Mary McGrath has been with the Castle for 33 years and is a treasured member of our kitchen team. Here, we talk to Mary about her journey with Ashford…

What was your background before you worked at Ashford Castle?

I worked in a dry cleaners’ outlet in Ballinrobe. 

What was your first experience at Ashford Castle?

I was very impressed by the building and surroundings and in particular the welcome and friendliness from staff.

What were your thoughts when you saw the Castle for the first time after the restoration?

I thought that the transformation was amazing. I had total admiration for our owners and management, especially our General Manager Mr Rochford, for their vision and dedication in planning and restoring Ashford Castle to a world-class standard. 

Tell us something about Ashford that people might not know.

The personal touch demonstrated by our management in incentivising our team for the dedication and work well done, for example, our 'catch a star' awards, 'employee of the month' and recognition for years of service.

What makes Ashford so special?

The management and staff. The emphasis placed on ensuring that guests receive the highest possible standard of care. The willingness of staff to go beyond the call of duty to ensure this goal is achieved. The overall cooperative spirit prevails across all grades of staff and areas of work.

What does a typical day at Ashford look like for you?

I begin at 5am with service preparation and spend my day communicating with relevant staff regarding guests’ needs, and working as a team to support each other. 

What is your favourite part of your role?

Service preparation, ensuring the highest possible standard for our guests. The feeling at the end of my shift that I have done a good day’s work and this is often confirmed by a word of praise and encouragement from management which makes it all worthwhile.

What do you do to relax when you are not working?

Farming, walking, dancing and exercise in general.

What three words would you use to describe Ashford?

Unique, inspirational and caring.

What is your proudest achievement of your time at Ashford Castle? 

There are so many! Meeting Mr and Mrs Tollman and their family added a very personal touch and I was proud to be a member of their staff. The personal touch makes a huge difference. The recognition I received for my 25 years of service, an employee of the month award and attending the annual Staff Appreciation Party in London. Meeting celebrities such as Pierce Brosnan. Working in the marquee and meeting Rory McElroy on his wedding day.