For equestrian vacations, the Emerald Isle is a natural choice.
As Karen Lancaster, president of Cross Country International
Equestrian Vacations (800-828-8768) in Millbrook, N.Y., said,
"Horses and the Irish have a long and rich history, and the Irish
hunter is an ideal breed for riding."
Cross Country International offers a choice of five trail rides
and two training programs in the Republic that accommodate all
levels of proficiency. All are commissionable at 10%.
Three of the trail rides are "inn-to-inn" programs with riders
able to choose from among B&Bs and three- or five-star
accommodations. Accommodations for training programs are at
accredited equestrian centers.
"Everything is taken care of," said Lancaster, "including
luggage transfers and packing of the horses. It's all very easy for
Clients can ride along the sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean,
across green fields and streams and through forests and mountains.
Inn-to-inn rides are available in Killarney and the Ring of Kerry,
County Wicklow and County Galway; staying-in-place riding is
available at Kinnitty Castle in the Irish Midlands and County Sligo
(there is also an inn-to-inn option in Sligo).
Prices for cross country (general skills) or hunt-seat training
(jumping and other hunting skills) start at $1,680 per person,
double, including six nights' accommodations, two meals daily,
training and riding.
Sample trail rides: A three-day trail ride program with stays at
Kinnitty Castle starts at $850 per person, double, including
accommodations, two meals daily, all riding and taxes. A Killarney
Ring of Kerry Ride costs $1,450 for six nights' hotel/guest house
accommodations, including three meals a day, horses, equipment and
In Northern Ireland, opportunities for equestrian vacations
continue to expand. For example, a new equestrian center is slated
to open in April in southern County Armagh, providing access to the
culturally rich and scenically beautiful Ring of Gullion, a
mountainous area that's laced with historic bridle paths.
There are a number of horseback riding facilities elsewhere in
the province as well, including the Ulster-Lakeland Equestrian
Center, a top-notch facility in County Fermanagh.
Among U.S.-based wholesalers who now offer riding vacations in
the North is Destinations Ireland & Great Britain in New York.
For 1998 it has introduced a six-night equestrian trip available
for individuals or groups.
The package features accommodations at the family-run
Drumgooland House and Equestrian Centre, located in the village of
Seaforde, County Down, 10 minutes from the seaside resort of
Newcastle. The century-old country house hotel sits on 60 acres of
land that has its own trout-stocked lake.
Included in the package are six days of guided trail rides, as
well as accommodations, all meals, roundtrip transfers from Belfast
airport, horse and tack and guide. It is priced from $1,495 per
person, double. Call (800) 832-1848.
Irish Historical Attractions
For clients interested in Ireland's industrial heritage, a
region in the North known as the Linen Homelands is apt to prove
Bridging the three counties of Down, Armagh and Antrim, the
Linen Homelands encompasses the heart of the region where
linen-making once flourished.
It was in this area, especially in the Lagan and Bann valleys,
that the linen industry ranked as Northern Ireland's most important
industry in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, linen
manufacturing is making a comeback in the province, though most of
the textile companies in the region now import the flax from which
linen is made.
There are a number of visitor attractions in the Linen Homelands
area that illuminate the region's linen heritage, including the
social history and culture that developed around the linen
One way for clients to explore the heritage is by taking a
guided Irish Linen Tour. From May through September, the six-hour
tours (including a lunch break) leave from the Banbridge Gateway
Tourist Information Centre on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Highlights on the tour include:McConville's: a water-powered scutching mill in Dromore where
dried flax undergoes a process to make it more fibrous.Irish Linen Centre/Lisburn Museum: an award-winning museum that
spotlights the story of Ireland's linen industry through
audiovisual displays, the re-creation of factory scenes and a
weaving workshop where weavers produce linen on restored
19th-century hand looms.One of four working linen factories: these include the Ferguson
Linen Centre in Banbridge, where double damask linen is produced;
Blacker's Mill in Portadown, where a preserved weaver's cottage is
now a factory shop; Ewart Liddell in Donaghcloney, Ireland's
largest damask linen weaving company, and Dunmurry Print in
Dunmurry, where linen is screen-printed.
For information on the Irish Linen Tour, contact the Banbridge
Gateway Tourist Information Centre, 200 Newry Road, Banbridge,
Northern Ireland, BT32 3NB, (011) 44 18206-23322, fax (011) 44