I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ireland to learn more about what the country could offer our events and incentive clients. Below are some of the highlights from the three counties I visited; all of which convinced me that Ireland is a great destination!
With direct flights from the east coast of the United States into Shannon Airport, the intriguing and peaceful western countryside is surprisingly accessible.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a traditional 19th century Irish village with cottages and activities from all around Ireland. Guests can taste traditional Irish cuisine or learn to play the bodhrán, the traditional Irish drum. Also on property is Bunratty Castle, originally built in 1425 and restored in 1954 to its 15th and 16th century style, with unique décor such as 10,000 year old ancient Irish elk antlers that were found preserved in peat. The castle holds two medieval banquets a day, serving up to 140 people at a time. During the holiday season the folk park transforms into the North Pole.
Nearby Dromoland Castle, dating back to the 5th century, beautifully combines its Gaelic royal past with modern luxury. Fly-fishing, gardens, golf, falconry, and a driving range provide guests with a variety of activities suited for the Irish countryside.
One of County Clare’s true jewels are the Cliffs of Moher. With walking paths along the precarious cliff edge, visitors can look out over the tumultuous Atlantic for miles.
Another unique region in Clare is The Burren, translated as “a rocky place.” The Burren is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe, created as limestone dissolves over time. One landmark in this park is Poulnabrone dolmen, or “hole of sorrows,” a tomb that dates back to 3200 BC.
photo: Our group was greeted at Dromoland Castle by a hunting party; dozens of hounds escorted us up the drive past the Championship Golf Course.
County Kerry is well known for its diverse landscape, cultural crafts and adventure activity options. Notable sites include the McGillycuddy Reeks Mountain range, the Skellig and Blasket Islands, Lough Lein (also spelled Laene), and the impressive Gap of Dunloe, located just a few minutes from downtown Killarney. The region also contains some of the world’s most renowned golf courses.
photo: Lady’s View lookout over the Gap of Dunloe
Some of most dramatic routes of The Wild Atlantic Way, which spans the entire western coast of Ireland, are found in County Kerry. The south-western peninsulas are speckled with archeological sites, ancient pilgrimage paths and charming towns. For example, Dingle, a small town of 2,000, has become a hub for traditional music and inspirational creativity in the culinary arts, named the Gourmet capital of Ireland 2014. Artists, craftsman, musicians, farmers and fisherman create a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.
During this portion of the trip we stayed at The Europe Hotel & Resort. I fell in love with the modern rustic interior design, extensive spa facilities and stunning mountain views.
Known globally for its hospitality and warm disposition, Dublin is the heart of this thriving nation. One can experience authentic music, friendly locals and a flourishing culinary culture. In Dublin, lively pubs, bustling cosmopolitan businesses and charming historic buildings meet to provide visitors with a variety of things to see and do. Tour the Jameson Distillery, historic Trinity College Dublin, Guinness Storehouse, or Aviva Stadium within the city limits, or venture to the nearby countryside to play iconic golf courses, explore castles and view the spectacular coastline. This easily navigable city of Georgian squares and cobblestone streets is the perfect mix of modern luxury and intriguing historic landmarks.
One of my favorite spots was Guinness Storehouse due to its historical importance to Dublin, flexible event space, 360 degree city view from Gravity Bar, and “Pour Your own Pint” area where guests are taught the six steps of pouring the perfect pint. Additionally, Trinity College Dublin, home to the Long Room Library and Book of Kells is perfect museum for anyone interested in history or religion. The library also holds the harp of Brian Boru, the symbol of Ireland.
I hope this gives you a glimpse of how much Ireland has to offer. If you take a trip across the pond let us know what you think! For more general information about bringing a group to Ireland check out Meet In Ireland.