100 of the best places to party in Ireland (part two)
Whether you're looking for a wedding backdrop that no one will forget, your very own castle or just to be surprised, we've got you covered
Play Segway polo on the lawn or go foraging for ingredients for your evening meal at Roundwood House in Co Laois
Baltimore, west Cork
Inish Beg’s 92-acre estate comes with a boat house, a walled garden, extensive woodlands and a marquee, all of which make beautiful backdrops for any occasion. There’s space for large groups to stay within the 10 luxury self-catering cottages, and with activities such as sea kayaking, whale-watching, cookery and golf available, there’ll be something to keep everyone entertained. Prices start at €30 per person per night midweek.
15 Dowland Road, Limavady, Co Derry, BT49 0HP
Built in 1837, Drenagh Estate has private walled grounds and acres of rolling parkland. For bigger events, the secret garden marquee can hold between 100-200 guests, and the moon garden with its stonework and hanging plants creates a magical atmosphere. If things get a bit chilly there’s an indoor heated pool, spa facilities and a cinema room all in the house. Use of the whole house for one night (eight bedrooms, sleeping 16) is £2,100.
Haddington Terrace, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
On a warm day you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere on the Mediterranean when sitting outside Oliveto at Haddington House. With the Italian-style menu paired with the stunning sea view and plant-covered pergola, you can quickly forget Dublin city centre is only a Dart ride away. Available for parties from 18 to 150 people. Hire of pergola plus Library Bar starts at €150.
24 Aghalee Road, Aghagallon, Craigavon, Co Armagh, BT67 0AR
riverdalebarnni.com, +44 28-9265-0011
Riverdale is a charming venue for parties of up to 140 set in restored mill farm buildings around a run of water. The historic, industrial feel makes this an Instagram-ready venue that provides lots of photo opportunities: from the river stepping-stones, to the fairy lights, the friendly ducks and the picture-perfect nearby mill. Price available on request.
The Beach House
The Pier, Swilly Road, Buncrana, Co Donegal
You would be hard pushed to find a dinner table closer to the water than at The Beach House when the tide comes in. Catering for up to 55, the restaurant prides itself on its fresh and local produce, and surrounded by the Inishowen Peninsula you can’t help but feel connected to the landscape.
Jacks’ Coastguard Restaurant
Cromane, Killorglin, Co Kerry
Jacks, set in a coast guard station that was built in 1866, sits on a shingle beach with panoramic views of the Atlantic, the McGillicuddy Reeks, Inch beach and the Rossbeigh Peninsula. Enjoy the seafood in the award-winning Kerry restaurant before you head off for the Ring of Kerry or the Wild Atlantic Way. Menu price inclusive of venue hire.
Rooftop terrace at The Marker Hotel
Grand Canal Square, Dublin
The Marker Hotel has a trendy dockland reputation, but it’s on the rooftop where the magic happens. With views that stretch from the city all the way to the mountains and the sea, it’s the perfect location to enjoy a sun-down cocktail. Available for parties of up to 70.
The Terrace Bar
The Exchequer wine bar, Ranelagh, Dublin
The Terrace Bar can accommodate 65 people for a standing evening or up to 40 for a seated meal. There is no venue charge but there is a minimum spend of €1,500 at weekends.
Baysports water sports centre
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Ireland’s largest inflatable water park makes for a pretty original party venue. You won’t miss small talk over warm glasses of wine after you’ve spent the afternoon throwing yourself down slides and practising back flips into Lough Ree. Adult entry to the waterpark is €17 an hour, available for parties of up to 40.
The Party Pros provide everything you need to have the perfect event in your own back garden. They will arrive with PA systems, lighting, gazebos, tables, chairs and anything else you might need for your special occasion and you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own house. Catering for parties of up to 300, the garden party package starts at €325 + VAT. DMcM
Clonwilliam, Arklow, Co Wicklow
Built in the 19th century, Clonwilliam House looks out over the Vale of Avoca, and the stunning views are matched by period interiors and modern updates such as a swimming pool and gym. For parties of up to 200, the detached barn, with its in-built lighting and exposed wooden beams, provides the prettiest setting in which to dance the night away. Price available on request.
Slane, Co Meath
From the south-facing Garden Room the view of the mature orchard brings the outside in, but if you fancy getting closer to nature you can also wander down to the river Boyne right on its doorstep. If that’s not enough, there’s a riverside area for guests who might want to “glamp”, with hot showers that can be found in the treehouse. The elegant Georgian heritage manor can hold parties of up to 240. Wedding packages start from €65 per person.
25 Fitzwilliam Place
Grand Canal Dock, Dublin
This is the perfect venue for a couple looking for understated glamour in Dublin city centre. The private rooms are painted deep navy blue and feature marble fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling sash windows that overlook Fitzwilliam Place. The elegant spaces provide the ideal backdrop for an intimate gathering of up to 60. Prices start at €95 per person.
Longueville, Ballyclough, Mallow, Co Cork
Built circa 1865, it’s the Victorian glasshouse that will attract you to Longueville House. The 500-acre estate comes a close second though, and makes for picturesque outdoor photos. Parties in excess of 80 guests can have the house to themselves, and make sure to sample the home-made craft cider from the apples in the orchard. Prices start from €105 per person.
The Lodge at Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle estate, Lisloughrey, Cong, Co Mayo.
It’ll cost you, but if the castle next door is good enough for Rory McIlroy then the lodge is good enough for you, right? Weddings at The Lodge at Ashford Castle are lavish, and set against a stunning backdrop of manicured lawns, Lough Corrib and the Kinlough Woods. Inside, the first-class service will have you wishing you could get hitched every day. The Lodge at Ashford Castle is yours for a €5,000 venue fee.
The Royal Hospital Kilmainham
A wedding in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham is a glamorous one. A service in the Baroque Room followed by a banquet in the Great Hall is opulent and spectacular. Despite the scale (the banquet hall can cater for up to 350) wedding here can still remain intimate and candle-lit. Don’t forget to sneak off to the 17th century formal gardens for an unforgettable photo. Venue hire with insurance costs €3,300 + VAT.
Banquet Hall in Smock Alley Theatre
6-7 Exchange Street Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin
The stained glass Banquet Hall in Smock Alley Theatre makes the perfect backdrop for a culture-loving couple’s big day. The restored 17th-century building is ornate, elegant and spacious, holding up to 250 people, and the Cow Lane’s cobblestones make for a charming photo backdrop. The only drawback is that you have to be out by 11pm, but the Liquor Rooms next door makes a cosy afters/drinks location. Venue hire from €1,500.
The Carriage Rooms at Montalto Estate
Montalto Estate, Spa Road, Ballynahinch, Co Down, BT24 8PT
Set in 400 acres of countryside, this venue blends secluded rustic charm with sophisticated elegance. The walled garden provides the perfect surrounding for a romantic outdoor ceremony, but the stonewall backdrop of the indoor venue is equally as pretty if the weather isn’t on your side. There’s even a carriage for a picture-perfect bride and groom moment. Weddings start at £6,120 in low season.
Strawberry Garden in Ballyscullion Park
61 Ballyscullion Road, Bellaghy, Magherafelt, Co Derry, BT45 8NA
The secluded Strawberry Garden in Derry was designed especially for wedding ceremonies but it retains a charming and natural feel. The redbrick walls and trailing ivy create a magical garden location for a special day. The Georgian country house estate can facilitate parties of up to 150. Price available on request.
Oldcastle, Co Meath
loughcrew.com, 049-854 1356
This venue is steeped in history. Dating back to 1820, the house can accommodate up to 120 people, but it is the ruins of St Oliver Plunkett’s church in the grounds that make this a really unique venue. Named after Oliver Plunkett, who spent the first 22 years of his life here, the stone remains of the church can be transformed into a venue for nuptials no one will forget. DMcM
COUNTRY HOUSES AND CASTLES
Springfield Castle and East Tower
Springfield, Dromcollogher, Co Limerick
The autumnal colours of its 200-acre native woodland setting make Springfield Castle and East Tower a draw at this time of the year. It can accommodate 25 – 15 in the castle’s eight rooms and another 10 in the tower’s five rooms – and is child-friendly. Pricing: €3,750 for a two- or three-night weekend from October to March, excluding Christmas.
Paulstown, Co Kilkenny
This five-bedroom, Queen Anne-style house is an artist’s residence. Owned by painter Elizabeth Cope, whose work hangs on its walls, the property offers a “sleep-over” style of accommodation for up to 14 people, meaning you have to share a bed or in some instances sleep on a camp bed. A guided tour of the house is included in the price. Pricing: A two-night minimum stay costs €1,960; additional party fee of €250 if more than 14 people.
The Mustard Seed
Echo Lodge, Cloontemple, Echo Lane, Co Limerick
mustardseed.ie, 069 68508
This country house can host up to 75 for dinner and can accommodate between 36 and 40. There are three different rooms to enjoy; a library with stove, entrance hall with an open fire for dancing and a sunroom with a piano. Pricing: To book out on a B&B basis costs €3,600 for one night; dinner menus from €60pp.
Roundwood, Mountrath, Co Laois
roundwoodhouse.com, 057 873 2120
One of Ireland’s finest Georgian mid-size homes, Roundwood has a doll’s house quality to it. Play Segway polo on the lawn or go foraging for ingredients for your evening meal. Between the house and two cottages it can sleep up to 24. Pricing: €1,800 per night B&B; dinner from €45pp.
Caherlistrane, Headford, Co Galway
This gorgeously decorated nine-bedroom early Georgian manor house outside Headford is just 20 minutes from Galway city and can accommodate up to 19 people. The estate can accommodate another 18 in its lodge, coach house and villa properties. Pricing: House from €980 per night; dinner from €49pp.
Castlelyons, Fermoy, Co Cork
Chill out over G&Ts made from the house’s own tipple, Bertha’s Revenge; enjoy farm to fork dining, or take to the waters and fish for salmon in one of Ireland’s finest rivers, The Blackwater, and trout in Ballyvolane’s own lakes. Ballyvolane has six rooms in the main house sleeping 12 and can add a few extra beds for children if required. A further 20 can be accommodated at its glamorous campsite. Pricing: One-night midweek, €2,500; two-night weekend €4,500 both on a B&B basis; supper from €42pp, dinner from €60pp.
Clones, Co Monaghan
Hilton Park is a stately home that was once home to the Flatlake Festival and attracted all manner of talent from the much-missed Seamus Heaney, to Sinéad O’Connor and actors Aidan Quinn and Steve Buscemi. It can accommodate up to 14 guests, who usually take the lake walk to Connolly’s, the pub at the end of the avenue, and back for a singsong around the grand piano. The hangover-neutralising full Irish breakfast includes sausages and bacon for the estate’s own pigs. Pricing: On a B&B basis one night midweek is from €1,500, a two-night weekend stay costs from €2,500.
Ballinlough East, Bansha, Co Tipperary
At Lismacue House, a late Georgian estate that has been in the family of Kate Nicholson since 1704, you can fish for trout, walk the Galtees or even foxhunt. Also a stud of some note, the 1972 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Rheingold and the 1978 Champion Hurdle winner Monksfield were foaled here. Guests can see brood mares and foals, and possible future Classic winners, in the surrounding parklands. The house sleeps 10 and has fine views of the Glen of Aherlow from its five bedrooms. Pricing: €5,000 for a three-night minimum stay on a B&B basis plus one dinner.
Rathmullan, Co Donegal
Rathmullan House, on the shores of Lough Swilly, is a wonderful winter party house. The food is first-class, there are blazing fires in all the reception rooms and for the morning after the night before, the lawns roll down to the beach, the scene of the Flight of the Earls, where a brisk walk will blast away any cobwebs. Pricing: €7,000 for one night for up to 70 people on a B&B basis; simple pizzas from €15, dinner menus from €55pp. - AG
VENUES YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW FOR HIRE
St Peter’s Church
87 North Main Street, Cork
Cork’s oldest church, with some parts dating back to the 12th century, is a superbly located venue where you can pretty much do as you want. It can fit up to 120 for a sit-down meal, 150 buffet style and 300 standing. Owned by Cork City Council, it is a blank canvas that requires wait and bar staff, seating and tables, fridges and catering equipment, as well as public liability insurance. Curfew is 11.30pm. Price: Rental by the hour, at €200 per hour.
The Workmans Club
10 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
The Workmans Club on Wellington Quay, beside the Clarence Hotel, is a laid-back and trendy central venue. If you have a small group, its Vintage room, 50 people maximum, and Number 9 bar, 60 people, are both available to rent free of charge. The main hall downstairs is also available but is offered on a case-by-case basis and needs a sound engineer, PA, lights, security, box-office staff. It also requires decoration for events. Pricing: Free areas for groups of 50-60 people.
O’Connell Street, Dublin 1
Start a revolution by hosting your party or reception at the GPO. It has a gallery space that can seat up to 50 people for dinner and 120 for a reception and includes a smart outdoor courtyard. The minimum number is 30. To install a canopied marquee in the courtyard will cost from €1,600, excluding VAT. There is a 10.30pm curfew and a strict no dancing policy – Dev would have approved. Pricing: Rental from €1,850 with canapes from €25pp and sit-down from €55pp, all excluding VAT.
these inflatable bars – much like bouncy castles for grown-ups – come with wood or rubber floors and have been inflated at the tip of Malin Head, Co Donegal, and on several islands off the coast including Achill Beg, Co Mayo, as part of the Kildownet Festival. Based in Co Donegal, the company can also supply bar staff, beer kegs and pumps, caterers, DJs and even portable toilets. Pricing: The “pub” comes in three sizes: small, €390; medium, €490 and large, €590 which can accommodate about 45, 50 and 75 respectively. Transport costs are not included.
The Phoenix Cafe
Ashtown Castle, phoenix Park, Dublin 8
Hold a secret garden soiree within the grounds of Ashtown Castle in the Phoenix Park. The setting is gorgeous for an early evening event as you can spill out to the surrounding picnic tables and courtyard. Much of the produce used is grown in its own walled gardens. Hosts a select few events as it is open seven days and has to get agreement from the OPW before confirmation. The minimum number is 40 and the curfew is 11.30pm. Pricing: No room hire; menus from €22 per person.
The Beaufield Mews
Woodlands Ave, Stillorgan, Co Dublin
Secreted away from the madding crowds in Stillorgan this venue has a gorgeous green space lit by festoon lighting and fairy lights that you can spill out into. It can accommodate between 55 and 130. Pricing: No venue hire; menus from €30; no corkage.
Durhamstown, Bohermeen, Co Meath
A welcoming venue for small parties. The house, which is crammed with antiques and curios, can sleep 28 between the main house and its two apartments. Play croquet on the lawn before drinks in the drawing room and dinner in a refurbished barn. Price: One-night costs €2,000 for the house and two apartments, €3,380 for up for 28 people. Dinner menus start from €35pp for a buffet; €45pp for a sit-down meal.
Odessa roof bar and terrace
13 Dame Court, Dublin 2
Odessa remains a great party venue because of its central location, cool outdoor space and pretty festoon lighting. You can bring your own DJ, or smartphone with a Spotify playlist, or have the club can play its own music for you. Events can be held between 4pm and 11.30pm. After that it is open to the public and Odessa’s resident DJ plays every Friday and Saturday night. The bar closes at 2.30am on weekends. The minimum number of guests is 60 and the maximum is 80. Pricing: €350 venue hire; platters from €25.
The Sky Suite at the Radisson Blu
8 Golden Lane, Dublin 2
This boutique venue on the seventh floor of the hotel has rooftop and cathedral spire views and can accommodate up to 50. There’s a wrap-around balcony that is ideal taking the in the air and the views. Minimum number of guests is 20. Pricing: Venue hire €650; canapes from €16pp; buffet from €22pp.
Club na Múinteoirí
36 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1
Go back to the old school in a Georgian building on Parnell Square. It may need a decor update but is alive at weekends with different do’s taking place in its three separate spaces. The top floor is the nicest and has a lounge and dancefloor area. Venue hire from €200. It can accommodate up to 120 people but is also open to members whose bar is to the front. The halla, a bigger space downstairs with club lighting, costs €300 to hire. - AG
MEETING ROOMS WITH EXCELLENT EATS
Cliff House Hotel
Ardmore, Co Waterford
The North Pavilion meeting room and the South Pavilion conference area, both with open-air break out areas, provide a private meeting space at this hotel. Once business is completed, dinner can be booked at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. A 20ft log oak table is the centrepiece of the private dining space at The House restaurant, but in reality nothing can compete with the Copper Coast sea views just outside the wall of windows.
Brook Lodge Hotel & Macreddin Village
Macreddin Village, Aughrim, Co Wicklow
Conference suites suitable for between 10 and 350 people can cater for all types of business gatherings at this rural retreat. The range of dining options for delegates is impressive, from a spit roast with homegrown salads and bread baked on-site, to a communal long table dinner in the Strawberry Tree, the hotel’s organic restaurant.
Maynooth, Co Kildare
There are no fewer than 15 conference rooms of various sizes that together can cater for up to 500 business delegates at this historic property located on a 1,100 acre country estate. Chefs here are used to catering to the nutritional needs, and high culinary expectations, of the Irish rugby team, plus a host of other sports stars. The ballroom can accommodate 350 for a gala dinner, if you’re thinking big.
Ballymaloe House & The Grainstore
Shanagarry, Co Cork
Ballymaloe House is readily associated with good food, being a bastion of local and sustainable produce of the highest quality. But it is also a well-oiled machine when it comes to hosting corporate events. Meetings can be held in the Long Room in the main house, or at The Grainstore, a light and bright farm building conversion that can cater for up to 300 delegates.
Lough Erne Resort
Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh
Having hosted the G8 Summit in 2013, there is little that will faze the management team at this Co Fermanagh venue when it comes to organising a business meeting or conference. The serious business can be followed by a cookery demonstration given by chef Noel McMeel, or a whiskey tasting in association with Bushmills.
Thomastown, Co Kilkenny
Ken Harker’s kitchen has a Michelin star for the Lady Helen dining room in the main house, and there’s now a more casual eating option at The Hound, an all-day option in Hunter’s Yard. There are five meeting rooms, capable of hosting up to 220 delegates, between the main house and Hunter’s Yard.
The Limerick Strand Hotel
Ennis Road, Limerick
Think big: 13 meeting rooms that can host up to 600 business delegates, and a City View Suite with a terrace and amazing views over the city. Executive chef Tom Flavin is one of the organisers of the Pigtown Culture and Food Series, inspired by the history of Limerick’s bacon industry, and the hotel regularly holds artisan food events.
The River Lee Hotel
Western Road, The Lough, Cork
doylecollection.com, 021-425 2700
A contemporary hotel in the city centre, with a dedicated business floor which has eight different working environments which can host from five to 110 people. Eating and drinking can be done in The Weir Rooms, which has a private dining space and a terrace. Special menus, showcasing local Cork ingredients, can also be arranged for business delegates, including buffet dinners and finger food.
Knockranny House Hotel & Spa
Castlebar Rd, Carrowbeg, Westport, Co Mayo
This scenically located hotel has meeting rooms and conference suites to suit big and small groups, and as it is located right on the Mayo Greenway, the suits can come off and be exchanged for a cycle or a walk in glorious countryside. Head chef Seamus Commons serves innovative bar snacks in the Brehon Bar, and a full menu in the formal restaurant La Fougère, a section of which, the Round Room, can be reserved for private dining.
National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Square, Dublin 2
The National Gallery has a suite of Georgian rooms at No. 5 Clare St (just adjacent to the gallery) suitable for small dinners, board meetings, breakfast events, and can accommodate groups of up to about 50 people. The gallery also has a lecture theatre that seats 250. Catering is by Domini and Peaches Kemp, of Feast Catering, who operate the Gallery Café, so delicious and healthy food is a given. - MCD
Cliff at Lyons
Lyons Road, Kearneystown Lower, Celbridge, Co Kildare
Christmas parties here are opulent and stylish. You can choose to dine under the stars in The Orangery; have an intimate gathering in The Cottage; or enjoy the old world character of The Mill. Just 30 minutes from Dublin, Cliff at Lyons can cater for parties of up to 200. Menus available from €60 per person
Clonabreany, Crossakiel, Co Meath
Get away from it all and have a Christmas party deep in the Meath countryside. This private Georgian country house makes for a Christmas party filled with warmth and rustic charm. There is luxury accommodation for up to 84 people and the house can cater a party for up to 220. All-inclusive Christmas packages including accommodation and four-course meal start at €85 per person.
St James’s Gate, Dublin 8
How about a Christmas party at the home of Guinness? You could enjoy a festive lunch in 1837 Brasserie; experience “Christmas in the Sky” in the Gravity Bar; or have a festive gala dinner in the Arrol Suite. The Guinness Storehouse can accommodate groups ranging from 10 to 2,000 people, so you won’t have to strike anyone off that naughty list. Christmas package deals start at €35 per person.
The Round Room at the Mansion House
Dawson St, Dublin 2
This Christmas the Round Room pays homage to Hollywood’s golden era, a time of glamour, luxury and the silver screen.The room will be transformed with luxurious decor and a walk-of-fame red carpet, and guests will be able to enjoy classic Hollywood cocktails, a swing band and a festive four-course meal. This experience is available to hire for up to 550 guests. Christmas package available for €98 per person plus VAT
Kilbrew, Ashbourne, Co Meath
Most Christmas parties end with crisps so why not head straight to the source? Tayto Park’s shared Christmas party nights are great for smaller businesses and, let’s be honest, having a few new people in the mix at the Christmas party won’t do any harm. Christmas shared evening package including a four-course meal starts at €60 per person. Exclusive venue hire is also available.
The Elbow Room Escape
Donard, Co Wicklow
Avoid the inevitable Christmas party fatigue by creating a Christmas party that leaves everyone rejuvenated. The Elbow Room Escape can accommodate up to 16 people and provide you with a 3 course Christmas meal, guided hikes through the mountains, holistic massage and breakfast the following morning. Don’t worry, though, it’s not all sweetness and light; there’s also dancing, a hot tub and champagne available on site. Prices start €1200 to hire the venue for one night.
Chai Yo Teppenyaki
100 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
Teppenyaki restaurants have to be the liveliest and most entertaining places in which to enjoy interactive dining and catch up with old friends. There’s nothing remotely festive about these Asian establishments, other than the warm and convivial atmosphere, but if watching someone make egg fried rice at your table isn’t Christmassy, then really, what is?
27 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Even in the height of summer there is something Christmassy about The Shelbourne. With its grand rooms and lavish surroundings it makes the perfect backdrop for a traditional Christmas party with all the trimmings. Their Festive Party Nights deal for €95 per person includes pre-dinner drinks, a five-course menu and dancing until late in the Great Room for up to 370 people.
Perrott Avenue, College Road, Cork
hayfieldmanor.ie, 021-484 590
Hayfield Manor at Christmas feels like home would if your mum had seriously immaculate taste. There are lots of options available for Christmas parties at Hayfield but we like the Festive Afternoon Tea (€34 per person) for something a little more refined than the regular potato wedges and pints option. If you want an extra-special celebration try a tailor-made private party in one of their exclusive private dining areas. Suitable for parties of up to 80.
The Morgan Hotel penthouse
10 Fleet St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
themorganbar.ie, 01-643 7000
Party like Kate Moss and rent out an entire penthouse for up to 35 guests at the Morgan Hotel. Set on two levels, the private rooftop garden comes with a retracting all-weather canopy and lots of heaters (it will be winter, after all). There are also outdoor speakers, chandeliers – and what party would be complete without a 1950s Airstream? - DMcM