DO IT DIFFERENTLY
The Barn at The Grocery
Tyrrellspass, Co Westmeath
The Grocery is a small family business that supports local craft and food producers in Co Westmeath. Its newly renovated barn accommodates up to 150 people and paired with the walled garden, is the perfect rustic location for a big get-together. Prices start at €300 for venue hire.
Canal Boat Restaurant
2 Mespil Road, Dublin
You can watch the world go by while enjoying a three-course meal on the Canal Boat Restaurant, Dublin. As the boat meanders along the Grand Canal, passing through manual locks and Dublin suburbs, the fully stocked bar will entertain your guests. A two-hour cruise including dinner costs €47.50 per person.
Belmond Grand Hibernian
What venue could be more unique than Ireland's first ever luxury touring train? The Belmond Grand Hibernian can accommodate up to 40 guests in lavishly furnished, private en-suite cabins. The train departs from Dublin and travels all over Ireland and Northern Ireland. Join a scheduled trip or charter the train (price on application) and create a personalised itinerary. A two-night journey starts at €2,986 per person based on two adults sharing.
Copper Face Jacks
29-30 Harcourt Street, Saint Kevin's, Dublin
copperfacejacks.ie, 01-425 5300
Ah, Copper Face Jacks, if only the walls could speak (it's probably best they can't). There's no better venue than this institution if you're looking for somewhere that brings you right into the centre of the fun. The new premium level can cater for parties of up to 200.
The Adventure Rooms
7 Little Britain Street, Rotunda, Dublin 7
If you were a fan of the Crystal Maze then the Adventure Rooms is the perfect venue for your get-together. Working in teams to solve puzzles and escape from various scenarios, your guests will be chatting and bonding in no time, before heading out to nearby Capel Street for dinner. Prices start at €66 for a team of two or three.
Glencullen, Co Dublin
Johnnie Fox's is one of the oldest and highest pubs in Ireland, but it's most famous for its cosy atmosphere and live music. Groups can enjoy dinner and a hooley which features live Irish music, singing and dancing. At the end of the night there's a shuttle bus to take you back to the city. A hooley night with four-course meal and show is €49.50.
This luxurious Georgian country mansion comes with a viewing tower, big open fires and a private bar. It's fully self-catered, but if you want to put your feet up catering and house keeping are also available. Book the house for a weekend with up to 18 guests for €1,980 plus VAT.
The Light House Cinema
Market Square, Smithfield, Dublin
The Light House is the perfect venue for film premieres, private screenings, conferences or any gathering where something is to be shown on screen. With the ability to seat 614 people across four screens, a cafe and subterranean bar, this cultural space is a backdrop for a truly bespoke event.
Killkenny Design Centre, The Castle Yard, The Parade, Collegepark, Kilkenny
Built in the 1760s as a grain store and stables for Kilkenny Castle, across the road, this venue's huge cartwheel windows overlook the castle and courtyard. The space can cater for up to 180 guests and the exposed wooden beams and local produce create a unique & sumptuous location.
Jones Road, Drumcondra, Dublin
What better venue than the beating heart of Irish sport? Croke Park is a versatile space that can cater for parties of practically any size. There are eight suites and over 90 meeting rooms available to hire, and each space is a blank canvas, many with stunning views. We like the Players' Lounge for a more intimate celebration, where some of the country's greatest sports people have had just the same. Venue hire prices start at €250. - DMcM
PRIVATE DINING ROOMS
Parnell Sq, Dublin 1
No room hire applies
The Jameson Room (seats 14) and The Vault (seats 16), are the best known private dining options at Chapter One on Dublin's northside. But there is a little known and extremely private third option (in addition to the Chef's Table, which is right in the kitchen). The Demi-Salle seats a minimum of four, maximum six, at a square Irish elm table surrounded by banquette seating, in a hidden away former coal bunker. It is available for both lunch and dinner.
Sheen Falls Lodge
Kenmare, Co Kerry
A hire fee of €200 applies
Parties of between two and 12 can dine by candlelight, surrounded by more than 10,000 bottles of wine from 18 countries, in the cellar at Sheen Falls Lodge. The hotel's newly-appointed executive chef Tony Schwarz will devise a special menu, or you can opt for the a la carte from the hotel's main dining venue, The Falls restaurant.
41 St Stephen's Green,Dublin 2
No room hire fee; minimum spend for groups over 10 only
The prime private dining space at Restaurant FortyOne, part of the former private members' club, Residence, now open to all, is the Green Room on the second floor, with its glorious views over St Stephen's Green. It has its own bar and smoking terrace. There are also two lovely smaller rooms – the Joyce and the Wilde Rooms, seating up to 10, and a larger space off the terrace garden, called Behan Lodge, where up to 30 can be seated for dinner.
The Kitchen at L'Ecrivain
Baggot Street Lower, Dublin2.
No room hire fee
Watching chef Derry Clarke cook your dinner – and having the chance to have a laugh with him, or ask questions as he does so – is part of the attraction of eating at The Kitchen at L'Ecrivain in Dublin 2. This private room has its own open kitchen and can seat a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 24.
Fleet Street, Dublin 1.
medley.ie, 01-555 7116
Venue hire fee depends on overall food and beverage spend
Andrew Rudd's purpose-designed private dining and events space in Dublin city centre can be customised to suit all sorts of occasions, and menus planned to suit. Plus, you have the benefit of having the entire, two-storey space to yourself – and your party. This is a big venue, which can seat up to 250, but smaller groups can be accommodated too.
The Constitution Room
The Shelbourne, Dublin 2
No room hire fee provided dinner is for a minimum of 15 guests
For private dining with a feeling of grandeur and a sense of occasion, it is hard to beat this historic room in which the Constitution of Ireland was drafted. Dinner is served at the original table and chairs used for the signing of the Constitution, and the room has views over St Stephen's Green.
The Tannery Restaurant and Cookery School
Dungarvan, Co Waterford
Cost, including dinner, €55 per person plus 10 per cent service charge
There are two options for private dining at the Tannery – one at the restaurant and the other around the corner at the Cookery School. Up to 30 can be hosted in the private diningroom at the restaurant. At the cookery school, dinner, for a minimum of 14, maximum 20, takes place around the huge rectangular table in the diningroom, and chef's table menus are cooked next door in the school by a personal chef.
26 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2.
No hire fee applies
One of the major attractions of the private dining space at Suesey Street is that it has direct access to the covered, heated terrace, a comfortable space that is weatherproof, as well as open air when the sun shines. Elegant and buzzy, it's easy to create a party vibe at this modern bistro, where John Healy, Maitre d' from TV's The Restaurant, works his magic.
The Snug at Delahunt
Camden Street, Dublin 2.
No hire fee applies.
Get the party off to a good start with a drink in the cocktail bar on the first floor then move down to the lace-curtained, wood panelled snug in the diningroom that was once the cash office for the former grocery and off-licence. The snug can be requested at time of booking, for a minimum of six, maximum of 10 diners.
The Iveagh Suite
The Conrad, Earlsfort Terracе, Dublin 2
No room hire fee
A brand new addition to a property that has recently gone through a €13 million makeover, the Iveagh Suite can seat up to 22 for a private dinner, costing €110 per head. MCD
KEEP IT COUNTRY
Newcastle Demense, Ballymahon, Co Longford.
This contemporary accommodation, designed by Odos Architects, is situated on the edge of Newcastle Woods, where you can tramp along trails that may have helped inspire poet and dramatist Oliver Goldsmith, whose family lived here. It sleeps 20 across two stable blocks and costs €1,790 for two nights, 10 per cent off November bookings.
The Big Red Barn
If you're planning a giant knees-up, the Big Red Barn is a mobile steel structure that can be delivered to any destination on the island. It can accommodate between 250 and 350 seated and comes with lighting, a solid wood floor and heating. It will need decoration but there's plenty of space too for guests to throw shapes, dancing in formation to the Walls of Limerick or freestyle to a banging deep house set. From €7,000, ex VAT, which includes construction and free delivery to any location within the west and Midlands.
Little White Chapel
bigredbarn.ie, 087 1152295
For a communion, confirmation or milestone wedding anniversary you could opt for the picture-perfect Little White Chapel, a mobile clapboard space that comes with leaded glass windows, timber floor, pews, should you want a service of some sort, and a draped ceiling to soften sound. It can accommodate up to 125 for a seated dinner and can be constructed on your front lawn or in a nearby field, subject to permission. Pricing: €5,000 ex VAT.
The Long Barn
South Reen, Union Hall, Skibbereen, Co Cork
If you can count all the friends you want in attendance at your tiny but mighty bash on two hands, then The Long Barn, which sleeps four (and an adjacent farmhouse, which sleeps seven), outside Union Hall in West Cork, might be just the ticket, especially for a summer get-together. The Long Barn costs from €70 per night; while the adjacent farmhouse starts at €180 per night.
The Old Deanery
The Old Deanery Estate & Cottages, Ferns, Co Wexford
On the edge of the village of Ferns, this collection of smartly renovated farm outhouses includes a cow house, duck house and hen house, all set around a courtyard, that can, collectively, sleep a total of 26. Dinner is served in the barn, a limed stone building with triangular windows that can seat everyone together. It costs €2,700, self catering with buffet meals from €19pp, price includes six bottles of prosecco served at a reception in the wine cellar.
Killruddery House & Gardens
Southern Cross, Bray, Co Wicklow
killruddery.com, 01 286340
The orangerie, which can seat up to 60, overlooks the acclaimed gardens and is the perfect setting for a long lunch. The rustic Grain Store, a 19th-century barn conversion with bare stone walls, can comfortably seat up to 160 with plenty of room for post-dinner dancing. There is no accommodation on site but the simple set-up at the Wilton Hotel, at the entrance, is perfectly located for late-night revelers. Daytime rental €1,500, night-time €2,200, lunch from €45pp, dinner from €59pp.
Bailliesmills Road, Lisburn, Co Antrim
Just 75 minutes from Dublin, Larchfield Barn is warm and welcoming and can fit up to 264 of your friends and family. The barn includes separate bar and dancefloor areas as well as an orangery to escape the noise. It does about 100 weddings a year so has limited availability but is flexible. Prices start at £4,590 (€5,181) for a weekend from November to March, excluding Christmas. Afternoon tea from £20 (€22), dinner from £34 (€38).
Ballon, Co Carlow
If you fancy a ranch party then get on down to The Loft and Gallery space at Sandbrook which includes an open courtyard and two floors of space, warmed by wood burners and open fires there is a rustic bar and gallery area with a boho lounge on a higher level. The room can seat 60 and suits a buffet style meal with menus starting from €30pp. The Queen Anne style house can sleep up to 24 and costs from €3,000 on a self-catering basis with breakfast from €10 to €15pp and dinner from €30 to €50pp.
Clonegal, Co Carlow
For daytrippers who'd like to host a lunch party in an elegant setting, then Huntington Castle's 17th-century barn is an easy journey from Dublin. You could hire a bus and after the celebratory repast, take a tour of the gardens which include an ancient yew walk thought to be 600 years old. The venue charge for a lunch event costs from €600, with menus from €25pp.
Rossahilly House and Barn
Torry Bay, Co Fermanagh
Rossahilly House was built in 1929 and refurbished in 2012. Overlooking Lough Erne its southwesterly aspect catches the sunset. It can accommodate up to 10 people and you'll need to hire outside caterers Saddlers of Enniskillen to do meals. The party setting is its arts and crafts beamed barn, which has cathedral lighting and underfloor heating so it feels toasty even in winter. The barn fits 100 but is being extended to fit double that. A three-night midweek stay costs from £4,500 (€5,080) while a three-night weekend stay costs from £7,500. Dinner menus from £30 to £55pp (€34-€62) and breakfast from £12pp (€13.50). - AG
VENUES FOR CHILDREN
The National Reptile Zoo
Demesne Road, Gowran, Co Kilkenny
You can do a Dr Dolittle and talk to the animals at the Radical Reptile Party which includes a personal zookeeper for the party to ensure kids can safely get up close and personal to a 3m-long Burmese python, a 20kg alligator, a snapping turtle, as well as palm-sized lizards, tarantulas, scorpions and tortoises. Pricing: €120 for 10 kids and two adults. Additional kids €5 each.
32 Merrion Street Upper, D2
Record a hit record by laying a track at this basement studio, opposite Government Buildings, where former Westlife member and current 2FM jock Nicky Byrne took his daughters to let them get a feel for what their dad used to do. Designed to fit up to 25 songbirds, the firm also has a mobile recording unit, €275, that operates within the greater Dublin area. Pricing: €20 per head with a minimum cost of €150.
PowerLeague Bubble Football
Spawell complex, Templeogue, D6W
Bubble football is as much fun to play as it looks. Suitable for kids age 10 and over, it makes you feel like a hamster on a wheel and most sessions end in everyone doubled up from laughing. The venue can cater for up to 16 but there are only 12 bubbles for the kids to play in so larger parties will have to rotate. The birthday boy or girl gets a free pair of astro runners. Pricing: The price for 10 kids is €225 and €15.50 per additional child.
Junior Einstein's Science Club
Your child's first "eureka" moment might be electrocuting a Barbie doll, making light bulbs illuminate by just touching a plasma ball, shooting smoke rings and making Coke geysers that will go 20ft into the air using Mentos mints. Exciting!
The Junior Einstein Science Club really helps to make the subject come alive. All the scientists need is an electricity source and a table with enough room for the kids to sit in front of it. Can come to private homes or a local sports hall in cities Cork, Galway and Dublin and can also travel to counties Kildare, Meath and north Wicklow. Pricing: €195 for up to 25 children, €295 for up to 30 kids.
The Game Machine
This state-of-the-art video gaming hub on wheels can bring the party to your doorstep and can host up to 12 players at one time. It is equipped with up to six 3D LED screens complete with an Xbox 360, Wii U and PS3 and all the latest games. It is best suited to kids aged seven to 12 and is set up so they can play against each other. There is also an outdoor screen that is weather dependent. A mobile unit that can travel within the greater Dublin area but also travels to Kildare, Carlow, Meath, Wicklow and Wexford, for an additional fee. Pricing: From €195 for gaming for 90 mins.
Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
If your child has immersed him or herself in Robert Muchamore's Cherub series – which chronicles the antics of the 13-year-old special agent, James Adams, who with his younger sister Lauren, go on missions that infiltrate drug gangs, high-security prisons and even terrorist organisations – then he or she will rise to this challenge, where youngsters learn survival, self-defence, navigation and assault course skills. Ideal for children aged between eight and 12. Pricing: €250 for a group of 10 children and €15 per additional child.
National Aquatic Centre, Snugborough Road, Blanchardstown, Co Dublin
Make a splash at Ireland's top water fun park, which caters for children of all ages but a ratio of one adult to every two kids is needed for little ones under the age of nine. Supervision is poolside – so you will need to tog up. The venue can take parties of up to 30 kids. Children over age nine need one parent to every 10 kids. Pricing: €16 per child, includes a kid's meal.
VFI Court, Castleside Drive, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14
Get creative with your party ideas. Artzone can run parties at venues throughout the greater Dublin area, at its studio head office beside Rathfarnham Castle, or come to your home to do painting and clay construction with your little darlings from age five to 12. The company only uses qualified art teachers and also are amenable to the idea of shared parties where two or three friends co-host their party. Pricing: Group of 10 costs €220 to host at home; €260 to host at its studio headquarters in D14. Additional kids cost €15 each.
Live rugby match
Instead of hosting a party, why not take sports-mad kids to a match instead. Most clubs offer good-value ticket prices for kids. An adult ticket, costing €25, allows you to buy eight child tickets at €5 each to see Fiji play Ireland in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, November 18th. Leinster Rugby offers something similar. Call your local GAA, tennis or cricket club to find out their deals. Pricing: Match tickets from €5 per child
Springhill Road, Carlow, Co Carlow
This is hog heaven for the easily bored. The hybrid hub is part-petting zoo, part-outdoor extravaganza with crazy golf, pedal cars and pony and donkey rides. Children of all ages from three to 11 love the pick 'n' mix approach. Parents love the fact that there are no hidden extras. Pricing: €10 per child. - AG