Flying into Shannon International Airport, visitors look down on a patchwork quilt in countless shades of green. The Shannon Region's County Clare in the west of Ireland has a wild, expansive landscape dotted with castles, craggy cliffs, and championship golf courses, plus an array of meeting venues.
A relaxing way for small incentive groups to see the region's villages is a cruise along the River Shannon in a Derg Line Cruiser. Groups can rent the luxurious, four- to eight-berth cruisers by the week at the Derg Marina Village in Killaloe.
There are hundreds of castles in the Shannon Region. High-end groups can even rent their own: Ballyhannan Castle, a restored 15th-century Irish peel tower, accommodates six guests. Or there's Dromoland Castle, on a 375-acre estate, with its own golf course, private lake, and 73 superbly decorated suites and rooms. Brian Boru Hall, the castle's 6,000-square-foot conference center, seats 450.
Less than an hour's drive from Dromoland is Galway City. Chartered in 1484 by Richard III of England, Galway has evolved into the center for culture and shopping in west Ireland. In the city's Latin Quarter, pubs pulse with traditional Irish tunes. The Great Southern Hotel Eyre Square offers 116 rooms plus conference facilities. Small groups can book Ardilaun House, a Georgian-style country house built in 1840. Converted into a hotel in 1962, the 90-room Ardilaun accommodates groups of up to 450 persons.
Day trips from Galway City include Clifden, an early 19th-century market town; the seven-mile Sky Road to the Connemara Golf Club; the Burren Region, 100 square miles of limestone rock; and the majestic Cliffs of Moher. Rising 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs stretch across five miles of coastline.