It's not all starched linen, hushed conversation and clinking china cups. Choose from an elegant drawing room, a relaxed country bolthole, a 16th-century castle or a chic city hotel.
This (very) colourful charmer in the seaside town of Carlingford in Co. Louth does a roaring trade in afternoon teas, so advance booking is highly advised. Come to Ruby Ellen's Tea Rooms for the sandwiches and scones, and stay for the homemade miniature cakes. Everything here is freshly baked. Choose from black, green and herbal teas served in dainty porcelain cups while enjoying the views of the Mourne Mountains.
Dromoland Castle Hotel, once the ancestral home of the O’Briens of Dromoland in Co. Clare, remains an impressively noble setting for modern-day visitors looking to rest and recuperate. Afternoon tea always offers the perfect opportunity for a little spoil-yourself ‘me time’, and the added attraction of such a setting, looking out on a 450-acre estate, completes the sense of occasion for Mother’s Day. Try the ‘Mrs White’s Afternoon Tea’, a feast of dainty finger sandwiches, pastries, scones and a selection of homemade jams served with a choice of loose-leaf teas from around the world.
With views over Grafton Street, one of Dublin’s pedestrianised shopping areas, the Westbury is one of the city’s most elegant hotels. It is a suitably indulgent setting for some fragrant teas served in silver teapots and a selection of sandwiches, scones or homemade pastries. The ‘Bubbles and Cake’ offering is also a big hit for those looking for something a little stronger than a cuppa.
Take your pick of afternoon tea in either the drawing room or palm court at the Kilronan Castle Estate, which traces its roots back to the 6th century and a church established by St Ronan. This historic demesne in Co. Roscommon is set in 50 acres of lush grounds that also feature a lough and ancient forest, a spa and wellness centre. There’s a choice of traditional or light afternoon tea on offer and everything on the menu is made in house using only local Irish produce.
Spa day with Mum
Ireland's celebrated healing properties include thalassotherapy seawater treatments, traditional holistic detoxifying seaweed baths and lakeside hot tubs.
Overlooking a Blue Flag beach in West Cork, Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa just outside Clonakilty specialises in thalassotherapy and marine algae wraps and baths. The treatments use fresh Atlantic saltwater and seaweed to cleanse, revitalise and improve circulation. Guests can opt for day packages as well as individual treatments, some with access to the heated seawater pool, hammam and relaxation area. Choose one of the seawater treatments to calm, relax and rejuvenate.
Sólás na Mara or 'Solace of the Sea' is one of Ireland's oldest wellness centres. Set on the fishing pier at Helvick, on the tip of Dungarvan Harbour, the centre offers natural therapies like a nutrient-rich, locally harvested hot seaweed bath in a cedar wood steam box, sport massages and other beauty treatments. Choose the Holistic or the Recovery package for a hot seawater and seaweed bath with a 45-minute massage.
One of the capital’s landmark hotels, the Shelbourne offers superior pampering in opulent surroundings. The Spa at the hotel offers a massage, facial and spa package as part of its signature luxury experiences. The fire and ice pedicure, purifying body wraps and – to round things off nicely – a glass of prosecco in the relaxation room, are all keeping the customers satisfied. Book ‘An Ode to Mum’, a 90-minute luxury experience that includes a full body scrub; a neck, back and shoulder massage; a facial; and a gift specially designed to celebrate Mother’s Day.
The Wineport Lodge spa resort in County Westmeath has spectacular views over Lough Ree. There are lakeside hot tubs for added relaxation, as well as Voya (a wrap treatment) organic seaweed body therapies available. For top-to-toe pampering, choose the ‘Voya Voyager Total Massage Journey’, a complete body treatment that includes scalp and body massage with organic seaweed oil.
Take a class
You might be a little concerned that suggesting a cooking lesson could be taken completely the wrong way, but even the most culinary-advanced mums will be impressed with a lesson from Neven Maguire. Elsewhere there are art lessons and stained glass workshops and a chance to create your own gin.
Neven Maguire Cooking School, run by the celebrated chef at his townhouse restaurant in Blacklion, caters for all skill levels from absolute beginners to fine-dining experts. There are half-day to two-day courses available on themes like dinner party preparation, desserts, seafood and vegetarian cuisine. Chef Maguire gives tips on sourcing the best ingredients, demonstrates some of his award-winning culinary techniques and oversees a wine-tasting session in the company of sommelier Blaithin McCabe.
The renowned Clonakilty Distillery in Co. Cork made its name with a premium single pot still whiskey (a uniquely Irish style of whiskey) but, with the ubiquitous gin infatuation showing little sign of abating, it's the Clonakilty gin masterclass that is the bigger attraction. There's a tour of the distillery, guided tasting and the chance to create your own gin using ingredients grown on the family farm.
Since opening its doors in 2016, specialist stained glass workshop WildBird Studio has been updating the traditional medium with geometric styles and strong, bright colours. That all may sound a little daunting to any newcomers, but you're in safe hands with owner Alison Byrne, who will help create your own piece to take home. There is also a special ‘Mother’s Day Stained Glass Class’ in which you will learn how to make a light catcher.
The Butler Gallery in Evans' Home, John's Quay, a short walk from the centre of Kilkenny, offers a range of adult classes in its Learning Centre with a full day in the company of an established, professional artist. The classes are small (no more than 12 people), so you get plenty of attention. All materials are provided and you're guaranteed to take home at least one original artwork.
Mother’s Day gift ideas
From a one-off time piece and a gift box celebrating the best in contemporary Irish design to a classic Irish woollen scarf, there is plenty to choose from for that perfect Mother’s Day gift.
Time Pieces is known throughout the Roscommon area and beyond (an international client base that now includes Australia) for its watches and clocks. This intriguing, atmospheric store (think Tim Burton films) crammed with pieces both historical and contemporary also stocks antiques, doll houses, mirrors, lamps, quirky homeware objects and jewellery. If you’re looking for inspiration, you’ll find an assortment of unusual one-off pieces here.
A family-run operation based in Carran, the Burren Perfumery takes the County Clare natural landscape as its main source of inspiration, with certified organic products blended and bottled by hand on site. Perfumes, creams, soaps and candles all have their own signature fragrance and aromatherapy properties. There's also an accompanying audio-visual presentation and photographic display on the Burren. Choose one of the beautifully wrapped gift sets to celebrate Mother’s Day.
The Irish Design Shop showcases the best in contemporary local craft and design, including homeware, jewellery (there's an in-store workbench where customers can watch pieces being created), ceramics and prints. The range of gift boxes includes a self-care kit, Hug in a Mug, Daily Zen and tea and coffee-themed options. There's also Áras, a homeware range made exclusively for the shop.
The Cushendale Woollen Mills in Co. Kilkenny has been in the Cushen family since 1778, but its history can be traced as far back as 1204. Cushendale’s signature dyeing process is used to create luxurious blankets, throws and scarves in mohair, lambswool, Irish wool and tweed. The mills use only local wool and their textiles are traceable, sustainable and recognisable for their quality and vibrant colours.
Ideas for picky mums
Finding something for the most particular of tastes can be a challenge. Try a live performance at one of Ireland's leading art centres, a meal at one of the country's most popular restaurants or a beauty makeover.
The Roscommon Arts Centre is home to a constantly evolving programme of theatre, music, comedy, festivals, visual arts and other events and community projects. There are also regular pop-up cafés and bars, while the coming weeks will feature choral singing classes with Cathy Jordan, a solo recital from acclaimed violinist Jennifer Stumm and an exploration of plant therapy.
The restaurant at Ghan House, a fully restored 18th-century Georgian guesthouse, is one of Louth's most celebrated dining venues, with a menu showcasing local ingredients and flavours. That means lots of fish, mussels, lobster, suckling pig and beef, all served in the grand dining room with its fine views of Carlingford Lough. Walk it all off afterwards with a stroll on the nearby beach.
Get to know one of Ireland's most celebrated gastro centres with a two-hour walking tour organised by Galway Food Tours. The ‘Sweet Tooth Food Tour’ includes visits to the finest bakeries and pastry shops, plus chats with producers and manufacturers. Alternatively, pick ‘The Arthouse Cinema and Food Tour’, which includes a specially selected film and a local culinary exploration. Local guides take you to the best of the city's many foodie hotspots where you’ll sample everything from artisan craft beer to traditional cheese and chocolate.
No, not that kind of club, but the elegant surrounds of Rathmine’s Stella Cocktail Club. Take your velvet seats in the 1920s ballroom of the original Stella and order your drink of choice from the bespoke cocktail menu, add some nibbles and let yourselves be transported to the gilded age. You can also transport yourself downstairs to the cinema and watch the latest release in comfy, art deco grandeur complete with full-menu service at your armchair or sofa.
Accommodation and vouchers
Ireland’s Blue Book features country house hotels, manor houses, castles and restaurants with vouchers that can be used in part or full payment for any of the venues listed on its site. The Go Anywhere Gift Card covers hundreds of hotels and guest houses across the country.
From art classes to luxury spa treatments and live shows, there are so many ways to pay tribute to Mum. All you need is a little planning. For more inspiration, check out our fun things to do