Headfort Arms Hotel Blog

Friday, 31 March 2017

Boyne Valley Food Series 2017

Posted in  Company News by Linda Higgins 0 comments

We are delighted to be involved once again in the Boyne Valley Food Series. Family-friendly events are key highlights of this year’s programme, which sees a jam-packed year of special festivals and food events in the birthplace of Ireland’s Ancient East. The 2017 Boyne Valley Food Series runs from mid-April and throughout the summer until the end of the year. Boyne Valley Food Series spokesperson Olivia Duff said: “We are thrilled to launch our best ever line-up of food events for 2017 from the Boyne Valley. This year offers an amazing jigsaw of immersive, experience-led events for families, foodies and night owls. The Boyne Valley Food Series is a good news story of collaboration, teamwork and belief in our amazing landscape, heritage and produce of the region and the great venues that offer these unique experiences.”

Launching the 2017 Boyne Valley Food Series programme, travel writer and editor Pól Ó’Conghaile said: “Food and travel have never been holding hands like they are now. Food is such a driver of travel, such an inspiration for trips. We need to bring food and tourism together at a local level even more. Every time a tourist has an opportunity to eat, they need to become word-of-mouth ambassadors for the Boyne Valley.”

The Kells Hinterland Festival (formerly the Hay Festival) is happening from June 22nd until 25th and will feature a dedicated children’s food programme.

You can view and download the full programme for Boyne Valley Food Series 2017 here

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In conversation with Olivia Duff, co-owner of the Headfort Arms Hotel:
 
 
Tell us about you and your hotel (history, family, tradition, location etc.)
"The hotel was built in the mid-18th Century as the town house for the Marquis of Headfort. The Headfort family resided in the house whilst Headfort House was built on the country estate. It began trading as a hotel some time later under Mr. Joseph Lowry - a man known for his late night poker and it is said that a full farm of prime Meath land was lost at the hands of the host in the Headfort.
It changed hands several times and many stories have been recounted of significant visitors, negotiations held and social events held over the course of time at the Headfort. The Hotel that exists today still features elements of the original hotel, which was purchased by our parents Tom and Peggy Duff upon their return to their beloved home town from London. Between this time and until the early 1990s, our parents (who met in the Meath Association in London no less!) embarked upon an extensive refurbishment of the premises. They extended the property to include the ballroom (now referred to as The Kenlis Suite), together with adding a number of additional luxury bedrooms and a lounge that is a landmark meeting point in the region.In 1992, my brother Vincent joined the management team, having previously spent time studying hotel management and working in hotels in the UK. Vincent brought a new sense of young ambition and opened up our Irish Pub next door  - The Kelltic Bar - and brought the hotel into the new millennium with revived vision for the future.
Myself, Olivia, joined the management team full-time in 2005 and I oversaw the development of a number of new Hotel projects, including the opening of the award-winning Vanilla Pod Restaurant, the addition of a number of new bedrooms, the Headfort Spa rooms and the development of guest off-street parking facilities. In 2010, the Headfort Arms won the coveted National Gold Medal Award for Best 3 Star Hotel in Ireland. The Vanilla Pod Restaurant manages to be consistently listed in the highly regarded Bridgestone and Georgina Campbell Guides to Ireland making it a ‘must visit’ for all discerning travellers around Ireland. The hotel is now listed in Irelands Top 100 Places to Stay by the coveted Mc Kenna Guides and continues to pick up regional and national awards based on its hospitality and warm welcome for guests."
 
What is the best part of being a hotel owner?
"No two days are ever the same in this business! But it’s all about the people. Firstly our team; we have several members of staff who are here over thirty years and who just add to the Headfort personality. A hotel is never just bricks and mortar; it needs body and soul! We are like a large family whose job it is to make our guests feel right at home. We love the opportunity to have guests in house who leave with a wonderful sense of belonging to the Headfort and we see them back time and time again."
 
What is the best part about your location?
"We are very fortunate to now be only 45 minutes from Dublin City and so close to the airport, which means that visitors can experience the richest landscapes, heritage and countryside in Ireland only a stone’s throw from our Capital. We lie in the centre of the Boyne Valley, Heritage Capital of Ireland, food lovers’ territory (Foodie Destination of Ireland 2016), golfers’ paradise and historically the Royal Seat of the High Kings of Ireland and birthplace of Irelands Ancient East."
 
What is your favourite client?
"Well, we had Maureen O’Hara stay with us in 2012 for a weekend as her family come from Kells! My father’s first cousin Dick Farrelly from Kells wrote The Isle of Inish Free, which was the theme tune to The Quiet Man. I escorted Maureen and her family to their rooms on arrival and I told her the story of our connections with the movie. She then sat on the side of the bed and sang the full song of The Isle of Inish Free to us, I will never forget that moment.  She was given the freedom of the town and her legacy has really lived on in many community projects since."
 
What is your best client story?
"On my First Communion day as a child, we had a Wedding here in the hotel, so Mum and Dad had to work and my Communion celebrations were put on hold! However, it was all worthwhile when the wedding couple were filmed arriving at the hotel in a horse-drawn carriage and the footage went out all over the USA on CNN and made the front page of all the national papers in Ireland and abroad. I was photographed with the Bride and Groom that day and it turned into the most amazing celebration and piece of PR for our small family-run hotel in Ireland!"
 
What is your worst client story?
"Oh where do you start? Nothing shocks me any more. When you operate a hotel, you experience every type, creed, culture and human behaviour! Last year, for example, a golfer on returning to his room late at night, pushed open a bedroom door that was ajar and fell asleep  on the bed none the wiser after a late night by the piano in the Lounge. In the morning, the 78 year old lady who was asleep in the room woke up to a 40 year old golfer in the bed beside her. After much vocal reaction, thankfully it ended in good faith with apologises exchanged and a large bouquet of flowers from the golfer!"
 
Why do our American clients like your hotel?
"Americans love the Headfort because of its sense of tradition, family approach and authenticity. The Headfort is full of character, in its walls and in its people. We know what the little things that matter are and make for great memories in a visit."
 
 

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Fáilte Ireland has announced its appointment of a number of Food Champions for 2016 to 2017 and Headfort's own Olivia Duff has retained her role for another year. Food Champions are local people that work in the hospitality industry and are committed to promoting Irish food, influencing Irish cuisine and promoting food tourism. Read more about their important work in this press release

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