Rachel McLaughlin attends the Celtic Feast Show at An Grianan Hotel in Donegal to sample the atmosphere of the historic spectacular:
It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and traditional fayre of the Celtic Feast Show when so many details suggest you’ve stepped back in time for a night. I visited the An Grianan Hotel in Burt last weekend to join one of these famous events they host and to discover another side to Donegal’s history.
It all feels very Game of Thrones-like to be sitting at a long table in a round hall with free flowing wine and the swell of traditional tunes.This Celtic Feast has music, dancing and plenty of indulgence like scenes from the famous medieval show, but the night has a touch of magic and mystery that is truly Irish.
Emma Rose Callaghan plays the Goddess Danu, who sweeps onto the stage between courses to trace the mythological story of the Tuatha de Dannan – a tribe who have long been associated with An Grianan Aileach.
Arlene McLaughlin’s ‘Siamsa Gael Dance Troupe’ keep things lively with spirited dancing, while two performers from the Magnus Viking Association storm the room at one stage to reenact a thrilling battle.
The staff at the An Grianan all join in the display by wearing Celtic tunics and dress. It all looks the part in the darkened room that is filled with mystic lighting and sounds as we dine.
The feast itself is a lavish step back in time. Guests are welcomed by a warming tipple of mead on arrival at reception, where everyone’s excitement rises as two costumed characters stalk the room and take photos with sinister props.
Once we entered the dining room we started with a filling bowl of beef and vegetable broth with homemade bread. Main course is a choice of chicken or ham on the bone – both very traditional but very good. The apple and rhubarb crumble was simple but simply divine.
Guests get a cup of wine for each course too – just enough to inspire a few to get up and dance to compete to be crowned king or queen of the night. Watch the video below for some excellent efforts, as well as highlights from all the night’s entertainment.
You might think a Celtic Feast Show is something for tourists only, but the guests were a mix of locals and visitors from the likes of the US and Europe.
As a Donegal native, I found it all the more special to be seeing history come alive in the very location where the legends were born.
You’ll get to know your fellow feasters during the mead reception and when you’re sitting together at shared banquet tables – which makes it all the better craic at the afterparty in the Fort Bar.
I’d really recommend taking advantage of the offer to stay overnight at the An Grianan following the feast. If you do stay, you can then jive the night away in the bar! (We were treated to the brilliant Peter Donegan / Me, Myself and I last weekend.)
The Celtic Feast Nights all take place on weekends so it’s a great excuse to turn the nights out into a mini-break away at the hotel.
The next day you can have a delicious breakfast in the Old Church Restaurant before driving to the top of the famous mountain to see the Grianan stone fort in all its glory. You can appreciate the historic fort so much more after seeing the colourful stories acted out the night before at the feast.
If you’re visiting Donegal for the next Bank Holiday weekend or thinking about a little staycation – then this is one night out that is always going to be legendary!
The next Celtic Feast Nights at the An Grianan Hotel take place on the following dates:
Sunday 6th August – Sunday 27th August – Saturday 28th October – Sunday 10th December
For more information, visit www.angriananhotel.com/Celtic-Feast-NightsTags: