With Irish charm in abundance, Galway, situated in the West of Ireland, is a stunning location steeped in history and culture. Following her recent trip to the Emerald Isles, Hollie Foster, our Senior Project Executive, proves why there doesn’t always have to be a long haul flight involved when it comes to finding an exceptional destination for events and incentive programmes.
Trip Hosted by:
Galway Convention Bureau
Flight: London Heathrow – Shannon
Flight time: 1 hours 25 minutes
Climate: Winter: average temperature of 11 degrees / Summer: average temperature of 19 degrees
Did you know: Galway will be the European Capital of Culture in 2020 and has been known as the Cultural Heart of Ireland.
Located in the West of Ireland, Ashford Castle, part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, offers five-star luxury, flawless service and the warm Irish hospitality you’d expect.
The castle sits proudly within a tranquil 350-acre estate, but don’t be fooled there are plenty of activities for guests to try their hands at and for those who want a more relaxed experience there’s Ireland’s best voted hotel spa. Recently refurbished, the hotel offers 83 rooms and suites that exude elegance and charm, carefully designed to enhance the beautiful and original features of the castle.
Situated on the edge of Ireland’s largest lake, Lough Corrib, the five-star Glenlo Abbey Hotel is known for its 9-hole championship golf course, accompanied by their 21 bay driving range. The hotel’s newly refurbished luxurious Corrib banqueting suite offers spectacular views that overlook the beautiful grounds and Lough Corrib, and a venue space that can accommodate up to 220 delegates. Unique dining options include the 18th Century Abbey, elegant River Room and the Pullman Restaurant aboard two of the original Orient Express carriages.
Arrival, lunch at Moran’s Oyster Cottage, Cnoc Suain experience and a glimpse of the Arran Islands by air
After a short transfer from Shannon airport to Moran’s Oyster Cottage in Kilcolgan, we were warmly welcomed on arrival to the family-run restaurant. We enjoyed a delicious selection of fresh seafood and famous Galway flat oysters. The owners explained the process of Oyster Farming and showed us how to shuck an oyster.
After enjoying our first pint of Guinness in Ireland, we headed onto our next stop, Cnoc Suain, an international award-winning cultural retreat set in a restored rural hill-village in 200 acres of Connemara wilderness. Husband and wife, Charlie Troy and Dearbhaill Standun, are passionate about showcasing a unique insight into Gaelic culture and creativity. The experiences they offer include fireside stories on aspects of the Gaelic language, music, customs, traditions and the wonders of the wild Atlantic bogland.
Upon departure from Cnoc Suain, we were told we were going to be able to partake in a surprise activity due to good weather in Ireland. We arrived at Connemara airport and boarded a tiny 8-seater plane and enjoyed a scenic flight over the Arann Islands, which included a glimpse at the famous Cliffs of Moher.
After an action-packed day in Galway, we began a picturesque drive through the beautiful mountainous countryside, we soon arrived at Ashford Castle where we were fondly greeted by all staff at the castle entrance. Before we had a chance to think about our luggage it was whisked away from us and all that remained was a welcome cocktail in hand – a first glimpse to the impeccable five star service we were to receive during our stay here. We ended the night with an exquisite three course dinner in the hotel’s George V Dining Room before retreating to our bedrooms.
Ashford Castle site visit, Galway City, networking lunch at g hotel and dine around of Galway’s best restaurants
We began the morning with a full site visit of Ashford Castle and estate. We had a chance to see the Falconry School, outdoor estate activities, Hideaway Cottage, plus their sister property The Lodge at Ashford – which has much more of a modern feel in contrast to the traditional exterior and interior of Ashford Castle.
We departed Ashford Castle for Galway city to soak up the atmosphere of the city centre. On route we stopped to view the extensive meeting facilities of UNI Galway, the university boasts beautiful historic grounds and has space to accommodate up to 1,000 delegates in the Bailey Allen Hall.
After some time to explore the city and do some shopping – quite a few Aran and Irish wool items were bought! – we headed to the g Hotel and Spa for a networking lunch. The g Hotel and Spa is a stylish five-star hotel located in central Galway. The hotel offers 101 light filled bedrooms and suites, 3 signature lounges for casual dining and afternoon tea, as well as restaurant Gigi’s, winner of ‘Best Hotel Restaurant in Galway’. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, where we had the chance to network with local suppliers, including DMCs, travel/tour operators and Galway hotels and resorts. Before departing the g hotel, we had a chance to explore the modern meeting facilities able to host groups of up to 300 delegates.
After a short transfer from Galway centre, we arrived at Glenlo Abbey. After viewing the property accompanied with a glass of sparkling wine, we had the opportunity to view all event and private dining spaces, which included stepping on board the Pullman Restaurant, set in two original carriages from the Orient Express - a very unique dining experience!
We concluded the night with a dine around of Galway’s best restaurants – a great way to taste a wide array of what Ireland’s cuisine has to offer. We even had a chance to experience traditional Irish music in a local pub which ended the night perfectly.
Breakfast, Galway review and Departures
After enjoying breakfast in Glenlo Abbey’s River Room restaurant, we had a chance to review our time in Galway, chat about the highlights of the trip and our feedback on the venues before heading to the airport.
Sold on Galway
My overall opinion on Galway was that I was sold - from start to finish upon arriving into Galway, you are truly looked after and made to feel very welcome. The experiences we had were a great insight into Irish culture and lifestyle. Galway is often discarded as Dublin takes the overriding choice of destination for Ireland, but it really is a hidden gem with a lot to offer and at a lower rate.