PARTY FOR THE LATE SIR JACK

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Monaghan County Museum Curator Liam Bradley with Antonia Leslie, Eimear Quinn and Tarka Leslie-King  Pic. Michael Fisher

TRIBUTE TO SIR JACK LESLIE ON WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS 100th BIRTHDAY

Michael Fisher   Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December 2016 p.14

It was just what Sir Jack ordered. A party, not a wake, with champagne (prosecco) and orange, tea and coffee, sandwiches and cake. A time to remember this remarkable character who died just eight months short of his 100th birthday, after a colourful life of 36,305 days. He passed away in April aged 99 a few months after he had received France’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur, for his part in the defence of that country in the Second World War. Four generations of the Leslie family were around him when he passed away peacefully. The magnolia trees were in bloom as the horse-drawn hearse carrying his remains made its way along the driveway at Castle Leslie to his final resting place outside the walls of St Salvator’s church, where Catholic members of the Leslie family are buried.

At Monaghan Museum video footage of the funeral was shown. Mark and Antonia Leslie helped to carry the remains. Tarka King read a message of sympathy from the Brigade of Guards. On Monday night the family members gathered again for what Curator Liam Bradley said was an evening of remembrance and celebration. He described Sir Jack as a very wonderful man and said he had got to know him well in the last few years.

Tuesday 6th December would have been Sir Jack’s 100th birthday. Before he died he had asked for an evening to remember him in a cheerful way and definitely not a sombre mood. His was a life well lived. Liam Bradley then introduced Sir Jack’s niece and two nephews to share their memories of the fourth Baronet of Glaslough and Pettigo. They were followed by former Eurovision Eimear Quinn from Carrickmacross, who sang a medley of songs chosen from different times of the past one hundred years marking different events in Jack’s life.

Tarka Leslie King said his uncle Jack was an example of bravery. From his mother (Anita) he learned that Jack had a really bad start in life when at the age of three he developed an ear mastoid that meant he sometimes screamed with the pain. Anita and Jack became very close. He was younger than her.

Tarka recalled: “When mother died in 1985 he (Jack) was bereft because he had lost his main pillar of support who was always there for him even when he was in the prisoner of war camp (during the Second World War) and they corresponding with letters. Then when she died he was alone in Italy and did not quite know where he was going with himself. He came home and he was given another start and became the Jack the Boyo that we all got to know from the 1990s onwards. He had an inner strength from that really tough start.”

Antonia Leslie said in the last five months of her uncle’s life she had the privilege of being his full time carer. She got to know him as he deteriorated. “Being with him 24/7 over that time as he went downhill he really opened up to me in a way that touched me”, she said. He was great with people telling stories. She went on: “I realised he was a special gorgeous man which he really didn’t know he was. He was one of the sweetest individuals I have ever come across.”

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Mark Leslie with Eimear Quinn and Monaghan County Museum Curator Liam Bradley  Pic. Michael Fisher

Mark Leslie curated the exhibition on ‘Castle Leslie: Between Two Worlds’ which is now at the Castle in Glaslough. He also redesigned the Monaghan Museum displays in 2004. He told the gathering it was a great honour and an opportunity to thank the people of the county for the wonderful role they had played in Jack’s life. “He was bereft when complications meant he had to abandon his wonderful home in Italy. When he returned here his sister who he adored had died.”

He went on: “Everyone in the room has their own personal Jack story. He knew so much about people. But how did he stay so young and keep his mind so clear? The secret was he never did all the things that trammel our brains like a 9-5 job or got married or rear children. He had his whole hard drive clear for people. He just collected them and filed them away and would remember everything about those he met and their genealogy. We always called him Jack-apedia. When he returned to Ireland he had come back to die. He had lost his purpose in life, his sister and his house in Rome. The craic and fun he got out of the people of Monaghan gave him another 25 rip-roaring years, the best years of his life, whether it was at a disco at The Squealing Pig or supporting Glaslough Villa FC. Monaghan people are great craic and they kept him endlessly amused with a whole supply of stories about the past because he would remember your great grandmother or great aunt or whatever. Well done and thank you to the people of Monaghan for making the last 25 years of his life such a laugh.”

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Miniature of Lt John (Jack) Leslie in Irish Guards uniform (courtesy of Mark Leslie)

Eimear Quinn’s Medley consisted of eight songs that reflected different periods in Jack’s life. A beautiful note on which to finish the evening.

1. The West’s Asleep by Thomas Davis

When all beside a vigil keep,

The West’s asleep, the West’s asleep-

Alas! and well may Erin weep,

When Connaught lies in slumber deep.

There lake and plain smile fair and free,

‘Mid rocks-their guardian chivalry-

Sing oh! let man learn liberty

From crashing wind and lashing sea…

And if, when all a vigil keep,

The West’s; asleep, the West’s asleep-

Alas! and well may Erin weep,

That Connaught lies in slumber deep.

But-hark! -some voice like thunder spake:

“The West’s awake, the West’s awake’-

Sing oh! hurra! let England quake,

We’ll watch till death for Erin’s sake!”

2. Rossmore’s Demesne (Dúchas Schools Collection Threemilehouse Vol. 0593 p.358-90)

“As I went a-walking

And for pleasure did rove

Down by Rossmore’s castle

And down by the grove

I s[ied a wee charmer

So neatly stepped she,

On the banks of yon river

Near the weeping ash tree.”

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Eimear Quinn  Pic. Michael Fisher

3. Abide with Me (sung at times of sympathy)

“Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me…

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see—

O Thou who changest not, abide with me…

I need Thy presence every passing hour;

What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?

Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?

Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.”

4. Someone to Watch Over Me (Gershwin)

“I’m a little lamb who’s lost in a wood

I know I could always be good

To one who’ll watch over me

Although I/he may not be the man some girls think of

As handsome to my heart

She/he carries the key

Won’t you tell her/him please to put on some speed

Follow my lead, oh how I need

Someone to watch over me.”

5. Lili Marlene (made popular by Vera Lynn during WWII and sung by Eimear against a WWI backdrop from the current exhibition at the Museum)

“Underneath the lantern

By the barrack gate

Darling I remember

The way you used to wait

‘Twas there that you whispered tenderly

That you loved me

You’d always be

My Lili of the lamplight

My own Lili Marlene…

Resting in our billet

Just behind the line

Even though we’re parted

Your lips are close to mine

You wait where that lantern softly gleamed

Your sweet face seems

To haunt my dreams

My Lili of the lamplight

My own Lili Marlene

My Lili of the lamplight

My own Lili Marlene.”

6. Libiamo from La Traviata

“Let’s enjoy the wine and the singing,

the beautiful night, and the laughter.

Let the new day find us in this paradise.”

7. I Feel Love (reflecting Jack;s love of ‘boom-boom’ music)

Ooh it’s so good, it’s so good

It’s so good, it’s so good

It’s so good

Ooh I’m in love, I’m in love,

I’m in love, I’m in love

I’m in love

Ooh I feel love, I feel love

I feel love, I feel love

I feel love.

8. O Holy Night!

“O Holy Night!

The stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees

Oh hear the angel voices

Oh night divine

Oh night when Christ was born

Oh night divine

Oh night divine”.

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Eimear Quinn   Pic. Michael Fisher

SIR JOHN LESLIE Bart born December 6th 1916, died April 8th 2016 (extracts from a Daily Telegraph obituary)

John Norman Ide Leslie, always known as Jack, was born on December 6th 1916 in New York where his father Shane, a writer, diplomat, convert to Rome, and supporter of John Redmond’s moderate nationalist party had gone to counter Irish-Americans trying to keep the United States out of the war. Jack’s mother, born Marjorie Ide, was a well-connected American whose father had been governor general of the Philippines.

Young Jack caught the Spanish Flu in the epidemic of 1918 and was given up for dead when his temperature reached 106. His father, he recalled, asked the nuns next door to pray for him; that night his mother woke with a start to find his temperature had returned to normal. Soon afterwards, however, he developed a mastoid that left him deaf in his left ear.

Jack was almost three when in 1919 he and his elder sister Anita were brought back by their parents to Castle Leslie, to be received by his grandfather, Sir John Leslie, 2nd Bt, and his American wife Leonie, whose sister Jennie was the mother of Winston Churchill. The Leslies had lost their eldest son Norman in the Great War, making Jack the ultimate heir apparent to the title and the vast estates that went with it. But his parents were based in London and, apart from blissful holidays in Ireland, it was there that Jack was brought up.

“My world was populated by lords and ladies,” he recalled, “and naturally I believed that they were the people who ruled England and the enormous British Empire. Although our cousin Winston Churchill was Chancellor of the Exchequer, I thought the House of Commons was a purely advisory committee.” By this time (aged 15) he was at school at Downside. At Magdalene College, Cambridge, he rowed in the college VIII and joined the officer training corps. On graduation in 1938 he was commissioned in the Irish Guards and enjoyed a short period as a “Deb’s delight” before war intervened.

 Ordered to cross to Boulogne after the German invasion of Holland in May 1940, Leslie’s platoon were rendered helpless when their bullets bounced off the advancing German tanks. They surrendered and were marched across Germany to a prisoner of war camp in Bavaria, Leslie spent the rest of the war in captivity.

On release, he returned to civilian life. His grandparents had died and he found himself the major shareholder in the company that owned Castle Leslie. Having planted thousands of trees on the demesne, he embarked on a peripatetic life in Britain, continental Europe and the United States.

In 1953 Leslie settled in Rome in a 16th century house he had restored in Trastevere. As a connoisseur of art, Leslie found much to enjoy in Rome, and as a devout Catholic he relished its religious life and was a pillar of the Order of Malta. He restored an ancient monastery and was rewarded with a papal knighthood.

He returned in 1994 to live in Castle Leslie, which was by then being run by his niece Sammy. In 2001 he celebrated his 85th birthday by travelling to Ibiza to party at Privilege, then the world’s biggest nightclub. In 2006 at the age of 90 Leslie drew on his great memory to write his autobiography, ‘Never a Dull Moment’. In November last year he was among Irish veterans of the Second World War whom the French government appointed to the Légion d’ honneur at a ceremony at the French embassy in Dublin.

 

 

 

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UK AMBASSADOR AT MUSEUM

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Carmel Thornton (Monaghan Co. Council) with Ambassador Robin Barnett, Eamonn O’Sullivan CEO Monaghan Co. Council and Museum Curator Liam Bradley

British Ambassador visits Monaghan County Museum

The British Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett CMG, paid a visit to Monaghan County Museum recently. The Ambassador was met by the Curator, Liam Bradley, Monaghan County Council Chief Executive Eamonn O¹Sullivan and Administrative Officer Carmel Thornton. The Ambassador was taken on a tour of the museum¹s current exhibition, “From a Whisper to a Roar: Exploring the Untold Story of Monaghan 1916.” Liam Bradley explained what life was like in the county directly before the Easter 1916 Rising politically, economically and socially and how that changed so dramatically following the bombshell of the historic events in Dublin and around the country.

The other focus of the display is the Battle of the Somme. The Curator noted it was estimated that nearly one hundred Monaghan men died during that terrible battle which took place from July 1st to November 18th 1916. Ambassador Barnett noted that this year of commemorations was an opportunity to explore the full story of this period in Irish history. He remarked on the recent event at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, where a Castleblayney man, Thomas Hughes, was commemorated for receiving the Victoria Cross during the Battle of the Somme. Private Hughes VC is one of the key characters explored in the museum¹s exhibition on the historic year of Monaghan 1916.

At the end of his visit the Ambassador thanked the Museum Curator and the staff of the museum for developing such a fascinating display. He expressed a keen interest to return when he had more time to view all of the museum displays. Chief Executive of Monaghan County Council Eamonn O’Sullivan thanked Ambassador Barnett for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit the museum and also thanked the museum staff. The exhibition formed the backdrop for the special celebration marking what would have been the 100th birthday of Sir Jack Leslie of Castle Leslie, Glaslough.

BOOST FOR LOCAL MUSEUMS

Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D. Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D. Photo: © Michael Fisher

A scheme to help local and regional museums in Ireland to carry out small projects to improve their displays and make them more attractive for tourists has been approved by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D. The 2015 Local and Regional Museums Scheme is designed to support small and medium-sized museums across the country.  

Monaghan County Museum. Hill Street Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Monaghan County Museum. Hill Street Photo: © Michael Fisher

This year, the scheme will allow for the funding of small capital projects on a matched funding basis (75:25).  A total fund of 0,000 is being made available for suitably qualified museum development projects. Projects funded under the Scheme should seek to enhance the cultural offering of museums; to encourage greater access to museums and to promote the use of museums as tourism resources in their locality or region.

Monaghan County Museum. Hill Street Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Monaghan County Museum. Hill Street Photo: © Michael Fisher

Minister Humphreys said: “the Local and Regional Museums Scheme provides a valuable funding stream for small and medium sized museums throughout the country, allowing them to stage exhibitions, promote and market their museums and generally improve their product offering.  These museums are central focus points within the community and it is vital that they are supported in their role as guardians and narrators of our cultural heritage. The funding provided under this Scheme over the past few years has allowed these museums to continue to enhance the presentation of their exhibitions and premises which in turn improves the cultural offering of the local communities they serve.” 

Monaghan County Museum. Hill Street Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Monaghan County Museum. Hill Street Photo: © Michael Fisher

Monaghan County Museum opened in 1974 becoming the first full time, local authority funded and professionally staffed museum in the country. The first Curator was Aidan Walsh. During its history it has seen many social, cultural and political changes both at a local and national level. These diverse changes are reflected in the museum’s collection of artefacts and displays.

Curator Liam Bradley (left) with author Christopher Fitz-Simon (centre) and Friends of Monaghan Museum Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Curator Liam Bradley (left) with author Christopher Fitz-Simon (centre) and Friends of Monaghan Museum Photo: © Michael Fisher

The museum staff headed by curator Liam Bradley are dedicated to the goal of ensuring that all its exhibitions and events are accessible to everyone. It has received many awards during its existence. It was the first Local Authority Museum in the country to achieve full accreditation under the Heritage Council’s Museum Standards programme for Ireland. This was a very worthwhile process for the museum to be involved in and was a huge testament to the commitment of the museum staff as well as the tremendous support received from Monaghan County Council and the Museum’s other stakeholders including the Museum Advisory Committee that Monaghan County Museum is now officially recognised as one of the most professionally run museums in the Republic of Ireland.

Monaghan County Museum. Hill Street Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Monaghan County Museum. Hill Street Photo: © Michael Fisher