Thursday, 11 December 2008 12:00 AM
Just across the Irish Sea, Ireland is the perfect destination for a short-haul city break this winter.
Packed with sights and sounds alluring to visitors - with both Dublin in particular a world-class tourist location - there is no excuse for not taking a look at what is on offer.
Here travelbite.co.uk takes a look at some of the rising stars, destined to shine in 2009.
What's New In Ireland?
A new cookery school has launched at the award winning Lisloughrey Lodge in Cong, Co Mayo.
The exclusive two-day courses are aimed at both novice and experienced chefs with an appreciation for fine living and a desire to expand their culinary horizons.
They present guests with a chance to explore cuisines, flavours and culinary techniques through tastings, demonstrations and attentive, hands-on cooking instruction in a state of the art working kitchen.
Lead by executive chef, Wade Murphy, the courses will focus on all culinary aspects; from techniques to presentation, while guests can experience the essentials of gastronomy in a casual, social and fun setting.
Only top-quality ingredients are used, with a focus on local artisan producers and class sizes are limited to eight participants.
Each course commences with an optional Sunday arrival including a wine tasting seminar and welcome dinner.
Also included is a New Year's Eve Dinner Party, as well as ideas for winter stews and casseroles, fusion cuisine, impress him/her for Valentines (men only), one pot wonders, taste of France, a Tuscan dinner party and desserts.
Set on the island of Ely, just two hours from Belfast, the Lough Erne Golf Resort and Spa has just been awarded five star status by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and AA.
The resort has also announced a series of new developments, including a new signature dish in The Catalina Restaurant. Executive chef Noel McMeel has produced his own re-creation of the classic favourite, the mixed grill, using locally sourced ingredients.
Lough Erne Golf Resort and Spa opened last October and is blessed with stunning panoramas of rolling drumlins. Built in a country manor style, the hotel has 120 luxury bedrooms and 25 stunning lodges with medieval towers.
For corporate guests, the resort has also introduced a new range of packages with options including spa treatments, whiskey tasting, fly fishing and golf lessons.
The resort's Thai themed spa - the only spa in the UK to provide a wholly Thai experience - is due to launch a range of new treatments for men, expectant mothers and golfers in March 2009.
Newly opened, the four star Charleville Park Hotel and Leisure Club boasts 91 bedrooms including six suites, conference and banqueting facilities for up to 700 delegates. Ed's Bar also serves a carvery lunch daily and Greenfinch Restaurant offering contemporary Irish food in modern comfortable surroundings.
A state of the art leisure club features a pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steamroom, gym and aerobics studio.
Located close to Charleville train station and 20 minutes from Limerick city, the Charleville Park Hotel is the ideal location for exploring the south-west of Ireland.
Rock 'n' Roll Tour
The first ever Rock n Roll Writers Bus Tour has launched in Dublin, stopping at hot spots that helped shape the lives of some of the country's best known scribes - from Beckett to Bono.
The 75 minute journey promises to give passengers the literary ride of a lifetime taking in historical locations that influenced the nation's top musicians and writers.
Explore the history of Irish literary talent as well as the lives of some of its greatest exponents including - Van Morrison, Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Sinead O'Connor and Brendan Behan.
The Rock n Roll, Writers Bus Tour is a must for culture vultures and sightseers alike.
Learn more about the lives of Ireland's greatest artists with a quality presentation, providing a truly authentic and credible musical and literary experience. Tours commence in Westmoreland Street opposite the Westin Hotel.
Where to stay
No.1 Pery Square is a brand new boutique hotel located close to the heart of Limerick city.
The Grade 1 listed Georgian townhouse offers 20 individually designed luxury guestrooms ranging from classical period style to modern penthouse suites, sumptuous food in Brasserie One restaurant, an inspiring wine room and a spa.
Open log fires, organic homemade foods complemented by an expert wine list and its unique heritage and style make the chic hotel a real 'home away from home'.
Rooms costs from ?145 (approx Â£120) per night.
No.1 Pery Square also offers a selection of leisure packages, such as the Wine-Lovers Weekend, which includes two nights accommodation, wine tasting dinners with carefully selected food-matches and an afternoon in the Thermal Spa. This costs ?320 per person (Â£260) (until January 2009).
For all the information you need for a visit to Ireland, head over to the official tourist website.