Castle Grove Country House Hotel, Letterkenny, Co Donegal Mary T Sweeney profile

Castle Grove Country House Hotel, Letterkenny, Co Donegal Mary T Sweeney profile


Mary Sweeney grew up on the family farm
in Mallow County Cork in the 1950s as one of three girls. She worked on the
farm from a young age and really enjoyed it Farming is the first love of my life From the time I learned to walk I
learned to farm but also in my background was the hospitality industry
My grand aunt owned two hotels in Dublin at the time She started her three-year
hospitality training in the Metropole in Cork My next job after that was, I was
immediately taken on board in Jury’s the old Jury’s in Dublin and it was there
also where I actually met a Donegal man. That led me to a family
connection who owned Rosapenna hotel at the time. The Rosapenna at the time
had just 30 bedrooms and Mary was appointed manager and her Donegal story
began. She met Raymond who was a garda ministerial driver and they married in
1970. Mary returned to farming with a 100 acre farm in Ramelton where she managed
a very successful dairy herd. Farming meant to me and an amazing way of life.
It was hard work but she clearly loved farming. Not afraid of hard work
Mary did the milking three times a day all of the farm jobs, ran the house and
brought up five children Alan, Eimear, Caroline, Paul and Irene. In
1989 we became aware the Castle Grove was going to be sold and we made an offer
for it and I suppose at the end of the day I must say the cows put us here.
Back then the house was just bare walls they loved it but of course had to make
it pay. And we started what I knew best was B&B and it has grown to what
it is today Even back then they knew that food was
going to be the game changer and at that stage we had on board the
Belgian chef who really put us on the map for food and he was followed by a
young French chef who was the source of achieving and a Michelin RM. Here we are
today with a magnificent team in the kitchen.
Our team is headed by Paul Brady an award-winning chef who recently won a
gold medal at the Taste of Donegal food festival. Mary’s children are now running
the house and driving the business forward. Well it’s our pleasure as a
family to be carrying on Mary T’s role in hospitality and Castle Grove. This is
our home and we love to share it with people. We are very fortunate this year
to be considered and chosen to enter the Blue Book. The Blue Book is a
prestigious Country House guide and we are delighted to be a part of it and
look forward to many years of being a part of it. I think one of the biggest
secrets of success is work ethic never look at your watch and never try to
retrace your footsteps

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