Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: September 15, 2005

POP OFF TO CORK: Sceptre Tours has developed the Celebrate Ireland package to leverage new twice-weekly, nonstop air service on Ryan International Airlines between New York (Kennedy) and Cork. The deal includes roundtrip air, accommodations, full daily Irish breakfast, a Titanic Trail tour and a standard three-door economy car rental with unlimited mileage. The Cork trip is priced from $329, $359 or $469 per person (net) for three-, four- or seven-night stays, respectively, for travel Jan. 9 to March 12. Rates Nov. 1 to Jan. 8 are slightly higher. Accommodations include a first night at the Bella Vista House Hotel in Cobh, Co. Cork, and then a selection of more than 450 farmhouse bed-and-breakfasts. For more, visit www.sceptreagent.com or call (800) 221-0924.

SOUNDING OFF: Cultural celebrations continue in Cork, the European Union's Capital of Culture for 2005, with "Sound Out," a sound art project taking place this month. Four international artists have installed acoustical works combining visual art, music and electronics across the city -- in a tree outside the Vision Centre on North Main Street; on Wandesford Quay; at the main entrance to University College Cork on Western Road; and at various points on a temporary "listening trail" across the city. The free exhibition runs for the month of September. For more details on Cork 2005, visit www.cork2005.ie.

YANK VISITS DOWN: U.S. visits to Ireland were down in the first six months of 2005, despite an overall rise of 4.1% in arrivals from overseas, according to the countrys Dept. of Arts, Sport and Tourism. Exact figures were not available at pres time. Tourism officials tied the drop to a downturn in U.S. travel to the neighboring U.K., through which Ireland gets whats described as a considerable portion of business. But June saw a 7.2% jump in North American arrivals. That increase, along with a jump in airlift from the U.S., may indicate an end-of-summer recovery. For more, see www.arts-sport-tourism.gov.ie.

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