The John McGahern Library at Lough Rynn Castle

A fitting tribute to Leitrim’s favourite son


The Guardian newspaper called him “arguably the most important Irish novelist since Samuel Beckett”. A former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) went one further calling him “Ireland’s greatest writer”. The people of Leitrim simply call him one of their own. The John McGahern Library in Lough Rynn Castle Estate & Gardens was opened on November 9th 2006 by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as a fitting tribute to Leitrim’s favourite son. We invite you to experience this peaceful, relaxing and beautiful setting as you sit down amongst our collection of some of his most-revered work, lovingly displayed for all to enjoy.

This beautiful library was the the dry stores room in the original castle. You can still see the ceiling hooks which used to be used to dry out foods and store them correctly. The Library is the perfect retreat for guests to unwind and relax in, surrounded by the castle’s character and literature, it is also recommended for semi private dining for a special occassion.

John McGahern – “from farm to fame”


John McGahern was born in Dublin in 1934, before heading back to the family home in County Leitrim. The son of a Garda (police) sergeant and a school teacher, he was the eldest child of seven. While his father was stationed in a barracks in County Roscommon, the rest of the family maintained the small family farm back in Knockanroe. When the matriarch died suddenly of cancer in 1944, ten year old John and the rest of the McGahern clan went to live with their father in his barracks in Cootehall.

After completing his schooling, John won a scholarship to the Presentation Brothers secondary school in Carrick-on-Shannon, accumulating multiple academic accolades along the way. After being offered a place at the prestigious St. Patrick’s College of Education in Drumcondra, he trained to become a teacher. After a stint in Scoil Eoin Báiste (St. John the Baptist Boys) in Clontarf, he returned to third level education in University College Dublin, where he graduated with a BA in 1957.

By 1962, the Arts Council awarded McGahern the prestigious AE Memorial Award for an extract from his novel ‘The Barracks’. Upon being published the following year, McGahern’s reputation for uncompromising realism was starting to spread. Awards like the Macauley Fellowship Award quickly followed, allowing McGahern to take a year out to live in London, Spain, France and Germany.

McGahern’s second novel in 1965 would deal with the experiences of an adolescent boy growing up in Roscommon with an abusive father. Hailed as the best account of Irish adolescence since Joyce, ‘The Dark’ exposed a deep clerical tyranny. Perhaps it was this that led to the book being banned by the Censorship Board, who claimed it posed a risk to public morality because of its “indecent or obscene” content and ordered that 260 advance copies be seized by Irish Customs and Excise officers. What’s more, at the behest of archbishop John Charles McQuaid, McGahern was dismissed from his teaching post. The archbishop even intervened with the INTO (Irish National Teachers’ Organisation) to ensure they didn’t support McGahern’s appeal against his dismissal.

While the episode cost McGahern his job, it gained him huge public interest and media attention. However, disillusioned and demeaned, he left Ireland soon after his dismissal, spending the next ten years between England, France, Spain and the United States. Admitting the “whole business” left him “unable to write for three or four years after”, his next book, a collection of short stories called ‘NightLines’, wasn’t published until 1970.

In 1974, McGahern decided to address the circumstances of his dismissal with his third novel. ‘Leavetaking’ vividly portrayed the circumstances of his dismissal from his teaching position. This therapeutic discharge of sorts allowed him to move back to Ireland and settle on a small farm with his second wife, Madeline Green.

‘The Pornographer’ (1978) and ‘High Ground’ (1985) were followed by what is seen as John McGahern’s greatest work. Nominated for the Booker Prize and awarded the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literature award, ‘Amongst Women’ (1990) recounted the final years of an IRA soldier and domineering family man as he lived on a small farm in the west of Ireland. While other novels, short stories, plays and honours followed, ‘Amongst Women’ has taken its place in Irish history, being described by literary genius John Banville as a “masterpiece” and celebrated playwright Thomas Kilroy as “one of the most significant achievements in Irish fiction”.

In 2006, aged only 71, John McGahern succumbed to cancer in Dublin’s Mater Hospital. Having become an elder statesmen of Irish letters in his final years, word of his death was broadcast across Ireland and the world. To the many readers and critics who found his work pessimistic, if not depressing, he would often offer this retort:

“My favourite optimist was the American who jumped off the Empire State Building and, as he passed the 42nd floor, was heard by the window washers to say ‘So far, so good.’ ”

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Offers at Lough Rynn Castle ESTATE & GARDENS

Stay Wine & Dine

At Lough Rynn Castle, we invite you to elevate your stay with our exclusive "Stay, Wine, and Dine" package, where every moment is a testament to the finer things in life. Begin your evening with a complimentary glass of fine wine, setting the stage for an unforgettable fine dining experience.After, retreat to one of our elegant rooms where, old-world charm seamlessly blends with modern comforts to provide you with the ultimate in luxury accommodation.The next morning after waking up fully recharged enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast to start your day on the perfect note.  

Luxury Castle Stay

The perfect Escape... Enjoy one nights accommodation with Full Irish Breakfast served in our award winning Sandstone Restaurant, take in our Estate during your stay and make the most of every moment you spend in the luxurious surrounds of Lough Rynn Castle Estate & Gardens.

Fabulous Friday

Treat yourself to a last-minute getaway. Our Fabulous Friday Offer has it all, a luxurious night's stay in one of our perfectly appointed bedrooms with modern amenities and elegant surroundings. Enjoy Dinner in our Award Winning Sandstone Restaurant and Full Irish Breakfast the next morning. Don't rush off, enjoy our estate, take a stroll in our Walled Gardens, and relax in the Baronial Hall, maybe treat yourself to Afternoon Tea? Enjoy every minute with us.

Golden Years Package

Create Memories for life with Lough Rynn Castle Estate and Gardens, our luxurious bedrooms await you.  For 2 nights of complete bliss, our Golden Years package in one of Ireland's most authentic Castle Hotels awaits you.  A hearty full Irish Breakfast each morning, your dining experience in our Award Winning Sandstone Restaurant is recommended on the day of your arrival and Afternoon Tea on the second day of your stay.

Afternoon Tea and Luxury Nights Stay

Relax, unwind, & indulge at a Lough Rynn Castle's magnificent 300 acre Estate, see our beautiful Victorian Walled Gardens. Enjoy Afternoon Tea in the relaxing surroundings of our Drawing Rooms overlooking the Rolling Lawns and retreat to your room for an overnight stay with a full Irish Breakfast the following morning.

A Taste of Our Estate

Join us for a relaxing two night break away with a delicious seasonal fine dining experience created by Executive Head Chef Clare O'Leary, on an evening of your choice in the magnificent surroundings of our Award Winning Sandstone Restaurant.  Full Irish Breakfast is included during your stay. Enjoy a leisurely walk around the 300 acres of stunning grounds and experience the breathtaking Walled Gardens.

Taste Tuesday

Enjoy a fabulous taste of life at Lough Rynn Castle with an overnight stay in one of our luxurious rooms, a complimentary glass of prosecco on arrival, dinner in our award winning Sandstone Restaurant, served with a complimentary glass of our house wine and our famous full Irish Breakfast the following morning.

Fine Dining Getaway

A Gourmet treat awaits you here at Lough Rynn Castle Estate, let our Fine Dining Head Chef Cathal O'Concubhair and team take you on a culinary journey you wont forget.  Your one night escape includes a delicious dinner served in our Award Winning Sandstone Restaurant and Breakfast before departure.  Make the most of your stay and take in the rest of our estate  the magical Walled Gardens await you.

Midweek Getaway

We have the perfect location just waiting for you to escape to...It doesn't have to be the weekend!  Take full advantage of our Midweek special rates, whether you are looking for a Gourmet Break or an Afternoon Tea Retreat Lough Rynn Castle Estate and Gardens is your perfect place

Luxury Self Catering Accommodation

The Cottages at Lough Rynn Castle Estate & Gardens are set within an easy 3 minute stroll from the Castle. These newly built luxurious three bedroom holiday homes accommodate up to five people. Here you will enjoy the wonderful setting and facilities of Lough Rynn in the comfort of a homely environment.


* Visit Arigna Mining Experience  * Enjoy some water activities at Acres Lake * Cycle the Shannon Blueway  * Enjoy a coffee and treat in Carrick on Shannon * Visit Farnaught Lime Kiln  * Retire to Lough Rynn Castle for a meal in our Drawing rooms, followed by cocktails in the Dungeon Bar



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