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Hospitality, Launches and The Irish Race(s)

Article by Helen Burke © 29 September 2017 .
Posted in the Members' Blog ( ).

Due to attend a book signing event for my debut book, ‘Billy’s Search for the Healing Well’, in my hometown of Drogheda, we thought we’d combine it with a family gathering, and a long, put off day at the Laytown races.

The book signing  was brilliant. Claire, the young manager of Waterstones in Drogheda, was enthusiastic and encouraging. Promoting the book all week, she’d also arranged a story-time with the children on the day. Signing my debut book, in my hometown, with my family present was a very proud moment. I’ll always be grateful to Claire, and her staff for making it such a special event!!

We celebrated afterwards with a few drinks with the family. A big thanks to my colourful cousins, most of them characters, in their own right. Their witty, hilarious tales of characters long gone had us in stitches. They certainly know how to spin a yarn or two. What a great night!! I hadn’t laughed so much in ages.

And finally, we managed a day at the notorious Laytown races, in County Meath.  The Laytown Races occupies a unique position in the Irish and English racing calendar as it is the only race event run on a beach under the rules of the Turf Club. Laytown Strand races have been in existence for one hundred and forty years. The first recorded meeting was in 1868 when races were run on the beach in conjunction with the Boyne Regatta.

We treated ourselves to the corporate tickets which included race cards, a two-course meal with wine, and entertainment. For the equivalent of £70 it was great value, and it didn’t disappoint. At the back of the marquee there was a platform, from where we had a panoramic view of the stunning beach, and the races. Set high in the dunes, I was relieved there wasn’t any danger of  my heels sinking in the sand as I’d imagined.  Sharing a beautifully laid out table with six others, there was a choice of salmon or beef for the main meal. Both cooked to perfection. Followed by chocolate brownie, or white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake for dessert. Served in good humoured chaos, the meal was delicious and thoroughly enjoyed.

Maybe I’m biased, being Irish born, but the Irish hospitality is second to none. Dining out is a pleasure, and wherever we ate the food and service were top quality! Even a simple bar meal is presented with pride and a winning smile. There’s no scrimping on portion sizes either.  After a full Irish breakfast, which is impossible to finish, we barely managed a meal, at the end of the day. The Guinness was good enough to eat too. (So I’m told)

At breakfast, the friendly staff in Daly’s in Donore, entertained us with funny stories of family life. Honestly, you’d pay good money to be so well entertained. The land of writers and poets, surely Ireland, should be known as the land of comedians too. Even when the hot water ran out, our complaint was dealt with in the usual, witty, charming and carefree manner. ‘You should’ve been here last week. The pipes burst and there was no water at all’ we were informed. And although slightly put out that we couldn’t shower, we felt very lucky, indeed.

I’d forgotten how a trip to the Emerald Isle can lift your spirits. So, If you’re feeling down, forget about the doctor’s. Book a trip to Ireland, much better for you and far more beautiful!!

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