Holiday Engagement Party in Ireland
December 23, 2014
I've always wanted to visit is Ireland, and this delicious dinner shot by Laura Murray Photography is just one of the many reasons why. Celebrating love and laughter, friends gathered over a Signora E Mare menu to share a meal at Ballyvolane HouseStyle Serendipity coordinated all the beauty (like that lush runner by Ann Marie O Leary), and I for one will be dreaming of sitting down to this dinner for years to come.
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From Laura Murray Photography... Celebration is an important ritual and one that can take many different forms; a handwritten card to say congratulations, a weekend getaway to celebrate an anniversary, or a simple glass of champagne used to toast a happy event, but my favorite way to celebrate is to gather together with friends over a meal.

Nothing is as satisfying as a close gathering of friends to celebrate a momentous occasion. It is the good stuff of life. It is what nourishes both our bodies and our minds.

This particular celebration, the celebration of a wedding engagement, was hosted at the Ballyvolane House, a historic Irish country house in Cork County. Driving down a sweeping country lane that weaves and curves through fields and around ancient oak trees, you can't but get the sense that something special is just around the corner. Ballyvolane House with its noble stone facade seems as much a part of the landscape as all of the greenery around it.

The Ballyvolane House has an aesthetic that blends style and comfort – there is ample space inside their Drawing room for intimate conversation and the grand table in the dining room for larger groups. All of this makes the house an idyllic location for celebration.

Ciara O’Halloran with Style Serendipity is the skilled stylist who coordinated the event. It was the sense of nature interwoven with the elegant 18th century architecture that she wanted to capture in the design of the celebration. She took the cozy dining room and transformed it into a candlelit abode. She set the perfect scene for the guests to gather ‘round, drink, eat, converse, laugh, and be merry.

The beautiful floral elements were architected by designer Ann Marie with A New Leaf Floral. Freshly foraged moss from the woodland floor was interwoven with Irish heather and bees wax candles to bring the outdoors in, while the roaring fire and sumptuous feast created with all local ingredients grown in the walled-garden at Ballyvolane House and sourced from local artisan producers ensured that the soft rain falling outside only added to the magical atmosphere.
Katie Decker with Signora e Mare crafted organic menus and place settings that complimented the ambiance of the evening. Her hand drawn calligraphy was a touch of whimsy that finished off the styled décor.

Ballyvolane impressed all when they cooked up the most magical meal. All the food they serve in house is grown locally, much of which is grown on their own property.

Guests arrived to a glass of Ballyvolane’s famous Elderflower liquor (recipe below) or Hedgerow Martinis. Ballyvolane uses Elderflower Cordial to make their Elderflower Bellinis, Elderflower Fizz, and panna cotta. Their staff spends two weeks picking wild elderflowers from the hedgerows all around northeast Cork. The decadent meal consisted of half the garden soup, Yorkshire pudding, roasted sirloin of McGrath's beef, winter greens, and roasted potatoes. They finished with a final course of fresh lemon posset and homemade brown bread ice cream. Delish!

Elderflower Cordial


  • 74 elderflower heads

  • 9 litres of water

  • 4.5 kg granulated caster sugar

  • 170 g citric acid 

  • 6 lemons, zest & juice

ONE | Boil water, sugar and citric acid to dissolve, remove from heat.

TWO | Add lemon zest, lemon juice and flowers.

THREE | Transfer to bucket or tub and leave in fridge covered for 2 to 3 days to infuse.

FOUR | Stir daily.

FIVE | Strain the liquid mixture and either store in  fridge or freezer for longer term. Will keep for up to a year.

SIX | Enjoy.