Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Feb. 3, 2005

PAY UP: CIE Tours International, which reports a 12% jump in bookings this year over 2004, is offering commission of 15% on land programs when agents make six separate reservations (for at least 12 passengers) on motorcoach tours. The firm is also offering its escorted seven-night Irish Adventure tour from $1,050 with airfare from New York (Kennedy) or Boston, and $1,072 from Chicago. Land-only is available from $798. Twice-weekly departures on Tuesdays and most Sundays will run Feb. 15 to Dec. 11. Rates include air; superior and first class hotel; full Irish breakfast daily; six dinners; and more. For more information, call (800) CIE-TOUR or visit www.cietours.com.

NEW AER: TNT Vacations will launch new seasonal non-stop charter flights via Ryan International Airways from June 19 through September from Boston to Dublin and Shannon, Ireland. Priced from $249 per person, the flights to Shannon will depart Boston on Sundays and Thursdays, with return service on Mondays and Fridays; similarly priced service to Dublin will be offered on Saturdays and will return on Sundays.

TNT also plans to offer three escorted motorcoach tours of Ireland; dates and pricing will be announced later this spring. Call (888) GO-TNT-GO or visit tntvacations.com. 

PADDY'S PAX: The Merrion hotel in Dublin is offering two St. Patrick's Day packages March 11 to 20 that offer up to 40% in savings. First, the St. Patrick's Day Festival Special Offer is priced at 130 euros (or about $170) per person, double, and includes one night in a double or twin room in the Garden Wing, cocktail on arrival and full Irish breakfast.   The St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Package, at 195 euros (or $254) per person, offers the same, plus two grandstand tickets for the St. Patrick's Festival Parade and a snack box. Either stay can be extended at 125 euros (or $162) per person, per night. To book, contact the Merrion at (011) 353-1-603-0600 or [email protected], or Leading Hotels of the World (800) 223-6800. For information, visit www.merrionhotel.com or www.lhw.com.

WHEELS DEALS: Boston-based adventure travel company Bike Riders added new family and walking product to Ireland. Children who bike now can join their parents on the firm's six-night Ireland's Mystical Western Shore cycling trip, running July 17 to 23 and again Aug. 14 to 20.  Depending on age and accommodations, children travel at 15% to 20% off the adult fare of $3,080 per person. Bike Riders which pays commissions of about 10% to agents also is offering a Town and Country Pleasures in Ireland trip for walkers, priced at $2,780.  For more, go to www.bikeriderstours.com.

WORRY-FREE FIT: Brian Moore International Tours is offering a new twist on independent packages for Ireland: car-free independent packages. According to BMIT president Ronan Ryan, an increasing number of customers want to travel independently, but aren't ready to take on driving on the left side of the road. To solve the problem, BMIT devised special itineraries using two properties Jurys Custom House in Dublin and Tower Hotel in Killarney and transfers between the two hotels with a visit to Waterford Crystal Factory en route. Pricing starts at $479 per person, double, for a seven-night package. Details are available on the Web at www.bmit.com or by calling (800) 982-2299.

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