Engaging Ireland News

Current news and information about Ireland and Irish travel

Ireland’s Craft Trail

2011 is the Year of Craft in Ireland. In order to help you find the events, studios, galleries, and craft shops in the area(s) you will be in 2011, the  Discover Ireland (www.discoverireland.ie) has lists and links to guide you.

You might also want to check out the Crafts Council in Ireland webpage to get the whole scoop on Year of Craft 2011 (www.ccoi.ie or www.craftinireland.com).

<The following information is from the Discover Ireland website.>

Irish Crafts

Ireland has a huge wealth of artistic talent spread right around the country, from mountainside to sea, you will finda wealth of craft makers in studios tucked away in the towns and villages that dot the Irish countryside. Irish Craft is recognised worldwide for its innovative use of traditional techniques, utilising local materials to create objects of outstanding beauty.

It just happens that 2011 is the official Year of Craft! Throughout the coming year visitors can participate in craft events nationwide by attending demonstrations,  signing up for workshops, meeting the makers  and picking up beautiful pieces of Irish made craft.  www.craftinireland.com

To experience the best of Irish craftsmanship, we encourage you to visit the studios of makers listed on the crafts trails below. You can choose to visit a trail in its entirety or make your own selection for a unique experience. On a craft trail, you get to see the craftwork being made and also meet the makers and hear their creative stories.
There are also a wide variety of retailers who present a huge selection of hand-crafted Irish crafts located throughout Ireland. A selection of retailers are shown below but there are so many more that await your discovery!
To help you experience the oft forgotten magic of seeing a skilled hand create an object from simple materials, we are delighted to present a selection of short films which introduce some of Ireland’s talented craft makers.

Studio Craft Trails to Visit:

MADE in Kilkenny:
A craft trail of 26 makers which winds through the medieval city’s streets and into the rolling countryside of Kilkenny.

West Cork Crafts Trail:
West Cork Craft & Design Guild – 21 Craftmakers working in the serenely beautiful surroundings of West Cork.

Louth Craftmark:
19 Makers creating a rich variety of craft in Louth, including Louth Craftmark Gallery in the town of Drogheda.

Leitrim Design House:
Established craft trail of 26 artisan makers in this beautiful and unspoilt area – a small county with a huge talent base. Featuring Leitrim Design House Gallery in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Craft shops
Crafts studios offer a wonderful opportunity to view a craftsman at work and of course purchase crafts sold by the owner or designer and sometimes by other craftspeople too.
There are fabulous crafts shops around the country which stock a wide selection of products designed and produced in Ireland. You will find inspirational pieces in these craft shops.
For the individualist and those searching for exclusive items, craft galleries are the place for you. Showing and selling mainly one-off and limited edition works, these galleries will take your breath away.
Ardmore Pottery, County Waterford.
Enibas Kinsale, County Cork.
Enibas Schull, County Cork.
Exhibitions and events
There are many specialised events across Ireland each year which showcase Irish craft. They offer a variety of crafts to suit all tastes and prices, and are a great way to find unique gifts while enjoying the buzz of the event.
Art in Action

Posted 7 years ago at 10:09 am.

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2011 St. Patrick’s Day Festival: Dublin

Have you firmed up your plans for St. Patrick’s Day 2011 yet?  The following article is from the Irish Independent newspaper’s online site from Wednesday, January 19, 2011.


This year’s St. Patrick’s Festival is jam-packed with world class entertainment and events.


Dublin’s streets will come alive as the annual parade kick starts the festival.

Onlookers will be dazzled by dancers, artists, street theatre troupes and marching bands coming from all corners of the globe.

DublinSwell –Words and Voices for the City of Literature

In a new and exciting move for the festival, DublinSwell –Words and Voices from the City of Literature, offers the public an once in a lifetime cultural evening celebrating Dublin as UNESCO’s new ‘City of Literature’.

This unique ticketed event will bring together a star studded line up of Irish faces from literature, music, film and theatre. Sebastian Barry, Roddy Doyle, Paul Durcan, Glen Hansard, Paul Howard ( Ross O’Carroll Kelly), Declan Hughes, Paula Meehan, Joseph O’Connor and many more will make the city come alive in an evening of imagination and inspiration.

In the stunning surrounds of the capital’s new Convention Centre, this promises to be a fitting and inspiring tribute to literary Dublin.

Tickets on sale now for Friday 18th March. See www.tickets.ie

Sharon Shannon

Sharon Shannon, one of Ireland’s most accomplished musicians will present a lively evening of traditional music at the National Concert Hall. Her unique style of accordion playing is celebrated worldwide, and her home-coming is sure to be a heartening musical experience.

Tickets on sale now for Saturday 19th March. See www.nch.ie

Events back by popular demand from last year include Céilí, Big Day Out and Treasure Hunt.

Céilí is an outdoor celebration of traditional Irish dancing on Friday 18th March. It offers you the chance to join in and fill the streets with dance as you immerse yourself in Irish culture and craic. Open to all, it promises to be an unforgettable afternoon filled with fun, as expert callers lead you through dances such as the Siege of Ennis, the Walls of Limerick and lots more.

The St. Patrick’s Festival Treasure Hunt is a fun filled free event for all ages. It takes place on Saturday 19th March. Crack the clues and conundrums that lie concealed in the many cultural venues around the city. The Treasure Hunt is great opportunity for all to explore or rediscover Dublin.

Big Day Out will feature the best of street theatre, performance and music in the heart of Georgian Dublin. With acts from Ireland and around the world, Merrion Square is transformed into a family wonderland on Sunday 20th March, a giant oversized playground

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 7:59 pm.

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A Christmas Message from the Irish President

Mary McAleese - Image courtesy RTE.ie

A few days ago, Irish President Mary McAleese recorded her yearly Christmas message.  In this year’s message, she talks about the issues with Ireland’s economy and her continued hope for recovery.  You can also find a link to the video of her address on the RTE website.

“I send warmest Christmas and New Year greetings to each member of Ireland’s family and to all our friends around the world.

At this time of year, exiles return and families gather, glad to see one another. Conversation will doubtless turn to Ireland’s economic problems that are dominating the headlines everywhere and which have brought hardship and heartache into many a home. Our people face a painful economic recovery and, understandably, ask questions about what led to our current difficulties. They wonder how long it will take to get through this crisis and what must be done to prevent it from recurring.

Mustering the self belief and determination that will reinvigorate our country psychologically and economically is now an imperative. Ireland and her people are worth much, much more than to be defined by this economic crisis. Our history has given us resilience in the face of adversity and maybe it’s time to remind ourselves that we do indeed have many strengths to help us on the journey ahead.

Ireland enjoys a dynamic community life sustained by a modern “meitheal” of good neighbourliness, solidarity and volunteer generosity.

We are a people rich in imagination, creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills.

We have a strong business sector, including world class companies that choose to locate in Ireland and indigenous enterprises that are doing very well in export markets.

We have the gift of peace that has already transformed life on our shared island and which has huge untapped potential.

We have an extraordinarily loyal global Irish family whose goodwill and experience is an extensive and enduring resource.

We have men and women of great ability across the arts, humanities, sciences, technologies, sports and development aid sectors, whose genius enhances Irish life and Ireland’s international reputation.

Above all, we have a talented and ambitious cohort of young people who deserve the gifts of confidence in their future and pride in their country.

That confidence and pride will be generated by what we choose to do today and tomorrow to make Ireland the successful, forward looking and egalitarian country it has the desire and the capacity to be.

I wish each and every one of you a peaceful and happy Christmas and a New Year of renewed hope and faith in Ireland’s future.”

We also hope you have had a wonderful holiday. Our prayer is that 2011 is a more joyful and prosperous year for one and all!

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 5:50 pm.

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Solstice Plus Eclipse Equals Spectacular

If you were able to view the lunar eclipse overnight on December 21st, you were treated to a wondrous event in itself. The fact that it was a total lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice makes it that much more interesting. The last time those two events occurred together was about 450 years ago, so if you missed it, there’s not much chance you’ll be around when it happens again! The following is an article written by Dick Ahlstrom that appeared in the Irish Times on December 20th.

You could be present for one of the days of the Winter Solstice sunrise events at Newgrange. Participants are chosen annually by a lottery. If you’d like to be entered into the lottery, visit the Knowth.com website for further information (http://www.knowth.com/newgrange-solstice-lottery.htm).

Solstice Sunrise at Newgrange (Photo by Alan Betson)

Moon steals Newgrange show in event not seen since Tudors

THE FACT that dawn sunlight will beam into the passage grave at Newgrange tomorrow at the very moment that a full moon begins to pass out of a total lunar eclipse is a remarkable and rare coincidence, according to Prof Tom Ray, an astronomer at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

“It is the first time it has happened in about 450 years so that is a coincidence enough. The Tudors were in power in England at the time,” he said.

It is even more remarkable that light from the sun and the moon will appear together, with the first sunbeams at dawn coming just as the moon emerges from eclipse.

“That will happen at exactly eight minutes to nine. The two happen to coincide to within a minute.”

This kind of connection is unbelievably rare, Prof Ray said. “It would not have occurred since Newgrange was built.”

He would not be drawn on whether the juxtaposition carried some portent, some special omen about the future.

“I don’t do astrology,” he said.

The passage grave at Newgrange was built 5,200 years ago even before the pyramids.

It was aligned so that a chamber deep underground lights up with sunlight just as the dawn sun brakes the horizon on the morning of December 21st.

It was a remarkable achievement for those who built it using horse cart and hand given it required thousands of tonnes of rock and earth.

Each year hundreds of people flock to Newgrange to be there on the solstice morning, with a lucky few chosen by a lottery winning the right to be in the chamber at sunrise.

The chamber only lights up because of the very fine alignment of the access passage to the rising winter solstice sun. The light actually enters via a shoebox-sized gap above the passage entrance.

Total eclipses are not rare but they are not everyday occurrences either.

The next visible from Ireland will not be until 2015, according to the Irish Astronomical Association.

They occur when the earth passes between the sun and the moon, cutting off the light and casting a shadow over the full moon.

The eclipse starts at about 7.40am when the moon will be very near setting, according to Terry Moseley of the association. It will be low on the northwest horizon, making it difficult to see.

Mid-eclipse occurs at 8.17am, and the moon will be disappearing fast as dawn breaks over Ireland.

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago at 8:16 am.

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Posh Hotel Christmas

If you’ll be in Ireland for Christmas, you might want to check out these special offerings from some of Ireland’s hotels.  The following article appeared in The Irish Times newspaper on Saturday, December 11. But, in order to take advantage of many of these offers, you’ll need to move quickly to ensure that you get reservations!

Dromoland Castle decked out for Christmas.

With a hotel Christmas package, all you’ve got to do is raise your glass.Sandra O’Connell digs deep in search of some of the best available in Ireland

Park Hotel


There’s a movie theme here in Kenmare, with showings of Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life setting the scene for a traditional Christmas offering.

Guests are greeted with mulled wine and mince pies on Christmas Eve, followed by a candlelight dinner and music from the hotel’s resident pianist as a digestif.

Christmas Day is one long seasonal food-fest, with lunch followed swiftly by afternoon tea (Christmas cake and mince pies) followed by a champagne reception and gala dinner.

Younger guests will be much more interested in Santa’s visit, at 5pm, followed by a special children’s tea, while on St Stephen’s Day there’s a treasure hunt round the town for the whole family.

There is also the option of a guided walk on the Old Kenmare Road, with the local walking club. There’s aqua aerobics and after dinner dancing too, so plenty of opportunity to burn off your pud. The three-day Christmas package starts at €1,295pps. parkkenmare.com

Ritz Carlton


Enniskerry looks gorgeous at Christmas time, with the village decked out in golden lights. The way the weather is turning, you may even get snow. The Ritz Carlton in nearby Powerscourt is getting in the spirit of things too, with a life-size Gingerbread House in the lobby.

For younger guests, the Christmas programme includes treasure hunts, cookie decorating and pizza-making classes, movies and popcorn in the kids’ cinema room. There’s a Wii tournament too, while the adults stroll the river walk or take a spa treatment.

The two-night package, from December 24th to 26th, costs €399 per night per couple sharing, including breakfast, a three-course dinner menu on Christmas Eve in its Gordon Ramsay restaurant and a grand buffet lunch on Christmas Day. ritzcarlton.com

Merrion Hotel


Have Christmas in the capital with check-in on Christmas Eve in time for a 6.30pm visit from Santa, complete with a present for each child staying, and a glass of champagne for Mum and Dad.

On Christmas Day, there’s the option of a traditional festive lunch or dinner, plus mulled wine afterwards in the hotel bar, while for those looking to extend their stay the hotel will organise tickets and transfers to and from the Christmas race meet at Leopardstown.

If only one wants to go horse racing, the other can stay warm indoors with a one-hour treatment in the hotel’s Tethra Spa.

The three-day option, including race tickets, runs from December 24th to 27th and costs €595pps. merrionhotel.com

Westin Hotel


Just €200 will get you an overnight Christmas package at Dublin’s Westin Hotel, including breakfast, mulled wine reception on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a gourmet buffet lunch, festive entertainment and complimentary parking – the last no small matter in the city centre. thewestindublin.com

Farnham Estate


Or how about a country Christmas at this Radisson Blu property in Cavan? Arrive for 2pm on Christmas Eve and you’ll find a bottle of wine in your room. Once you’ve become acquainted with it, it’s time for a drinks reception and dinner at the hotel’s Botanica restaurant. On Christmas Day, there’s a buffet breakfast, Christmas lunch, and an afternoon spent golfing, walking or fireside cosying. After dinner, there’s a quiz in the lobby bar, with breakfast to finish on St Stephen’s Day.

This Christmas package costs €390pps, and if you want to stay an extra night, you’ll get dinner and BB for €85 extra. farnham estate.ie

Slieve Donard

Co Down

For a very Victorian Christmas, the Slieve Donard in Newcastle, Co Down, is the perfect spot, with traditional carols, chestnuts roasting and open turf fires.

Younger guests are invited to join the hotel’s Little Reindeer Club for party games and face painting. Grown-ups can head back to school on St Stephen’s Day for a wine appreciation class.

Get there early enough and you can make a detour to Santa’s Cottage in the Mourne Mountains, near Hilltown, the official residence of Santa in Ireland, as awarded by the Greenland Denmark World Congress of Santas. And if that’s booked out, don’t worry, Santa is arriving at the hotel, by horse and cart, on Christmas Day.

A one-night stay over the festive season is from £200 (€237) per adult sharing and £85 (€101) per child. hastingshotels.com

Bewley’s Hotel


The Ballsbridge hotel has a great value three-night Christmas package starting on December 24th with complimentary mince pies and mulled wine, followed by dinner in its Brasserie restaurant.

There’s a traditional Christmas lunch, with wine, and an informal buffet supper on Christmas Day. The deal, which includes breakfast and evening meal every night, starts from €299pps, and €130 for under 12s.

If it’s just one night’s celebrating you want, stay on Christmas Day from €149pp, and €65 per child, including Christmas lunch, buffet dinner and breakfast. bewleyshotels.com

Cashel House


Wend your weary way through Connemara in time for a cocktail reception on Christmas Eve with dinner, harp music and carols by local singers.

Christmas Day here is one of quiet celebration until, that is, the man in red arrives at 1pm with gifts for all, followed by buffet lunch and an afternoon spent soaking up the scenery on foot, bike or by car.

Or simply park yourself in front of a turf fire and wait for dinner – your snooze interrupted only by afternoon tea. That evening will see more harp recitals plus a traditional sean-nós dancing display. Rest up on St Stephen’s Day for departure on the 27th, and the whole package costs from €695pp. cashel-house-hotel.com

Brehon Hotel


What could be more magical at Christmas than having Killarney National Park across the road.

A stay at the Brehon promises just that and, if you decide to hike around it, there’s complimentary access to the hotel’s Angsana Spa in which to rest up afterwards. Guests on its three-day package arrive Christmas Eve to mulled wine and an evening’s entertainment, a visit from Santa the next day, plus a six-course Christmas Day lunch and a buffet-style dinner that night, followed by live music.

On St Stephen’s Day, the hotel has organising a guided walk of the National Park with a packed lunch to keep your spirits up, followed by Irish coffee and a trad session in the hotel bar.

The three-day package costs €649pps, with children costing €249. thebrehon.com


Co Kerry

Over in Sneem, Parknasilla is opening up for Christmas from the December 23rd to January 2nd, with cocktails and carols by the fire.

A stay from Christmas Eve until the 27th has all the festive trimmings, plus outdoor pursuits from archery to clay pigeon shooting and petanque. After that, retire to the spa pool, the outdoor hot tubs and the thermal suite. The price here is €699 per adult and €255 per child. parknasillahotel.ie

Ashford Castle

Co Mayo

If you fancy giving yourself a pressie this Christmas, check into Ashford Castle in Co Mayo. Make the most of your stay by checking in on the dot of midday, when mulled wine and mince pieces are served, followed by afternoon tea in the drawing room.

There’s a cocktail reception with chamber music and a Christmas Eve dinner at which Santa arrives bearing gifts. Carol singing is provided by St Mary’s Church choir followed by jazz.

On Christmas Day, you can opt for nine holes of golf or a cruise on Lough Corrib, fuelled by traditional music and hot whiskeys.

There’s a festive buffet lunch followed by a treasure hunt around the grounds.

Cocktails and a gala dinner with dancing and a showband are rounded off at midnight by mulled wine and mince pies.

The St Stephen’s Day programme includes a cookery demonstration, guided walking tour, dinner and more musical entertainment to follow. The package is €3,500 per room, based on two sharing. ashford.ie

Lough Eske

Co Donegal

Arrive a night early for the Solis Lough Eske Christmas package, in Donegal, and you get a night for free. The award-winning hotel has a three-night Christmas package from €635pps.

Children’s deals start at €150 and, as well as a visit from Santa on Christmas Day, there’s all sorts of games and activities for them, plus a movie showing after dinner on St Stephen’s Day.

If you arrive early, on December 23rd, for the three-night package, you get the first night’s B&B for free. solislougheskecastle.ie

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago at 8:33 am.

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‘Homecoming Festival’ 2012

Fáilte Ireland wants all you who are Irish (not living in Ireland) or of Irish descent to attend a special festival in 2012. The following story by Ronan McGreevy appeared in  the Irish Times (Saturday, November 27, 2010).

Festival to tap ancestral tourism

IRELAND: FÁILTE IRELAND is planning a homecoming festival for Irish people and those of Irish ancestry for 2012.

“The Gathering” has the potential to be “Ireland’s biggest tourism programme ever”, Fáilte Ireland chairman Redmond O’Donoghue revealed this week.

Details of the festival will be announced next year, but it is likely to be similar to the “Homecoming Scotland” festival held in 2009 which attracted an extra 100,000 visitors to that country.

The Irish version is likely to capitalise on the interest in ancestral tourism brought about by the publication online of the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

Mr McDonagh said “The Gathering” will be one of several major tourism events over the next two years.

The others will includes the tall ships visit to Waterford; the Solheim Cup, the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup; and the return of the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway in 2012.

He also revealed that the Convention Centre Dublin will host a major IT conference next year which will have 4,000 delegates and will generate 20,000 bed nights in Dublin.


Will you make plans to attend “The Gathering”? One of the other events mentioned in the article?

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago at 1:01 pm.


Inaugural flight lands at Dublin’s Terminal 2

Appropriately, the first flight to land at Dublin Airport’s new Terminal 2 was an Aer Lingus flight. Love it or hate it, the new terminal is now open for business. The following is the article written by Tim O’Brien  that appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday, November 20, 2010, to mark this momentous occasion.

Dublin Airport Terminal 2

AER LINGUS flight EI205 landed at Dublin airport with perfect timing yesterday.

The inaugural flight to Terminal 2 (T2) arrived from Manchester as Taoiseach Brian Cowen finished his opening speech.

Shown live on a large bank of screens, the aircraft was seen outside within seconds of the Taoiseach describing the new terminal as a sign of hope for Ireland’s economic recovery and “a gateway to the future we all want for Ireland”.

As he wrapped up his speech, Mr Cowen said: “I want to say formally on this day, a day which sets out a future for this airport, that similarly we will set out a future for our country, to build on the work that we have done so that by the end of next year, we will be two-thirds of the way through the work that we have to do.”

After a brief walk through of the new terminal, the Taoiseach departed from a prepared speech to return to what he said was “justifiable concern” about the future of the country and its economy.

Blaming “abnormal market conditions”, he wanted to make it clear the Government was “sitting down with its partners to find a way forward that will deal with euro-area problems, as well as the specific problems affecting Ireland today”.

Mr Cowen said: “We have and we will engage in constructive discussions so that Ireland will take the decisions, so that the Irish Government will put forward a four-year plan on behalf of the Irish people. Because it will be the Irish people, through our efforts in the coming months and years, who will see us through.”

The need to adapt in the years ahead would, he said, involve “taking some steps back in order that we can forge forward again”. It was not “about losing all of the gains that we have made. This building, what this represents, does remain.”

Mr Cowen said Ireland would see revenues rise to 2005/2006 levels and “we will see our spending revert back to 2007 levels. That is how we will over the next few years ensure that we bring balance to our public finances.”

The four-year plan would be a responsibility for whatever government was in power, he added, “whatever about the ups and downs of electoral politics”.

The Government would put its proposals for the coming four years to the people. “We will make sure that we see through the next days and weeks in a competent and proper way, making the appropriate decisions in the best interests of our people.”

Before the Taoiseach spoke, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, dressed as an undertaker and carrying a wreath, had displayed a hearse containing a coffin painted in the national colours in the airport campus. The costs of the terminal, he said, would be the death knell of Irish tourism.

Dublin Airport Authority chairman David Dilger defended the new terminal against allegations that it was over-specified and unnecessarily large. Its capacity was required to underpin future growth, he said.

On airport charges, Mr Dilger said the authority was a commercial organisation and had “no intention of providing our infrastructure for nothing”. It was dedicated to providing “excellent value for money to all of our passengers and all of our airline customers”.

The Aer Lingus inaugural flight was an Airbus A320, with 118 passengers. Aer Lingus will move its North American services to T2 in the New Year.

Other services to the US are also expected to be based at T2 from early in the new year. Etihad will base its Abu Dhabi service at T2 from Tuesday.


THERE WAS a large media presence, national and international, deployed to meet Taoiseach Brian Cowen at Dublin airport yesterday – an opportunity Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary was not going to miss.

With Cowen due to arrive at 11am, O’Leary ordered a hearse and coffin painted in the national colours, which arrived at Dublin airport at least two hours in advance.

The Ryanair boss, dressed as an undertaker, posed alongside a sign proclaiming ” Irish Tourism RIP”.

Was the coffin’s use of the national colours not showing disrespect, he was asked. O’Leary replied: “It is Irish tourism that is going to be buried today as a Government-owned bunch of bureaucrats open a €1.2 billion palace that Irish tourism doesn’t need and can’t afford. Remember jobs are being lost in Irish tourism, this year, this month, next month

because the DAA are cranking up the fees by 40 per cent when inflation is zero.”

O’Leary then headed to Terminal 2 where he posed on the escalators with the wreath, looking glum. Giving interviews, he caused a stir well in advance of the arrival of Mr Cowen.

One interview that went less well than expected was with a British TV broadcaster which concluded with the interviewer politely asking O’Leary for his name and position.

Ryanair will not be moving to the new terminal.


If you have flown into the brand new Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport, leave a comment below to let us know your impressions. What’s good? Anything stand out especially? Is there anything that’s not there that you’d like to see?

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago at 9:08 pm.

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Breaking News: Notre Dame vs. Navy in Dublin

North American Football in Dublin, Ireland

September 1, 2012: Notre Dame and Navy will meet at Aviva Stadium in Dublin (not the one in the U.S. in Ohio, but the one in Ireland). We received the following information via e-mail recently:

East Rutherford, N.J. – Navy and Notre Dame, who will meet for the 84th consecutive year on Saturday at the New Meadowland Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., will officially announce at halftime on Saturday that the 2012 contest will take place September 1 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

With the official announcement, fans and supporters of both teams will be clamoring for ways to get a jump start on attending this momentous matchup between the schools.  Anthony Travel, the official travel partner for both schools (and only authorized source for travel packages that include game tickets), advises those wanting to attend the game in Ireland to visit www.EmeraldIsleClassic.com to secure their arrangements for the game.

“Our school prides itself on offering the best of the best to its students, alumni and fans,” said Chet Gladchuk, Navy’s Athletic Director.  “Being able to offer our alumni and supporters the chance to travel with us to Ireland to witness the game of a lifetime in such a unique and beautiful setting is something we are thrilled to be able to do again – for only the second time in our school’s history.”

Fans considering making the cross-continent voyage to the Emerald Isle for the game should heed travel advice to plan ahead for this unique trip, as travel and tourism experts expect the influx of the American tourists to Ireland to hit record highs surrounding that game. In fact, in 1996, when the first overseas game between the two teams took place in Dublin, it drew more than 40,000 fans to the game, with an estimated 10,000 fans traveling over from the United States.

“The University of Notre Dame and its football program enjoy unparalleled loyalty from alumni and supporters,” said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s Director of Athletics.  “Thousands of our fans joined us in 1996 for the first Nortre Dame / Navy matchup in Ireland, and we are confident that they will continue to support our team by coming along for another extraordinary experience in 2012.”

For the fans that may have experienced the game in 1996, as well as new oversees travelers wanting to experience this event for the first time, they will notice there are a variety of travel packages that were not available in 1996.  Anthony Travel offers the ability to truly build a one-of-a-kind trip, giving each traveler the opportunity to choose what they do every day they are on the ground in Ireland, instead of the traditional preset travel packages that require travelers to do what they have been instructed to according to a mass itinerary.

Fans can begin booking their travel arrangements on Oct. 23, 2010, which allows for access to the best packages available.

The variety of travel packages offered was designed to appeal to a wide range of fans wanting to support their favorite teams.  Each travel package includes game tickets plus numerous activities to enjoy while visiting the Emerald Isle. Travelers can select from a host of golf tours, city tours or excursion options, all ranging from four to eight days in length, giving them the chance to discover Ireland’s history, traditions and scenic beauty.

“As the official travel partner for both schools and the only authorized source for travel packages that include a game ticket for this game, Anthony Travel has already been hard at work preparing exclusive travel options for supporters wanting to take advantage of this historic game destination,” said John Anthony, President and CEO of Anthony Travel.  “We are hoping all alumni, fans, friends and the general public use this game as a great excuse to experience a foreign country as magnificent as Ireland.  We have put together exclusive packages that allow travelers a stress-free, unforgettable experience.”

The football game will be held in Dublin’s new Aviva Stadium, a four level state-of-the-art facility with all 50,000 seats under cover.  This new stadium is located in a scenic residential area just outside of Dublin city center, allowing travelers staying in nearby hotels the opportunity to walk to the game.  The intimate Aviva Stadium is also much smaller than the U.S. stadiums the schools typically play at – offering an experience unlike any other state-side.

Golf enthusiasts can test their skills on such famous and ancient courses as Waterville, Old Head, Ballybunion, Tralee and even the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.  City tours will allow visitors to explore the contemporary sights and quaint delights of Dublin, Kerry, Galway, and Killarney, as well as Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland – two areas travelers may not have visited in 1996. For the adventurous, the excursions offer a broad sampling of castles, coastlines and culinary pleasures.

All customizable packages include accommodations at three-, four- or five-star hotels, ground transportation, exclusive private parties at the famous Guinness Storehouse, a full Irish breakfast each day, on-site travel assistance, and more.  In addition, special rates on airfare will be provided by Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline, to travelers booking through Anthony Travel.

For complete information on this historic game and tour packages, visit www.EmeraldIsleClassic.com

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 7:55 am.

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Unique Irish Accommodation – The Irish Landmark Trust

The Barbican gatehouse, Co. Antrim

If you’re in the planning stages of your trip to Ireland, consider looking at some of the more unique accommodation that Ireland has to offer. In general, the Emerald Isle offers a wide range of accommodation options, from bare-bones hostels to five-star castles and manor hotels. There’s something for every taste, but, if you want a more memorable holiday experience, be sure to look into some of Ireland’s more out-of-the-ordinary places to stay.

The Irish Landmark Trust (http://www.irishlandmark.com/) has, in our opinion, some of the most interesting self-catering options available. For example, if you’re the kind of person who would like to get away from it all with only the call of the sea birds and the sounds of the sea for neighbors, you can rent the lightkeeper’s house on Loop Head, a wild and secluded corner of Ireland that will take your breath away. But not so far out of your way that you can’t pop into a nearby village for dinner and pint!

Loop Head Lighthouse

Or perhaps you’d prefer something more ‘regal,’ like The Barbican in Antrim, a 19th century structure that resembles a medieval gatehouse. Of course, you can even rent a castle, if that is more to your taste. Some people just want to have the experience of staying in their own castle. If this describes you, check out  Clomantagh Castle in Freshford, near Kilkenny. This tower castle was built in the 14th century and sleeps up to 10.

If the big city is more of a draw for you, they’ve even got distinctive properties in Dublin City near Merrion Square  or the Temple Bar district on Eustace Street.

Of course, the Irish Landmark Trust isn’t the only place you’ll find unique property listings. Next time, we’ll look at some of the other options available to the traveler who wants something different.

Clomantagh Castle, Co. Kilkenny

(Photos courtesy of the Irish Landmark Trust website.)

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 8:16 am.

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New Classification System for Ireland’s B&Bs

Fáilte Ireland has developed their own classification system for Ireland B&Bs, using a rating of 1-5 stars, similar to what people are used to seeing for hotels and other accommodation. The following article appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday, October 2, 2010 (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/travel/2010/1002/1224280149896.html).

New Star Scheme for B&Bs

By PAUL CULLEN Consumer Affairs Correspondent

ACCOMMODATION: FÁILTE IRELAND has begun rolling out a new classification system for B&Bs which is designed to give visitors a better idea of the quality of the accommodation they are booking.

About 400 of the country’s 2,300 approved B&Bs have so far been classified as three, four or five-star accommodation under the new system.

Previously, there was no way of distinguishing the quality of accommodation provided by individual B&Bs, apart from the crude distinction provided by a scheme for approving certain establishments, who were then able to display a sign carrying the distinctive green shamrock logo.

The new classification is based on factors such as the standard of the property, the welcome provided for guests and the quality of the food, according to Helena Healy, managing director of Bed and Breakfast Ireland. “The idea is that people will have a better idea of what to expect before they book,” she says.

So far, 100 of Healy’s 1,100 members have been classified. Three were awarded five stars, 53 gained four stars and the balance received three stars. Prerequisite for getting five stars include a high standard of accommodation, though not necessarily modern, quality decor, the use of locally produced ingredients and that clincher – real orange juice.

Healy believes five and four-star B&Bs will eventually seek to differentiate themselves by charging higher prices, though she admits this won’t be possible in the current economic climate. The average price currently stands at about €30-€35 per person sharing for a night’s stay.

The B&B sector has suffered badly in recent years from intense competition from budget hotels and changing consumer preferences. The new classification scheme was borne out of concerns over the falling number of approved homes and the continuing loss of market share to the hotel sector.

Healy says budget hotels are still “crucifying” her members but adds that the second half of the summer season went very well this year. The main beneficiaries were B&Bs in the traditional tourist hot spots, but areas such as the midlands and the northwest continued to suffer. While domestic tourists have largely switched to hotels, the overseas visitor still prefers B&B stays as a way of experiencing Ireland, she says.

A further scheme categorising B&Bs according to their specialisation is due to be launched shortly.

This will operate under the areas of outdoor activities, farm stays, food specialists and eco- and pet-friendliness.

This new categorisation scheme developed by Fáilte Ireland is due to be launched in the coming months.

The scheme will initially operate under the four core areas of outdoor activities (including golf, walking, cycling, horse riding, angling, surfing, adventure and wildlife); farm stay; food specialist; and eco-friendly. Pet-friendly, currently under development, will also be launched later this year.

We have heard concern on the part of some B&B proprietors that the Fáilte Ireland star scheme matrix does not compare with the system already in place from AA Ireland and that it’s more difficult to get a 3- or 4-star rating from FI than it is from AA. Also, in order to take part in the new specialization classification scheme, a property must pay their application fee and receive at least a 3-star rating before they would be allowed to display the designation sign for their specialization.

If you’d like to review the standards matrix that Fáilte Ireland has developed to rate B&Bs, or if you’d like to get more information about the new specialization designations, visit the Fáilte Ireland website at  http://failteireland.ie/bedandbreakfasts#Classification_scheme.

Our main concern is that there may not be a need for this new classification system, and in the end, it may prove more confusing for the traveler when choosing accommodation to have more than one rating system in place. But the program is so new at this point, we will just wait and revisit the issue after the program has been in place for a while.

Our hope is that the new classification system will provide travelers will more good information to help them make more informed choices about which accommodation is right for them.

Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 7:55 am.

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