Valentine’s Weekend in the Marble City

If you are looking for a romantic break away this Valentine’s weekend, Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny might just be what you are looking for.  Set on 170 acres of mature parkland, yet just five minutes from Kilkenny City Centre, Lyrath Estate offers guests all the peace and tranquillity of a country house yet is within a short drive of the bustling ‘Marble City’.

externalshotofoldhouselyrath

An historic country hotel house is at the heart of the Lyrath Estate which has been sympathetically renovated to its former 17th century glory. The house has been seamlessly joined to a contemporary wing, which houses the bedrooms and public areas all of which were completely renovated in the last 18 months. A stunning new casual chic bistro, ‘The Grill & Bar’ has been added in the mezzanine area above the main lobby while an elegant light filled space, called The Atrium is lovely space to enjoy an elegant afternoon tea for two.

infinitypool

The Oasis Spa at the property offers lots of treatments for both men and women and the outdoor hydrotherapy pool with views of the gardens provides a rejuvenating experience that sets the tone for complete relaxation.

Dining at the Lyrath is an experience in itself, under the remarkable talent and flair of chef, Kenneth Murphy, Yew Restaurant provides diners with a memorable culinary experience.

tupper27sbar

Lyrath Estate also includes a gym, swimming pool, several walking trails and even a private cinema.  The Two Night Valentine’s Break at Lyrath Estate costs from €232 per person sharing and includes two night’s bed and breakfast and dinner on one evening in Yew Restaurant. Pre -booking is essential and the Valentine’s menu is served in Yew Restaurant on the 14th, 15th and 16th of February. For more information see www.lyrath.com or call 056 7760088

Cahernane House Wins Gold

Years ago, before the sleepless haze of children, my husband and I had a romantic getaway to Cahernane House. It was peaceful and felt like even with a house full of guests, we were treated like the only ones. So, I was understandably thrilled when the announcement came this week that the PREM Group owned, Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney, Co. Kerry has won a CIE Tours International Gold Award of Excellence for the best 4-star hotel in Ireland.

cahernanehousehotelhistoriccountryhouseinkillarneynationalpark

Note: Alongside the official announcement, I’m sharing a few select photos from our stay, so keep in mind they’ve upgraded the accommodations since our visit so it’s even more glorious!

CIE Tours International surveyed 3,610 guests who visited Cahernane House Hotel in order to independently ascertain their feedback about the hotel and the guest experience.  Guests marked the accommodation, breakfast, service and dinner at Cahernane House Hotel with the property scoring a massive 95.9% overall favourability rating.

cieawardpresentationpic2

The General Manager of Cahernane House Hotel, Emer Corridan accepted the Gold Award of Excellence on behalf of her team at an awards event held (today, January 28th) at City Hall, Dublin.

Speaking at the awards ceremony last night (28th January), Emer said, “I’m very proud to accept this award on behalf of everyone on our team. Cahernane House Hotel is a very special place, we love where we work, the house and the grounds exude a deep sense of quiet calm.  We constantly strive for excellence and this award is testament to the hard work that our staff do every day to make our guest experience memorable.”

PREM Group CEO, Jim Murphy said, “We are thrilled that one of our properties has won such a prestigious award.  The CIE Tours International evaluation teams survey over 28,000 guests annually, many of whom have travelled from overseas.  These guests are discerning, they expect high standards and are quite often seasoned travellers.  The score achieved was fantastic, we are absolutely delighted.”

Riding My Bike - A Handlebar View

Located just outside the centre of the thriving town of Killarney, the 40-bedroom Cahernane House Hotel is still far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Kerry’s major urban centre to offer a secluded and tranquil getaway. It is located on 6.4 acres of verdant grounds and situated on the edge of the Killarney Lakes and Killarney National Park.

Riding Up the Drive to Cahernane House

The house itself is reminiscent of times gone by and the charm in which it was built upon in the 1800’s has never been lost despite the changeover of owner’s numerous times throughout its history.

cahernanehousehotelhistoriccountryhouseinkillarneynationalpark

There are five main rooms on the ground floor of the property; the Pembroke Suite, the Herbert Restaurant, Drawing Room, Library and Reception. Each of these rooms contain historical artefacts and original antiques including items such as the Herbert Family Crest which is depicted above the front door of the hotel and is reference to the original owners of the house.

View from Cahernane House Parlor

The house was originally built in 1877 as a family residence for Henry Herbert at a cost of £5,992. The original plans were to build a mansion three times the size of what it is presently, but the next generation of the Herbert family fell on hard times and let the property out as a hotel. As a result, the property feels and looks more like a grand, country, private residence rather than a hotel. In the Library

Cahernane House Hotel has recently undergone an extensive €6.5 million renovation to completely reinvigorate the property, all of which has been overseen by the new owners of the hotel, the PREM Group, who acquired the business in 2016.

The extensive renovation to the Garden Wing was completed last summer, with all 26 rooms in the wing, being entirely stripped, modernised, and refurbished. Each room offers something different however, with every bedroom having its own personality that is portrayed through the wallpaper, paintings, and ornaments. Towards the end of last year, The Cellar Bar was also completely renovated to reveal a homely and eclectic environment deep in the under belly of the old house. The owners have just started on a new phase over the winter months which will see the development of 8 new bedrooms in the old coach house wing of the property with work expected to be completed by May 2019. It has been an exciting 12 months for Cahernane House Hotel which was also recently accepted into Ireland’s Blue Book and the prestigious Condé Nast Johannsen’s Traveler Guide.  The property is currently closed for renovations and will reopen on the 8th of March, 2019. For more information on Cahernane House Hotel see www.cahernane.com

Ready and Welly

Friday Night Apres Snow Food Options in Cork City

The snow is turning to slush in town and the roads are fairly clear, so we’ve seen a fair number of people venturing out for food. After all, a loaf of sliced pan only lasts so long. Here is a partial list of places open based on their official Twitter account updates. Usual hours are not in place, so ring first to make sure they’re still open.

 

 

 

 

 

And if you don’t want to go out…

And after the snow has cleared this weekend, remember to visit local businesses who have suffered business loss from this storm.

 

 

10-year Itch

For the rest of 2018, we will be forgoing blog posts in favor of more Instagram activity because I am focusing on TWO Instagram accounts now:

@FreckledPast

@BrunchCork

But don’t worry, I’m still living in Cork and planning more content for 2019 and beyond. But sometimes, you have to step back to come back stronger and we’ve been blogging on here for nearly 10 years. Ten years. TEN YEARS. Really, here’s my first post from Spring 2008. So, it’s nice to have a little break to get clarity and inspiration.

Come over to Instagram and follow @FreckledPast and @BrunchCork

Old Cork City Photos from National Library of Ireland

I love old photos, stories, letters, and anything that offers a glimpse into what life was like for those before us. If you didn’t already know, National Library of Ireland has a vast collection of such photographs online! I am including some of Cork in this post. Click on any photo to go to the NLI’s page on Flickr with details on the photo. I precede each photo with the year (or estimated range) when it was taken.

1918 – Daunt’s Square view of Patrick’s Street

Patrick Street, Cork from Daunt's Square

After Kent train station opened in February 1893.

Curves in Cork

11:19am around 1900 – Bridge Street looking up at Patrick’s Hill

Nineteen minutes past 11 o'clock

1900-ish – The Coal Quay “Irish market” where Cornmarket and Bodega are now located.

Paddy's Market, Cork City

1897–1910 view of Shandon bell tower and base of Shandon Street from around where Gate Cinemas is now.

Unidentified image? Not for long! It's Cork of course

1948–1950 Looking across the south fork of the River Lee up Grand Parade (Electric would be out of view on the right)

Grand Parade in Cork City

May or June 1937 of Patrick’s Street

Tramless Patrick Street in Cork

1902 view of Patrick’s Street

Born to Run

Queen’s College Cork – now University College Cork (aka UCC) in 1900

Unidentified = Queen's College, Cork (now UCC)

1893-1898 Grand Parade view

Grand Parade, Cork City, Co. Cork

1910–1915 view of Grand Parade

Grand Parade, Cork (LOC)

Tuesday, 14 December 1920, The Burning of Cork

The Burning of Cork

River Lee for the Cork Exhibition in summer somewhere in 1 May 1902 – 31 October 1903. The Daly Bridge (The Shaky Bridge) now stands by that site.

Wheeeeee

 

And a few from not quite city centre…

They were kissing the Blarney Stone even back in 1868–1914 without safety railings!

Kissing the Blarney Stone

They finally added railings!

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Youghal 1900

To market, to market…

Fair Day in Bantry town. 1865-1914

Fair Day, Bantry, Co. Cork

The electric tram in Douglas Village 1900–1920

A street scene in Cork with tram and passengers!

Do you have a favorite memory of one of these places?

International Grocery Stores in Cork

Being from Washington, D.C. and living for over 30 years in the United States, I am accustomed to a wide variety of the world’s cuisines. When I cannot find a restaurant that makes what I am craving, I turn to the many international grocery stores to help me make it myself. Here is a list of many of those stores so you too can cook an exotic meal, which for many is just a taste of home.

Chisom African Food Store
Unit 6 Enterprise Park, Ballincollig behind Lidl. Cork,
(021) 428 994, Hours 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM
www.chisomfoodireland.com

Inside Africa Afro Carribean Store
81, shandon street, Cork
(021) 239 8626, Hours 9:00 AM – 8:00 AM

Aiysha’s Spice House, Halal Food Store
82, Shandon Street, Cork
(021) 422 0422, Hours 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
www.aiysha.ie

Classic African Store
99 Barrack Street, T12 E2WF Cork

Spice House, Asian and European grocery shop
16 Bridge Street, Cork
(021) 455 2001, Hours 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Asian Foods
14 North Main Street, Cork
Phone: 021-4279142, Mobile 087-2708050
Asian Spices

4 Coburg Street, Cork
083 438 6707, Hours 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Jia Jia Real Asian Market

8-9 Cornmarket St., Cork
(021) 422 2221, Hours 9:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Iago: Italian Specialty Grocery Store

9 Princes Street, Cork
(021) 427 7047, Hours 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Wroclaw Polish Supermarket

13 Daltons Avenue, Cork
(021) 425 1793, Hours 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Le Table Belge Ltd

97 North Main Street, Cork

Hours 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

www.latablebelge.com

Pimenton Picante at Mercado Central, Valencia//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Home Square in Cornmarket Centre

When I first moved to Cork city about a decade ago, sourcing fun home decor items was a challenge. There was no HomeSense, TKMaxx, and especially no Home Square. I must admit, I LOVE Home Square. It is calm and well presented, with the items displayed in uncluttered, but fun ways. When my friend Steve started the shop, I couldn’t wait to see what it would stock and I was thrilled when the four walls were filled with home decor and gift items rich with personality and style.

Tucked in the Cornmarket Centre with Lidl, TKMaxx, and De Calf Cafe, Home Square is a source of whimsy and style. But you wouldn’t know it from the outside. It’s like a toy chest… for home decor-obsessed grownups like myself.

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

The only thing I wanted for my birthday was a pink Eames-style chair for my desk. It is practical yet fun, like me. But then Christmas came quickly on the heels of my birthday and we were back to Home Square again for more shopping.

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

From statement pieces, like tall lanterns with electric (child- and pet-safe) candles to beautiful artificial floral arrangements that will carry you through winter into spring and beyond.

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

And lots of things that you can grab and be done with in terms of hostess or family gifts.

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Right now, they have the must fun clocks. If I had a mantle, you can bet one of these would find its way to be showcased there.

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

This one is kinda my favorite. Industrial retro is a thing, right?

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

You can never have too many toss pillows when you have kids who love building pillow forts. I’ll take one of each. For kids, of course. But the bird ones are my favorites!

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

 

There is an entire line of animal paintings here that are fun and vibrant. Whether you love cows or dogs or giraffes, this place has just the piece for you and they are hand finished for under €50, which is amazing.

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Or if you don’t have the wall space, get a dog on a mug.

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Now, in all seriousness, this is probably one of my super favorite items in the shop. I am not sure if I would hang it to store yarn or make a rustic dollhouse with it.

Christmas shopping in Cork city Ireland

Basically, every trip to Home Square makes me wish I had a house. It’s so cool with someone local, like Steve, decides to invest in the community with a shop. But it’s pretty lucky when the shop stocks a range of useful and fun things. So, shop local.

I know this sounds like a big old ad, but I just love the place and I’ve been meaning to write about it for over a year now. Glad I finally did because selfishly I want Home Square to thrive so when I finally do get a house, I can outfit my place with paintings of animals wearing headphones and a gazillion cheerful toss pillows. My room will totally have a dedicated room for pillow forts.

Where is your favorite place to get fun gift or home items in Cork city?

Shop Local: My Favorite Irish-owned Shops for Gift Buying in Cork City

It’s all about getting those last-minute bits and bobs this weekend, so the family and I are all about town today. I was thinking I’d share a list of which Irish-owned and local shops I go to for specific things, because maybe you’re shopping too.

I try to shop in local shops as much as possible. First choice is a Cork-based business, second is an Irish-based business, third choice is an independent/family-owned small business anywhere in the world, and fourth is a non-Irish corporation or business. ‘Try’ is the operative word, it doesn’t always work, but when it does it feels good.

In an article by Evelyn Ring in the Irish Examiner, economist Jim Power is quoted as saying, “If you spend money in these local shops it is worth three times more to the local community. Every €100 spent in locally-owned shops results in an injection of €250 into the local economy,” So, shop local and enjoy personal service, beautiful items, and knowing your money is staying in your community.

 

Home Square

For a hostess gift or when outfitting your new home, Home Square at 5D Cornmarket Shopping Centre, Cornmarket Street, Cork, (021-424 8689) is a must. Some furnishings, lighting, accent pieces, wall decor, clocks, and silk flower arrangements make this a good spot to find that certain piece what you’ll know when you see it. And they’re so helpful. My husband got my birthday gift here and they were great. In case you’re curious, it was a pink Eames-style chair to use at my [orange] desk. Much like HomeSense, there is a selection from wall art to toss pillows, but unlike HomeSense, you’ll find quirky things that give your home a one-of-a-kind vibe. I mean, where else can you find a patchwork Eames-style chair or a painting for a dog wearing headphones? I seriously love this place and finished my Christmas shopping there this week, so will have to write a whole post about it. UPDATE: I wrote a whole post about Home Square with pics of the shop’s interior.

 

Unbound

With shops in Cork city and Killarney, Unbound at 5 Bridge Street, Cork, has a quaint tea room feel with things for the modern life. Those things we all need, but here they have more personality. I have found a few favorite things there, including a fair trade cotton poncho and a couple little kiddie gifts. They have a fabulous selection of teacups and mugs that give everyday tea a bit of pampering and personality. Like this mug Miles Apart mug that has Ireland on one side and New Zealand on the other, perfect for the expat you love (obviously, give it to them with a box of Barry’s). They also stock a selection of Kate Spade New York items, such as stationery and insulated tumblers. This Miss to Mrs. tumbler in particular is the perfect gift for your newly engaged friend. She can use it all the time, but quite useful on her wedding day when she needs to drink with a straw to keep her makeup pristine (and think of how cute it will be in the photos). Or give the mum in your life a locket, but with a modern look. So all the little bits and bobs sorted there!

Vibes & Scribes

With three sister shops in Cork City, Vibes & Scribes is a destination for arts and craft supplies (Bridge Street), second-hand books (Lavitt’s Quay), and new books and gifts (Lavitt’s Quay). In February 2015, Vibes & Scribes was awarded Retailer of the Year at the Cork Chamber of Commerce Awards. Vibes and Scribes is one-of-a-kind in Ireland as it focuses not just on one type of craft supply, but encompasses the wide range of DIY possibilities from millinery to sewing/quilting, fine painting and illustration to knitting and crochet, and beading to kid crafts. It is also one of Ireland’s largest sellers of DIY wedding supplies. And the shopping extends to an online store too. My picks for gifts from Vibes & Scribes would be Manos del Uraguay lace yarn for a knitter/crocheter, a jelly roll or fat quarter bundle for your favorite quilter, or a gift certificate to give the gift of choice.

Kilkenny Shop

The Kilkenny Shop at Emmet Place or in Douglas will offer you a selection of gifts and the convenience of shipping if you so desire. Their customer care is lovely and their stock is proof of their promotion of Irish design for 50 years. Though the shop carries lesser known artists and designers, you can also seek out the big names, such as AvocaOrla Kiely, Stephen PearceNewbridge, Jill Graham, Louis MulcahyBelleek, Ulster WeaversAbsolute, Cath KidstonAran Woollen Mills, and Chupi. Gift picks that stood out to me on a recent visit to the Cork shop would be the Stephen Pearce Medium Barrel Vase for a hostess gift, filled with fresh flowers, of course.  The Absolute Rose Gold Necklace for the woman who brings sparkle to your life. For a delicate statement, the Small Dusk Necklace by Jill Graham is a winner. It reminds me of a starry version of the necklace in Love Actually. At my home, we use the Stephen Pearce Bread Dish beside the hob to hold our bottle of olive oil and salt grinder.

Cork Craft & Design

Based at 27a St. Patrick’s Woollen Mills, Douglas, Cork Craft & Design is a centre of excellence, bringing together the very best of Cork’s unique and excellent craft and art work. A cooperative-style business, their inventory is sourced from actual artists, not warehouses. Their members include ceramicists, jewellers, textile workers, furniture makers, woodturners and carvers, paper and felt makers, sculptors, and many more.

Bradley’s Off-Licence

With a long history on North Main Street, Bradley’s Off-Licence is a local institution. A family business since 1850, Bradley’s is somewhat of a Cork institution, currently run by the fourth generation in the person of Michael Creedon (son of Mary Bradley). The shop sells beer, wine, and spirits, but also minerals, milk, Cork meats, Irish cheeses, breads, crackers, crisps, sweets, chocolates, and newspapers. And more. They pride themselves on personal service in an increasingly faceless retail world. Michael’s focus and passion on coming into the business was centred on wine – he is a holder of a Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), as well as being a member of the prestigious Champagne Academy. Their wine range reflects many of his personal favourites and wines they are happy to stand recommend. That passion now extends to the full off-licence range. Craft beer from Ireland’s micro-breweries and across the world take pride of place as they love to sell “real beer with real flavour”. They currently have in the region of 500 beers and it continues to grow. They have an extensive “top shelf” of Irish and international whiskies and other spirits & liqueurs with a special emphasis on the more unusual and “hard to find”. Currently, they are adding to their food range and in a bid to mirror their quality off-licence range they are sourcing the best of local, Irish produce. I love their selection of Irish preserves and honey. For the foodie friend or hostess or the beer/wine lover, this is the spot. They also have a fab selection of Irish gins!

David Chocolatier

Handcrafted in a garden studio setting close to the centre of cork, David Chocolatier makes chocolates in small batches with passion for the craft. With close attention to detail, the chocolates are skillfully crafted in a range of chocolate products from bars to dips, unique individual handbags, shoes, mouthwatering chocolates with seasonal fillings. From the studio, the chocolates are delivered to David’s chocolate shop in the English Market (1st on Right from Princes Street) and to other good food shops around the City. I personally love that they also sell artisan chocolates from other chocolatiers in Ireland.

And More!

The list does not stop there, here are more shops which keep your business local, but you know spending here will not only help you go home with the perfect gift, but it makes a measurable different and positive impact on a local business. So, shop local.

Cork Vintage Quarter

 

Benedictus Bookshop

Danero Chocolate

The Village Hall

 

I know this list is far from complete, so please comment with your favorites and, over time, I’ll add to this post!

The Best Place for…

I am often asked for recommendations, so I am making a list of my favorite spots for various things. Sometimes it is specific, sometimes it is vague. But these are just a few because, as we know, Cork city has so much to offer and this list is just a tiny fraction of all it has to offer.

If you’re hankering for something specific and had not tried it at the spot I mention, it just may inspire you to check out a new place. Then you can come back here and tell me that it isn’t nearly as good as your favorite spot and advice me to check that place out.

I’ll keep adding to this!

The Best place for…

 

…breakfast or elevenses.

Tea, Scones, and Homemade Jam – Hassetts Bakery

Fluffy Potato Cakes – Nash 19

Porridge – Nash 19

Cherry scones – Idaho Cafe or Hassetts Bakery

Scones – Filter Coffee

€5 breakfast – Parlour Cafe

Made-to-order omelets – Currans

 

…brunch

Yogurt with granola – Brick Lane

Sourdough bread-based dishes – Bodega

Waffles – Idaho and Brick Lane

Creative seasonal menus – Ali’s Kitchen

Fluffy buttermilk pancakes – Oytster Tavern and Parlour Cafe

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes – White Rabbit

Crepes – Serendipity Cafe

Bacon butty – Electric

 

…lunch.

Food with a View – Farmgate Cafe in English Market

Corned Beef Sandwich – Long Valley Bar (available at lunch only)

Spiced Beef Sandwich – Oyster Tavern (available at lunch only)

Tuna Sandwich – Bracken’s

Perfect Lunch – Nash 19

Prix fixe lunch – Market Lane, Luigi Malone’s,

 

…food on the go or take away.

Sausage in a roll – O’Flynn’s in English Market or Winthrop Street

Clay-Oven Pizza – Knockout Pizza (no fixed location)

Falafel wrap – Rocketman East

Grilled cheese – Rocketman East

Salads – Loving Salads or Rocketman

Fried haloumi, tabouleh, and mint lemonade – Umi Falafel

Burritos – Boojum

 

…dinner.

Leisurely Dinner – Market Lane or Oyster Tavern

Pre-Fixe Menu Lunch – Market Lane

Lunch that feels like a spa retreat – Greene’s

BBQ – Holy Smoke, White Rabbit

Buffalo Wings – Luigi Malone’s

Steak – Brick Lane and Pembroke

Pizza and local pint deal – Rising Sons

Burger – Bunsen and Son of a Bun

Risotto – Oyster Tavern

Creamy Salmon Pasta – Nostra

Duck – Greene’s

Meaty Salads – Son of a Bun and Brick Lane and SoHo

Tapas – Parlour Cafe

Tender slow-cooked featherblade of beef – Greene’s and Oyster Tavern

 

…pizza.

Pizza and local pint deal – Rising Sons (they offer kid sizes too)

Pompeii Pizza at Franciscan Well

Luigi Malone’s (they offer kid sizes too)

Markets and Events Mobile Clay-Oven Pizza – Knockout Pizza (no fixed location) & Volcano

Fun toppings – Sober Lane

On a menu with other ‘dinner out’ foods – Luigi Malone’s and Nosta

Gluten-free – Uncle Pete’s

 

…salads.

Loving Salads (dine-in or take away, daytime only)

Son of a Bun (lunch and dinner)

SoHo (lunch and dinner)

Rocketman (take away, daytime hours)

 

…ingredients and supplies to cook.

Sausage – O’Flynn’s in English Market

Spiced Beef [to cook at home] – Chicken Inn, Durcan’s, or Coughlan’s in English Market

 

…something sweet or spiked.

Nibbles/Tapas &  Cocktails – The Bridge, Parlour Cafe, Electric, Les Gourmandises

Classic pint – The Castle Inn

Cream-filled buns or cinnamon rolls – Ali’s Kitchen

Donuts – Sticky Fingers

Gingerbread/Shortbread Man Cookie – ABC (gingerbread) or Healy’s (shortbread with chocolate trousers) in English Market

Hot Port – Le Chateau

Step Back In Time – Hi-B Bar

Afternoon Tea – There was a separate post for this.

Boozy Hot Chocolate – Idaho Cafe

Moscow Mule – Oyster Tavern (they even have the proper copper mugs)

 

 

Here are links to my previous blog posts about Cork:

Your Guide to Visiting Cork City

Guest Post by Glass of Win: A Day In Cork

Visiting Ireland: An Extended Q&A Session

A Visit to Cork City

 

Now come on, Leesiders, comment with your favourites!

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving – Competing in a Hackathon as a Marketer

Two weeks ago, on American Thanksgiving, I woke with a spring in my step because it is one of my favorite holidays. A day for family to be together to feast, while being thankful and appreciative for what we have. Growing up in DC, this holiday is about inclusiveness, so I always love spending it with my family and feeling the inherent peace of the day. In a way, the Teamwork.com Hackathon was a fitting way to mark the day with my work family.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

What is a Hackathon?

The premiss of a hackathon is still relatively new to the world and mostly centered within the tech industry, so I will explain what it is briefly. It grew from a software programmer and developer event to something greater and farther reaching. To learn more, read this Quora Q&A-style article. But the gist of it is…

A hackathon is a sprint-like event, typically lasting 24 hours to several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming. The large group can be broken down into self-formed smaller teams or groups. The goal of a hackathon is to create usable software or some other result that did not previously exist. Hackathons tend to have a specific focus, and at the start a successful event or team would have their plan in place, whether it be focused on a programming language, operating system, application development, API, or something else.

Baby Got Hack

My team and I named ourselves Baby Got Hack because there are few ‘Churn’ puns we preferred (‘Churn Baby Churn, Disco Inferno’ seemed like low hanging fruit) had planned for a few weeks to figure out who would do what and the project timeline.As a non-developer, there are limitations to the impact of my hackathon project, but that did not deter our enthusiasm one bit. A few things were apparent from the beginning and those were:

  1. As non-developers, our presentation had to be dynamic because we did not have a coded product to demo.
  2. Even for our four-person team, what we wanted to accomplish would take the full 24 hours.
  3. We were doing this not to win, but to learn more about something, give it a try in a cross-functional team, and challenge ourselves to create something new in one day.

I won’t go into the specifics of our project, but our team comprised of Sarah in Sales, Paul in Support, Leanne in Support, and me in Marketing, so you can accurately surmise our focus was on customer advocacy.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Chronicling the Day

Throughout the day, I documented the experience through Instagram live stories, photos, and videos. We all used the hashtag #twhackathon17. This offered a glimpse behind the scenes into the lively world of Teamwork.com, but shared my enthusiasm of being part of a challenge like an organized hackathon.

I am sharing the videos with you here all together in one place so you can see the day. I’ll include little side comments and notes between the videos to offer context. Unfortunately, the embedding of the videos from Flickr and Instagram leave much to be desired, so I think you’ll need to click through to view each. Alternatively, read the post then visit the hashtag #twhackathon17 and watch all the related videos at once. That would be my choice if I were doing it.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com 

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Time for dinner. The announcement that pizza was being delivered came mere minutes after my team ordered Deliveroo. I had pad Thai and fried calamari from Koto on Carey Lane.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

After dinner, I posted another update when things got lively with beer pong and flip cup. Yes, at the office.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

And there were shots. In case you cannot tell, the ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ philosophy is alive and well at Teamwork.com. This is a view of the main kitchen.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

I enjoyed the social aspects then went back to work with Sarah.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

We kept working away. It was challenging to post these video progress updates without divulging our actual project details. I think this about when Ciara saved us with her skills, even though she was not on our team she lent a hand in our moment of need. That’s what Teamwork.com strives for and we had it. I was thankful…on Thanksgiving.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Teamwork.com Campus One has many uniquely decorated rooms, my favorite of which is the Midcentury Modern sitting room on the top floor. This is from where I posted this update.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Having already changed into my flannel Nick & Nora pyjamas (between the gnomes and The Thin Man reference, these PJs are my faves), I was ready to keep working on my project in comfort. Not that the Lularoe I rocked all day wasn’t super cosy already.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Patrick here was a good sport being in my video when clearly he needed to focus on his own hackathon project.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Added Hackathon bonus was that I hacked the motion sensor lights in the office I commandeered as a bedroom for the night. I felt very MacGyver-like since I used a Post-It note and two pieces of clear sticky tape (Scotch tape).

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Still Instagramming and working away until after 2am, Sarah and I were in it for the long haul.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Sarah left around 3am and I worked a little longer then I finally slept from 5-7am while Paul worked away. The entire night, Sarah, Paul, and I stayed in close touch via Teamwork Chat (of course). When we awoke, the first thing we did was check on Paul’s work to make sure he was set before the presentations at 10am. Not surprisingly, he had *just* finished his part and we could give him immediate feedback.

The Next Day

The presentations lasted a couple hours and were amazing. SO many creative projects and hacks that would make our business, community, or lives better. Such brilliant colleagues! The next morning, I donned my Teamwork.com swag for the presentations.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Though we did not win, we accomplished something great as a team and that was satisfying. Here, I am updating in the morning.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

Aside from my two-hour nap in the night, I had been awake for about 30 hours when I filmed this final video. I was loopy and ready to go home to bed.

Hackathon 2017 at Teamwork.com

My Hackathon Experience

Really, the essence of the hackathon experience to me was creating something that did not exist before with a team made up of varied skills and expertise while strengthening interpersonal office relationships through fun, games, and collaboration. Nothing like spending 30 hours straight at the office to catch up with everyone on all three floors and all the departments/teams. Peter Coppinger, Founder, CEO, and Lead Developer, came up to me and chatted about life, family, and our shared enthusiasm for how we have the best customers. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in all companies, so I appreciated being able to be there for that. If you think this looks like the perfect place to work, you’re in luck because Teamwork.com is hiring in multiple departments.

What do you think? I had participated in two Teamwork.com Hackathons previously, but was off-site, so the on-site experience was far more memorable (and exhausting).

If you think this sounds fun and want to run your own hackathon,  Joshua Tauberer wrote a guide on ‘How to run a successful hackathon’.

What challenge did you rise to that was fun and also satisfying? I mean, parenthood is a given for me too, but anything else?