I didn’t know too much about the event at Lisloughrey Lodge before I found myself and himself playing cards aboard the 1pm train to Galway, only that we were in for 48 hours of pure luxury and pampering (which I was obviously quite content with). However, due to the trailblazing ways of Irishrail, I was able to access my mails and locate the plan:An Exquisite Weekend for brides-to-be at Lisloughrey Lodge, Cong, County Mayo· 2 night’s accommodation with breakfast· Romantic boat cruise on Lough Corrib· Wedding workshops including cake tasting, Prosecco and wine tasting…· Tasting Dinner· Bridal Fashion show featuring Kathy de Stafford bridal gowns, Brown Thomas guest-wear and Milliner Mark T.BurkeWe alighted the train at dusk and were met by the warm smile of a very friendly gentleman – our driver Marty. Marty bade us a wholehearted welcome and led us towards the second leg of our journey which was to be a short minibus ride to Cong in County Mayo.Arriving at Lisloughrey Lodge we were greeted by the lovely Paula Feeney, Marketing Manager, and Niall Kerins the General Manager, who filled us in on the next day’s events. As we sauntered to our room, taking in the beautiful decor of the country house (including some very elegant old style bookcases and trés chic French style floral and pearl centrepieces that I wanted to keep!) we learned from Niall that each individually designed suite is named after a wine or Champagne, and that there were 50 in total – 24 deluxe bedrooms, 12 duplex suites, 8 Quay suites and 6 Lake view suites. We were feeling quite refined and super informed until we opened the door to what was to be our home for the next two days, when, all our stellar attempts at poise and sophistication pretty much flew out our floor-to-ceiling windows. I would like to put it more eloquently of course, but the words escaped me then (I’m pretty sure I said ‘Wowee’) as they do now. So I’ll let the picture do the talking…It was dark when we arrived at Lisloughrey so we didn’t quite have our bearings when we finally woke the next morning. We headed out to our patio to investigate and were left speechless. As Dublin city centre dwellers, our poor eyes aren’t used to natural light, fresh air, or a landscape undisturbed by shoulder-to-shoulder Spar and McDonald’s signs – so you can imagine our surprise when we were met with the most magnificent panoramic views over Lough Corrib, right on our doorstep!After a sumptuous robe-clad breakfast on the patio (because you have to do room service when you have views like this) we popped on our walking boots and headed down through the tree-lined pathway towards the harbour at Ashford Castle (a 5 minute walk from Lisloughrey) where we met other engaged couples who were embarking on a cruise on Lough Corrib.If you’re ever in doubt as to what will ‘brush the cobwebs off’ after a night’s celebration, could I take this time to recommend a Corrib Cruise on the ‘Isle of Innisfree’. The incredible one hour cruise of Lough Corrib with the super friendly brothers Patrick and David was certainly one of the highlights of my weekend and would be a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours with guests the day after your big day. We spent most of the cruise out at the bow, wind in our smiley faces, taking in the glorious views of the Connemara Mountains the 365 islands on Lough Corrib and Ashford Castle. And, because we were feeling a little sniffly, we had to treat ourselves to a sneaky hot toddy from the fully stocked onboard bar, where Patrick chatted to us about the fascinating history of the area.Patrick and David offer several different types of cruise for wedding parties, and the one we were particularly drawn to was the Island Cruise, which operates during the summer months and includes a 40 minute visit to the picture and picnic perfect Inchagoill Island, the lake’s most famous island.Soiree de Marriage at Lisloughrey LodgeAfter a short post-cruise pint in one of the many cosy pubs of Cong, we headed back to Lisloughrey for some more wedding goodness, and I mean goodness. Evening workshops included an extremely decadent cake tasting with sweets from Goyas in Galway (yes, we attempted to bag a few cupcakes for later) and Prosecco tasting (my favourite!) with Febvre Wines. We were also treated to a make-up lesson by gifted Dublin make-up artist Aisling Kelly (who hand delivered a sweet scroll of make-up and beauty tips to us after!)As soon as the workshops were done (‘work’ is porbably the wrong word to use there!) it was time for the drinks reception and the main event; Soirée de Marriage, in the stunningly decorated Lake View Harbour Room. First up was a fashion show featuring wedding dresses from Loves Legacy Bridal Wear, and chic outfits for guests from Brown Thomas. As the show came to a close, the first of the tasting courses magically appeared at our table!Our five course dinner, prepared by Head Chef Jonathan Keane, who was recently shortlisted in the ‘Best Chef in Connacht’ category in the Food and Wine Awards 2012, was nothing short of spectacular. After the tasting dinner (and with considerably tighter belts) we were treated to another wonderful bridal fashion show featuring fabulous dresses from the one and only Kathy de Stafford, and show-stopper hats and fascinators from the very unique hand of Mark T.Burke Millinery.It truly was a spectacular weekend, with the staff at Lisloughrey Lodge pulling out all the stops as they do for the wedding day itself! A romantic location, friendly staff, luxury surroundings, and memorable, fun activities, if you’re lucky enough to hold your wedding at Lisloughrey Lodge, rest assured that I’ll be jumping VERY high for that invitation!By Karen BirneyLisloughrey Lodge, Cong, Co MayoContact name: Rachel ShanaghyPhone: 094 954 5400[email protected] www.lisloughreylodge.com/
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Former editor, current contributor, (she just can't let go!) Karen enjoys writing fashion but is known to dabble in decor from time to time. Her favourite section on the site is the Real Wedding section, followed closely by the Health & Fitness forums.