28 Feb 2018
With the opening of a new sustainable hotel in Dublin - we look at ways to think eco on the island of Ireland
Glossy porcelain tiles, black marble-edged with brass, sumptuous velvet sofas – it’s not quite what you expect when you think “eco”, but a new Dublin hotel is changing the game. Iveagh Garden Hotel, set within a historic Georgian building on Dublin’s Harcourt Street, is the “first and only hotel in Europe” with a revolutionary energy system that creates the lowest carbon footprint possible.
Standing in the luxurious foyer where elegant Georgian windows flood the space with light, it’s hard to imagine that the hotel’s very power source is actually flowing beneath the building. Graced with beautiful contemporary design against a backdrop of 18th century architecture, Iveagh Garden Hotel is upping the ante within the hotel sector by using an underground river to fuel its energy. It’s environmentally friendly chic for the discerning 21st century visitor…
The good news is that for those interested in travelling sustainably and conscientiously, Dublin delivers on many fronts. As well as a great urban public transport system of buses and trams, cycling is one of the most popular ways of getting around the city, with cycle paths and a city bike scheme adding to its appeal.
Take things slow, think sustainable and enjoy the Dublin’s green side by jumping on a Dublinbikes for a cycle along leafy, canal paths, around the green oases of Phoenix Park, or down at Sandymount strand, where the city meets the Irish Sea.
You can shop for locally made crafts at the Irish Design Shop, discover the deliciousness of local and seasonal dishes at Cocu on Upper Baggot Street and Hatch Street, and 3fe on Grand Canal Street, and enjoy the best of Dublin’s park life at Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square and the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin.
Take it from us, going green in Dublin is a lot of fun.
Take it further and keep it green
Venture beyond Dublin and you’ll discover an island rich in breathtaking natural resources and tailor made for taking things at an easy pace. Ireland’s intimate towns and villages, substantial cultural life and friendly local people allow you to make meaningful connections, slow down and learn valuable insights about the places that you visit and the people who inhabit them.
Appreciating the magnificent landscape of Ireland is best done on foot, enabling you to enjoy and experience the wildlife, scenery and nature the island has become so famous for. Ireland is crisscrossed with exceptional walking paths, routes and loops that bring you from breathtaking cliff-edge to rust-coloured bogland.
Clamber over craggy headlands where waves dramatically crash to the shore on the Wild Atlantic Way; feel the restorative power of a walk through pine-scented woodland in Northern Ireland; or explore the mysteries of Ireland’s ancient landscapes, dotted with stone circles, portal tombs and crumbling monastic sites in Ireland’s Ancient East.
With guided walking holidays, walking festivals or independent trails to follow, you’ll find walking in Ireland gives you an exceptional chance to unplug, switch off and connect with the landscape once again.
Cycling and kayaking are also great ways to take things slow and go green in Ireland. For two-wheelers, there’s everything from gentle cycling trails of the lakelands to the adrenaline-pumping twists and curves of the Wild Atlantic Way. Or take to a dedicated off-road Greenway – incredible trails along old lines of railway – including the Great Western Greenway that reaches from Westport in County Mayo to Achill Island; the Waterford Greenway, from Waterford to Dungarvan; and the Old Rail Trail, which weaves through the rolling green slopes of County Westmeath.
And while kayaking and canoeing may not seem like an obvious way of getting from A to B, great canoeing trails through pristine inland waterways make it a reality. From the quiet waters of the Royal Canal to the gentle flow of the Shannon-Erne, canoeing brings you through a natural wonderland that seems to burst with foliage and sway with soft reeds.
Slow travel favourites
There are some great ways to enjoy a slow travel or eco escape in Ireland. Why not try a yoga retreat, such as the incredible Clare Island Yoga Retreat in one of the westernmost points in the island, or a wonderfully restorative seaweed bath at SOAK seaweed in Newcastle, County Down.
You can embark on a bespoke foraging course along the Atlantic Coast with Atlantic Irish Seaweed, or go on a dolphin-watching boat trip with Dolphinwatch in Carrigaholt, County Clare. Try the very best of local salmon at the Burren Smokehouse, or cosy up in the gorgeous surrounds of the eco-friendly Roadside Tavern pub in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare. And for an amazing authentic experience in off-the-beaten track locations, try Slow Adventure Northern Ireland, offering everything from traditional baking to traditional fishing.
Finally, when it comes to an eco-friendly place to stay, we’ve got your covered. Sustainable accommodation ranges from the outstanding luxury of Ashford Castle in County Mayo, to self-catering riverside bliss at Downpatrick’s eco-friendly Hemp Cottage within sight of the Mourne Mountains, and the intriguing Gyreum Eco Lodge in County Sligo, which uses geothermal and sunlight heating systems, serves the freshest local produce – much plucked straight from its own allotment – and even takes all that rainwater to use for showers!.
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