Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: June 9, 2005

POLE POSITION: Aer Lingus will add two new routes from Dublin to Europe this winter, with new flights to and from Krakow, Poland, and Almeria, Spain, as of the end of October. The airline will operate three services per week from Dublin to Krakow on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and two weekly  on Wednesdays and Saturdays to Almeria. Special introductory one-way fares from Dublin to both cities of 44 euros (at press time, $54), before taxes and other fees, are now available online at www.aerlingus.com.

DOWN AND DIRTY: Otherwise chic and genteel Dublin hotel The Merrion teamed with adventure operator Dirty Boots Treks to offer guests guided hikes through the mountains of County Wicklow. The one- or two-night Dirty Boots Treks Package includes one day at leisure and a second hiking up to 9.3 miles, with 4x4 Land Rover transfers, boxed lunch, hiking gear, pub break and expert guide provided. The deal, available through October, is priced at 620 euros (or around $755) per couple for a two-night stay and 360 euros ($440) per couple for one-night. Rates include a deluxe Garden Wing room, with full Irish breakfast, service charges and 13.5% VAT.

FORE GOLFERS: In addition, the Merrion is tempting golfers with a chance to play The K Club in County Kildare official golf course for the 2006 Ryder Cup, to be held Sept. 22 to 24, 2006 with a package available from Oct. 1 through March 31, 2006. The hotels two-night package, at 510 euros ($622) per person, double occupancy, includes chauffeur-driven transfers to and from the K Club; one round of golf per person; accommodation in the hotels Garden Wing; and daily Irish breakfast. Contact the Merrion by phone at (011) 353-1-603-0600 or via e-mail at [email protected], or The Leading Hotels of the World at (800) 223-6800.

LOOKING UPMARKET: Meanwhile, CIE Tours International is going high-end with a 10-night Irish Supreme luxury escorted tour that includes stays at prestigious hotels such as Ashford and Dromoland Castles, the Killarney Park Hotel, Mount Juliet Estate near Kilkenny, and the Berkeley Court and Westbury hotels in Dublin. Other luxury touches on the tour include dinner at the Killeen House Restaurant, and a horse-drawn carriage ride and a boat excursion through the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney. CIE is offering weekly departures through Nov. 18. Land-only pricing starts at $2,615 per person, double occupancy; with air included, prices start at $2,867, from New York (Kennedy) or Boston, or $2,889 per person, from Chicago. For more information see www.cietours.com, e-mail [email protected] or call (800) CIE-TOUR.

ACHILL AHOY: Landlubbers may yawn, but Irelands Dept. of Arts, Sport and Tourism announced $1.03 million in funding for development of a new ocean-themed attraction in County Mayo. The latest project of Failte Irelands Tourism Product Development Scheme, the planned Achill Yawl and Sealife Centre, in Achill, County Mayo will be an all-weather visitor center themed around both the sea and the local history of Achill. No opening date has been set. To date, some $38.7 million been approved for development of 42 projects nationwide under the Failte Ireland scheme. For more, see http://www.arts-sport-tourism.gov.ie.

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