Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Jan. 27, 2005

FAM-TASTIC: Celtic Tours will run an agent familiarization trip to Ireland in March. The trip -- departing March 30 from New York and priced at $539 -- includes guided motorcoach sightseeing, full Irish breakfast and dinner daily; an educational seminar; a cocktail hour; and select hotel inspections. Participants spend one night in Clifden, County Galway; two nights in Killarney; and one night in Limerick. Highlights include the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Folk Park, Kylemore Abbey, Blarney Castle and Woolen Mills and the Ring of Kerry. Agents who book new groups of 25 or more on scheduled motorcoach tours get the fam trip for free. For more, call Celtic at (800) 833-4373.

ROYAL TREATMENT: Agent-only operator Sceptre Tours, based in Lynbrook, N.Y., is peddling land-only hotel packages, such as its seven-night Kingdoms and Treasures deal, from $699 per person, net. Accommodations highlights include a first night in a bed-and-breakfast near the Cliffs Of Moher; 4- and 5-star hotels in Kerry, Waterford, Dublin and Limerick; and a final night at a 5-star castle in County Limerick. The trip also is inclusive of a weeklong car rental and daily full Irish breakfast. Call Sceptre Tours at (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptretours.com.

CENTRAL SAVINGS: The Temple Bar Hotel in Dublin's trendy cultural center, the Temple Bar, is offering reduced rates of 85 euros (about $110) per night -- Sundays through Thursdays -- for single, double or triple occupancy until March 31. The 3-star Tower Hotel Group property boasts 130 rooms, a guest bar/lounge, public bar and two restaurants. Tower Group normally pays 10% commissions. To check availability and commission rates, call (011) 353-1 677-3333 or visit www.templebarhotel.com.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR: The Northern Ireland Tourist Board reported that Spanish firm Abertis, poised to take over Belfast International Airport, has big plans for the facility. A spokesperson from current airport owner TBI confirmed Abertis' bid was accepted and said Abertis has the "financial muscle" to grow Belfast, which welcomes its first U.S. nonstops this spring with new daily Continental Airlines flights from Newark staring May 26. For more on Belfast International, visit www.bial.co.uk.

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