The Annual General Meeting of the ITOA Ireland (Incoming Tour Operators Association – Ireland) is one of the most welcome events in the calendar to catch up with industry colleagues as well as an opportunity to visit and learn about new and innovative developments in the Isle of Ireland’s vast tourism portfolio.
Glenlo Abbey Hotel
This year, our host was the impressive Glenlo Abbey Hotel. It is located on the banks of Lough Corrib, Ireland’s largest lake, and within a short drive of Galway centre. Dating back to the 18th Century, the hotel offers wonderful spa and dining options (including the Pullman Restaurant, housed in two former carriages from the Orient Express) in an impressive marriage of old-world charm and contemporary elegance. Our welcome is as warm as we’ve come to expect, our room generously proportioned with fresh views over the 9-hole golf course and estate.
We set out promptly to experience the thriving Galway city centre. It offers the classic Irish hospitality package of good food, drink, and entertainment. The high street has several of these options within close proximity. The Quays was awarded Ireland’s best music venue in 2022 and didn’t disappoint. Our act played a heady mix of classic, contemporary, and Irish-language. The interior is eye-catching with many features having been imported from a medieval French church.
Tigh Neachtain’s is also a must visit. A ramshackle curiosity packed with history and art, it’s unique interior with enough snugs and quiet corners to lose the hours in as well as your partner! After another pit stop in Taaffes, we ate well in the ancient setting of the King’s Head. This cosy pub was established in 1649 and offers comedy along with a varied menu.
The meeting followed next morning. Amongst other things, it educated us on the fine work of the Corrib Beo, a local group bringing community, nature, and economy together to the benefit of this untouched resource. ITOA offer great leadership on sustainability and such learnings can inform our activities in many ways. We celebrated the Wild Atlantic Way’s 10-year anniversary with news of further infrastructure investment and new marketing objectives. A brisk and heady walk through the estate followed to board the Corrib Princess. We learned about their group cruises through the crystalline waters, taking in views of Menlo and Terryland castles whilst discovering the local wildlife.
Post refuelling, we were treated to a guided visit to An Spideal. This coastal village offers bracing Atlantic swims coupled with a beachside portable sauna, an arts & crafts collective, and a recording studio and space, Stiuidio Cuan. Here, we were lucky enough to witness traditional music and dancing from some of Ireland’s top young and award-winning talents. We also received a behind-the-scenes demonstration of their top of the range recording deck and the great work happening here. One fine example for groups is the possibility of participating in script-writing workshops. We were assured that this is something that is accessible and practical for all and not the sole pursuit of creatives! A shout out also to the wonderful refreshments provided by the Connemara Brewing Company. A strong recommendation for both their ale and lager.
Many thanks as ever to the executive team of ITOA Ireland for their tireless work and detailed preparation. It was fantastic that they could showcase some of the best that the Isle of Ireland has to offer. If you are feeling inspired, why not read more about Ireland here.
If you have any questions regarding visiting the island of Ireland, please contact [email protected]