Life is a rollercoaster.
Every year, I like to look back at what the past twelve months delivered, all of the adventures I had and the achievements worth celebrating. 2017 sure was an interesting year as I travelled more in one year than I had ever before, I pushed my blogs to better their previous statistics and content, as well as being part of two very special and unforgettable occasions. Below I’ve decided to go through all the notable events, travels and milestones the past year gave me, that’s more personal than my Killer Fashion Year in Review.
As mentioned above, I attended two very special weddings in 2017, the first was that of Kassi and Antonis. When I first met this gorgeous Greek couple, I just knew they would one day wed. After a romantic proposal during Christmas 2015 in New York, the time finally came for Kassi’s hen parties, the second one which we celebrated in Dublin in NoLIta, and was such fun! Then in September, myself and the girls headed to Greece, staying in mountainous Portaria that overlooks the port city of Volos, Kassi’s hometown. Kassi’s wedding was beautiful, extremely romantic, with an outdoor reception and a view of Volos by night, under hot weather and twinkling lights. Herself and Antonis are the perfect couple, and sharing the love on their special day was truly the icing on the cake. Furthermore, traveling to Greece with my besties was my first girls group holiday ever and it was great craic! We stayed in a lovely hotel, Hotel Despotiko, with a pool and a family room for the four of us, and rented a car for two of our seven days there. If you’re interested in the fashion details, visit my wedding style post on Killer Fashion.
Literally a week later, one of my longest best friends was marrying his fiancée, which was quite the big deal for me. Having known Shane for 12 years, we’ve been on quite the friendship road for a long time and it was wonderful that in September, after his New Year’s Eve 2015 proposal, Shane and Claudia‘s nuptials were finally here. Their wedding took place in the lovely Glenview Hotel, Co. Wicklow, with the sun shining and the temperatures still high. Their civil ceremony was full of laughs and happy tears, and I was also introduced to a new tradition: passing the wedding rings to each guest for a blessing. I really loved this feature! Bringing my bestie Lorna as my date was the best decision too, as we had the best time, we also stayed overnight in our gorgeous suite, and danced the whole night in our heels. It was just wonderful to be part of this wedding, and to share this special occasion with two of my favourite people as well as many of my own school friends and other best mates, it was pure bliss. If you’re interested in the fashion details, visit my wedding style post on Killer Fashion.
Funny how both couples became engaged one week apart, then married a year later, one week apart!
As aforementioned, 2017 was a great year for traveling. For St. Patrick’s Day, I headed over to Portugal to visit my family in Parede, for my first solo holiday, and oh how I was rather excited! The village of Parede overlooks the aqua blue sea, that’s a short train ride to Lisbon City, which was quite the interesting town itself. We had beach days, pool days, dinner nights and movie nights, plus I got to celebrate our national holiday in the sun with my littlest cousin and it was just a wonderful vacation. Delicious food, hot temperatures, and being with my family – I genuinely cannot wait to fly out again.
In July after my birthday, I traveled to Malta with Lorna, which was easily one of the most impressive countries I’ve visited. It was sunny every day, the food was divine, the wine was even better, and the sights are something not to be missed. We had such a fabulous holiday, full of laughs, photoshoots and more laughs! With turquoise blue waters, fresh fish and cheap prices, I highly considered buying an apartment just to go back again and again! Do read through my recommendations of what to see & do if visiting Malta.
Malta is a beautiful country, with a lot of history and its nearby islands are also worth a visit.
After the two weddings and my Greek holiday with the girls, my travels abroad weren’t yet over. A lover of Munich, my brother and I headed to the German capital city of beer, for Oktoberfest – a must for any beer lover. We hadn’t been on a trip together since we were tiny kids visiting our grandparents in Annagassan, Co. Louth, and as I make an effort to visit Munich every two years, this beer-led plan was years in the making. We had a brilliant time at the traditional Oktoberfest an der Wiese, drinking Maß beers of Paulaner, Augustiner, Hofbraühaus, Erdinger, Hacker-Pschorr and Löwenbraü, as well as munching on the food that we grew up with; Apfelstrudel, Currywurst, Bratwurst, Knödel, Käsespätzle, Kraut, Kaffee und Kuchen, Dampfnudel, cakes, bread, ham & cheese, chocolate and of course breze. German cuisine is just delicious! We visited many of the places we would go to as kids like Olympiapark and Englischergarten, I introduced him to a favourite restaurant of mine from my student days, and met up with many friends. It sure was great craic!
Then, to kickstart the Christmas season, I was invited to Glasgow for a shopping day trip, which Lorna and Mei Ling also came on, and met three Scottish blogger babes who are basically the Highlands version of us three! It was a very fun first time to Scotland for me, a short flight and shorter drive to Glasgow City, packed with tasty food, tea, fashion and beauty and ending with a beautifully cooked steak and well-paired wine. Read more about it on Killer Fashion here.
As an Irish gal, I feel it’s only right to explore more of the Emerald Isle and thankfully in 2017 I did that – I visited Limerick City again, for Kassi’s post-wedding hen party with the girls; and headed to West Cork with my family for a week’s break away, as well as to Galway with Mei Ling then Cork City with Lorna, both for an overnight stay complete with a lot of delicious food.
While in Limerick, we were treated to a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city by Limerick Carriage Tours with Prosecco flowing, which was then followed by a tasty three-course dinner in the Grill Bar & Restaurant with reception cocktails that were Halloween-themed and a damn good bottle of wine. After hours of chats, catch ups and laughs we headed to our rooms in The Clayton Hotel Limerick, with a buffet breakfast to look forward to the next morning. The service was excellent, my sleep was lovely, and we got to celebrate Kassi’s nuptials for the second time!
West Cork was not somewhere I had been to before, and in August my family and I headed down for a few nights, staying in Ballydehob. This part of the country is truly beautiful, full of mountains and cliffs with sea views and beaches, as well as extremely good fish and seafood. On one of the days, I reached the top of three mountains including Seefin and Mount Gabriel, we also visited Garnish Island that’s steeped in botanical history, I swam in the freezing cold waters of Ballyrisode Point, plus we visited both the most south-western AND the most southern points of mainland Ireland: Mizen Head and Brow Head, as well as Crookhaven Pier. Two of the restaurants we visited were so good I wrote full reviews about them. The first wasThe Fish Kitchen in Bantry, which is easily a fish lover’s dream, and the second was the local Vincent Coughlan’s Bar & Restaurant in the aforementioned Ballydehob.
This was a really lovely trip with my Dad, auntie and uncle, as well as a refreshing change from the blogging world and social media too.
One of my most memorable trips in Ireland in the Autumn was my overnight stay at Glenlo Abbey, Galway. Attending on the behalf of TheTaste, I brought Mei Ling and we had a very fun road trip across the country, with a warm welcome to the five-star hotel jut outside Galway City. Our suite was absolutely exquisite, with a king size bed, a wall-to-wall white marble bathroom and cheese & crackers, chocolates and macarons on arrival. After a lovely refresh, we settled down in the bar for a punchy gin & tonic, caught up with friends before entering The Pullman Restaurant for an exciting culinary evening. Reliving and experiencing ‘The Flavours of the Orient Express’, Mei Ling and I enjoyed a seven-course wine-paired meal over many laughs. There were definitely a few firsts, and lasts (escargot just isn’t for me!), as well as some mouth-watering and delicious dishes, amidst the original and historic interior of the Pullman train. Our sleep was wonderful, as was our breakfast the next morning, in a beautiful dining room with ample natural light and a variety of breakfast choices. The service at both The Pullman Restaurant and in Glenlo Abbey were truly excellent, a memory I’ll cherish for years to come.
At Christmastime in late November, myself and Lorna were invited to The River Lee in Cork City, which was a very welcomed weekend trip, and a return to the Rebel County for me. We headed down on the train, having a great laugh as we traveled south of the country, and arrived into the hotel in time for dinner. I had booked ourselves into Holy Smoke, headed by chef John Relihan, as both Lorna and I are big meat lovers and this was the perfect choice for us. The BBQ Blow Out for two was all sorts of mouth-watering that featured Brisket Burnt Ends, Wet Rubbed Baby Back Ribs, Pit Smoked Chicken, Pulled Pork, Hot Links Sausage served with pickles, naked slaw, cornbread, and charred cob wheels! Alongside a smooth bottle of red wine, the friendliest of service and epic tunes on the airwaves, this is must-visit restaurant when in Cork City. Head Chef John Relihan and his colleague Decky Walsh also showed us their newly opened Barcadia, an arcade bar. Barcadia serves tasty arcade game-themed cocktails that you can sip and enjoy while playing on a handful of old school games. This was such fun, and is a brilliant spot for the locals and visitors. The next afternoon, after exploring Cork City and specifically walking down Oliver Plunkett Street and visiting The Oliver Plunkett, Lorna and I enjoyed a Festive Afternoon Tea at The Weir Rooms of the hotel. The Weir Rooms is a beautiful setting for afternoon tea, full of delicious sandwiches and sweet treats, and a range of beautiful teas. There is also a fabulous selection of Winter Choctails and Cocktails, and of course Prosecco with strawberries! A beautiful afternoon spent in a stunning setting with excellent service, and only a few hours from Dublin. Everything about this Cork experience was wonderful, and Lorna and I cannot wait to return!
One of my biggest highlights of 2017 has to have been when Killer Fashion was announced as the Silver Award Winner for Best Fashion Blog – Corporate Category at the Blog Awards Ireland 2017. This was such a joyous moment for me, as after seven and a half years blogging, I felt the blog had been recognized as one of the best in the whole country. When I started my fashion blog in April 2010, I hit a snag in late 2012 where I had to restart my blog’s content and stats, but I pushed on and my little creative website became bigger and better. Killer Fashion has been nominated, longlisted, shortlisted and a finalist in award leagues over the years but on October 5th, 2017 I was awarded the Silver Winner title. And oh how that felt hella good! Dressing up for the occasion was all part of the fun, plus I was delighted to share the moment with two of my girls too, Kassi and Gail, who were also finalists on the night.
I’m not the most sporty girl you’ll come across, but in June 2017 I did complete my very first half-marathon ever, finishing the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon. Myself and my neighbours, three amazing mammies whom I deem family, got together to raise money for ARC Cancer Support Centres, DSPCA and the Irish Society for Autism. I had never done a marathon of sorts before, but 10 kilometres and over €867 later, I can proudly say that now I have!
If you read my Killer Fashion Year in Review, you’ll know that in July I hosted and organised my first collaborative brand event, a Trunk Show with Stella & Dot. I adore organising parties and events, and this was one of my favourite to work on. Hosting in one of my favourite venues in the capital, House Dublin on Leeson Street, and worked alongside my brand stylist Emma Mullane. Attended by some of Dublin’s leading fashion bloggers, as well as my own family and friends, the event turned out very nicely. Styled with Stella & Dot jewellery, I was very kindly sponsored by Dresses.ie, wearing a blue, red & white look on the day that coincidentally tied in with the 4th of July date! A big thank you to all those who attended!
In September, I joined TheTaste.ie team as one of their Food & Lifestyle Writers. It was a great learning experience, heightening my understanding for the digital world, working in a fast-paced environment and within a passionate team. While working for TheTaste I was able to write more restaurant reviews, attend more events for food & drink, and head on fun nights with the team. One of my favourite tasks was being the co-lead project manager for TheTaste’s 3rd Birthday Party, celebrating three years of the company’s journey and achievements. This was an enjoyable event to organise, being responsible for many of the aspects from the guest list to the invitation design and more, that ended being a successful event. Then in November, we attended the Eir Golden Spider Awards 2017, for which we were finalists in two categories and won the Best Social Award on the night! My friends Dermot Whelan & Dave Moore of Today FM’s Dermot & Dave hosted the ceremony, and it was just the icing on the cake that they called out our name and handed us the award. It was wonderful to be part of that winning team alongside Keith, Jules, Darina, Denise, Roisin, Sarah, Erica and Gaby – and of course Alfie, my work dog!
Working with brands became a big thing in 2017, notably Thomas Sabo, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty, Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing and Dundrum On Ice. This led to a lot more blog posts, events and social media content, but most importantly it solidified relationships between myself and their PR agencies to continue working with these brands. For this New Year, I do hope to upkeep these relationships but also reach new heights too.
Of course, not everything was about work, and oftentimes there were events and moments when I just had a lot of fun! In early summer I went along to the Naas Racecourse with Lorna and our friends for a day at the races. We dressed to the nines, and I even won over €50 on small bets! This year I had the joy of taking on both the 98FM Big Slide and The Beast, a giant inflatable obstacle course, both of which were absolutely brilliant and a lot of funny fun! The girls and I had great craic and it was a great way to enjoy ourselves – the latter was also quite the challenge! Attending events is a weekly occurrence, but this year I also attended many more award shows including the 98FM Best of Dublin Awards 2017, the aforementioned Blog Awards Ireland 2017 as well as the Eir Golden Spider Awards 2017. I took part in a friend of mine’s YouTube show, On The Couch with Abi, discussing relationships and experiences, and as well as organising and hosting the two above events, I also hosted the after party for artist Sir The Baptist and crew alongside one of my best mates, Lawson Mpame (Laws of Style).
I enjoyed a lot of nights out and parties with my nearest & dearest, from going out-out to my many neighbourhood parties, to celebrating my loved ones’ birthdays or just dinners with my besties. Lolo, Mei, Fifi & Kassi – I love you!
Finally, this post cannot be complete without talking more about food! 2017 proved another exceptional year trying new dishes, exploring more cuisines, discovered more wines tried, and ticked off more places from my Eat List. I was extremely delighted to have dined in The Saddle Room at The Shelbourne Hotel and brought my auntie avec moi, and experienced Le Drunch at The Marker Hotel followed by bringing Lorna up to the Rooftop Bar for her first rooftop cocktails. In late summer my family had an epic dinner at our favourite restaurant, The Zen, that’s sadly now closed for good. I also won an amazing dinner party meal from SABA To Go for my friends and I that also came with two delicious bottles of Taittinger Rosé Champagne, I experienced three unique wine tastings and found my love for gin, and ate a lot of beautifully cooked steak. 2017 was also full of cocktails, as well as more rum, beer and whiskey tastings. Following my favourite restaurant’s summer closing for refurbishment, Opium reopened in the Autumn, coming back with an absolutely delicious bang and new dishes for me to devour, plus their brand new Botanical Garden is just beautiful! To end the year on a tasty note, I then cooked the entire Christmas Day dinner with my brother for seven of us, starters, mains and desserts, making the best dessert ever: a Panettone Trifle.
This blog post may have been rather lengthy, but sometimes one just has to get the words out – and really, that’s what Cookie FM is for. I hope all of you had a wonderful celebration ringing in the New Year, and look forward to all the new adventures 2018 will bring.
Thank you for reading darlings!
Images © Nirina Plunkett