Ireland - Ideal for Incentives
Want to offer an unforgettable incentive program? Consider Ireland, an island of diverse regions, bustling cosmopolitan cities, and serene countryside. The welcoming Irish people, splendid accommodations, unique gala venues, golf courses, team-building activities, luxurious spas, and dining and entertainment all combine to make Ireland rewarding and memorable.
Typically, incentive programs to Ireland are designed to encompass two regions — for example, Ireland East and South; Ireland East and Northern Ireland; or Ireland West and Ireland South. However, any combination of regions is feasible, and the menu of program options is nearly limitless. What follows is a sample of activities and gala-event venues.
Ireland East — Programs that feature Ireland East may incorporate Dublin, capital city of the Republic of Ireland, and Wicklow, also known as “The Garden of Ireland.” Activities can include literary tours, viewing the Book of Kells, cookery classes, golf, theater, and a wide variety of entertainment. Special-event venues include the Royal Hospital Kilmainham (www.rhk.ie), Guinness Storehouse (www.guinness-storehouse.com), Trinity College (www.tcd.ie), Number 10 (www.no10dublin.com), Powerscourt House (www.powerscourt.ie), the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (www.rcsi.ie), the Royal Dublin Society (RDS; www.rds.ie), Malahide Castle (www.malahidecastle.com), the Old Jameson Distilleries (www.jamesonwhiskey.com), and Ballyknocken House & Cookery School (www.ballyknocken.com).
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Ireland South — in particular the Killarney and Limerick/Clare area — is also a popular incentive destination. Programs might offer dramatic “Horse & Hound” welcomes, where groups are met on arrival at the entrance gates to a castle or manor and accompanied through the grounds. Other options include vintage-car transfers, a dolphin-watching boat trip, or a horse-and-carriage trip through the Gap of Dunloe. Being hosted in local family homes provides a truly unforgettable experience. An equally diverse roster of gala venues in Ireland South includes Muckross Traditional Farms (www.muckross-house.ie/farms), the INEC (www.inecconventions.ie), the Minstrels Gallery, Adare Manor (www.adaremanor.com), Knappogue Castle, the Cornbarn at Bunratty Folk Park (www.shannon heritage.com), the Brian Boru Hall, and Dromoland Castle (www.dromoland.ie).
Northern Ireland, with its capital city of Belfast, is growing in popularity for incentives. Activities can include golf at iconic links courses such as Royal County Down or Royal Portrush; a trip to the Giants Causeway, followed by a visit to Bushmills Distillery; or cookery lessons at Belle Isle Cookery School (www.irish-cookery-school.com). Choose from such off-site venues as Ulster Museum Belfast, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Ulster American Folk Park (www.nmni.com), Ballywalter House (www.ballywalterpark.com), Mount Stewart House & Gardens (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mountstewart), Belfast Castle (www.belfastcastle.co.uk), and Queens University (www.queenseventus.com).
Ireland West, which boasts dramatic sea cliffs and islands, makes a perfect incentives backdrop. Activities available in this region include archery, falconry, clay-pigeon shooting, lake cruises, horse-riding on the beach, and dine- arounds in Galway’s many fine restaurants. A picnic lunch at Dun Aonghusa, a prehistoric site overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on Inis Mor, followed by an afternoon of exploration, is a favorite activity (www.islandsofireland.com). For gala venues, there are Dunguaire Castle (www.shannonheritage.com), the Pullman Restaurant, Glenlo Abbey (www.glenlo.com), and Ashford Castle (www.ashford.ie).