As a spectacular MICE destination bursting with green initiatives, Ireland makes hosting environmentally conscious MICE activities simple.
In county Kerry, which has just ranked #13 in the Top 20 Global Destination Sustainability Index, a leading performance improvement programme designed make the business and leisure tourism industry more sustainable, Kerry Convention Bureau and its local industry are committed to reducing the MICE industry’s footprint.
The O’Donoghue Ring Collection — with its luxurious portfolio of Irish family-run hotels, self-catering apartments, independent restaurants and bars and a destination spa in Co. Kerry — has long placed sustainability at the centre of its ethos and operations.
Over the past year, while society has been forced to hit pause, to rethink and reset, the team at O’Donoghue Ring have been busy behind the scenes, further developing the group’s environmental policy, known as Our Green Way, as well as its sustainability initiatives. The fruits of their labour see the launch of Killarney Urban Farm, Ireland's first hospitality urban farm growing salads, herbs and vegetables for bars, restaurants and hotels in Killarney. The ultimate objective is to curtail food miles, reduce the carbon footprint of their partners and offer the freshest produce around.
The ultimate pandemic pivot, Killarney Urban Farm has transformed what was formerly a late-night bar into a natural, earthy and innovative space in the heart of the Town Centre. The lush and leafy installation was completed with exclusive Green Towers, designed to produce high-quality food on a hyper-local level.
First tested by NASA in the 1990s, tower farms are vertical growing systems that feed and water plants through hydroponics — a technique where roots hang suspended in the air while nutrient-rich water is distributed in the form of a fine mist. Jenny Twomey and Jill O'Brien are the thought leaders behind bringing this innovative technology to Ireland, with the O’Donoghue Ring Collection becoming the first non-residential user of the Green Towers in Kerry.
"Green Towers is excited to partner with O'Donoghue Ring Collection. We love working with forward thinking companies that have the goal of long-term sustainable success and excellence. By providing space, infrastructure, and tools for year-round onsite food production the O'Donoghue Ring Collection are building a healthier food chain that is good for people and the planet. Keeping us and the environment healthy while lighting the way to a greener future for Ireland." Jenny Twomey, Co-Founder - Green Towers Ireland.
As part of the Urban Farm initiative and biodiversity scheme, beehives were also introduced to produce some of the finest honey for the properties in Killarney, from the floral nectar of the neighbouring Killarney National Park.
The team are passionate about producing fresh, healthy, pesticide-free, sustainable salads, vegetables and herbs year round.
“The tower farms will contribute to the group’s sustainability efforts by allowing the culinary team to grow their own produce just steps away from the kitchen, for a truly authentic ‘Farm to Plate’ experience. Not only do these elegant growing systems use 90% less water than traditional farming and produce 30% more plant yield, they also reduce transportation distances, packaging and waste,” Gemma Ring, Director - O’Donoghue Ring Collection.
To celebrate the launch of Killarney Urban Farm, John O’Leary, Culinary Director of The Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa (part of the O’Donoghue Ring Collection), has created a unique offering that will be launching in November. This innovative Killarney Urban Farm Tour & Tasting Experience invites guests on a ‘Tower to Table’ guided tour and culinary experience.
Attendees will explore the technology that powers the farm, savour a taste of a plethora of fresh organic ingredients along with picking up some exclusive cooking tips and techniques. Throughout the tour there will be tastings of dishes and a signature cocktail that encompasses everything the towers represent – hyper-local freshness, sustainability and innovation. The tour is followed by a four-course sustainable tasting menu, featuring an array of dishes and drinks infused and garnished with the ingredients produced by the towers.
For more information on this immersive and sustainable dining experience, click here
22 local, independent hotels, including The O’Donoghue Ring Collection, are also members of the Killarney Hotels Sustainability Group — signing a charter to collectively work together to reduce the environmental impact of the industry’s services and activities, increase the well-being of employees and promote responsible governance in the way their businesses are run. In 2020, all member hotels committed to reducing their carbon emissions by 25% and to eliminate single-use plastic from their operations.
Other ongoing initiatives led by the group’s internal Green Team include the ambition to create a paperless workplace; the championing of food sustainability by sourcing from local producers (with all elements of a dish ideally being sourced from within 10km of the restaurant); foraging their own produce; and the introduction of e-chargers.
Want to learn more about eco-friendly locations in Ireland? Browse our sustainability section and contact a member of the Meet in Ireland team today to receive comprehensive support as you prepare for your next event.
To find out more about MICE relevant Sustainability Initiatives in Kerry, visit the Kerry Convention Bureau website to find out more.