Picnics at Springfield Castle have proved very popular
WHEN life gives you lemons, make lemonade - and in the Green Room café at Springfield Castle they serve it with picnics.
The family run business in Dromcollogher was one of the first in the country to offer a drive-through service during the first week of lockdown on March 20.
Everything was much scarier back then but Karen Sykes and her brother Daniel decided to do it to feed the community and as a way of being able to pay staff a part wage. Ten per cent of their takings went to Feed the Heroes.
"We have run it every week now so we were probably one of the first drive through takeaways to start and all the community have thanked us for making their weekends easier. There is nothing else in the community doing the type of food we do - we are 15kms from Newcastle West.
"We also only use as much as our own produce grown in the walled garden as possible, so fresh organic ingredients and only use local suppliers and ingredients where possible, O'Connors butchers, Bally salads etc. We use our own organic venison in one dish a week," said Karen.
Fast forward to July and they continue to make the best of a bad situation. The takeaways have grown from just Saturdays to Friday, Saturday and Sunday most weeks.
On the castle grounds, they host socially-distanced picnics full of treats that hark back to the Famous Five books; have music and food on Friday nights and roasts on Sunday.
While Karen organises everything, her brother Daniel is a keen vegetable gardener and talented chef. The family is completed by mum and dad Betty and Jonathan.
Betty has lived at Springfield Castle since she was six-years-old. Springfield Castle is a family property of historical significance originally built by the Fitzgerald’s in 1280.
They were married at the castle in 1974 after meting in Trinity College. They spent a number of years working in Africa before returning to look after the family property which they began renting as a self-catering castle for guests in 1983. Since then they have developed the castle which now caters for groups of up to 25 guests.
Daniel and Karen opened the Green Room café in June 2018 from a converted barn. With a focus on local ingredients and local community they prove even in the face of Covid-19 - where there is a will, there is a way.
See their Facebook page here for more.