By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor
Sidebar Out and about
What’s even more crowd-pleasing than Ireland’s stunning scenery and immersive culture? Its warm, welcoming hospitality. Meetings and conferences are all about engagement with locals and interaction with fellow delegates, and so are many of Ireland’s most popular group activities. Cook up a storm with a teambuilding session at the Ballyknocken Cookery School in Wicklow, Belle Isle Castle Cookery School in Fermanagh, or at one of the many other cookery schools found throughout Ireland.
Be part of it
Meeting planners are invited to host a conference or meeting in Ireland in 2013 and be part of something special - The Gathering Ireland 2013, a yearlong homage to the Irish culture, heritage, sports, and traditions, with a diverse range of events. This is the year to visit Ireland and experience firsthand the Céad Míle Fáilte – “100,000 welcomes.”
Room to breathe
Ireland’s array of accommodation options varies from traditional to contemporary, including international luxury brands, small boutique hotels, and country estates. And from campuses to castles, there are a number of categories to suit every price range.
Sixty-three airlines offer more than 190 routes into Ireland, including many direct flights from several U.S. gateway cities to Dublin, Belfast, and Shannon airports. Passengers departing from Dublin or Shannon airports to the U.S. pre-clear customs and immigration prior to boarding flights, and luggage for passengers with connecting flights is checked through to their final destination. City of quarters
Belfast’s lively arts scene centers around Cathedral Quarter, where visitors can catch one of the city’s many festivals, performances, and cultural events. In Queen’s Quarter, meeting planners can host conferences within the magnificent Lanyon Building of Queen’s University. And the recently revitalized dockyards, where the Titanic was built a century ago, are now known as the Titanic Quarter.
Walk through history
Titanic Belfast - an interactive experience comprised of nine galleries - lets visitors explore the history behind the world’s most famous ship. Groups can also wine and dine in one of a number of event spaces on the top two floors, the Titanic Suites. Culinary capital
Cork is known as the gourmet capital of Ireland, with world-renowned food festivals, farmers markets, and restaurants serving locally produced and grown fare. Cork’s English Market, which dates back to 1788, is known for its fresh produce, fish, meat, and local artisan specialties.
Whether it’s the Lakes of Killarney, Ring of Kerry, or Dingle Peninsula, visitors can’t get enough of Kerry’s captivating vistas and views. The best part: The destination is the perfect jumping-off point to explore the surrounding countryside. Killarney is just a 40-minute flight from Dublin and is close to Shannon and Cork airports. Historic gem
Groups who visit Derry-Londonderry, Ireland’s only completely walled city, can explore more than 1,450 years of history, yet at the same time take in some of Ireland’s most versatile purpose-built meeting venues, like the Millennium Forum.
Bridge the gap
One of Ireland’s oldest and most popular tours, the Gap of Dunloe tour in Killarney, includes sailing on the three lakes of Killarney, horseback riding (or a horse-drawn carriage ride) through the seven-mile Gap of Dunloe, and a relaxing ending with a cup of Irish coffee at the 150-year-old Kate Kearney’s Cottage.
For more information: Tourism Ireland - 847.516.0038; meetinireland.com/us