Sir John Leslie, 4th Baronet (b. 1916)
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Sir John Leslie, 4th Baronet (b. 1916)


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Track 1: Jack Leslie, son of Sir Shane Leslie of Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan, and Marjorie Ide of Vermont, USA, was born in New York City. His parents met in London when his mother’s father was American ambassador to Spain. Sir Jack speaks of his early life at Castle Leslie and explains that his father was attached to the British Ambulance Corps during WWI and suffered a nervous breakdown in Gallipoli. He went to join his wife in New York where he recovered his health. While at Cambridge University he had converted to Roman Catholicism and had briefly attended Maynooth. Sir Jack’s uncle, Norman, served in the Rifle Brigade and was killed in 1914 at the Battle of Armentières on the Belgian/French border. Track 2: Sir John Leslie, Sir Jack’s grandfather, served in the Grenadier Guards and was active in the Boer War and in the preparations for WWI, and Jack recalls talking with him about his army experiences. His grandmother was Leonie Jerome of New York, and he describes his memories of her. Some of the Leslie military uniforms are now in the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum in Armagh, and the medals are kept in the family archive. Sir Jack discusses the family tradition of service as officers in the British Army. Track 3: In London after the war, Jack remembers his father writing novels and also his memoirs, and though he had a good relationship with his father, he recalls that Sir Shane spoke very little to his children. It was their mother who told them about their father’s military experiences. He speaks about the former Leslie estates in Donegal and the connection with Holy Island on Lough Derg. The neighbouring estates are spoken about, as is the involvement of those families in both world wars. Track 4: Sir Jack served in the Irish Guards, having enlisted after graduating from Cambridge University. He also discusses his education in Switzerland and England. His father was a Nationalist, he explains, although he was bored by politics and was keener on writing for the cause. He considers his father’s connection with Michael Collins and he remembers Sinn Féiners coming to the house in the early 1920s. Fortunately the house was not damaged. He tells the story of his discovery of a Mills bomb on the front lawn and he discusses his relationship with the domestic staff and the local people. During WWII, his sister, Anita, joined the Mechanised Transport Corps so that she could be at the frontline and she wrote two books about her wartime experiences. Towards the end of the war she drove ambulances for the Free-French army. During this time Jack was a prisoner of war and he recalls his wartime experiences. Track 5: The upkeep of a large estate is discussed and Jack remembers continual talk of overdrafts when he was a child. Income was derived from rents and investments, particularly from his mother’s side. He speaks about the family home at No. 1, Stephen’s Green, Dublin before the Act of Union in 1800, and later houses in London. The discussion on houses steeped in history brings to mind recollections of Brede Place in Rye, Sussex, where his great-aunt Clarita Frewen lived. He and his sister were terrified of ghosts and noises there. He has never experienced anything like this in Castle Leslie but says that his sister and niece have had such experiences. The tradition of interring the remains of family members in the chapel is discussed. The more recent Troubles are considered, along with the threat of kidnap during the 1980s. Track 6: Sir Jack talks about O’Hanlon’s Walk in the wood and the fact that nobody would walk alone there at night. A curious burial is discussed. Track 7: He considers himself to be international, due to his birth in America, home in Ireland, education in England and his love of Italy. In 1922, with the election of W. T. Cosgrave, his grandfather considered that Ireland was the best run country in Europe. Jack remembers visits by Ruby Carson (née Frewen), widow of Sir Edward Carson, and the many interesting people he met at parties and balls during the London season prior to WWII. Track 8: The pinetum at Castle Leslie is discussed and the importance of a plantation in creating a landscape is emphasised. Sir Jack talks about the functions of various servants at the castle and the arrival of modern conveniences. Jack’s uncle Seymour, his wife Gwyneth and their daughter Jennifer lived in the west wing at the castle, otherwise the rest of the family came on visits. The house in London was sold before WWII and his parents lived thereafter at the Castle. He clearly remembers the welcome home he and his sister were afforded after the war.

Additional information



Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

10.20 MB, 7.79 MB, 29.39 MB, 7.19 MB, 5.88 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



The Leslie tradition of service in the British Army

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore