Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter July 24, 2003

ON YOUR OWN: Sceptre Ireland is offering its Emerald Package to solo travelers,. Prices start at $548, single occupancy, for travel Sept. 1 to Dec. 30, when booked by Aug. 31. The six-night independent Emerald Package includes roundtrip airfare; one night in a hotel and five in farmhouse bed-and-breakfasts; weekly car rental with unlimited mileage, 24-hour road assistance, a 12-hour return grace period on the final day, and VAT; full Irish breakfast daily; and welcome orientation with Irish coffee on arrival. Upgrades include collision insurance or automatic transmissions for car rentals; 5-star castle accommodations; and private bath or 1,700 additional b-&-b selections. Agent pay is 10%. Call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptreireland.com.

SKAL'S GAL FROM GALWAY: Irish tourism pioneer and Galway native Mary Bennett was recently elected the first female world president of tourism promotion body SKAL Int'l. Bennett visited North America this week, to address SKAL chapters in Boston, Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Toronto and Nashville, Tenn. Bennett--past president of SKAL Clubs of Ireland, Chambers of Commerce of Ireland and Galway Chamber of Commerce & Industry--is also director of Ireland's West Tourism (since 1971) and chairman of Galway Tourism, Galway County & City Enterprise Board (since 1991) and Ireland's Western Regions Marketing Initiative, among myriad other tourism posts. For more information on SKAL, visit www.skal.org.

E--MERALD ISLE: Check out Tourism Ireland's Shamrock Club destination specialist Web site at www.shamrockclub.net/register. Once you've joined the program, you can log onto the site for access to five online education and certification modules and other interactive features. For more information, contact Tourism Ireland's John Daly at (212) 418-0835.

WHAT'S ON: Hibernian happenings this fall range from two oyster festivals and a plowing contest to a jazz jam and an urban marathon:
• Clarenbridge Oyster Festival, Sept. 5 to 7, Co. Galway, www.clarenbridge.com
• National Heritage Week, Sept. 7 to 14, e-mail to [email protected]
• All-Ireland Hurling Final, Sept. 14, Dublin, http://www.gaa.ie
• National Ploughing Championships, Sept. 23 to 25, Kinnegad, Co. Meath, www.npa.ie
• Waterford Int'l Festival of Light Opera, Sept. 24 to Oct. 5, www.waterfordfestival.com
• Galway Oyster Festival, Sept. 25 to 28, www.galwayoysterfest.com
• Dublin Theatre Festival, Sept. 29 to Oct.11, www.dublintheatrefestival.com
• Cork Int'l Film Festival, Oct. 12 to 19, www.corkfilmfest.org
• Cork Jazz Festival, Oct. 24 to 27, www.corkjazzfestival.com
• Dublin City Marathon, Oct. 27, www.dublincitymarathon.ie

AER BRIDGE: Irish regional airline Aer Arann reinstated nonstop air service--unavailable since 1995-- between the Ireland and Northern Ireland capitals with twice-daily, 40-minute turboprop flights priced from about $68 roundtrip. The air carrier hopes to carry some 40,000 passengers, mainly business travelers, on the Dublin-Belfast route annually. Aer Arann managing director Padraig O'Ceidigh estimated that 3 million travelers move between the capitals each year: 2 million do so by bus and 1 million by train. "We are confident that we can capture a substantial percentage of this market," he said. In other news, Aer Arann also increased Cork-Dublin frequencies to nine flights daily this winter, starting Oct. 27, and inaugurated daily service from Galway to Manchester, England. For more information, visit www.aerarann.ie.

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