Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in

Ireland

An insider's guide to hosting meetings, events and incentives in Ireland.

Why Ireland for Your Next Meeting or Event?

There are scores of reasons why meetings, convention and incentive groups love Ireland. It's easily accessible, endlessly exciting and steeped in tradition, with picturesque settings ranging from the rugged natural beauty and spectacular coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way to the buzz and excitement of Dublin. And that's not all: The destination was ranked 12th in the world in 2020 for health and safety by Vision of Humanity, proof of the destination's ability to combine safety, sustainability, support and value, all with a warm Irish welcome. 

Only in Ireland

Céad míle fáilte, which translates to one-hundred-thousand welcomes, is what visitors can expect the minute they step foot on the Emerald Isle. The people are passionate about welcoming international visitors and showcasing the country’s culture. Ireland excels at offering unique experiences, from traditional music sessions in a local pub to outdoor excursions along scenic coastal paths, from story-telling sessions in thatched-roof cottages to archery lessons on castle grounds that look straight out of a fairy tale. Whether attendees are foodies, outdoor adventurers or top performers seeking relaxation, they will find myriad memorable options that are a far cry from standard activities.

Beyond the unique experiences, meeting and incentive planners will also find a wealth of group-friendly facilities, including two convention centers, 60,000 hotel rooms and more than 230 venues and hotel event spaces. The nation's prominence on the international stage is also underscored by the fact that it's home to nine universities; more than 45 hospitals; 1,200 multinational companies, and more than 45 centers of excellence. In addition to being the only English-speaking gateway to the Eurozone, the future-focused destination offers strong industry sectors in the fields of pharmaceuticals, medical technology, information and communication technology and agriculture.

Travel Essentials

Taxes: VAT, 9%, which is applied to food and drink served in restaurants and hotels, as well as hotel and guesthouse accommodations.

Convention Centers

The Convention Centre Dublin; exhibit space, 48,438 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 22
Killarney Convention Centre; exhibit space, 7,535 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 4

CVB Contact: Meet in Ireland  

Local Currency: Euro

Power: 230 volt/50Hz

Time Zone: Irish Standard Time in the summer and Greenwich Mean Time in the winter (5 hours ahead of EDT)

Transportation

Less than a six-hour flight from the East Coast of the United States, Ireland is the only European country that offers U.S. Customs and Border Protection Preclearance at its airports.

Flights between the U.S. and Ireland are offered at the following airports:

Dublin Airport, about 8.5 miles from Dublin. Transfer cost by taxi, about $30, by bus, about $8
Shannon Airport, about 3.5 miles from Shannon. Transfer cost by taxi, about $15, by bus, about $2.50. 

Meeting and Event Venues

New & Coming Soon to Ireland

• Following more than 18 months of disruption and inactivity, Ireland is once again open for meetings, conferences and events. In September, the country hosted its first in-person conference, which included 450 attendees, since the easing of restrictions; it showcased the country's ability to host a large-scale event in a fully safe and compliant manner. The reopening of business events will begin Oct. 22, when Ireland is slated to lift all COVID-19-related restrictions, including mask-wearing and physical-distancing measures. Ireland now ranks as one of the top five countries within the European Union with the highest rates of COVID-19 vaccinations. And as of Nov, 8, the 20-month travel ban on non-essential travel to the United States was lifted, making it easy for U.S.-based groups to hold events in the Emerald Isle. 

• Dublin scored a double victory at the 2021 M&IT Industry Awards, which recognizes and rewards excellence across the meetings and events sector. The Convention Centre Dublin was named Best Overseas Conference Venue while the Dublin Convention Bureau took gold for Best Overseas Convention Bureau. This is the ninth time the CCD has won gold in its category, and it also took home the Silver and in 2011 and 2017.

• The Emerald Isle will soon offer more venue options, thanks to Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, which is investing some $11.7 million in the development of gala dinner venues to make the nation more competitive as a business tourism destination. The investment project, which was to launch in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic, is scheduled to launch by the end of 2021. Fáilte Ireland and its business events arm, Meet in Ireland, also serve great resources for finding local PCOs and DMCs who can organize events and experiences in the country.

• Ireland's first Hard Rock Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel Dublin, opened in the capital. The 120-room property, which celebrates the rich musical history of the city, is furnished with electrifying color schemes and Hard Rock memorabilia.

• Another recent newcomer to Dublin's hotel scene is The Mayson, a 94-room boutique property housed in a former warehouse. In addition to a traditional Irish pub and fitness facilities, the hotel features the Timberyard, an event space that accommodates 160 people for receptions.  

• Dublin's 304-room Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane has a new events center that has six meeting rooms. The venue can accommodate up to 220 attendees.

• The Maldron Hotel South Mall Cork City, a 163-room property, has opened Cork's lmain shopping, business and entertainment district. The new-build property offers a bar, restaurant and five meeting rooms.

The Institute of Technology Tralee, located along the Wild Atlantic Way in the town of Tralee, has recently opened a $22.3 million, multi-use event space called the Kerry Sports Academy. The facility features a 21,000-square-foot sports hall that also serves as an event space, able to accommodate 1,500 guests for seated events. The venue also has three meeting rooms, three classrooms and a 142-seat lecture hall.

• Another Tralee venue, the 161-room Rose Hotel, recently opened a new dining and event space that specializes in serving local fare including Kerry coast oysters, spa crab meat and Bally's goat cheese. The hotel's meeting spaces include the Lee Suite, which accommodates up to 320 guests, and the Kerry Suite, which accommodates 150 people. 

More Ireland Meeting & Event Venues

• The Dublin Convention Centre is a world-class conference venue located just 15 minutes from the airport, in the heart of Dublin’s Docklands (the city's finance and technology hub). As well as being Ireland’s largest convention facility, is it also Europe’s first carbon-neutral-constructed convention center. The venue offers 22 purpose-built meeting rooms; a 2,000-seat auditorium; 48,600 square feet of exhibition space; banqueting facilities for up to 3,000 guests, and cutting-edge technology and WiFi connection throughout the venue.  

• Another high-profile event venue in the capital is the Royal Dublin Society, a venerable institution founded in 1868 that's set on an attractive, 42,000-acre site. Options at the RDS include 10 multi-purpose conference and exhibition halls, an outdoor stadium, several concert venues, meeting rooms, bars and restaurants. The Simonscourt Complex is the RDS's largest space, with more than 193,000 square feet of floor space and a capacity for 6,500 delegates, theater-style. The venue hosts exhibitions, indoor sporting events, live entertainment shows, award shows, large banquets, and conferences.    

• The Killarney Convention Centre, Ireland’s second-largest convention venue, offers a main auditorium with retractable seating that accommodates 2,500 delegates; 7,600 square feet of exhibition space that can be transformed seamlessly from conference-style to banquet-style; 30 breakout spaces and 500 on-site guest rooms.  

• In the city of Limerick, one of the top choices for meeting planners is the University of Limerick Conference & Sports Campus, with three conference/event venues and more than 60 breakout rooms that accommodate more than 2,000 delegates. All theaters and meeting rooms have audiovisual capabilities and offer an array of catering options, as well as efficient transportation links and a dedicated events team. The park-like campus is perfect for strolling, offering sculptures, art galleries and diverse architectural styles that range from the 18th-century Palladian mansion Plassey House to the 21st-century home of the Irish World Music Academy of Music and Dance.

• The West Coast city of Galway is home to a variety of noteworthy meeting and event venues, including the Conference and Event Centre at the National University of Ireland Galway. Set on 230 picturesque acres on the shores of the River Corrib, the venue hosts a wide variety of events, including international conferences, board meetings, sporting events, award ceremonies and concerts. In addition to lecture halls, boardrooms, classrooms and exhibition space, the university has a large, multi-purpose venue, Bailey Allen Hall, which accommodates 1,000 attendees theater-style.

• Located about five minutes from downtown Cork is Páirc Uí Chaoimh, a modern stadium that hosts top-level Gaelic football matches as well as concerts. The facility offers more than 19,300 square feet of flexible conference space and a variety of smaller suites, as well as the 550-seat Seandun Suite.

Things to Do in Ireland

Whether delegates are food lovers, outdoor explorers or simply want to rest and unwind, the stunning natural habitats and culinary wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands offer something for everyone, including a range of eco-friendly experiences. Throughout the Emerald Isle, in fact, an array of authentic Irish experiences — ranging from guided wild food walks along the beautiful shores of Lahinch in the Wild Atlantic Way to exploring the mountains of Ireland’s Ancient East through an eco-trail — can be organized for groups. Ireland’s commitment to sustainability within the MICE sector is apparent in myriad ways; the nation is home to the world first purpose-built carbon neutral convention center, for example, as well as Europe’s most sustainable property, Iveagh Garden Hotel. It’s no wonder that Dublin  made it onto  the “Top 5 Most Improved Destinations” list on the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

Dublin: Experience the many facets of Ireland's thrilling capital

• Ireland's traditional games are a fascinating and fun way to engage attendees in authentic local culture. Visitors can learn to puc a sliotar (practice hurling) at Croke Park, one of Ireland's most iconic sporting venues. The 2,00-year-old sport has been awarded special status by UNESCO, which noted that hurling is "an intrinsic part of Irish culture." 

• It's impossible to talk about beer in Ireland without mentioning Guinness, the nation's beloved brand. Delegates can pull their own pint at the Guinness Storehouse, the site where this famed brewery has been operating in Dublin for more than 250 years. The seven-floor facility's exhibits, guided tastings and other activities make it easy for visitors to learn about the company's fascinating history. Groups of up to 2,000 guests can make use of the expansive venue for private events.  

• Visit Windmill Lane Recording Studio, one of world’s most iconic recording studios founded in 1978 and located in the heart of Dublin’s city centre. This 12,000 square foot Art Deco building is home to the recordings of sought-after musicians including David Bowie, U2 and Van Morrison. Windmill Lane recording studio offers a range of immersive studio experiences where delegates can enjoy activities such as recording and mixing a song of choice with an in-house producer or get an exclusive look behind the music in the control room of the renowned Studio One.

• Ireland prides itself as a sustainable destination and encourages environmentally conscious events. There are many opportunities to incorporate Corporate Social Responsible (CSR) activities into your meeting or incentive itinerary. In the Shannon region for example, delegates can pick a tree or wildflower that represents their country or something about their group and plant it in an urban setting to not only reduce the carbon footprint of your group’s trip but to leave a legacy in the region itself. Other initiatives include raising money for charity, including only locally sourced food produce on the menu or eliminating single use plastics to any event attended on the trip - Ireland can ensure CSR are met.

Wild Atlantic Way: A foodie and nature-lover's paradise

• Food is an integral part of any meeting, conference or incentive. It's a chance to bond with colleagues over sumptuous cuisine — and Ireland offers plenty of opportunities to do so along the food trails of Ireland's friendly towns, foraging in the wild or enjoying a gourmet picnic on the breath-taking coastline. The Wild Atlantic Way, a picturesque tourism trail on the west coast, is home to a plethora of artisan producers and delicious local delicacies. From wild Mullaghmore lobster to Lissadell oysters and fresh Atlantic seaweed, a host of uniquely Irish flavors await.

Aran Islands: Step back in time with an excursion to these unspoiled isles. 

• Groups visiting the Wild Atlantic Way route can experience the beauty and wonder of islands that lie just off the coast. The Aran Islands, for example, are graced with white sandy beaches, towering cliffs, turquoise seas, history, heritage and unique island culture. From off-road excursions, to meeting with locals and feasting on organic produce, to simply enjoying the jaw-dropping scenery, immersive island experiences are sure to inspire conference delegates, corporate groups, and incentive participants alike.

Ireland's Castles: The royal treatment awaits at the country's luxurious, historic estates

• With their stunning medieval architecture, rolling gardens and soaring ceilings, Ireland's historic castles offer unforgettable settings for MICE experiences. Castles such as Ashford Castle and Slane Castle, as well as stately historic homes (e.g., Adare Manor), offer a variety of options for immersing groups in the nation's rich history. Guests can savor banquets fit for a king, dramatic gala dinners and nightcaps in old-style libraries, all while making use of modern business amenities and enjoying unique team-building activities. The evocative settings, nestled in the countryside away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, provide quiet spaces in which to host MICE activities, and yet they're still easily accessible from Ireland's main airports and other iconic landmarks. 

Wellness and Nature: Ireland offers endless outdoor settings and active pursuits for groups

• Ireland's green spaces and spectacular natural environment provide the perfect backdrop for a safe and health-focused conference, meeting or incentive. Adding wellness elements to a MICE trip can enhance delegates' engagement, making them more productive and ready to tackle the day-to-day conference or meeting program. Whether it is a horseback-riding experience through Killarney National Park; paddleboarding along the Kerry coastline; climbing tours across the Gap of Dunloe, or foraging for wild Irish produce along the picturesque beaches of the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's rugged landscapes serve as the perfect natural settings for feel-good experiences and revitalizing activities that allow delegates to embrace the spirit of adventure while enjoying an aura of serenity.