Looking for a pet-friendly staycation or day out? Thomas Breathnach and his Golden Retriever Vipp open their Little Black Book...
Did you hear the one about the pug in a pub?
Well yes, and probably more than once since pets were permitted into Irish restaurants, pubs and cafés following a rule change that brought Ireland into line with EU Regulations last December.
The welcome remains at the owner’s discretion, of course, but it’s opened up all sorts of options for people, like me, who travel with their pets. Here are my highlights!
Eat: The Fumbally (thefumbally.ie) has always been ahead of the pack when it comes to welcoming dogs indoors in Dublin. Pup-obsessed MVP Bar (mvpdublin.com, pictured) serves top craft cocktails to humans and “doggy beer” to well-behaved dogs, with pet projects like Dogchella and Pupperween to boot.
For a doggy day out, grab the Dart (small dog-friendly) to The Dog House (thedoghousehowth.com) in Howth, and chow one of its wood-fired pizzas.
Stay: The five-star Dylan (dylan.ie) offers one of the most desirable pup-friendly pads in the country, with welcome treats and balcony views as standard (doubles from €150). Elsewhere, for added pam-purr factor, the Dublin Hilton (hilton.com) in D2 welcomes both dogs and cats.
Play: Walkies? With beaches, parks and mountains on its doorstep, Dublin is a top pet playground. Mix green-space fun with human mingling at Marlay Park (dlrcoco.ie), where a Saturday market sees Alsatians and artisanal collide. Killiney Hill offers both an Instagram-friendly setting and the dog-friendly Tower Hill Tea Room (01 202 3825).
Eat: Bark & Bumble (barkandbumble.com, above) is Cork City’s first ever dog-centric boutique bakery, serving everything from pupscotti to, yes, pawspressos.
In Midleton, both Monty’s Café (@montyscafe) and Sage (sagerestaurant.ie) are quick to quench your pooch’s thirst with a dish of water, while Ballycotton’s Blackbird (blackbirdballycotton.com) makes the cosiest pub in which to curl up for a nightcap.
Stay: Castlemartyr Resort (castlemartyrresort.com) in East Cork offers dog-friendly five-star treatment, with dogs allowed in the hotel’s private garden suites or self-catering lodges. Nearby Ballymaloe (ballymaloe.ie) offers selected self-catering cottages with their own walled garden, while Garryvoe Beach Homes (garryvoebeachhomes.ie) are a water-loving Labrador’s dream.
Play: Both Ballycotton and Knockadoon cliff walks make for excellent coastal escapades, while Gougane Barra National Forest Park is a taste of Colorado in West Cork. For an alternative, Mallow’s Donkey Sanctuary (thedonkeysanctuary.ie) welcomes dog-owners, with picnic spots and scenic walkways among its meadows.
Eat: Loko is a Waterford restaurant (@lokowaterford) with its own dog-friendly floor. It hosts doggy b-day parties, too. White Horses (024 94040) in Ardmore welcomes dogs in an outdoor dining area, while Dungarvan’s Cookhouse (360cookhouse.ie) runs a doggie menu from lip-smacking treats to literally, the dog’s dinner.
Stay: Dromana House (dromanahouse.com), overlooking the River Blackwater, welcomes dogs in an historic self-catering wing, as do the lodges of Waterford Castle Resort (waterfordcastleresort.com). For added pooch-pampering, Ardmore’s magnificent Cliff House Hotel (cliffhousehotel.ie) offers both pet-friendly rooms and a kennel service.
Play: Déise dogs are spoiled for fun: Ardmore’s spectacular cliff walk is guaranteed to tire out the most active of hounds, while the Waterford Greenway (above) is dog-friendly (and car-free). Mahon Falls in the Comeragh Mountains is one of Munster’s most scenic walks — just be sure to respect notices to leash your pet around sheep.
Eat: Belfast has an increasing pack of dog-friendly pubs, from the quirky Sunflower (sunflowerbelfast.com, below) to the Cathedral Quarter’s historic Spaniard (thespaniardbar.com).
Driving the Causeway Coast? Grab some lunch at the charming Inn on the coast (innonthecoastportrush.com) which has a designated pet-friendly section in its bistro.
Stay: The trendy Malmaison (malmaison.com) has ‘pug-cation’ written all over its très chic suites. The Fullerton Arms and Guesthouse (fullerton-arms.com) on the Causeway Coast prides itself on extending the same welcome to two- and four-legged guests, as does the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle (marinehotelbally castle.com).
Play: Antrim’s surf ’n’ turf trails make for ideal exploring from Glenariff Forest Park to the North Antrim Cliff path. For a real treat, check out dogfriendlytours.co.uk, which gathers dogs and owners for food tours of Belfast, beer tours of Portrush and barge tours on the River Lagan.
Eat: Dockyard No. 8 (dockyardno8.ie) at Bray Harbour is so dog-friendly, it has its own dog regulars at this stage. The Bay Café in Brittas Bay (@thebaycafebrittas) is a popular break-stop for the cockapoodle set, as is the Glenmalure Lodge (glenmalurelodge.ie) for hillwalkers.
Stay: The resident retrievers at BrookLodge and Macreddin Village (brooklodge.com) are always happy to welcome new guests to their luxury home, while for a self-catering option, pack up the dog bed for a stay at the charming Ashford cottages (ashfordselfcatering.com).
Play: It’s little surprise the Garden County has tails wagging. The Wicklow Way, Ireland’s oldest marked hiking route, has infinite native oaks to sniff or, for a little social networking, Pamela’s Dog Park at the W.S.P.C.A. (wicklowspca.org) hosts public doggie playground sessions.
Eat: Having a dog won’t hold you back from getting your flat white fix at the The Jungle Café (@junglecafegalway) or The Secret Garden (@thesecretgardengalway) in Galway City. If touring the Wild Atlantic Way, stop off at EJ Kings Pub (ejkings.com) in Clifden — it welcomes well-behaved hounds... as does Market 57 (@market57clifden).
Play: Connemara National Park is one of the most spectacular places to hike with your dog. For offshore adventures, Rosaveel-based Aran Island Ferries (aranislandferries.com) are dog-friendly, as is the Doolin ferry (doolinferry.com) and doolin2aranferries.com from Co Clare.
Stay: The Twelve Hotel (thetwelvehotel.ie, above) in Galway is a pioneer in the pooch movement, offering one of the most pet-friendly accommodations in Ireland. The lobby is kitted with dog toys, doggy room-service is available and there are handy local walking maps. Other Galway options include the Ardilaun (theardilaunhotel.ie) or Peacockes Hotel (peacockes.ie) in magical Maam’s Cross.
Looking for adventure? Leitrim Surf Company offers dog-friendly stand-up paddle boarding, where you and your best friend can SUP together along the stunning Shannon Blueway. See leitrimsurf.ie.
Monaghan brings a taste of Manhattan to Ireland’s dog scene.
You and yours can grab an Americano at Monaghan town’s Coffee Break at Barbara’s (@coffeebreakwith barbara), which also sells dog goodies from Harry’s Dog Bakery (harrysdogbakery.com), an artisanal dog treat producer based in the county (yep, they’re even gluten-free).
For afternoon strolling, Rossmore Forest Park is where you’ll find the locals with pets in tow, while afterwards, head to the Squealing Pig Bar & Restaurant (thesquealingpig.ie) for a cosy lunch.
Come nap-time, you can hunker down at the likes of Gleneven Guest House (glenevenhouse.com) or the Castle Leslie Estate (castleleslie.com, above), whose stable mews lodges are dog-friendly.
The remote Fermanagh Lakes are one of the island’s most gorgeous spots to bond with your dog. And where better than on a private island?
Dog-friendly Belle Isle Castle (belle-isle.com), on the waters of Lough Erne, offers both castle and self-catering cottage rentals, while the Killyhevlin Hotel (killyhevlin.com, above) in Enniskillen also welcomes your pet.
Three of Fermanagh’s National Trust properties (like the exquisite Castle Coole; nationaltrust.org.uk) are dog-friendly, and the Volunteer Association of the Disabled in Enniskillen runs a dog-friendly café which also helps out a great charity.
Un-Laois the hounds! Off the main tourist trail, the midlands county makes a great pet getaway, no more so than along the scenic Slieve Bloom mountains.
The region is peppered with Horse & Hound-style properties like the 18th-century Roundwood House in Mountrath (roundwoodhouse.com), while the Forum in Mountmellick (the forum-mountmellick.com) offers the novelty of staying in a self-catering church.
For scooby snacks, Quinn’s tea rooms in Abbeyleix (quinnstearooms.ie) welcomes dogs, or if in the Portlaoise area, pop into the Bull Lane delicatessen (@bulllanedelicatessen) for your flat-white and sourdough. The staff there are, well, barking mad about dogs.
Road-tripping from the Causeway Coast to the Wild Atlantic Way? Don’t leave Derry off your trail.
For the city itself, you can check-into the highly rated and dog-friendly Cathedral View B&B (+44 7739 430902), while in Derry’s bucolic outskirts, Beech Hill Country House Hotel (beach-hill.com) welcomes dogs and has eight acres of woodlands to explore, too.
Touring the city, be sure to bring your dog to the Warehouse Café (thewarehousederry.com), dogs are welcome inside — and the coffee’s pretty fantastic, too.
If venturing along the coastal route, the Brown Trout Inn (browntroutinn.com) in Coleraine hosts dogs, and even allows them to join their owners for dinner in a designated dining area.
If your dog isn’t a water baby, maybe Ireland’s largest landlocked county is the destination for you! For walking and wandering, Tipperary is stacked with often overlooked natural beauties, from the Glen of Aherlow and the Galtees to the moody Silvermine mountains.
Dogs exploring Ireland's Hidden Heartlands can head to Larkin’s pub (larkins.ie) in lovely Garrykennedy or Mikey Ryan’s Bar & Kitchen (mikeyryans.ie), a gorgeous gastro-pub just steps from the Rock of Cashel with a dog-garden all year round.
For farm-stays, try Fuchsia Lane Farm (fuchsialanefarm.com) in Terryglass or Old Farm (oldfarm.ie) in Nenagh, which welcome dogs under the proviso that they are used to free-range hens and ducks!
The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens (thedunloe.com, above) markets itself as one of Ireland’s leading pet-friendly hotels, with options for room or kennel accommodation. Stays include a welcome pack and rooms are even provided with doggy throws in case somebody needs to nap on the sofa.
Elsewhere in the Kingdom, Pax House (pax-house.com) is a sweet option for those venturing to Dingle, as is Barrow House (barrowhouse.ie) near Tralee, while if you fancy camping, Fossa Caravan Park (fossacampingkillarney.com) is one of the few I’ve found in Ireland to feature a number of dog-friendly mobile homes.
Ghandi once said “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. You’d think then, he’d be impressed by the dog and cat turndown service at Ashford Castle (ashfordcastle.com, above).
In addition, the luxury resort pampers pets with a choice of cushions, duvets and (eek) mineral water. For a more rugged escape, the Belmullet Coastguard Station (belmulletcgs.com) near Achill Island is dog-friendly — and is reachable by a rather spectacular causeway en route.
With non-stop adventure, swimming and bird-watching, cruising on the River Shannon makes for one of the most idyllic dog-friendly getaways in Ireland. Not least along the riverbanks of Offaly.
To combine your history and exercise fix, moor up at Clonmacnoise (heritageireland.ie), one of the OPW’s dog-friendly sites, while come evening, character-seeped Luker’s Bar (lukersbar.com) in Shannonbridge won’t leave you or your dog thirsty.
Emerald Star (emeraldstar.ie) is a dog-friendly cruise operator, even providing doggie adjustable life vests for peace of mind.
Does your dog need a detox? Why not check into Kilmokea Country Manor House and Gardens (kilmokea.com) which welcomes its dog guests with a gift box of healthy treats.
Come lunchtime, Wild’s Restaurant (thewilds.ie) in Enniscorthy and The Local at Dunbrody House (dunbrodyhouse.com) both welcome dogs.
To run it off, try a walk at Johnstown Castle, the Burrows beach, or for added adventure, The Irish Experience (theirishexperience.com) is launching dog-friendly kayaking excursions off the coast of Hook Head next spring.
For more info, visitwexford.ie has one of the most comprehensive dog guides in the country.
1. Romp through waves and sand dunes at Murlough National Nature Reserve (nationaltrust.org.uk, above) outside Dundrum, Co Down. Afterwards, stop at the dog-friendly Paws 4 Tea (@paws4tea) in Dundrum — it has everything from Ulster Fries to tray bakes.
2. The National Stud & Gardens (irishnationalstud.ie) in Co Kildare isn’t just horse-friendly. It also allows you to walk your dog across its picture-perfect grounds, from pastures to Japanese gardens. They also have a really lovely café with outdoor seating.
3. Strandhill in Co Sligo not only sits on dreamy Atlantic shores, it’s also home to the very rad Draft House gastro pub (thedrafthouse.ie). Here, dogs can relax in comfy kennels while owners enjoy a lunch or beer. You can keep an eye on your pets via video link, too.
4. If your dog likes to dig out hidden treasures, then Duckett’s Grove in Co Carlow (@thetearoomsatduckettsgrove) should get tails wagging. The spectacular 19th-century ruin offers plenty of nooks to explore, and for bonus points, the tea rooms are also dog-friendly.
5. With Co Longford quickly developing its parks and recs rep (pet-friendly Center Parcs opens next summer), get ready for a walking wonderland. Take the Royal Canal railway from Clondra to Longford town before relaxing at the mad-about-madras Gallery Café (@gallerycafelongford).
1. Tankardstown House, Meath
With 80 acres of woodland, a resident mastiff called Bruce (above) and a cute V.I.P (Very Important Pooch) package to welcome you and your dog, Tankardstown’s hosting makes this Meath stay all the more magical.
Details: tankardstown.ie; B&B from €105pps, no pet charge.
2. The Mustard Seed, Limerick
Looking for a Munster escape? This country house hotel garden in rural Limerick offers dog-owners the pick of its deluxe suites or courtyard mews properties which spill onto the manor’s stunning gardens.
Details: mustardseed.ie; B&B from €90pps, no pet charge.
3. Lough Eske Castle, Donegal
An Irish wolfhound would feel right at home at this lordly castle hotel, but any dog (or cat) is red-carpeted here, in a choice of courtyard guestrooms or Garden Suites. They can also organise everything from dog-walkers to vet checks.
Details: lougheskecastlehotel.com; B&B from €98pps, no pet charge.
4. Gregan’s Castle, Clare
This gorgeous retreat in the heart of the Burren is drool-worthy dog heaven. Just make sure your pooch is feline-friendly, as there are a couple of resident cats here, too.
Details: gregans.ie; B&B from €122pps, no pet charge.
5. Blessingbourne Country Estate, Tyrone
You can almost imagine Isis (the lab from Downton Abbey) bounding across this stunning estate. The award-winning self-catering cottages are pet-friendly – with private stables, so you can even bring your horse.
Details: blessingbourne.com; from €65pps, from €17 per pet.
1. “Always bring your dog’s bed or blanket as it makes them feel right at home” - Sheila McKiernan of The Keepers Arms, Bawnboy, Co Cavan (keepersarms.com)
2. “Leave no trace. We encourage that policy by providing poop-a-scoop bags in both our café and cottage” - Angi Dixon of Ange’s Cottage, Arigna, Co Roscommon (angescottage.com)
3. “Airbnb has a great pet-filter allowing you to find properties that will welcome your cat or dog” - Jenifer Livingstone of Cottage Hall Farmhouse, Tynan Co Armagh (airbnb.com)
4. “Check if there’s a doggy daycare option near your getaway accommodation, in case you fancy a day shopping or at a spa.” - Francis Nesbitt of Croan Cottages, Dunnamaggan, Co Kilkenny (croancottages.com)
5. “Be mindful. Dog owners tend to be lovely people and as long as they don’t chase our sheep or peacocks, dogs are always welcome.” - Verity Butterfield, Lough Bawn House, Collinstown, Co Westmeath (loughbawnhouse.com)
NB: All accommodations listed welcome dogs, but policies and prices will vary, with some limitations on size, numbers and rates. Always call to confirm policies before you and your pet visit.