Say yes to eco-sleeps!

It’s a big ask for any holiday to make lasting memories AND be kind to the environment. A big ask, yes, but it can be done in Ireland. Choosing eco-friendly accommodation is the first step on any green journey.

Still life at Ard Nahoo, County Leitrim provided by Ard Nahoo
Still life at Ard Nahoo, County Leitrim provided by Ard Nahoo

To help plan your green trip, here are six great options where you can discover the island and sleep with a clear – and clean – conscience.

1. Eco-Sleep: Hemp Cottage, Downpatrick, County Down

Green Credentials: Listed as one of UK newspaper The Guardian’s top ten Eco Houses in 2014, Hemp Cottage is a charming timber-framed escape. Featuring locally sourced wood, natural insulation materials and hemp and lime walls, the green is strong in this one.

See and do nearby: Hike or bike the Mourne Mountains or canoe on Strangford Lough.

2. Eco-Sleep: Gyreum Eco Lodge, Castlebaldwin, County Sligo

Green Credentials: Just like its green UFO-like roof, the entire Gyreum building blends in with its green surrounds. Fresh foods are harvested from the vegetable gardens; a wood stove provides ample heat; and breakfasts include organic duck eggs. Described by one reviewer as “by far the coziest place I stayed during my two week trip to Ireland”, the Gyreum even welcomes travelling volunteers and hosts courses in eco building, energy and organic horticulture.

See and do nearby: Visit WB Yeats’ grave at Drumcliff, surf at Rosses Point or tour Sligo by bike.

3. Eco-Sleep: Ard Nahoo Eco Retreats, Mullagh, County Leitrim

Green Credentials: The timber-framed and cedar wood-cladded Eco Cabins at Ard Nahoo aren’t just eco-friendly – they’re also pretty. Power in the cabins comes courtesy of a wind turbine and heated wood-pellet stoves will keep you warm. Leitrim’s appropriately green and untouched hills are your backyard.

See and do nearby: Yoga training and countless de-stressing body therapies are found on site or kayak along the waters of Lough Gill to Yeats’ favourite island, Innisfree.

4. Eco-Sleep: Croan Cottages, Dunnamaggan, County Kilkenny

Green Credentials: Located among fields of deep green Kilkenny farmland, Croan Cottages are epitomes of modern eco accommodation. Here, rain is collected to water plant and vegetable gardens; fruit trees and native deciduous hedges pepper the grounds and Fair Trade and GM-free organic products are prioritised. The owners even operate their own small holding, keeping cattle, sheep, pigs, ducks, peacocks, pheasants and dogs (your dog is welcome, too!).

See and do nearby: Horse riding at Mount Juliet or hiking in the Blackstairs or Knockmealdown mountains.

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5. Eco-Sleep: Limepark Cottages, County Antrim

Green Credentials: Life for Limepark began as a Georgian farm, but it was in 1992 that owners Melanie and John took over. Thanks to them, the building’s cosy accommodations aren’t just tastefully renovated – they’re eco-friendly, too. Power sourced from a wind turbine, hot water provided by solar panels and minimal waste and emissions make Limepark as green as, well, Ireland.

See and do nearby: Stroll under the Dark Hedges made famous as the Kingsroad in the HBO series Game of Thrones, or walk the rugged wildlife trail inside Ballypatrick Forest.

6. Eco-Sleep: Hagal Farm, Bantry, County Cork

Green Credentials: Nestled in the mountains of west Cork, Hagal Healing Farm is an ecological escape where visitors can relish a detox weekend, take organic cooking courses or relax with natural therapies. Warm welcomes are literal here, as hosts Janni and Fred greet guests with herbal tea using ingredients from their own sprawling garden. Couples have even tied the knot in this “Garden of Eden” with its “gorgeous views over green hills to Bantry Bay.” Solar heating, bedside candles and organic eats? Mother Nature approves.

See and do nearby: Go whale watching in the waters around Cape Clear or unwind on site with a seaweed wrap.

We’ve only been able to touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to environmentally responsible travel around the island of Ireland. Green Travel, though, has pulled together formally certified places to eat, sleep and have fun that’ll keep your conscience clean – and green. Enjoy.  

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