These are just a few of Ireland’s best environmentally responsible (and lovely) places to stay.

Ashford Castle
Cong Co Mayo

Luxury hotels can be especially wasteful but, since Ireland’s grandest castle hotel was bought by Beatrice and Stanley Tollman, of the South African hotel group Red Carnation Hotels, in 2013, there is now - in line with the Red Carnation Hotels policy - a particular focus on environmental initiatives. Notably, it is Ireland’s first five star hotel in to be awarded GREENmark Plastic Smart recognition by GreenTravel.ie, the Green Tourism reference site for DiscoverIreland.ie, for its efforts in responsible tourism and commitment to remove all Single Use Plastics (SUPs) from the property by 2022. Ashford Castle’s local food sourcing policy is also an important part of the sustainability picture and Executive Chef Philippe Farineau has always been committed to sourcing the best seasonal ingredients from the West of Ireland - as has Chef Jonathan Keane, at the Lodge at Ashford, which is also on the estate. Always a glorious place to visit.

Gregans Castle Hotel
Ballyvaughan Co Clare

Simon and Freddie Haden’s quietly luxurious and restorative country house hotel offers simple West of Ireland joys like warming turf fires and views across the Burren landscape - and, of course, it is one of Ireland’s top food destinations. Gifted chef Robbie McCauley cooks in a style that is ‘modern European but distinctively Irish and unpretentious’, and takes enormous pride in showcasing the wonderful foods of the locality in a memorable dining experience. When the restaurant is closed, a simpler but equally delicious fireside dinner is served in the atmospheric Corkscrew Bar. All guests - and especially the many visitors to this area who have a particular interest in the environment - should take time to browse the Gregans website, which details the hotel’s policy, The Green Hospitality Programme, Leave No Trace Ireland and the Burren Ecotourism Network, of which they are founding members (and Simon Haden is a member of the Board of Directors). A wonderful place.

BrookLodge & Macreddin Village
Aughrim Co Wicklow

Evan Doyle and his brothers, Eoin and Bernard, opened this extraordinary food, drink and leisure complex on the site of a deserted village in a Wicklow valley in 1999. Today, it is a spacious and welcoming eco-friendly hotel offering everything from ‘green’ conferences and weddings to a sumptuous spa and wonderful food - the hotel is famous for promoting organic and wild food and its main restaurant, The Strawberry Tree, was Ireland’s first certified organic restaurant. The aim has always been ‘to help build the future for sustainable, environmentally friendly tourism’ and they constantly strive to maintain and update their reduction, reuse, recycling and energy-saving policies, as well as promote the sale of local organic products which are grown naturally and traded fairly. Full details of the 'Macreddin Green Programme' are on the hotel website (including coordinates for the free EV charge points), but above all this is just a gorgeous place to stay - and good value too.

Coopershill House
Riverstown Co Sligo

One of Ireland’s most delightful and superbly comfortable Georgian houses, the O’Hara’s have lived here since their sturdy granite mansion was built in 1774. It’s a warm and friendly place, where the family silver is used with magnificent insouciance (even at breakfast), and with many fascinating features. “We were eco-friendly centuries before it became fashionable!” as current owner Simon O’Hara puts it, and in 2009 Coopershill became the first luxury property in the UK or Ireland to achieve the EU Flower (‘Ecolabel’) Award. “The house was built in an age of self sufficiency and designed with enormous windows for light, to be heated with bio-fuels and to use the rain that falls on her roof. Set in a 500 acre estate of woodland and pasture, we are able to produce much of our own food, compost vegetable waste and sustainably produce firewood.” They also produce the delicious and highly environmentally-friendly Coopershill Venison, recipient of many awards including a prestigious Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Award.

The Twelve
Barna Galway

This unique hotel run by Fergus O'Halloran has achieved national recognition thanks to hands-on management and marketing by an inspired proprietor. It sings of quality and innovation at every level, from romantic rooms and Upstairs at West's exceptional locavore fine wining-and-dining experience, to quality casual food. From pizza and cocktails in the busy family-friendly Pins GastroBar (with Nóin heated outdoor space) and Pizza Dozzina to homemade breads and cakes in the artisanal bakery shop next door, there is huge focus on the best local and artisan foods and craft beers. Heaven for greenies in fact, and The Twelve’s Environmental Management Policy has led to it achieving the Gold Medal Award for Green Hospitality - and, unlike many hotels where the policy may be excellent but it goes unshared, you can read all about The Twelve’s targets and achievements on their website, where they also have a useful guide for guests: ‘12 Things You Can do To make Your Stay Greener…’

Armada Hotel
Spanish Point, Co Clare

Recent developments at the Burke family’s impressive oceanside hotel have created a handsome and exceptionally environmentally-friendly place to stay - and to eat. Current owner and local hero John Burke (the first Clare man to climb Mount Everest, among many other achievements) and his wife, Aoibhin Garrihy, head up a terrific staff. They all take special pride in the hotel’s food - including produce from their own farm nearby, which guests are welcome to visit. Chef Peter Jackson’s creative modern cooking aims to showcase the best of local Clare produce at all times, which is great for local suppliers, and is also just one of countless ways in which they and their sister property - Hotel Doolin, Ireland’s first carbon neutral hotel - help the environment. But, while they’re committed members of Burren Ecotourism https://burren.ie/ and schemes like the Green Hospitality programme, this stylish family-friendly hotel is equally known for great activities and a sense of fun - including the introduction of a new camper van experience, The West Clare Explorer…

Ard na Breátha Farm Guesthouse
Drumrooske Middle Donegal Town Co Donegal

Theresa and Albert Morrow’s welcoming guesthouse at the edge of Donegal Town is, as they say in their brochure, ‘a place worth finding’ - and one of the first in Ireland to receive the EU Flower Award for Eco Tourism (‘Ecolabel’). Although a residential area has grown up around them, the guesthouse - a few minutes walk from the town, on a quiet path - is tucked into a quiet corner of their busy working farm, with views over the garden to the countryside. There is a very happy atmosphere and the house is carefully planned to be relaxing, with a proper bar and a contemporary residents’ lounge with an open fire and a panoramic view of the Bluestack Mountains. Attention to detail, caring customer service and concern for all things environmental has earned the Morrows a great reputation with their many delighted guests, who like the country style rooms and, most particularly, Albert’s excellent laid-back breakfasts – all locally sourced and organic where possible. Real Irish hospitality.

Westport Woods Hotel
Westport Co Mayo

Westport Woods Hotel - Westport County Mayo IrelandConveniently situated between the handsome planned town of Westport and its nearby harbour, Westport Woods has a well-earned reputation for friendly and helpful staff, its wide range of special breaks for all age groups - and its environmental policies. The hotel has done well in The Green Awards (www.greenawards.ie) but, awards apart, the ‘Greenest Hotel in Ireland’ has been working away at their environmental plan for years. Having reduced their carbon footprint very significantly (“even the swimming pool and leisure centre are more eco-friendly than most”), the aim is to be carbon neutral. It’s a policy they enjoy sharing with guests, who will see many familiar recycling and energy-efficient measures, unusual ideas include using recycled tyres and runners for the playground surface, and an arboricultural programme which includes planting 2,000 hardwood trees to create new woodland with a lake view.

Ard Nahoo
Mullagh, Dromahair, Co Leitrim,

Ard Nahoo - Dromahair County Leitrim IrelandFounded in 2001 by environmentalist and alternative health care practitioner, Noeleen Tyrrell (a singer in her spare time), and massage therapist, Brendan Murphy, Ard Nahoo is a certified Eco Retreat in a lovely and little known area of North-West Ireland. They offer a range of courses and workshops (including massage, therapeutic yoga and family yoga), saying “whatever you choose, a visit here will leave you feeling utterly relaxed and rejuvenated.” And that choice could simply be a self-catering family holiday or break with friends in one of their Eco Cabins. If that sounds very back-to-basics, think again: this is eco-luxury. Built with sustainable cedar from Donegal, the cabins are insulated with hemp, have wood pellet stoves, decking with picnic tables, and all the mod cons essential for a comfortable stay including a fridge freezer. Although the cabins are self catering you can book meals (vegetarian) from a local chef. There’s an organic welcome pack too, and even a small shop on site. A break with a difference.


Bush Hotel
Carrick-on-Shannon Co Leitrim

It is interesting that one of Ireland’s oldest inns should have been the first hotel in Ireland to receive the EU Eco-label ‘Flower’ award (in 2009), in recognition of its commitment to sustainable tourism and protection of the local environment. Owned since 1992 by the Dolan family, The Bush dates back over 200 years but, while it may still be best known for its old-fashioned hospitality and exceptionally pleasant and helpful staff, it’s clear that there’s nothing backward-looking about the management. The ‘Flower’ comprises 84 very specific and technical criteria in energy, water and waste management - with an emphasis on environmental awareness and innovation and, as the hotel recognised at the time, it brings immediate benefits: “From a business perspective, our environmental management approach has delivered significant cost reductions which we have been able to pass on to our loyal customers.” Today, with Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands promotions - and new activities developing along the river - interest in eco-tourism should also bring well-earned extra business to The Bush.


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