Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

16.34 16 Jun 2020


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A man who has been looking after luxury hotel Ashford Castle during the coronavirus crisis says the daily process of checking every room and flushing toilets to make sure the plumbing's working is proving to be a 'good little workout routine'.

The five-star hotel in Cong, Co Mayo has had just one couple living on the property during the lockdown, to ensure everything is kept in order.

Estate manager Michael Smith, who is living in the castle with his partner Laura Jamieson, spoke to Moncrieff about their day-to-day life over the past few months.

Michael explained: "My partner and I myself spoke to our general manager... just about what we'd classify as our day-to-day jobs, which were suited to what they were looking for. We were very lucky to be selected for the roles.

"We go around every single room here in the castle. Because the castle is maybe 800 years old... we have to go around all the rooms just to make sure the plumbing's working, and that everything's being topped up and looked after.

"It's a good chunk of the day, and a good little workout routine we have going.

"We're spending a couple of hours, easy, going around all the rooms and making sure the plumbing's fine... and getting our steps up along the way."

The castle is now due to reopen to guests in early July, with Michael saying they're now very much looking forward to that.

He observed: "We have been in close contact with guests with regards to booking... we have been having people phone [to] just check in on us as well, making sure we're well.

"We'd get the odd phone call, just to ask if we were open. We just had to politely remain them that because of things that were going on currently that unfortunately we were closed, but informed them of the dates we were hoping to reopen."

In the meantime, Michael and Laura are staying in a 'beautiful room' overlooking Lough Corrib.

Michael told Sean: "It is just a stunning room. We picked our favourite, shall we say.

"[But] all of the rooms are gorgeous - we have 83 bedrooms here in the castle, so all of them are completely individually designed and all have their stunning aspects."

Main image: View of Ashford Castle in Cong (County Mayo). Picture by: Rolf Haid/DPA/PA Images

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