Meath Women’s Refuge Annual Christmas Lunch

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Saturday December 6th was the date of this year’s Meath Women’s Refuge & Support Services annual Christmas lunch, held at the Central Bar in Navan. I previously met the amazing manager of MWR, Deirdre Murphy while on holiday with my Mam last year. Deirdre is such a genuine and kind hearted soul and the three of us hit it off immediately. So when she invited us to this year’s lunch to help raise money for such an important cause, we were delighted to attend and were looking forward to seeing Deirdre again.


As it was my first time attending, I really had no idea what to expect! The venue was a nice surprise, which I liked from the moment I arrived at the entrance on Trimgate Street. A little café preceded the front doors, which serves takeaway drinks and pastries until late. The small cosy space has overhead heaters to keep you warm while you wait for a fresh brew.


Another thing about The Central…no two rooms are the same, its got a lot of character! We walked through the front bar, up the stairs to the second floor for a welcome drinks reception at the vintage lounge. The vintage lounge is gorgeous..shabby chic with a lot of quirky accents. Old lampshades, pictures and stacks of worn books line the walls, and at the back you’ll find a starlit stage, where musician Caroline Reel entertained everyone as we settled down for a chat with new and old friends.


At the doorway of the vintage lounge was another pleasant surprise. Rebecca O’Byrne of Haute so Fabulous who is also an independent stylist for Stella & Dot was showcasing some of their pieces. Rebecca and I had both attended the Image Blog Awards (she won for Best Fashion blog!) but had only properly met at a Stella & Dot preview the week before and hit it off. It was great to run into her and meet her lovely mother Fionnuala O’Byrne who was there to attend the lunch.


The room was buzzing and the prosecco was flowing. Deirdre was busy making sure everyone was comfortable and received their raffle ticket at the door. My Mam and I sat at a table with Deirdre’s sister Eileen, who is home from Australia to spend Christmas here. Eileen is just as warm and kind as her sister and proved to be fantastic company for the whole afternoon! On my right was Navan’s very own Mayor, Sinead Burke. Chatty and charismatic, Sinead is the most stylish and fun Mayor I’ve ever seen, quickly changing my mindset of old fashioned conservative councillors with her rockabilly style. She’s really passionate about her job, so easy to talk to and gave a very engaging speech later on in the afternoon when we all settled down to lunch.

Since the lunch, Navan has won the title of Most Christmassy Town in Ireland. Coverage of Christmas in Navan will be broadcasted on RTE on Friday December 19th at 16.30pm. Congratulations to the Navan community who are responsible for their town becoming Ireland’s Christmas capital!


We moved from the vintage lounge to the ruby room by way of The Central’s rooftop terrace that resides between the two on the second floor. The rooftop terrace has plenty more seating, potted plants and colourful bunting, with giant umbrellas to keep out the Irish weather. We all took our seats (there wasn’t an empty one in the house!) and perused the lunch menu and list of raffle prizes while Caroline serenaded us with Christmas favourites.


The raffle prizes were so generous and were all donated by businesses in the area. It was wonderful to see such a varied list of participants all supporting the same cause. Many more prizes were donated that weren’t even on the list, and I was delighted when I won a pretty necklace in a mystery raffle I knew nothing about…whoever had an envelope under their seat won a prize!

Unfortunately the room was darker than anticipated (The Ruby Room is a cocktail bar after all!) and I didn’t have an external flash so images aren’t as clear as I would like. The food images weren’t clear enough to post but we had a choice of sweet potato and ginger soup, goat’s cheese tarlet and cranberry jam or baby caesar salad for the starter.
The main course options didn’t include Christmas dinner of turkey and ham, which I thought was a nice touch of making the menu a bit different. Our options were lemon and lime chicken, winter salad with butternut squash, spelt and blue cheese dressing, or baked salmon with prawn skewers.


Deirdre welcoming everyone to the annual Christmas lunch, commenting on the turnout and fantastic response to this year’s event. Deirdre has been working with the women’s refuge for nearly 30 years. Her warmth and compassion for others makes her the most perfect woman for the job and the Christmas lunch was such an enjoyable day because of her efforts and the efforts of all the MWR team.


The Harmon sisters!


The Mayor of Navan then said a few words on the continuous and wonderful efforts of the Meath Women’s Refuge, highlighting the very relevant fact that many of us only consider support services or charities at this time of the year, a time for giving. She reminded us that there are women and children that need support all year round, and Deirdre and the Meath Women’s Refuge are constantly anticipating these situations and provide the necessary support.

Another moving speech was made by Sinead, a lady who once sought the help of MWR and is now greatly involved in the cause. Her story was bittersweet, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. She was engaging, energetic and driven – the kind of woman that everyone would love as a best friend. It was amazing to see her passion and her strength to overcome a bad patch in her life. She was beaming with confidence throughout her speech and received a huge round of applause when she told us about going back to college to study Psychology at NUI Maynooth. I can only imagine the wonderful sense of pride and happiness the team at WRH experience when they hear these stories and achievements, knowing they made a difference to someone’s life.


While the excellent and obliging staff served everyone tea, coffee and homemade mince pies, I took photos of a few of the ladies in attendance who contributed to the great atmosphere at The Central that day. Unfortunately not too many are clear but thank you to those who let me take a picture.

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Thank you to The Central, Deirdre Murphy and The Meath Women’s Refuge and Support Services for a memorable day of inspiring speeches, a lovely lunch and like-minded company. We were there by 12.30 in the afternoon and returned home five hours later!

The Meath Women’s Refuge Services provides non-judgmental support safety and security for women experiencing all forms of abuse. For more information for the Meath Women’s Refuge, click here for the website. Click here for the Women’s Aid website for support services in your local area.

Meath Women’s Refuge – +353 (0) 46 9022393
Meath Women’s Refuge Facebook Page.

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