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Been there, done that? Our blogger Kate has some very welcomed, alternative hen locations to try in Ireland!
We all know the hotspots in Ireland that are plagued with hen parties every weekend – Galway, Kilkenny, Westport, Carlingford and Carrick-on-Shannon to name a few. Although they have lots to offer, including great nightlife, deals galore and huge variety in terms of accommodation and activities, somehow the thought of being surrounded by 20 other hen parties in a bar kind of takes the novelty away. I can’t help comparing it to 20 other brides having their wedding at your venue. So if you don’t want your bride-to-be to whip into a chorus of ‘it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’ take her to one of these unique and fabulous locations in Ireland. But shush…don’t tell anyone!
1. Swap Galway for INIS OIRR
If you’ve never been to the Aran Islands, boy are you missing out. They ooze beauty and a truly welcoming atmosphere mixed in with traditional Ireland at its best. It is the perfect destination for a really unique hen. There are some great pubs with live music and jigs, pony trap rides, bikes to rent and bagfulls of potential for fun. For activities with a difference, check out basket making, bodhran workshops or the Aran sweater experience at Discover Inis Oirr.
Hen Planner Tip
My advice is to skip the main island and head for Inis Oirr. By pure chance a few years ago, I arrived on a boat from Ros a’Mhil packed with people all heading to a Damian Dempsey gig on the island. I am not a fan but it was AMAZING. The craic was something else. The good news is he is back at Aras Eanna in September and it is sure to be the best night of the year on the island. See here for details. Bru Radharc na Mara Hostel is a great base for a budget-friendly hen. Hop off the ferry and it’s right in front of you.
2. Swap Carrick-On-Shannon for KILLALOE
This GORGEOUS little town may be half Tipp/half Clare but it is 100 per cent a hidden treasure. With a fab lakeside setting, there is everything from water activities to craft classes on offer along with plenty of restaurants and pubs and a good choice of accommodation to boot. Try the Lakeside Hotel for a room with a view.
Hen Planner Tip
Sit outside by the lake at Molly’s pub and soak up the sunshine during the day, or even better, step aboard a luxury yacht where a choice of amazing treats await, including artisan food, a whiskey tasting in a private shebeen, a chocolatier demonstration or even a red-carpet stop-off at a luxury spa. See here for more.
3. Swap Bundoran for SKERRIES
Forget Bundoran – Skerries is the best place to catch waves during the day and dance all night. A popular seaside spot during the summer, this north county Dublin town has top seafood restaurants and a mix of trendy and traditional pubs. Accommodation is mostly B&Bs or self-catering, with Redbank House a great option for larger groups or The White Cottages for pure prettiness – you’ll also get spoiled with the best afternoon tea in town here! For a bit of fun on the water, you can check out www.outdoordublin.com for packages including stand-up paddling, kayaking or surfing. The lads will even give you a lovely warm cup of tea and a choccie biscuit afterwards.
Hen Planner Tip
Book Blue Bar for dinner and order probably the best chicken wings in the world – very appropriate for the night that’s in it (hens, chickens…get it!). And miss an ice-cream at Storm in a Teacup at your peril. We’re talking serious amounts of Ferrero Rocher sauce here – I’d consider it a full afternoon’s activity in itself.
4. Swap Kilkenny for GOREY
Wexford hasn’t avoided the hen invasion, with Enniscorthy and Wexford town itself seeing an increasing influx of cluckers over the past few years. And while you’re never going to be the only hen in the village, Gorey is still, by comparison, unchartered territory. Gorey is the perfect mix of old and new. Here authentic Irish pubs sit comfortably next to gourmet restaurants and modern accommodation. Seafield Hotel is a great base for both ends of the budget, as along with deluxe hotel rooms it also offers self-catering houses. From seaweed spa treatments to year-round ice-skating at Adventure Alley there are plenty of activities to choose from.
Hen Planner Tip
Hire out the fabulous tea room at Primrose Cottage Cakes and bring the girls to a party to beat all tea parties. The decor is kitsch and cute and the cakes are delicious – Primmy’s famous jammy dodgers and mini Victoria sponge cakes are not to be missed! And to end the night, put your best foot forward on the dancefloor at Paddy Blues.