Call of the wild in Ireland
Agents take to the saddle in County Donegal with Tourism Ireland
Tourism Ireland invited six UAE travel agents on a fam trip and trade workshop to Ireland back in October 2011.
Over five days the group — including Raed El Hajj, Abu Dhabi Travel Bureau; Angela Gomes, Omeir Travel; Javier Otero Salgado, Destinations of the World; Chester Pollocks, Mannai Holidays; Karla Galicia, Salem Holidays and Salma Mohamed Zein, Etihad Holidays — completed a whistlestop tour of Ireland stopping in Dublin, Kildare, Donegal and Belfast.
The agents flew to Dublin direct from Abu Dhabi via Etihad Airways arriving early on Sunday morning.
The first day was spent exploring Ireland’s capital city Dublin, with a walking tour of Georgian Dublin; shopping on Grafton Street; a tour of The Chester Beatty Library, St. Stephen’s Green (a park in the centre of Dublin) and Dublin Zoo.
To round off the Dublin experience the group jumped on a Viking Splash Tours bus, a unique ‘land and water’ sightseeing experience. The evening was spent at a live Irish show — the Merry Ploughboys — widely regarded as the best traditional music show in Dublin and a must-see for any visitor.
The following day the agents visited Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare and the Irish National Stud, a thoroughbred horse breeding facility, as well as the beautiful Japanese Gardens. In the afternoon there was time for some shopping with a visit to Chic Outlet Shopping Kildare Village.
Day three saw the group depart for Dunfanaghy, a small village in County Donegal, on Ireland’s north coast. Donegal features some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery, ranging from high mountains, rivers, lakes, to coastal cliffs and beaches.
The agents checked in at Arnolds Hotel, Dunfanaghy which overlooks the amazing natural beauty of Sheephaven Bay and went off to make the most of the rugged surrounding countryside.
The riding stables are located in the grounds of the hotel and have been in the Arnold family for over 30 years. The group spent the day cantering along the Killahoey beach, enjoying the wilderness and tranquility of the area and the large variety of seabirds that can be spotted off the cliffs.
They all agreed this was the highlight of the trip. “The highlight was the horse riding and mountain climbing in County Donegal,” said Angela Gomes from Omeir Holidays. “It’s a beautiful place; the landscapes are breathtaking.”
The following day the group was off to Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland and their final stop where they were lucky enough to receive an exclusive preview of the city’s newest visitor attraction — the Titanic Belfast. The world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, is scheduled to open in March 2012.
After a fantastic fam tour it was finally down to business at the Tourism Ireland workshop, followed by a gala dinner and entertainment that evening.
When to travel
Ireland is known for its unpredictable weather so don’t forget your brolly!
January - February
Average temperature: 5C
March - April
Average temperature: 7C
May - June
Average temperature: 11C
July - August
Average temperature: 15C
September - October
Average temperature: 7C
November - December
Average temperature: 6C
What the travel trade said...
Raed A El Hajj
Holidays Branch Manager
Abu Dhabi Travel Bureau
This is one of the best evergreen destinations for all types of clients. Donegal leaves a lasting impression with beautiful countryside, glorious beaches and live music concerts. We had an amazing experience in Ireland. The people we met were uniformly welcoming and treated us with much respect, which made us feel good.
Throughout our trip we experienced the warmth of Ireland hospitality. From the moment we landed until we returned. The horse riding and walk through local areas gave us a different experience than any other trip I ever had.
All members of the group were relaxed and it was really painful to say goodbye. The accommodation was really great. It was outstanding in good locations with good facilities and amenities. All up to the mark.
Mannai Holidays, Qatar
Ireland was everything I expected it to be, warm people, picturesque countryside, great music and pubs. It is an ideal family destination with activities from horse riding, fishing, hiking to golfing. The visa waiver scheme is an excellent idea and I hope they add more nationalities to the list. The highlight was horse riding in County Donegal.
I think I was bold to try the trot for my first time on a horse. Accommodation overall was good. My favourite was the Arnolds Hotel in County Donegal. The room was moderate, but it had an amazing view and plenty of space. The highlight was the friendly service.
The hotel manager was kind enough to serve me a cup of tea, which reinstates my view about Irish hospitality.
Supervisor - Corporate
Omeir Holidays, Abu Dhabi
This was my first trip to Ireland, and it was a big surprise. I was greatly impressed as there is so much to see and do — history, traditions, culture, activities, sporting events, festivals, the natural landscapes and the pubs with traditional music and dancing — Ireland has it all! With the new visa waiver scheme for GCC nationals, and the Etihad Airways weekly flights from Abu Dhabi coupled with Emirates flights from Dubai to start soon, this place is definitely going to boom in a few years.
The highlight was the horse riding and mountain climbing in County Donegal. It’s a beautiful place; the landscapes are breathtaking. Rooms at Trinity Capital, Dublin, and Hilton in Belfast were neat and clean.
My trip to Ireland was fantastic. I felt very welcome. Though it was rushed we were still able to enjoy it. We laughed, ate, slept, met wonderful people and saw so much off and on the road. The scenery and culture were outstanding.
The hotels were a good standard, very clean and tidy, and check-in was quick and efficient. The rooms were a reasonable size and comfortable with a lovely view. The food was excellent. The workshop was too hectic but very good as we were able to meet suppliers to help us for future business. The place I loved most is County Donegal.
I enjoyed the horseback riding on the beach (really amazing) and the hiking. I will recommend Dublin, Kildare and Donegal, especially for local clients who love to shop, relax and explore nature.
Where to stay
Trinity Capital Hotel
This four-star hotel in Dublin City Centre is a fusion of warmth and comfort; featuring 195 bedrooms with sleek modern furnishings, walnut wood fittings and rich cardinal colours.
The Merrion Hotel
One of Dublin’s top hotels, the Merrion is located in a block of four Georgian terrace houses and features Dublin’s only two-star Michelin restaurant Patrick Guilibaud inside.
Established in 1922, The Arnold Hotel overlooks the spectacular scenery of Sheephaven Bay, Donegal. Activities at this traditional family hotel include horse riding, water sports, golf and fishing.