Heading to Ireland in the fall may sound risky from a precipitation probability standpoint, but the only rain that fell was on arrival day. After that, it was clear skies for our Diamond leaders, who took in every moment—every sight, smell, and sound—of the complete Irish culture experience that Diamond Summit 2018 had to offer.
DIAMOND SUMMIT EXTENSION
Kicking off the Diamond Summit, the Extension qualifiers settled in at Adare Manor, a 19th Century Tudor hotel in Adare, Ireland, where they spent three luxurious days. Upon arrival, they were fitted in medieval attire that they would don for dinner the following evening. The fittings were almost as much fun as the dinner itself, with everyone trying on an array of outfits.
The medieval dinner was at Bruff Convent, a former chapel transformed into a decorated event space. Decked out in their themed attire, guests felt transported back in time as they enjoyed a meal prepared by a Michelin Star chef and entertainment by Celtic singers.
Ambassadors ventured to Killarney by bus, picking up a hitchhiker en route who sang Irish songs to set the tone for the day. Lunch at Moriarty’s by the Gap of Dunloe included a harpist and uilleann pipe player. Then it was private shopping, with each guest choosing an authentic Irish wool sweater or wrap to wear on their carriage ride through Killarney National Park.
Leisure time was built in as well, and guests took the time to walk through local towns visiting the pubs and boutiques. There was golfing at Adare Manor with corporate executives on a breathtaking course that included ruins of historical buildings and a river. Golfers took as many photos as swings! Some guests rode bicycles around the grounds, participated in falconry, had high tea, shot clay pigeons, and took carriage rides.
All Diamond Summit qualifiers enjoyed five days in Dublin, with accommodations at the city’s largest five-star hotel, the Shelbourne.
One of the favorite stops was the world-famous Guinness Storehouse Museum, where guests learned about the brewer’s place in Irish history as well as the beer-making process. The tour ended at the uppermost floor of the facility in a glass room with a 360-degree view of Dublin.
The Windmill Lane Studio, where artists including U2, Ed Sheeran, and Lady Gaga have recorded their work, was another favorite. Our Diamonds were shown the recording process and even got to record a song of their own—well, one of U2’s own.
The Cliffs at Lyons offered even more things to take in. It was a day of Irish Celtic games: archery, hurling, horseshoes, and pitchfork. Guests could also opt for spa treatments, 4×4 driving on a test course, or a stroll along the canal.
Dinner at Merry Ploughboy on the outskirts of Dublin proved to be an immersion in Irish culture complete with Irish music and Celtic dancing. Some audience members were pulled up on stage to dance.
Eli’s Bar & Grill down by the Liffe River was another immersive experience. Diamonds dined in the basement of the building, where the rooms were brick barrel vaulted. Afterward, many strolled through Dublin, taking in the sights of the temple bar area.
Leisure time saw plenty of shopping and tourism. Some guests took the Icons of Dublin tour, which included Christchurch, Book of Kells, Trinity College, and Phoenix Park.
One group toured Croke Park, a large sports stadium in Dublin complete with an Irish sports history museum. They tried their hand at some of the sports, toured the locker rooms, and ended the tour at the top of the stadium for the famous skyline walk, taking in the whole city.
The most memorable activity for many was the farewell recognition dinner. Diamond leaders in formal attire took their seats in the historic Banking Hall in Dublin, where the acoustics are unmatched. Two separate entertainment groups performed. The Keynotes, an a cappella tenor group, sang during dinner. After the recognition portion of the evening, Anuna, the original group that sang with the first Riverdance group, took the floor. Guests were captivated as singers walked among the tables in long velvet gowns, candlesticks in hand, with haunting, breathtaking refrains.