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Friends forever: the Donegal connection

In the final part of our Green & Black’s series, we send three lifelong Dublin friends to a cottage in Donegal for the weekend with a hamper of the ethically-produced chocolate

Faye Joyce and her sister Laura live in Mount Merrion in Dublin, and they both consider Faye's best friend, Lydia Caslin, like another sister. The sisters grew up near Lydia, and Faye and Lydia's friendship meant their mothers subsequently became best friends, too.

Faye is in the graduate programme in The Irish Times, Laura is a newly-qualified accountant and Lydia is a final-year nursing student and also works in a nursing home. Although the friends see each other regularly, they all realised the value of getting away for some quality time together after a weekend in Bumblebee cottage in Fintra, near Killybegs in Co Donegal.

They visited the spectacular Slieve League during their stay, and a rainy, but stunningly beautiful, Fintra beach, all the while enjoying Green & Black’s chocolate on their girlie getaway.

When did you become friends? 

Faye: Lydia grew up just around the corner from me so we have been friends since primary school. We also went to secondary school together and we both went to the same college. Lydia is my best friend and I am very close to Laura, but Laura is really close to Lydia as well because our families grew up together. Our mums are best friends as well.

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Laura: We are all really close. Lydia's been friends with Faye since they were four so I grew up with Lydia as well and she was always in the house so we are all very comfortable with each other. I would consider Lydia to be one of my friends, as well, not just Faye's friend.

How important are these friendships to you?

Faye: It's so important. I consider Lydia another sister. I'm very close to her and I can tell her anything and she doesn't pass any judgement, ever. She's so empathetic and kind and just such a good friend, always. Laura is older than me, we get on really well but we know exactly how to push each other's buttons but we do have a really good relationship.

Laura: I think it's important to have someone to talk to and to be able to say anything and not feel judged on what you are saying, or that you have to tailor it. We can literally say anything to each other. You're not going to get the response you necessarily want, but they'll give you their honest opinion. 
That trust is a huge thing, and I think that's developed over time because we have all grown up together.

Lydia: We are very trusting of one another, we tell each other everything. If I have a problem, I'd be over in Faye's house and vice versa. We have fun as well, we are always out together. I'd be very close to her family and she would be very close to mine, my mum sees her as a third daughter. I would see Laura as an older sister. There is great comfort in knowing that they are around the corner.

Do you think the three of you get enough quality time together?

Faye: Definitely. It's easier with Laura, obviously, because we live together so we are always doing things. Lydia lives just around the corner so it would be a matter of one of us texting each other asking did we want a cup of tea and pop over to the other one's house. Even if one of us is having not a great day, you can ring the other one's doorbell and pop in.

Lydia: We talk every day. We might not see each other throughout the week [with work], but we will still be in contact and see each other at the weekend.

Describe your weekend in Donegal?

Faye: Laura and I left work early on the Friday and we collected Lydia and drove up. We got there at about 6.30pm and it was absolutely lashing rain. I think there was a storm warning that evening so it was intense winds and rain. It was pitch-black outside, we didn't know where we were going but then we did find the cottage. None of us had been to Donegal before. Oh my God, it was stunning. We all absolutely loved it, especially when it stopped raining. We had so much fun.

On the Friday evening we watched three movies, New Year’s Eve, The Holiday and Valentine’s Day. All the typical girlie films. We had some wine, a cheese board and the chocolate, and just wrapped up in our pyjamas and watched the movies in front of the fire.

Declan, the photographer, was coming at 11.30am [on the Saturday] so we got up and made breakfast and got ready. After Declan took the photos, he recommended we go the Slieve League cliffs so we drove up there and after that we went for a drive around a few little villages, then on to Killybegs for a look around.

Lydia: When we arrived, it was so dark and wet, we didn't actually know where we were. We were just surrounded by darkness but when we woke up in the morning and looked out the window we thought it was amazing. You could see the mountains and the sea, it was gorgeous. It was nice to just be with Faye and Laura. All three of us had had busy weeks in work so it was nice to get away with no signal on your phone and just relax with people that you really know. It was good to be out of the hustle and bustle and switch off.

How was the cottage?

Faye: Bumblebee Cottage was lovely. It is very quaint and cosy. Initially, I was worried it would be freezing and not comfortable but it was so warm and inviting. There were these little details, like they had left dressing gowns, fluffy towels and tea and coffee ready for us.

Did you get to enjoy Donegal?

Laura: We went to Fintra beach and that was absolutely gorgeous. The weekend definitely surpassed my expectations. I hadn't known what to expect. It was just so lovely in the cottage. It was such a nice, peaceful break from a busy life. I work crazy hours so to get a break and just mentally switch off from Dublin life was so nice.

How important is it to have quality time with your friends?

Faye: It's beyond important. It's so easy to get bogged down and stressed with work. It's so easy to get overwhelmed so it's so important to have honest conversations and just genuine downtime where you can completely relax your mind. [The three of us] all acknowledge how important our mental health is.

Lydia: To have friends that you can turn to and talk to and trust that they are not going to judge you is so important.

Do you think taking a break away allows you to create special memories?

Faye: We definitely did. We had so many laughs on that trip. We are still talking about it.

Laura: When we woke up it was very nice to have nothing to do, it was just completely us being away for the weekend with each other. It was just us zoned into living in the actual moment instead of thinking "Oh, I need to do this and this and this".

Laura: I think it's important to actually have something planned that you can always look forward to. Faye and I are going to Paris at the end of this month, just the two of us, to have a break away again.

Did the Green & Blacks chocolate add to the weekend? 

Faye: The chocolate was just divine, it was so good. There is a dark chocolate one with sea salt and it was all our favourite. Chocolate [and a girlie weekend away] was ideal, it was the best combination ever.

What did this weekend mean to you?

Lydia: Donegal was a really memorable weekend for me. Weekends like this bring you back to yourself and the closeness of your friendships, and how close we actually are, the three of us. It's a very special friendship. My mum says to me, "You are so lucky that you have Faye and Laura."

Faye: I think we do have quite a rare friendship. We have other friends who we are close with as well but I think the length of our friendship, and the depth of knowledge we know about each other and our families makes it special.

Lydia: We will be friends for life.

Connecting with Green & Black’s – about this series

Green & Black’s chocolate was founded in 1991 in the flat of husband and wife team Craig Sams and Jo Fairley and to this day it retains their original commitment to ethical production and great taste.

Green symbolises the brand’s commitment to ethically-sourced cocoa while black stands for the high quality and delicious taste of the chocolate. Over the years, Green & Black’s has continued to grow and innovate with the introduction of the enchanting Velvet Edition range. The range offers a variety of signature flavours for all tastes in a smooth, velvety finish – dark chocolate but not as you know it.

This premium range also includes Green & Black’s Velvet pouches – a luxurious mélange of dark chocolate and real fruit as well as the latest additions of Green & Black’s decadent praline and truffle single bars ensuring that there is something for every occasion, be it enjoying on your own or sharing in indulgent moments.

For more, see greenandblacks.com