Last Updated on July 23, 2022 by Jim Ferri
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
By Jim Ferri
I love Ireland’s bed and breakfasts.
In fact, I believe you haven’t fully experienced Ireland until you’ve stayed in a few Bed and Breakfasts.
I know since I’m not your ordinary traveler. But, in fact, most travel writers and editors aren’t.
We often don’t go somewhere to relax, although there may be relaxing times, but to develop a story we can share with others. That means we’re working all the time, looking for those things that make a place, a restaurant, a museum, even a conversation, unique.
It’s why I enjoy Irish B&Bs – they often help make my work a bit simpler. In addition, the wonderful Irish “gift of gab” often points me in the right direction for a great experience.
Unfortunately, many B&Bs, in Ireland and elsewhere were severely hurt by the pandemic when travel came to a halt. Hopefully, they’ll get back on their feet now that travel restrictions are a footnote in history. Keep your fingers crossed.
In Ireland’s Bed and Breakfasts: Down-To-Earth People
In an Ireland Bed and Breakfast, I’m not surrounded by nameless hotel staff or others just going about doing their job. I’m interacting with ordinary people on a first-name basis who always have time to talk and help.
He and she are the homeowners who’ve likely lived in town for years. So they know the minutia of local life that is so fascinating.
They visit the neighborhood grocery, the local church, the pub down on the corner. They often know minutia of local life and local gossip better than anyone else ever could.
When I glance about their home and in our snippets of conversation, I get insights into what makes that place, and them, unique. And they usually have the best recommendations on good restaurants and a hundred other things to do.
Yes, you can have that experience in any country. But during many visits to Ireland, I’ve often felt that the Irish take it to another level of perfection. They treat you as a friend, not as a guest. They want you to be comfortable in their home. In addition, they go out of their way to help you along, suggesting where to go and what to do. Many times without even being asked.
Advice at My Ireland Bed and Breakfast: “Close the Gate so the Sheep Don’t Get Out”
The morning after overnighting at The Cove Lodge, a typical Irish Bed and Breakfast in Donegal, I enjoyed breakfast while Joan and her husband were in the kitchen feeding their eight children. Joan’s husband came out into the room where I and a couple from Australia were eating and asked where I was headed next.
When I told him I was off to Northern Ireland, he said that I really should visit nearby Slieve League on the way. This beautiful and rugged area also had the highest cliffs in Europe.
“When you get up there, you’ll see a gate closed across the road,” he told me. “Just open it and drive right through, but be sure to close it behind you, so the sheep don’t get out.” I took his advice and was glad I did, for it was a beautiful sight.
And I kept the sheep where they were meant to be.
A Private Tour of Town at This Irish B&B
A week earlier in Dingle, I stayed with Donal and Eileen at their home, the Fiuise Bed & Breakfast, not far outside of town.
When I inquired about a good restaurant for the evening and a pub to hear local music, Donal insisted on giving me a tour of town in his car, pointing out all of the places he thought I’d enjoy. He then drove me outside of town up to a hilltop to show me the beautiful view over the surrounding hills.
Some days later, after visiting Galway, I took a ferry out to the beautiful, austere Aran Islands, where I stayed in the Beach View House B&B.
The owner, Bridie, had grown up in the Arans before emigrating to New York, where she had lived for some 20 years and where she met her Irish husband. During a conversation one afternoon, I found they were married in the same church in New York as my parents.
Regaled With “Danny Boy” at Breakfast
One time in Clifden in Connemara, at the Connemara Country Lodge, Mary, the owner, entertained me and others at breakfast, regaling us all with Danny Boy and other Irish ballads.
On another trip to Westport further north, I sat and had coffee with Peter, the owner of the Ardmore Country House, as he helped us map out our journey to our next destination. His time with us was not something many hoteliers would have done.
Peter, Bridie, Donal, and the others I met in B&Bs about Ireland told me stories (oh, that Irish gift of gab!) and took such a personal interest in my well-being. It made me feel safe and welcome and almost as if I were part of the family.
I’ve learned that staying in bed and breakfasts in Ireland is a great way to experience beautiful Ireland. I love just driving about and choosing where you’ll stay that night when you see a sign hanging outside someone’s home.
That’s precisely what a fireman from San Francisco was doing when I met him in Donegal in the Olde Castle Bar & Red Hughs restaurant. He had taken several weeks’ vacation and was driving about Ireland aimlessly, choosing to stay in various B&Bs he came upon along the way. Although he was traveling solo, he told me he was having a ball.
I can imagine some of the stories he’s likely still telling back in the firehouse.
You may also enjoy: 12 of the Best Places to Visit in Ireland / How to See Ireland’s West Coast by Car in 9 Days / Things to Do in Galway, the Most Irish Town in Ireland / Ireland’s Ring of Kerry (With a Map)
If You Go:
345 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10154
Tel. (800) 223-6470
Tel: 353(0)66 915 2850
Beach View House
Inishmor (Aran Islands)
Tel: + 353 (0) 99 61141
Connemara Country Lodge
Tel: +353 (0) 95 21122
The Cove Lodge
Drumgowan, Donegal Town
Tel: + 353 (0)74 972 2302
Ardmore Country House
The Quay, Ardmore
Westport, Co. Mayo
Tel: +353 98 25994