Travel Weeklys Ireland E-letter: Sept. 23, 2004

SHAMROCK TO THE SUN: Aer Lingus announced service changes in the U.S. for the winter season, launching one new route while suspending another. First, the Irish flag carrier will fly nonstop charters between Dublin and Orlando, Fla., three times a week from Dec. 2 through May 8. The flights, aboard Airbus A330-200 widebody aircraft, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and Special Aerfares on the route starting at $184 each way, before taxes, are available at www.aerlingus.com or by calling (631) 577-5793. At the same time, Aer Lingus will suspend scheduled flights between Ireland and Baltimore/Washington from Dec. 1 to May 9 due to low seasonal demand. Customers booked on flights in that period will get full refunds or be reaccommodated on alternate services. The carrier will contact ticketholders, but information also is available at (888) 474-8448. In the U.S., Aer Lingus also flies to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

F.I.T. FOR KINGS: The Merrion Hotel in Dublin teamed with 13th century Ashford Castle in County Mayo to craft a joint five-night offer pairing culture in the capital with golfing in the countryside. The Town and Country package -- available mid-October to April, save Christmas and New Years -- includes deluxe king accommodations (two or three nights at the Merrion followed by two or three nights at the castle) with full Irish breakfast daily; admission to all exhibitions at Dublins National Art Gallery; limousine transfer to Ashford, with picnic lunch on the way; welcome cocktail at the castle; and choice of a round of golf for two, with free club hire, or half-hour falconry lesson. Rates are about $1,217 (or 999 euros, to be exact) per person, double occupancy, including tax and service fees. Contact the Merrion -- which normally pays agents 10% -- regarding bookings and commissions at (011) 353-1-603-0600 or via e-mail at [email protected]. For general information, visit www.merrionhotel.com.

THEYRE OFF...SEASON: CIE Tours International is offering budget-conscious clients value-priced weeklong tours this winter and spring. First, the six-night Irish Spirit -- priced from $952 per person with air from New York (Kennedy), Boston or Baltimore or $635 land-only -- includes accommodations; Irish breakfast daily; five dinners; motorcoach sightseeing; all local taxes, hotel charges and baggage handling; and deluxe flight bag, ticket wallet, and luggage tags and luggage strap.

ST. PADDY PACKAGES: CIE also scheduled a one-week Irish Heritage trip from March 11 to 18 to coincide with the March 17 St. Patricks Day parade in Dublin. Priced at $1,288 per person with airfare or $996 land-only, the tour includes six nights' accommodation,  Irish breakfast daily, five dinners, sightseeing, baggage handling, government taxes and hotel service charges. CIE also offers a March 16 departure, with March 17th at Bunratty, for clients interested in celebrating St. Paddys Day in the country. Clients can add a night in Galway, Connemara and Clonmacnoise for $158.  To contact CIE -- which pays agents 10% on land and varying commissions on air- call (800) CIE-TOUR or visit www.cietours.com.

KERRY UNITED: Trade information on County Kerry will come from one source as of Jan. 1, when Cork-Kerry Tourism -- The South West Regional Tourism Authority will take over marketing for the whole Kerry region, now split between Cork-Kerry Tourism, handling south Kerry, and Shannon Development, which handles the north. Tourism minister John ODonoghue said theres broad agreement in the region that the countys marketing and promotion efforts -- split in 1989 to help northern County Kerry grow -- should be reunited. For more, go to www.corkkerry.ie or www.shannonregiontourism.ie.

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