Last year was my first time visiting the Lodge at Doonbeg’s annual Christmas market which heralds in the Christmas season. As dusk fell, I walked through the Lodge’s impressive stone archways which were lit up like welcoming beacons. The beautifully, 17th century styled main building and its’ cobbled courtyards added an historic backdrop for the Christmas market. It reminded me of visiting Christmas markets in Vienna which is one of my favourite Christmas memories.
The courtyard was filled with stalls and bustling with people shopping; families were walking and chatting together and people were visiting with neighbours and enjoying the festive season. A tall, stately Noble fir tree was festooned with Christmas decorations by the entrance to the inner courtyard. There were welcoming fire pits in the centre of the courtyard radiating heat which warmed my cheeks and hands and lit up peoples’ faces as darkness/night time descended/closed in. The singing of carollers filled the air along with appetising smell of hearty, sizzling sausages, sweet pastries and warming mulled wine. The stalls were so varied. I loved the unique handmade collar-necklaces; a local designer originally from Mullagh was selling. There were handmade chocolates, soaps, and preserves which would be perfect stocking stuffers and hostess gifts. I bought an Italian handbag (an unexpected Christmas present to myself)!
Doonbeg’s Christmas market follows an old European tradition going back 700 years in Germany. Christmas markets signalled the start of holiday festivities. They were and are a welcome and merry meeting place for locals to get together during the long winter nights leading up to Christmas. German Christmas markets focus on handmade Christmas ornaments and decorations with regional German sausages, special Christmas breads and pastries. Gluwhein, a warm mulled red wine; and Eirepunsch, a warm egg-based alcoholic drink are very popular and help stave off the bitter cold in the open air markets.
The Lodge at Doonbeg’s Christmas market has taken this European tradition and made it their own by adding a welcome family twist which every child looks forward to – a visit to Santa. Families have added a visit to the Lodge’s Christmas market as part of their own family Christmas tradition. So join us to take the kids to see Santa, do some Christmas shopping, catch up with family and friends (both Darby’s restaurant and bar as well as the award-winning Long Room restaurant are open) and celebrate the season “west Clare style” Merry Christmas everyone!