Darver Castle bringing a little joy to frontline heroes during Covid-19 outbreak


David Lynch


David Lynch

Darver Castle bringing a little joy to frontline heroes during Covid-19 outbreak

Darver Castle bringing a little joy to frontline heroes during Covid-19 outbreak

Mary Carville is more used to helping placate nervous brides and grooms on their biggest of days. As the owner of Darver Castle in mid-Louth, there’s little the 69-year-old Nobber woman doesn’t know about hosting a successful wedding.

Her organisational and leadership skills are second to none, her staff say.

Yet, these days, beautiful Darver Castle stands still during the week and empty of the hustle and bustle of weekend weddings. Covid-19 has put a halt to those joyous moments that stand-out prominently in life’s journey.

Not that Mary is idle, mind, or down in the mouth about it all.

While Darver Castle, in general, may be in a temporary stasis, the kitchen has been busy every morning for the past two weeks.

You see, Darver Castle has something of a reputation for its scones and tarts.

So, Mary had an idea.

“We had an email from a bride to say she was postponing her wedding due to Covid-19,” the Co. Meath woman explains. “She is working as a nurse in the frontline. We see the efforts the brides and grooms go to for their weddings, so this gave me the idea to give something back to the frontline.” 

She continues: “We have a lot of brides and grooms working in the frontline and I thought a wee scone during their tea break to show how much we appreciate frontline workers would be a nice gesture.”

But the thoughtful gesture doesn’t stop there.

“Well we often leave food supplies in Dundalk into the Simon Community and the Soup kitchen,” adds Mary.

So, how exactly did Mary start the ball rolling on this pastry-based enterprise?

“We contacted the Louth Hospital and the local gardai and then with the powers of social media we put out a message to our frontline brides and grooms - and we had a great response and many, many requests for our famous ‘Darver Castle Scones’, Mary says, with a hint of pride.

While most in lockdown are later to get their day started these days, Mary and her crew of super scone-makers, are busy preparing from 8.30am.

“This will be week two for us baking!  Myself and Chef Michael Roddy, we prepare the scones and tarts and my daughter Julia prepares the bags and gets them ready for delivery. It’s a lot of work, but so worthwhile!”

Mary takes out a list of the places her deliveries are going to this week, and then starts reading them out.

“This week’s deliveries are Belfast City Hospital, Royal Belfast Hospital For Sick Children, Muckamore Abbey Hospital, Banbridge health centre, Daisy Hill Hospital, St Olivers Plunkett Nursing Home, Louth County Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Lios Na Greine Nursing Home, Our Lady's Hospital Navan, St.Marys Nursing Home Castleblayney, St. Davnet's Hospital Monaghan, St.Mary's drumcar, Beaumont Hospital, Mater Hospital, Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin and St James Hospital so a busy week ahead!”

While her days at Darver are as busy as ever, Mary is keeping it local and staying safe from her own point of view.

“I just go to the local shops and back home again, so I have been minding Aidan (husband) and myself (by) staying behind closed doors. But I'm longing to get back to welcoming everyone at the front door of our castle!”

Just before the interview ends, Mary is keen to push the message that so many of us have heard already - but it’s a message that bears repeating regularly, during these strange days.

“We have to keep doing what we have been advised,” Mary says. “Wash our hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze and keep social distance at least 2m, or even better - stay at home! This won’t be forever, we cannot wait to welcome all our bride and grooms back to Darver Castle!”