Monday, 27 March 2017

A Hen Party in Ballyhoura and Kildorrery

A Weekend in Ballyhoura

‘Tis not today nor yesterday I was last invited to a hen party. But that is where I was recently and without doubt it was the very best hen party I was ever at.

A hen party with the mother of the bride and the soon to be mother in law of the bride in attendance was always going to be a tame affair, or so we thought.

The hen in question was my lovely daughter, Clíona, and the party was organized by her two super organized bridesmaids, Darina and Anne.

The venue was Ballyhoura country. We stayed in some lovely mountain lodges:
 (Ballyhoura Mountain Lodges)  nestled into the hillside. Ita, who runs the show here was super helpful before the event and was on site late on Friday evening to settle us in. Think cozy log cabins, roaring fires, toasty warm rooms and the most comfortable beds ever. (Very poor phone coverage but who needs a phone when you are having fun?)

 We had some ice breaking activities, a few drinks and lots of chat and catching up. And so to bed. The above picture is Clíona with two old friends, Fenella and Emily who are soon to be mother hens.

Breakfast over in the hen house, we headed out for our morning walk. Ballyhoura is famous for trecking, cycling and horseriding. We didn’t really feel up to these but we took a gentle walk through the woods. The bride to be was up for a spot of ziplining on the way.

We stopped to view Castle Oliver and the hotel where Kim and Kanye West holidayed.

Back in the lodges we ate quiche for lunch. The quiche was provided for us by the ever dependably delicious Thatch and Thyme.

Saturday afternoon’s activity was The Great Ballyhoura Bakeoff.  We were divided into teams and tasked with preparing cupcakes which in some way described The Hen. Our group made a chocolate and prosecco variety because the hen is sweet and bubbly.

Because Ballyhoura was basking in glorious sunshine, we held this activity outdoors.

The Hen sipped on a glass of prosecco as she oversaw the baking.

We beat and mixed and weighed and the oven worked overtime.

Soon we undertook the decorating. This was literally and figuratively the icing on the cake as the winning group definitely impressed the judge with their hand beaded display which spelled out her name.

My group fell at the last hurdle. While my team's cupcakes were delicious, our icing left a little to be desired.  But our finished display definitely excelled.

Tasting and judging was carried out while the bakers pitched a cheesy pitch full of flattery and sycophancy, in an attempt to sway the judge.

The winners declared, prizes given and we all fell to eating the spoils. The raspberry and vanilla were agreed deserving winners with the blueberry buns second. ( I had actually brought the blueberries for my breakfast, but all’s fair in love and war….)

Washing up done and order restored, the hens dolled themselves up for a night on the tiles in downtown Kildorrery, famed in song and story;

“Have you ever been up to Kildorrery
Indeed if you haven't that's quare
Sure it's only five miles from Ardpatrick
And three from the cross of Red Chair
And when at that cross you are landed
You will see a big hill looking down
And on top of that hill bare naked and chill
Stands famous Kildorrery town.”

It’s a beautiful little town with one of the best restaurants in Ireland. If you are travelling between Cork and Dublin on the M8 it would be well worth your while to make your lunch stop in Kildorrery. The Thatch and Thyme is worth travelling for.  Even the city based hens and the ladies who travelled from abroad declared that it was one of the best meals they had had anywhere.

Down the road is Ollie’s Bar where the hen party were the VIPs for the night. Those to whom these things mattered declared that Ollie’s Bar in Kildorrery stocked a variety of gins, (including Dingle gin) to rival the selection in any city bar. The bar also helped organize the bus to bring us into town, they laid on music and they announced to us when the nearby chipper was about to close and they allowed us to eat the chips in the bar and to wait until our bus came back to collect us even though the pub was now closed and the washing up done.

What happens on a hen party stays on a hen party. I can tell you though that our musical entertainment on the night was Darragh Lee from Youghal. He is a lovely young man and a great musician and singer. He is very tolerant of numerous requests for songs not normally on his playlist. His claim to fame is that he had two chairs turn for him on The Voice of Ireland. He made the wrong choice of mentor but that’s a story for another day.

 The hens joined by some local folk did a conga down the street from one door of the bar to the other, sampled the local McDonal delicacy of chips with cheese and curry sauce and generally had a ball.  I think we might be still the talk of the village in Kildorrery. I hope they didn't think all those verbal invitations to the wedding were genuine.

The new hen was welcomed into the coop by her lovely mother in law to be  and her soon to be sisters in law.

Back to reality on Sunday, we tidied up, restored order and sadly left our mountain hideaway behind, vowing to do it all again in Listowel in May.

"I've been to Crosshaven and Youghal
Ballybunion, Tramore and Kilkee
Ballycotton and likewise Dungarvan,
Those famous resorts by the sea.
For my health I have travelied through Ireland
But now I've at last settled down
Though lacking in wealth I've been gaining my health
Up in Kildorrery town."

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