The puggle is real! Doggie friendly holidays.
Dog-friendly travel in Ireland just got a little easier with some new regulations as I discovered from Thomas Breathnach, a travel writer that regularly contributes to Saturday AM Legislation brought in this year has seen the food safety authority relax its position on dogs in public places. So as of last year, pets were not allowed in bars, cafes, restaurants or places that served food or drink, but now that’s changed. It’s still at the discretion of the business owner, but as long as the pet hasn’t got access to the food preparation area, your pet is allowed to join you in bars and restaurants across the country. Woof woof!
I’m under a bit of pressure to get a dog so right now this isn’t a concern for me however on chatting to my pal Maria who runs the Greystones based dog grooming salon Vanity Fur dog owners have huge dilemmas about holiday time and where their precious pooch goes. The feedback Maria hears all the time is that there are very few dog-friendly accommodation options and a common question amongst her clients is around places you can board your dog, ideally some kind of home from home rather than kennels. Generally, families would love to bring their dogs on holidays, especially if booking a staycation but aren’t aware of the options out there.
So cue Thomas Breathnach, will all his love for dogs (he owns a gorgeous golden retriever called Vipp who was a former student of the Irish guide dogs for the blind but was given the boot because of his anxiety disorder – no joke) combined with his love for travel and it’s paws-itively ideal. So, what’s the scoop and where can you go?
Personally, I would have thought that the Castlemartyr Resort was a masterclass in elegant interior design but I wouldn’t have realised it was as pet-friendly as it clearly is. It seems Castlemartyr and BallyMaloe House are at the forefront of pooch-friendly stays and they’re not alone.
In Castlemartyr, pets can stay in special garden rooms where they have access to their own contained garden. They’re also allowed access to all public areas in the hotel assuming their behaviour isn’t too ruff! Similarly, the now world-famous Ballymaloe have lovely self-catering cottages where you can keep your pet.
Outside of the hotels, it’s worth noting that Midleton is a very dog-friendly town with the likes of Monty’s Cafe and Sage Restaurant both dog-friendly but there’s a bit of general cop-on involved too obviously. Opt for the more outdoorsy areas of the bars or restaurants. In Ballycotton you can enjoy fish and chips in Skinny’s Diner and then go for a drink in the pub at the Blackbird. So you can work everything in – without having to keep your dog in the car, particularly in hot weather.
A hotel that comes up often when talking to dog lovers is The Twelve Hotel in Barna, Galway. Head chef, Martin O’Donnell from the hotel is a regular on our show at weekends and he reminded me of this pooch-friendly resort with their very own ‘Pampered Pet Program‘. Your four-legged companion will receive a warm welcome, they’ll even be the beneficiary of a ‘doggy bag’ along with special pet menus and they’ll enjoy the pet lobby with its toys, bones, leashes, water bowls and towels. There’s no extra cost for bringing your pooch along either. Paws-itively brilliant!
Garden of Ireland
The multi-award winning village of Brooklodge Hotel & Macreddin Village is not only home to Ireland’s only certified organic restaurant, The Strawberry Tree, it also welcomes doggie guests with dog treats and canine friends at it’s elegant but relaxed reception area in Co. Wicklow. Call to arrange a ground floor room ahead of your stay.
On the Water…..The River Shannon
Yes! This is a really great break as its outdoors, you’re on the move constantly and there are lots of swimming opportunities if your dog likes the water. All Emerald Star cabin cruisers are dog-friendly and you can set off from various points on the Shannon from Carrick to Portumna and Banagher in Offaly. The life-vests even double up as dog-vests!
Back on dry land, what can you do?
Generally, the businesses along the River Shannon are very dog-friendly but it is case by case, many of them have beer gardens which is ideal. There’s Lukers Bar and there’s the well known WinePort Lodge on Lough Ree with excellent al fresco dining options.
Even some of the sites like Clonmacnoise are dog-friendly once your dog is leashed so pets can join in on the sight-seeing too.
You may not have realised that the majority of campsites in Ireland are dog-friendly but if you don’t have your own caravan then Fossa Caravan and Camping Park is one of the few campsites in Ireland that offer dog-friendly mobiles homes. You can probably expect to get the older model of mobile home but it means the dog can stay inside with you and not outside which other sites might ask.
Check out The Lodge at Ashford Castle where the Co. Mayo luxury resort runs a VIP (Very Important Pet) program and Tara Walker (another regular foodie on our show) tells me that you need to check out Glasglow Diaz in Drogheda which consists of the Brown Hound Bakery and the Eastern seaboard restaurant and are always delighted to see canine visitors.
Sneem Hotel is a spot that was mentioned a few times when I put this shout out on social media, the four-star hotel on the ring of Kerry is a home from home for your dog.
Certain boozers came up again and again, two of those are the old Dean Swift pub in the Liberties now known as ‘The Jug’ on Francis St. who appear to be strong on welcomes (for two and four-legged guests), a quality pint and sport. If you walk along Bray harbour and fancy a break, the Dockyard No. 8 have large tables and astroturf in their beer garden for your exhausted four-legged friend to chill and sip from their doggie water bowls Dockyard No 8.
*Call ahead – many businesses don’t have dog-friendly policies on their websites so ask if they’ll accept your pet!
*When dining, aim for businesses with beer gardens and outdoor seating areas. They tend to be more accommodating.
*Bring dog beds, toys and blanket from home for the overnight stay to minimise the change of routine.
Happy hols & fur-well for now!