Mileage runs are dead, but status runs are still around. I'm comfortable with my Gold status on United. I was very close with Chick-Fil-A and made an extra visit to spend at least $16.45. Success!
Never been to NOC, but it looks like a good option for western Ireland. Ireland West Airport has a fun email list I follow and, interesting oddity, collect departure tax onsite not in the ticket price.