E.U. PUTS CORK IN IT: The European Union named the
City of Cork the European Capital of Culture for 2005. Among some
40 projects planned for the year-long cultural celebration is
Relocations, a summer outdoor theater program; a series of
childhood and youth events set for July 2005, designated the Month
of Childhood; and Oceans to City, Ireland's largest ever rowing
race, in which competitors will race from the coast to the city
center. Cork will also get a new arts space, the Eighteen Turns,
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2001, designed by architect Daniel
Libeskind. A final program and calendar of events for Cork 2005
should be ready by October. Although there's no word yet on U.S.
tour operator tie-ins or related product, visit www.cork2005.ie for
THE 411 ON K250: Killarney, meanwhile, fetes
its 250th birthday this year and next with 18 months of events for
Killarney 250, which kicked off on St. Patrick's Day. "K250"
activities include street entertainment; traditional Irish sports,
theater and music; exhibitions, including a walking festival and
tours in May; a ship regatta in July; and a Christmas festival and
historic car rally in December. Activities in 2005 will focus on
Christian heritage, visual arts, gardening, films, tourism and
folklore. For more information, visit www.killarney250.com, e-mail [email protected],
or call Jerry O'Grady or Susan O'Mahony at (011) 353 643-6622.
STILL A ROSE: The name may have changed, but
the game remains the same at the former Sceptre Ireland, now doing
business as Sceptre Tours. The new moniker and tag line -- "Sceptre
Tours ... Only Ireland" -- is "a new advertising spin" and not a
sign that the Ireland-only firm will offer destinations other than
the Emerald Isle, said vp Chris Accomando.
ON YOUR OWN: Regarding products, Sceptre Tours
is offering a Hotel Hopper Week that gives travelers the freedom to
explore Ireland at their own pace, using open hotel vouchers. The
Hotel Hopper Week includes roundtrip airfare, a first night
pre-booked at either the Shannon or Dublin Great Southern Hotel;
five nights' open-voucher hotel accommodations; free Irish coffee
reception; full Irish breakfast daily; and weekly rental car or
chauffeur. Pricing starts at $639 per person, net. For more
information, call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptretours.com.
THAT'S THE SPIRIT: CIE Tours Int'l added the
six-night, budget Irish Spirit tour to its group offerings. The
tour--which takes in Cashel, Blarney, the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs
of Moher, the Burren and Connemara--offers three two-night hotel
stays in first-class properties in Dublin, Killarney and Galway.
Departures are available weekly on Saturdays and most Wednesdays
through Dec. 11; land-only pricing starts at $699 per person. CIE
is also pushing its six-night London Experience--priced from
$1,108, for departures May 6 to Dec. 9--as the perfect add-on to an
Irish holiday. Accommodations are at the Irish-owned, four-star
Jurys Kensington Hotel in London. For more information from
CIE--which pays 10% on land and varying commissions on air--call
(800) 243-8687 or visit www.cietours.com.
NEW FACES: The 58-room Mount Juliet Conrad
resort--a Conrad Hotels property set on a 1,500-acre estate in
Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland--has a new general manager.
Antony Treston, formerly of the Conrad Centennial Singapore,
succeeded former general manager Andrew Phelan. For more
information on Mount Juliet--which hosts the World Golf
Championships-American Express Championship Sept. 30 to Oct.