In the Irish county of Clare, sitting alongside the mouth of Ireland's longest river, the town of Shannon is the gateway to Ireland's beautiful west county, which includes Galway and the Aran Islands. Called Baile na Sionnainne in Gaelic and containing Ireland's third airport (once again called Shannon), the town is also largest national center of free-zone startups, mostly from North America, which have helped Ireland kick-start its economy. With the city of Limerick 12 or so miles to the southeast, Shannon MICE venues benefit from international access, startup optimism, and a proximal city.
Shannon Airport (SNN) has existed in one form or another since the 1930s in the era of flying boats; in the 1970s and 80s, it was an important stop for passenger planes that could only hold enough fuel to get to west Ireland. Today, SNN has service to other European countries (lowfare carrier Ryanair is its largest client), as well as to Boston, New York City; and, seasonally, Chicago, Newark, and Philadelphia.
The closest thing to stand-alone MICE venues in Shannon is Westpark Shannon, which is part of the tech hub in the town, with a one million-square-foot data center, and mixed-use space; a restaurant called Sage, a conference center with four meeting and function rooms for up to 210 persons, and, so it claims, unlimited bandwidth.
Of the MICE hotels in Shannon and nearby, the 114-room Park Inn by Radisson Shannon Airport has seven meeting rooms for up to 250 persons. In nearby Bunratty (on the River Ratty), five miles southeast of Shannon, is the 20-room Bunratty Manor Hotel, which has function space for up to 80 persons. Seven miles to the north of Shannon is luxurious, 100-room Dromoland Castle Hotel, which has more than 400 acres, a history as the home of the kings of Thomond of more than 1,600 years; and meeting rooms, banqueting space, restaurants, and the Brian Boru Centre for functions, with a hall for 450 persons. Close by is the equally spacious, 130-room Inn at Dromoland, which has four function areas, including Castle Fergus for 180 persons and Ballyhannon for 450. Lastly, north of Dromoland in Ennis is the 70-room Temple Gate Hotel, with meeting space for up to 450 persons in such spaces as its Great Hall.
Unique function space in Shannon features the Shannon Golf Club, which is close to the airport and has an 18-hole course, two bars and a restaurant able to cater to up to 150 persons; and Atlantic Air Venture, which has an aviation museum and a flight simulator that can cater to group events. Three spectacular facilities include, in Bunratty, the Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, which has a 15th-century castle, a replica of a 19th-century Irish village and the ability to host all manner of Irish-related corporate events, including traditional dinners for up to 190 persons; north of Shannon, Knappogue Castle, which has a 15th-century castle of its own, restored by an American family, a walled garden, one lodgings unit with several guest rooms, and the option to stage medieval banquets and other corporate events, while the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland, formerly The Lodge at Doonbeg Golf Club, is 35 miles west of Shannon on the Atlantic Ocean with a wide curve of beach and has a spa, a Greg Norman-designed, 18-hole golf links, The Pavilion for up to 260 persons and 169 guest rooms.
Shannon restaurants and nightspots include the Shannon Knights, which has a modern design, two bars, a nightclub and the Zest Bistro. Establishments in the area also able to feed groups include Irish bar and restaurant The Creamery Bar, in Bunratty, which dates to 1804 and has many authentic touches; nearby Noel's, which is at the Bunratty Manor Hotel and noted for its seafood; Earl of Thomond Restaurant, which is every bit as wonderful as its Dromoland Castle home; and Fig Tree, also at the castle but in its golf and country club facility.