Saturday, September 10, 2011

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It you've got to organise a hen night, fear not - there are plenty of options from murder mystery evenings to farm bootcamps.

So your best friend is getting married and has appointed you chief bridesmaid. Congratulations. It’s now officially your job to listen to the endless details, wear the unflattering dress and, worst of all, organise the hen night.

A poison chalice if ever there was one – what if nobody comes? What if everybody comes but nobody enjoys themselves? What if no one wants to totter round Temple Bar in an L-plate all night?

Relax. The good news is that, after years of telling us they didn’t want noisy hen dos lowering the tone, Ireland’s hoteliers are falling over their stilettos trying to attract them. What’s more, there are now loads of hen-oriented activities that you can combine a hotel stay with, to ensure everybody has a good time.

At the White Lady Hotel in Kinsale, they gave one of their store rooms a makeover and devoted it to hen parties. Now known as The Powder Room, it’s a suitably girly space which hens can use as base camp for a range of different activity packages.

Hens often, for example, use it to book a make-up class, before heading into the nightclub next door where management reserve the VIP section for the group.

Another option is a Murder Mystery Ireland hen event. Apparently, dead bodies are a guaranteed way to break the ice between friends and future family, no matter how frosty the initial relations.

Based in Mayo, the MMI team operates nationwide and provides costumes to ensure everyone is safely in character before the backstabbing starts, with a facilitator laid on to ensure any blood on the carpet is fake.

For something a little more sedate, how about a pottery session? With marriage on the way, it’s only a matter of time before plates get thrown, so start by throwing them on a potter’s wheel.

At The Pottery Experience in Portmarnock, Co Dublin, hens produce personalised tableware for the bride and groom, which makes for a nice memento.

Everyone gets to either decorate a breakfast or dinner set, or design and decorate a commemorative platter. Bring your own food and drink and make a night of it. The Pottery Shed offers a similar service in Kilkenny.

In Galway, hen parties are a speciality of Dance Divas, a studio in Dominick Street. Choose a style of dancing – anything from Michael Jackson’s Thriller zombies to 1950s Grease style – don the costumes, learn the moves and have your picture taken afterwards on the specially dressed set. The additional bonus here is that you’ll all have a great new dance routine for the wedding.

The Strand Hotel in Limerick has residential hen packages with a mix of cocktails, clubbing or discounted hair and beauty treatments to choose from.

Then, depending on what you prefer, the hotel can also organise, for a supplement, hen activities such as a roller disco session, private dance lessons, make-up sessions and even a nude art class. Just to be clear, the hens keep their kit on, the model guy doesn’t.

If it’s more practical help your bride is in need of, check out An Grianan, in Termonfeckin, Co Louth, headquarters of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) Bootcamp, as seen on RTÉ. The D Hotel in nearby Drogheda has special discounted rates for group bookings headed for the ICA.

Finally, how about a hen party in a place where there really are hens? Causey Farm, in Meath, attracts brides-to-be and their buddies to find out how to chase chooks, milk cows and catch banbhs.

There’s art too, as guests are encouraged to paint their life stories on the walls of barns. And there’s a spa element – in that hens are led to a strip of bog, told to take off their tights or socks and walk, barefoot, through it, for a pedicure like no other.

Causey’s owners can arrange accommodation packages with local hotels, leaving hens free to address practical skills such as how to bake soda bread, play the bodhrán and dance jigs, possibly all at the same time.

On-farm fun is guaranteed and you’ll all be BFFs, like, forever.

Hotel Best Rates BOOK NOW

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The West Court Hotel
West Street
County Louth
Telephone: + 353 (0) 41 98 30965
On Saturday 10th September 2011, I was passing through Drogheda in County Louth when I decided to stop for lunch. I had previously enjoyed lunch at the West Court Hotel when I had attended a business meeting at the West Court. On my previous visit to the West Court, I had enjoyed a carvery lunch and I particularly remembered the friendly staff.
When I returned to the West Court Hotel on 10th September 2011, I was overwhelmed by the total refurbishment that had taken place to the dining and bar areas. I entered the Barroco Bar that is finished to the highest standard of any five-star Hotel I have ever visited, although the West Court is not yet a five-star.
It soon became apparent that the Barroco Bar has established itself as a meeting place for family gatherings, couples enjoying lunch and many passing visitors such as myself. The modern finish to the Barroco Bar is matched with a tradition of world class and friendly service. The flat screen TVs offer patrons an opportunity to watch their favourite sporting events or other big screen entertainment.
Upon speaking to locals I was informed that the Barroco Bar is the perfect venue during week nights to relax and have a chat over a cold pint or glass of wine, with candle lit tables and unwinding background music. It is also the perfect place to watch your favourite sporting events on the well placed TVs. The lunch menu was well presented, and offers a combination of home-style dishes to the more adventurous cuisine.
I ordered the beef, which the menu promised would be served with mash and fresh garden vegetables, the menu did not lie. The beef was melt in your mouth and bursting with flavour, the mash was made from real potatoes, and the carrots and cabbage were cooked to perfection, the Yorkshire pudding and gravy completed a perfect lunch. I had simply ordered water for my drink, and a well portioned jug of water was presented with a slice of lemon.
When the dessert menu was offered I could not indulge myself further in what appeared to be a tasteful array of treats including deep filled apple pie with fresh cream. My Bill was just over 10 Euros and worth every cent.
I spent some time talking with staff and was advised of the many services and products now available at the West Court Hotel. These services include the Barroco Brasserie the menu for which is available from 3-8pm. The menu includes what I was told is a gourmet burger and mouth-watering steaks, and the menu will be tailored to meet the needs of any particular group or party.
The West Court Hotel also offers a magnificent wedding venue and one can easily see the following morning gathering after any wedding in the Barroco Bar, with easy background music and a nice walk along the Boyne after a hearty breakfast.
The West Court Hotel also offers extensive business facilities including state of the art conferencing rooms.
I was shown to one of the bedrooms upon request and the newly fitted bedrooms are bright and airy with a tasteful interior design.
The West Court Hotel also offers facilities for parties, specialising in Christmas parties. Book early not be disappointed whatever the occasion.
The Earth Nite Club is now the premiere Nite Club facility in County Louth, and I am assured that the Nite Club does not interfere with the quiet nights of guests who are simply interested in a good night’s sleep.

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