Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter: February 13, 2003

GREEN DAYS: Dublin's annual St. Patrick's Festival has grown into a six-day event that will feature 3,500 performers from March 11 to 17. "This year's festival will be bigger, brighter, louder and longer than ever before," said Maria Moynihan, chief executive of the St Patrick's Festival. New happenings for 2003 include an inaugural symposium -- "Talking Irish" -- bringing together business, arts and society figures to discuss Irish identity; an Irish Visions program of art exhibits in local galleries; and a Festival Music Village with classical, dance, folk and rock performances. Returning festivities include fireworks on March 15 and the St. Patrick's Festival Parade in Dublin's center on March 17; grandstand parade seats can be reserved on line at www.stpatricksfestival.ie for approximately $59. For more information on the festival program, transport and accommodations, visit www.stpatricksfestival.ie.

MEANWHILE, the Georgian Hotel in Dublin rolled out St. Patrick's Offer rates on superior rooms of $89 per person, double, from March 13 to 18. The rate includes traditional Irish breakfast, taxes and a welcome Irish Coffee. Commission of 10% is paid to agents who book through Lorraine at (011) 353-1 634-5000, by fax at (011) 353-1 6345100 or by email at [email protected].

PUT SOME CORK IN IT: The Maryborough House Hotel outside Cork is offering a weekend getaway stay. The package, priced at $165 per person, double, includes two nights' accommodations with daily breakfast and one dinner. Meanwhile, the weeknight corporate rate is $145 per night, single, with bed and breakfast. Agent commission on all rates is 8%. The Maryborough is housed in a mansion set amid 24 acres of 300-year-old landscaped garden and natural parkland. Ten minutes from Cork's international airport and the city center, its 79 contemporary rooms feature king-size beds, tea/coffee making facilities, a hair dryer and a trouser press. The hotel also boasts an on-site restaurant, a 60-foot swimming pool and a gym. For information and reservations, contact Lisa Adams at (519) 751-3290, by fax at (519) 751-0157 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Or, visit www.maryborough.com on line.

HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY: Apparently, the folks in Killarney think it's never too early to start planning a party. The town -- touted as the "birthplace of Irish tourism" -- is gearing up to celebrate Killarney 250, a year-and-a-half long commemoration of its founding in 1754. Activities are set to run from St. Patrick's Day 2004 through October of 2005. Events already scheduled for next year include the Sporting Killarney weekend sports events in April; a walking festival and tours in May; a ship regatta in July; and a Christmas festival and historic car rally come December. Meanwhile, activities in 2005 will focus on Christian heritage, visual arts, gardening, films, tourism and folklore. For more information, visit www.killarney250.com on line, e-mail [email protected], or call Jerry O'Grady or Susan O'Mahony at (011) 353 643-6622.

ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN': Tourism Ireland's Shamrock Club online destination specialist program keeps reeling agents in. At last count, 4,800 new enrollees had signed up at www.shamrockclub.net/register, bringing the Shamrock Club roster to 5,800. Relaunched as an Internet product last November, the Shamrock Club offers free registration and access to online course modules, and -- upon certification -- free use of a telephone help line, 10 ICTA credits, a monthly newsletter subscription and use of the club logo. For an optional $99 surcharge, club graduates can upgrade their status for access to consumer referrals, Web site listings and promotional materials. For more information, contact Tourism Ireland's Breeda Burns at (212) 418-0842 or John Daly at (212) 418-0835, or visit www.shamrockclub.net/register.

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