Nov 4th, 2012 by Katie
Great news! We have had a last minute guest post from eco Ireland expert, Catherine Mack with her ideas for a green Irish destination wedding. Enjoy…
I am, perhaps, not the best person to ask about weddings in Ireland, as we actually did the old fashioned thing and eloped, escaping a big Irish wedding and having a tiny civil ceremony in an equally tiny town in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.
Instead of ‘I Do’, I simply said ‘Si’ with a smile. But that’s another story.
No regrets, of course, but if I were to do it all again? In Ireland? With the travel knowledge that I have of my home country that I didn’t have fifteen years ago? Then this would be my top three wishlist.
} 1 BrookLodge Wells and Spa Hotel
BrookLodge Wells and Spa Hotel, County Wicklow has so many things going for it as a wedding venue.
Macreddin Hall in the grounds of BrookLodge
Firstly, the food (nearly all locally sourced from only the best producers) is to die for, not only because it is the only certified organic restaurant in Ireland, but also because the chefs here have a passion for all things wild. And I would want my wedding to be a bit wild.
In addition, this eco hotel has a spa with geothermally heated pools, its own smokehouse and bakery, a plethora of classy rooms, service to die for, and bike and hike routes within metres of your hotel room. It is also only about an hour from Dublin, and an hour from Rosslare port, so easy peasy for guests coming from UK. Oh, and it makes a unique wild strawberry cocktail in season. So, you have to book the wedding for that season, just to be truly wild.
} 2 Slieve Aughty Riding Centre
I am not a horsey person at all, until I took my kids horse riding for the first time at Slieve Aughty Riding Centre in County Galway and really fell in love with the place. With cottages on site, bikes available for cycling into the mountains, superb full board organic cooking, and hospitality which feels like you have just checked in to your favourite and coolest auntie’s home for a few days.
Also, the horses are reared naturally, so they are bit free and stress free. The Slieve Aughty team has just hosted its first wedding, due to the fact that they have added a superb new eco-friendly extension to their already super-friendly Centre, providing room for so many more people. If you are planning on having lots of kids at the wedding, this would be just divine. You feel the love the minute you arrive at Aughty, so it must be a wonderful place to sign, seal and deliver it.
} 3 Belle Isle Castle
Belle Isle Castle in County Fermanagh is just that. A beautiful island with a damn fine castle sitting on the middle of it. It has a magnificent banqueting hall, and food is their thing as they also have a cookery school on site, and there is a courtyard full of eco friendly apartments for all your guests, so no one has to drive home. The top table guests can even stay in the castle itself, if they like and if the budget stretches that far.
You could have a treasure hunt around the island for fun, take a boat or two on the lake for photos, or just walk off those pre-wedding nerves in some of the most luscious lakeside landscapes you will find in Ireland
…around Loop Head, County Clare, staying a night at Loop Head Lighthouse Keepers’ Houses, now managed by Irish Landmark Trust. For day two, cycle to Carrigaholt to go dolphin watching with Dolphin Watch, and then cycle on to the end of the route to bathe in the seaweed baths and have sea water thalassotherapy treatments.
…at Teapot Lane Yurt camp in County Leitrim, where the gorgeous owner Derval McGovern will arrange surfing lessons for everyone, or a guided hike into the mountains, followed by massages for you all back at the yurt site. After barbeques and booze, head to the waves of one of several nearby beaches to clear the head.
Teapot Lane Yurts – Poppyseed interior
Or spend a couple of days walking the Seven Heads Millenium Walk at Clonakilty, walking from bay to bay, many of them quite simply bathing beauties, finishing in the traditional and very welcoming O’Neills pub in Butlerstown, having dinner at Deasy’s restaurant in Ring.
Or head back to Clonakilty for some legendary trad music at pub and folk club De Barra’s . You’ll get a wonderful welcome from Charlie Madden in his eponymous pub in Timoleague too, also on the Seven Heads Walk.
The honeymoon …..
Inis Meain Restaurant and Suites, on the island of Inis Meain, the quietest of all the Aran Islands, is quite simply, my favourite spot in the world right now. The limestone building is concealed among this dramatic limestone landscape, with ancient stone walls snaking out in every direction across this hard won farmland.
This is a place where you will listen to the wilds all around you, absorb its history and stories, eat fine food which is grown, prepared and served by the owners Ruairí and Marie-Thérèse de Blacam, and not be disturbed all day unless you want they guys to show you where to catch a good bit of mackerel, which they will throw in the pan for you when you get back for dinner.
Inis Meain is such a special place to visit, its beauty moved me to tears. In the same way that a fine work of art makes me cry, or a stunning piece of writing, or just an overwhelmingly kind gesture. Inis Meáin has all of these.
I have it earmarked for my second honeymoon, and nothing has stolen this top poll position yet. Not in Ireland, not anywhere.
However, I would happily stay at just about anywhere listed on my app, Ireland Green Travel, for my honeymoon. From camping on Cape Clear, to horseriding on the beach in front of Rathmullan Hotel in County Donegal. For more details click here for iphones and here for Android.
I popped into the local florist on my wedding day in Italy, who prepared me a posy of roses in about an hour flat and charged me about €15 for the pleasure. So, as you can see, I am not one for floral flouncing.
But if I were to do it all over again, I would definitely seek out the services of one exciting new business in Ireland, called Leitrim Flowers who don’t have a standard package for wedding flowers. They provide naturally grown flowers such as Larkspur, Lily of the Valley or Delphinium. The bouquets or arrangements reflect the seasons and Irish countryside and if you have a wish for a particular flower, let them know and they will do their best to grow it for you. Now, that really is saying it with flowers.
Catherine Mack writes about green, eco, responsible and sustainable tourism. Call it what you will, it usually comes down to the same thing. Tourism which is lead by people working at the grass roots, who know and adore their local landscapes and want to keep them in top form for the next generation. People who want to ensure that tourism income benefits local people, and people who want to show off their homes, mountains, lakes, rivers, coastlines and forests in a way that is sustainable, sensible, and singularly superlative way. Follow her travels on her blog, www.ethicaltraveller.co.uk, on Twitter @catherinemack and @greenirelandapp and on Facebook (Ethical Traveller)