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Lisa Cannon on Her Hen Party Weekend

Helloooooo, I cannot believe how time is in fast forward at the moment; it’s kind of scary to be honest. I look around me and I had 3 months or so I thought to the wedding and now it’s literally less than 4 weeks! How did THAT happen?!! But to be fair, so much has happened and I’m writing to you although I hate to admit it at 4am.. yes; can’t sleep again. I think it’s the jitters and the long long long Santa Claus checklist of ‘things to do’ which is whirring around like a tiny ferret in my brain that’s put me in full on ‘Duracell Bunny’ mode. If I can get through this whopper checklist over the next 3 weeks I’m officially superhuman! God I so wish that was actually true…

Righto, so down to the best bits since we last spoke.. I have been busy working away with everyone from the lovely Charlene Pigott in the weddingsonline shop who has been helping me with ordering everything from parasols to frames and little trinkets for the wedding. I went to the store in Swords, Co. Dublin and spent hours picking it all out and I loved all their stuff – perfect for Italy so felt delighted! She’s been so helpful and truly wonderful and it’s reasonable!! Hurrah! But I had to stop the planning and put down the book for a weekend and surrendered to the most glorious, ever incredible, ever hilarious, hands down best weekend of my life!! It beat everything this year so far and that’s a tough call ‘cause the Oscars Red Carpet was a wowsers moment. That aside, my gregarious naughty gal pals played a blinder and trumped it by pulled out all the stops for what was a positively perfect Hen!! I was well and truly bowled over with the amount of effort and fun that the girls had put into it and I was laughing out loud all weekend long. It really was a stomper…

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First up, the girls kicked off the weekend with a black stretch hummer from Celtic Limos. Mickey was our driver (Hey Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind hey Mickey’ did get thrown around a lot!!) and all 10 girls piled into the back full of balloons and cheesy 80s tunes. That was my first time in a hummer actually and it was great fun. ‘The Pink Ladies’ from Grease was the order of the day for me, so I had my satin jacket, leather pants and stilettos on so you can imagine the jokes and innuendoes! It was such a hoot; off we chugged with food, a Bose Stereo PA system to blow the walls off the castle, tons of vino and beers and bags and bags of luggage (what on earth did they bring down??!!) and all sorts of yummy goodies for the trip to Galway from Dublin. Needless to say the girls had donned me with the cheesy veil, bride-to-be sashes and general fun stuff.. but that was only the beginning…

So we arrived at Cloghan Castle in Loghrea, Co. Galway and boy is it magnificent and it was ours for two whole nights – Yippeeeeeee!! The girls had organised the venue and were thrilled with such a stately 7 bedroomed medieval castle to enjoy and make their own for the divilment! Cloghan is very cool because it is self-catering so all the Mums and general great chefs of the gang were in their element – it was like having ten Nigella Lawson’s on hand and immediately a medieval Brunch in the drawing room was served. With Italian food as a nod to my wedding and to help with the sobering up from Dublin, we got started with the first delicious feast of the hen.

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A few bottles of Pink Prosecco later, the party had well and truly started with a Murder Mystery – Hurrah!! My favourite of all favourites is Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot (Sir Peter Ustinov) and as luck would have it I found the original carriage that was in the 1974 classic film ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ .. Believe it or not the Pullman Restaurant in The Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway bought the original carriage and it now resides outside the hotel. It’s truly magical and when all the girls got dressed up in the 1920’s garb, it was like a time capsule, we were all brought back to the era of The Great Gatsby, Jitterbugging and Al Capone.  Everyone made such an effort what with the feather boas, cigarette holders and fishnets. Some of the girls even had cossies made, my best friend even had her granny’s shoes on from the bygone era. Hi-larious.

We had Bruce (who was so much fun!) from Murder on the Menu perform the murder mystery and I have never laughed so much or seen my friends give Oscar Winning performances like that  – some were really convincing! I have to say I loved it so much and I’d 100% do it again. It’s classy and witty and is done in such a stylish way especially in all the 20s garb that you feel very mysterious and femme fatale like (honestly worth a try!!)

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We asked Photographer and friend Peter Harkin to grab a few stills of us all together dressed up in the classy costumes for a keepsake and then we headed down to the train for dinner. I have to say the experience alone on the train was one of the highlights for me as not only was the food delectable and very affordable but the whole idea that this was the actual carriage from the movie had me in a tailspin. It is all so authentic and you really do feel like you have stepped back in time. Had I gone home then I would have had a ball but… needless to say we hit Galway’s big nightclub ‘Halo’ which was fantastic! Smash Hits the 90s band were on, so we certainly needed no encouragement to get up and boogie to all the old classics. I had to do a few crazy dares and drink a few nasty shots but other than that I got away scot-free!! Well almost!…

Next day in Castle Towers, the hangovers had really started to settle in and I was not feeling too hot myself with some rather skinned shins from all the sliding on the dancefloor to 90s tunes; I headed downstairs to a full fry up from the girls and it wasn’t long before we were up singing and dancing with the stereo pumping and they were ready to get started all over again. We thought we would chill at the castle for the day, play games (their idea and by the way I can’t disclose EVERYTHING from the Hen just so you’re aware this is the PG version, ha!!!) and maybe do a treasure hunt! The girls fed and watered me and then presented me with a beautiful gift, a white bikini with Mrs. Keatley in diamante on the bum which made me blub, I was so chuffed and grateful for all their hard work on the hen so far – overwhelmed was the word for it and happy happy happy!!

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And so the girls continued for the next 24 hours to do everything from bubble baths for me to massages, I got a real pampering and was given the most beautiful memory book of all our times together from childhood to now, bound with photos and extracts from their own thoughts –  I was in floods. The final leg of the Hen though was so special, after my games during the day time the girls told me to get ready for the night time, this was supposed to be a black tie dinner that they were hosting with thanks to Jacinta at Green Olive Catering who are one of Galway’s finest food companies. You can get Jacinta and her wonderful crew to come to you and they will prepare whatever you want hassle free! Sharing platters of hummus, olive breads and cheeses plus lamb and fish was the order of the day and I (being a real foodie) was so super excited. They’d even gone and arranged for Jacinta and gang to do canapés and quirky cocktails so I thought this was going to be a banquet like no other….

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Well, nothing could have hidden the fun, the squeals and the excitement in their voices. The castle soon became like Hogwarts, girls running up and down the corridors and laughing, being devious and coming to check on me to make sure I was dressed and ready to come downstairs.. of course they were up to something BIG! Sure enough, glass of prosecco in hand I was told to wait at the bottom of the stairs blindfolded and wait to take it off… I was so giddy, I was useless, but to be fair the atmosphere was electric.. nothing could have prepared me for what they did.. it was magical. So.. after a few minutes I was to remove the blindfold and wait…..

First up, was my best friend Sooz who wailed like a hyena and threw her leg over the banister (reminding you she’s 6 months pregnant!!) fully dressed in character with wig, boots and even dodgy tan, started singing the song of.. Pocahontas! Yes, each girl came down the stairs after I had guessed what Disney character they were (ingenious). Everyone from Cruella de Ville (with toy dog in tow) came down the stairs to Jasmine who sang ‘A Whole New World’. It was simply unbelievable – my mouth was open, I couldn’t believe the work and effort they all put in. It blew me away! So everyone from Tinkerbell, to my fairy Godmother, The Wicked Witch and of course who could forget Hook all stopped by. The 15 ladies performed at the top of the stairs and came down and gave me the biggest hug… again like I said I was in floods of happy happy tears. It truly was THE best– Epic as one would say!

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And so the castle was alight with princesses and fairies and even Malificent made an appearance. Needless to say they had the room lit up with candles, and put all our pictures together from the last some 30 years or more of friendship all over the walls and made me and us tell stories over dinner of all our happy, naughtiest, most hilarious times, nights out and memories together. From travelling across the world together to bad boyfriends, deaths of parents, family members and times of sheer joy and pain, I’ve done it all with these fine wild women and my heart was full of love and happiness. They made me feel so special and deserving of their long-standing friendship – but of course they did make me change from my lovely black tie dress into a Snow White costume just for giggles! Yep, Snow White was the order for the final day complete with rosy cheeks and all! Then Tracy Desmond from Trace of Cakes who is from Cork and is doing my actual wedding cake in Italy stopped off at the castle with an incredibly crafted and stunning Snow White cake complete with an enchanted fairytale adorned on the side… ok wow – they outdid themselves.

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It was indeed hands down the most special weekend in a long time! I don’t know how they did it all, but they made the hen literally come alive and treated me like the luckiest friend around. So to Sooz (you absolute legend!!) Maeve, Cathy (my bridesmaids and beauts) Riona and Joana (The Coolest Usherettes) Luise, Tracie, Elaine, Sarah, Norma, Carolanne, Katie, Fiona, and finally Gill who came from the outer depths of Scotland for one night to be with us… thank you! Thank you for your amazing crazy friendship and I salute you as sheer loons.. it was a send off like no other and I’ll never ever forget the antics and banter of yiz all. They are the She to my Nanigans!!

Now all that’s left to do after the biggest hangover in history, is plan the wedding… 4 weeks to go and counting and I now simply CAN’T WAIT!!!

Lots of Love and Light, Lisa xx

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Lisa Cannon

Lisa Cannon is best known as a presenter on TV3's hugely popular movie show, Box Office. She blogged all about the lead up to her Big Day in Italy in September 2015.

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