Get your hens ready
It you've got to organise a hen night, fear not - there are plenty of options from murder mystery evenings to farm bootcamps, writes SANDRA O'CONNELL
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 ( whiteladyhotelkinsale.ie) 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 ( murdermysteryireland.com) 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 ( thepotteryexperience.ie) 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 ( thepotteryshed.ie) offers a similar service in Kilkenny.
In Galway, hen parties are a speciality of Dance Divas ( dancedivas.ie), 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 ( strandhotellimerick.ie) 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 ( thedhotel.com) 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 ( causey.ie), 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.