Reflecting the importance of the conference market to Ireland’s capital, a new National Conference Centre is due to open in the autumn of 2009.The National Conference & Exhibition Centre will be located in the heart of the city, on the banks of the Liffey and Royal Canal, at Spencer Dock, Dublin. Arguably, this may be the finest landmark building ever planned for the capital city. Designed by world-renowned architect, Kevin Roche, this award-winning international conference and exhibition centre, is likely to be among the best of its type in Europe. The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, commented on announcement of the proposal in 2003: ‘On the basis of consultations undertaken by my Department and the recent research reviewed, I am totally convinced of the need for a dedicated National Conference Centre if Ireland is to realise its full potential in the international conference market. Independent estimates put the level of additional annual foreign revenue that could be earned from such a facility at between €25m to €50m, which would represent a very welcome boost for Irish tourism.’ According to Failte Ireland, the current level of overseas conference and meetings visitors to Ireland each year is in the region of 120,000, with Dublin being by far the most popular region. Conference visitors are high spenders who, if the experience is right, will extend their stay or return later for private holidays. It has been estimated that an additional 30,000 annual visitors could be generated through the availability of a dedicated centre.
Meanwhile, Crowne Plaza Dublin has announced the development of a new Conference Centre to accommodate meetings and events for up to 1,000 delegates. This unique new development on the north side of Dublin city centre, is ideally located close to the airport and is set to open in July 2006. Crowne Plaze Dublin has already established itself as a unique four star deluxe hotel set amidst 120 acres of parkland, with 204 guestrooms and 12 conference rooms, accommodating groups of up to 240 delegates. The new conference centre will have an additional 11 syndicate suites with the emphasis on flexibility, to accommodate meetings, events, incentives and launches. Also being developed on the site, the new Express by Holiday Inn Hotel, with 114 comfortable three star guestrooms, will offer delegates the choice of accommodation for their meeting event.
For something different and of course traditionally Irish, the leading tourist attraction in Ireland, the Guinness Storehouse, has recently undergone a number of changes, and conference rooms will be refurbished during the summer. The ‘Brew and Taste’ exhibition begins on the ground floor with an introduction to how Guinness is incorporated into many aspects of Irish life and culture. Following this is the ingredients section which explores the four natural ingredients that combine to make Ireland's favourite drink. The fourth stage celebrates Mr Arthur Guinness himself. This section of the exhibition is a commemoration to the founder of Guinness and the long line of master brewers that followed in his footsteps. Continuing on to the first floor is the new Brew Exhibit, which opened at the start of this year, and which explains the different brewing stages of Guinness. The final and unsurprisingly most popular stage is the new Tasting Laboratory where visitors get to sample the three different brews, Guinness Draught, Guinness Export and Guinness Foreign Export. Under guidance the visitors will be able to appreciate Guinness as if they were a professional taster.
Also offering something a bit different, the Royal College of Physicians has opened its restored 19th century premises at Number Six Kildare Street as an exceptional city conferencing venue, with 21st century multimedia technologies. The venue can cater for groups of 10 to 400 for all types of events. Behind the tall Georgian doors of the listed building are a full suite of rooms and facilities including video-conferencing, a cinema theatre, retractable stage and a stunning library of 30,000 books, some from the 16th century. Delegates can amuse themselves during breaks by inspecting the glass cabinets of medical equipment and instruments down the ages and see a toothbrush belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte, donated by his Irish physician, Barry O’Meara.
The Marino Conference Centre on Griffith Avenue, just outside of the city centre, offers traditional conference facilities and bed and breakfast accommodation at competitive city prices, yet is within easy reach of the airport and road links. Set in the grounds of Lord Charlemont’s estate Marino offers the convenience of the city with the peace of the countryside. There are 10 conference rooms available throughout the academic year and 21 during the summer. Capacities vary from 10 to 170 people. Room setups are flexible and a range of audio visual equipment is available for hire. Marino also has on-site accommodation for up to 50 delegates. A full catering facility is also available offering breakfast, lunch and evening tea, with a flexible menu to suit delegates’ requirements.