I don’t even know where to begin with all the positive things I have to say about Ireland so I will start here; everyone I spoke to prior to my experience in Ireland made it very clear that they loved the country or really wanted to visit it. Now I know why they very so enthusiastic about the destination. In essence, Ireland is not a country; it is a story. So much history and culture surround the rich destination of 4 million inhabitants. From the creation of the Titanic to the Great Irish Famine, which led to 2 million Irish people immigrating to Canada and America. Ireland is now engrained in the North American culture with over 40 million Irish Americans currently residing in the USA. Guinness (aka liquid black gold), Saint St. Patty’s day, pub crawls and the classic meat & potatoes dish are just a few of the remarkable Irish influences on the everyday life of North Americans.
But above all that, it is the warmth and kindness of the Irish people that is so evident when visiting the country. Professional, friendly and genuine service was very much part of my experience while touring Ireland and that cannot be beat. Combine that with the 6-hour direct flight into Dublin, endless unforgettable activities, unique 5 star accommodations and you have a perfect destination for your next 3-night, 5-night or 7-night incentive program. Below are just a few of the endless fabulous options your group can experience while in Ireland. I broke them down by region so you can distinguish what can be done in 3, 5 or 7 days.
The K Club (Kildare Hotel, Spa & Country Club)
Located just 30 minutes from Dublin, this magnificent house is truly remarkable. You can easily spend 3 nights here just soaking it all up. Built in 1832 on a sprawling 550-acre estate, this magnificent property is perfect for incentives, meetings, executive retreats and weddings. Activities include golf, fishing, spa, horse riding, clay pigeon shooting, archery, falconry, tennis and wine tasting. And the service at this 5 star resort is consistently perfect. From small groups to large ones, there are various meeting rooms, hospitality rooms and private dinning spaces that can be utilized to customize an incentive program. The Irish Open will begin here in May of 2016 and the venue is perfect for the tournament
This incredible 7 level space hosts 1.7 million visitors each year and provides a very special experience for all the Guinness lovers out there (and you know there are many). From the Guinness Academy where you learn how to pour the perfect pint to the fun memorabilia store and the various private event spaces, the Guinness Storehouse is a must see when in Ireland. And right on top there is a Gravity Bar with stunning views of Dublin. A private sit down dinner for 70 or a cocktail reception for 150, the Gravity Bar provides an unforgettable backdrop for your next incentive program’s welcome or farewell function.
Pub Crawls and Shopping around Grafton Street
There are over 30 fantastic pubs to choose from in Dublin and a pub-crawl is a must. You can buy out a small space within the pub and arrange for private Irish entertainment, which really adds to the experience. Personally I really enjoyed listening to the traditional Irish bagpipes, Tin Whistles and the Bodhran. From high-end, well-known, retailers to one-of-a kind adorable boutiques, Grafton Street and its quaint little sister streets are totally part of the fun when in Dublin.
If traveling by road from Dublin to Shannon a stop at Flanagan’s is a perfect way to break up the transfer and add a special touch to the experience. A private Whiskey class and tasting right next to the Shannon River is a truly a memorable experience for a group and perfect for the Whiskey lovers. Shannon River was the starting point of immigration in 1847 and that was and still is very significant for the Irish people. During the private lunch at Flanagan’s a professional actor play out scenes related to the immigration that are so moving they will bring you to tears.
Set in a real castle with a history dating back to the 5th century, this 5 star hotel is located only 10 minutes from the Shannon Airport. After being the home of the Kings of Thomond for 1000 years, it became a luxury hotel in 1963. This is a wonderful group program property set on a 450-acre estate. On-site activities include trout fishing, falconry, archery, boating, clay pigeon shooting, tennis, walking, mountain biking, spa and an 18-hole championship golf course. For a real treat, your group can experience an arrival fit for kings and queens with the traditional horse and hound dog welcome. The rooms are stunning and the private dining room, which sits 25, is beyond incredible.
Killarney National Park
Located 1 hour from Shannon, this region cannot be missed. If your time is limited a helicopter transfer from Shannon or Dublin can be arranged. Deer ruts can be arranged here for your group at the national park as well as visits to the copper mining fields. The Preferred Hotel, Europe is in close proximity to the Killarney National park and the views will leave you breathless. This property is quite contemporary for Ireland and features 130 rooms along with beautiful private event and meeting spaces.
The Skelling Islands, once known as the Skellocks, are two small, steep, and rocky islands lying about 13 km west of Bolus Head in County Kerry. Parts of the new Star Wars film was filmed on this stunning rock formation and your group can climb it!
Enjoy a traditional horse and buggy ride on this stunning estate followed by a private welcome cocktail reception fit for royalty. This nineteenth century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the water-colorist Mary Balfour Herbert. During the 1850s, the Herbert’s undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition and today the gardens are absolutely dreamy.
Northern Ireland’s capital Belfast is located just 2 hours by road from Dublin and another very special region with a lot to offer. Your group can visit the birthplace of the Titanic and enjoy a fabulous event in one the private event spaces available for groups. The Games Of Thrones was filmed in Belfast and various private tours and events can be arranged for your group around this highlight. This region can easily be combined with the Dublin experience and helicopter transfers can be arranged if timing is limited.
I can go on and on but then you would not read any more. It is safe to say I am in love with Ireland. And as far as great incentive program destinations go, Ireland is one of the best.