waterford of Lions Clubs from the island of Ireland, Lesley was presented with the Emerging Lion Award 2015.

Lesley was also presented with a lapel pin from the event’s International guest, Past International President Lion Jim Ervine. She told the Northern Standard it was with absolute surprise, honour and (being a Lion!) great pride that she had received the award from District Governor Pat O’Brien.  LIONS-LOGO-720x682-150x150

The dance teacher said she was delighted to be recognised in this way from such wonderful people and by the Lions Clubs organisation in which she was priveleged to play a part. In September Lesley will take over as President of the Monaghan Club, 25 years after her father Bill Goggins was installed as the Club’s first President.

Lesley is already planning the Club’s 25th Charter Dinner which will be held at Castle Leslie, Glaslough on January 30th 2016. On Monday (20th April) the Club was visited at their meeting in the Westenra Hotel, Monaghan, by District Governor Elect, Marion Conneely from Swords Lions Club.

Monaghan Lions Club Charter Dinner 2015 at Castle Leslie with Lion Lesley Goggins (front left) and Past President and Past DG Bill Goggins (back right); Past District Governor Sean Sandford (back left);  Second Vice District Governor Paul Allen and Lion President Adrian McElvaney (centre)

Monaghan Lions Club Charter Dinner 2015 at Castle Leslie with Lion Lesley Goggins (front left) and Past President and Past DG Bill Goggins (back right); Past District Governor Sean Sandford (back left); Second Vice District Governor Paul Allen and Lion President Adrian McElvaney (centre)



LIONS CLUBS IRELAND district 105-I Vice District Governor Paul Allen from Newbridge addresses the large crowd of over 200.  A great night was had by all members of Monaghan Lions Club and their guests at Castle Leslie, Glaslough, at the annual charter dinner, the 24th. The auction raised over €36,000 for club charities.



St Salvator's Glaslough Baptismal Font  Photo: © Michael Fisher

St Salvator’s Glaslough Baptismal Font Photo: © Michael Fisher

St Salvator’s Church of Ireland church beside Castle Leslie in Glaslough, County Monaghan, was the wonderful setting for ‘A Winter’s Tale’ performed on Monday night (23rd December) by Donagh Community Choir under the musical direction of Eithne McCord from Aughnacloy. The church built by Bishop John Leslie in 1763 and improved in 1890-96 became famous when it was the setting in June 2002 for the marriage (since dissolved) of the former Beatle Paul McCartney and Linda Mills.

Organist Glenn Moore  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Organist Glenn Moore Photo: © Michael Fisher

The organist was beautifully played by Glenn Moore, Director of Music at St Macartin’s Cathedral in Enniskillen. Glenn is a native of Kesh and has been playing the organ and leading the choir at Ardess Parish Church, his home parish, for over 18 years. He has played the organ for various services and has given recitals at numerous churches throughout the Diocese of Clogher and beyond. He has been organist for special services that have taken place in Clogher Cathedral. Whilst a pupil at Portora in Enniskillen he was taught the organ by former Cathedral Organist, Billy McBride.

Harpist Liz McGuinness  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Harpist Liz McGuinness Photo: © Michael Fisher

I was delighted to see that the harpist accompanying the organ so well for some of the songs was Liz McGuinness from Milltown, Monaghan who reminded me that she had organised arts events at the Castle many years ago, with David Norris among the guests. Liz was at the opening of the Garage theatre earlier this month. In September I met her at Connolly station in Dublin when she was one of the invited guests and interviewees during the RTÉ Big Music Week. We took the train to Newbridge and then Carlow, serenaded en route by the Bugle Babes who have been singing during the past week for Christmas shoppers at the Brown Thomas store in Grafton Street, Dublin.

Precentor Noel Regan  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Precentor Noel Regan Photo: © Michael Fisher

One of the guests at the service introduced by the Reverend Betty Thompson was the Precentor of St Macartan’s Cathedral in Clogher, Canon Noel Regan. A native of Sligo, he has become a member and good supporter of the William Carleton Society and summer school. In October he preached at the harvest service at Errigal Truagh church, where Eithne McCord and the Donagh choir performed along with Blackwater Voice in a carol service three Sundays ago.

Service at St Salvator's Glaslough  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Service at St Salvator’s Glaslough Photo: © Michael Fisher

Samantha Leslie read a Christmas poem ‘It started with a Baby’. Afterwards she opened the Castle to guests who were treated to mulled wine and mince pies. The conservatory and surrounding area had been beautifully lit and the Christmas lights also looked well. Donagh Community Choir received a grant from the reconciliation fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I think the late Brian Earls, a Carletonian and a former diplomat who died in July, would have been very pleased to hear that. A few years ago after the William Carleton summer school I brought him to St Salvator’s church and Diane who happened to be there at the time kindly showed us inside. That was the only other occasion I have been in this church with which the Leslie family has been associated for 250 years.

St Salvator's Glaslough  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

St Salvator’s Glaslough Photo: © Michael Fisher