Say hello to Leontine Haines, the lady who has been welcoming guests to the Dufferin Coaching Inn and Hall for over 10 years. Over a cup of tea in her cosy front room, Leontine shared her stories, inspirations, and secrets to the perfect Ulster Fry.
Where are you originally from and how did you end up where you are now?
I am from Dublin originally. I did most of my nursing in London and Brighton and in the Merchant Navy aboard the QE2. I always wanted to return home to Ireland to live and jumped at the opportunity to pick up and move in to Dufferin Coaching Inn over ten years ago.
What inspired you to take the reins of Dufferin Coaching Inn & Hall?
I fell in love with the Dufferin Coaching Inn and Hall when I stayed here for a weekend. I also felt Killyleagh would be a beautiful place to live, with the Castle at the top of the High Street and Strangford Lough at the bottom. There is also a great community feeling here.
What do you love most about hosting weddings?
I love seeing Dufferin Hall full of people enjoying themselves, with great food being served. It is always so rewarding getting to know the bride and groom, being part of their day, and being involved in helping create one of the biggest days of their lives.
Where is your favourite spot in County Down?
Murlough Bay walking along the beach with the Mourne Mountains in front of me and the waves pounding on the shore. This spot specifically me an amazing sense of freedom and well being.
The Coaching Inn Ulster Fry is local favourite, what’s your secret to cooking the perfect fry-up?
Buying fresh, local, high quality ingredients. It pays to build relationships with your suppliers! Cooking the fry to order so it’s fresh off the grill onto the plate is essential - no reheating here!
Three things or products that you can’t live without.
My dog Tiggy, a really good glass of red wine, and Six Nations and World Cup Rugby
How do you relax?
I play golf as much as I can. There are some amazing places to go walking in County Down and my dog loves all of them, so a long walk followed by a cold glass of beer and a great big bowl pf Strangford Lough Mussels is my idea of heaven!
Name one of your suitcase must-haves.
Share some words of wisdom.
Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, “Make me feel important”. Never forget this message when working with people.