Ireland East & Dublin Ancient Sites & City Lights

Ireland is a small country that's big on charm, wit and hospitality. And, thanks to a booming economy and the infusion of millions from multi-national companies, Ireland East and Dublin is one of the most rapidly expanding areas in Europe today. Ireland has breathtaking scenery, luxurious five-star resorts with world-class spas, gourmet cuisine and more than 400 top-notch golf courses, but the Emerald Isle is also known for its advanced networking, conferencing and exposition facilities and is a leading destination for today's mobile business traveler. No matter what draws you to Ireland - business or pleasure - you could not choose a better locale than the lively East and Dublin area. There's much going on year-round, whether your goal is to find a perfect place for business or leisure. You'll get a warm welcome from the Irish wherever you go, and you won't have to go far to find traditional pubs with Irish music, cutting edge theater and arts, trendy shops, designer fashions, vibrant and exciting nightlife, and numerous spectator and participatory sporting events. Founded by the Vikings in the 9th century, Dublin is a culturally rich, international business hub and tourist Mecca. Take a coach or walking tour and discover the long, colorful past of this ancient capital. From the city's beginnings as a Viking trading port to a walled medieval city and then - in a glorious century of expansion - to an elegant Georgian city, charming and cosmopolitan with wide streets, gracious squares and cultural quarters. Getting there is easy. It's just an overnight hop to Ireland from numerous U.S. gateways on Aer Lingus, American, Delta, Continental or U.S. Airways. Once there, rent a car, take a taxi or hire a chauffeur-driven car. In Dublin and environs, you'll find many luxury hotels, designed to suit the discerning business traveler, where the royal treatment and personal service are top priorities. You might choose one of many four or five-star properties in the bustling city center, including the Clarence, Merrion, Alexander, Morrison, Westbury or Davenport hotels, so you are within walking distance of historic and cultural attractions and award-winning restaurants. Or choose the newly renovated Shelbourne, on Stephen's Green, which is due to reopen in early 2007. If you prefer a leafy, quiet suburb like Ballsbridge, there's the elegant five-star Four Seasons, which is adjacent to the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) where the world-famous Fáilte Ireland Dublin Horse Show is held annually as are numerous trade fairs and other events. If staying in the countryside is your style, head for Straffan in Co. Kildare and book into the five-star Kildare Golf and Country Club - better known as the K Club - set in 700 glorious acres. Play the Palmer Course, venue of the 2006 Ryder Cup, and recreate some golfing history. Also in Kildare are numerous quality hotels such as the four-star Kilashee House Hotel and Villa Spa in Naas, or Kilkea Castle in Athy. While in Co. Kildare why not treat yourself to the greatly reduced prices on branded goods with a visit to "Kildare Village" - Ireland's newest outlet store in Kildare town. Or travel about an hour outside the city for five-star treatment at the Heritage Golf and Spa Resort in Killenard, Co. Laois, which offers a championship 18-hole course, luxury spa, conference and exhibition center, golf school, health club, floodlit walking and jogging trails, as well as Ireland's only indoor International Bowls stadium. Also in the East - north of the airport and within an hour's drive of the city - is the elegant 134-room Knightsbrook Hotel and Golf Resort in Trim, Co. Meath, with a golf club and spa. The Fairways Hotel and Conference Centre in Dundalk, Co. Louth, is designed to cater to small and large groups with the challenging Dundalk Golf Course just a few minutes drive from the hotel. If team building is on the agenda, try the Carlingford Adventure Centre in Co. Louth with more than 20 land and water-based activities and corporate packages. Want something different? How about becoming a rally driver at the Rally School Ireland in Co. Monaghan? Or visit the Corlea Trackway Visitors Centre in Kenagh, Co. Longford, which interprets an Iron Age bog road, built in 148 BC close to the River Shannon. In addition to touring Louth and Meath, don't miss activities and sights in Counties Monaghan, Cavan, Offaly and Longford, all of which are rich in outdoor pursuits, have distinctive towns and villages chock full of history and heritage and many other attractions on tap. In Cavan, be sure to try the exquisite cuisine at MacNean Town House and Bistro in Blacklion that have won Chef Neven Maguire laurels in the culinary world. In Offaly, just 90 minutes from Dublin, Galway and Limerick, you'll find the contemporary four-star Tullamore Court Hotel with purpose-built facilities and a new conference center. Book a tee time at the Esker Hills Golf Club or visit the Tullamore Dew Heritage Center on Bury Quay in Tullamore. You can travel on a Viking boat from Athlone Town to historic Clonmacnoise, or book into the Radisson SAS in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, which overlooks the River Shannon, the marina and historic Athlone Castle, and then take a boat trip to Glasson or Athlone golf clubs. The sea forms the eastern boundary of this multi-faceted region; the River Shannon with its lakes marks the western extent. Between the two are sparkling hill streams, lazy meandering rivers, dark lakes in the mountains and bright lakes in the lowlands. Take a boat trip on the famed Royal and Grand canals that connect Dublin with interior lakelands, the Shannon and Barrow Rivers, and you can savor Ireland at a slower pace. Irish waters also offer extensive opportunities for boating, angling, swimming and diving or just sitting quietly on one of many clean, safe beaches to relax. Back in Dublin, you'll find a modern, cosmopolitan city that offers every type of cuisine, from French to vegetarian, in hundreds of chic, sophisticated restaurants across the city, including the buzzing Temple Bar area beside the River Liffey. There are trendy wine bars and bistros too, including the wine bar at the Mercer Hotel, and the La Cave Wine Bar and Restaurant on South Anne Street. Other favorite dining spots include the Patrick Guilbaud in the Merrion Hotel and the Tea Room in the Clarence Hotel. With nearly 3,000 miles of coastline and countless inland loughs, Ireland is justifiably famous for its marvelous fresh fish and shellfish. Irish beef and Connemara lamb are also featured on many prestigious menus as is home-grown pork, rabbit, and pheasant, as well as more traditional fare, such as Irish stew, white and black puddings, soda bread, and potato dishes like Colcannon and Champ. Ireland has also won fame for its award-winning farmhouse cheeses, including Ring, Cooleeny, Cashel Blue and Ardrahan. And, then of course, there are the beverages. Take a step back in time and visit Locke's Distillery Museum, Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath, the oldest licensed distillery in the world. Established in 1757, triple distilled malt whiskey was produced in Kilbeggan for over two hundred years. Guided tours follow the process from the grinding of the grain to the casking of the final product. Stroll through the bonded warehouse and let the aroma of maturing whiskey arouse your senses. At the end of the tour, you are treated to a complimentary sample of Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey. Of course, Irish whiskey is known and prized the world over and 15 or so are produced in the country including Paddy, Redbreast, Powers, Jameson, Bushmills and Tullamore Dew. Each adds a special twist to world-famous Irish Coffee, invented in 1942 by Chef Joseph Sheridan in the restaurant at Foynes, the precursor to Shannon Airport, where flying boats used the River Shannon as their runway. Visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin for another fun and interesting outing. No trip to the Emerald Isle would be complete without a pint of lusty Guinness stout, savored in front of a turf fire in a cozy pub. There are other Irish brews too favored by beer and ale drinkers, including Smithwicks and Murphys. If you're a golfer, you know that Ireland is just a little south of heaven with more than 400 links and parkland courses. There are only about 160 true links courses in the world and 51 of those are in Ireland. Test your skills at the European Club course in County Wicklow, or in Co. Dublin at the Island Golf Club in Donabate, the Royal Dublin Golf Club, or the Links at Portmarnock. Play a round of golf at the Co. Louth Golf Club in Baltray, Drogheda, which hosted the 2004 Irish Open, and which Golf World magazine calls "one of the best kept secrets of Irish golf." Druids Glen Golf Resort is just 30 minutes south of Dublin in County Wicklow, which is known as the Garden of Ireland. The Resort boasts two championship courses, Druids Glen Marriott Hotel & Country Club and has a range of function rooms and is the perfect venue for off-site meetings or conferences. And The European Club in Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow features 20 holes (two extra holes are in play most days) of links golf through tumbling dunes with dramatic views of the Irish Sea from 16 of the holes! You can book your tee time online at many Irish courses. While in Wicklow, visit Glendalough, one of Ireland's most important monastic ruins with its famous round tower. Other spiritual and historic sites worth a visit are Newgrange and Clonmacnoise as well as the town of Drogheda, one of Ireland's oldest and most historic. Situated only 28 miles from Dublin, Drogheda is famed for its town walls, Millmount Museum and Martello Tower, and St. Laurence's Gate. If gardening is your forte, visit the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, or tour the gardens at Howth and Malahide Castles, the Mount Usher Gardens in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, or the extensively landscaped grounds of Emo Court. Tucked into a rural corner of Co. Laois, Emo Court was designed in 1790 by English architect James Gandon, who is probably best known for the dignified Custom House in Dublin. During the summer, guided tours visit the interior of the house, lavishly appointed with costly Siena marble. All year round, you can wander the parkland formal lawns, and woodland walks. You can also tour Belvedere House, garden and park, in Co. Westmeath. The estate comprises 160 acres of parkland, magnificent woodland and lakeshore walks. Several follies adorn the land including Ireland's largest folly - The Jealous Wall. The restored Belvedere House is an 18th century hunting/fishing lodge once owned by Robert Rochfort, the 1st Earl of Belvedere. A fascinating Walled Garaden contains one of Ireland's finest collections of rare and special plants. Take a one-hour ride from Dublin to Kildare Town in Co. Kildare, to see magnificent steeds at the 1,000-acre Irish National Stud Farm and also St. Fiachra's Garden and the Japanese Garden there. And don't miss the brilliant Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, which boasts Ireland's tallest waterfall in addition to formal gardens, sweeping terraces, ornamental lakes, rambling walks, walled gardens and more than 200 varieties of trees and shrubs. Birdwatchers will find more than 55 recognized sites across Ireland including North Bull Island, in Dublin Bay, where there are also two golf courses and a sanctuary for winter migratory birds. Love walking? Take a walking tour of Georgian Dublin or head south to the Wicklow Way, the best-known long distance walking path in the Republic. Back in the city - home to a great literary tradition - you might enjoy a Literary Pub Crawl to places frequented by George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and other famous Irish literati, or a Rock and Stroll tour to past haunts of U2, The Chieftains, Thin Lizzy and Sinéad O'Connor. While in Temple Bar, don't miss the "Wall of Fame," an outdoor photographic tribute to Ireland's favorite musical heroes including Van Morrison. Many other interesting attractions in the city include the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, Customs House, Writers' Museum, National Museum, National Gallery and so many more. And, don't forget the array of shops, from traditional to contemporary, that are easily explored on foot, from Henry Street to O'Connell Street and along pedestrian-only Grafton Street. If you thirst for active sports, you couldn't choose a better place than Ireland East and Dublin, where you'll find hang-gliding, paragliding, parachuting, cycling, shooting, fishing and numerous water sports including windsurfing, canoeing and sailing close by. For spectator sports, Ireland is tops. Popular horse racing festivals are held at the Curragh, Leopardstown, Punchestown and Fairyhouse and Kilbeggan, and there are 18 greyhound tracks including Dundalk, Mullingar and Longford. You can also attend Gaelic football, hurling, soccer and rugby matches at various sites around the city and in outlying towns. Whatever your focus and that of your mobile work force, you'll find Ireland East and Dublin accommodating and well suited to conducting business and catering to the needs of today's corporate world. For more information see: www.discoverireland.com/eastanddublin

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