Stone and cob cottages with thatched roofs are still plentiful in Ireland.
On the N25 (the closest thing Ireland has to a state highway) stands a large sign: “Rethink, Reuse, Recycle, Reclaim.” Ireland is green in more ways than one, it seems. Recycling bins in some shopping malls have paper, glass, and plastic sections. Several B&Bs offer organically raised produce as part of the second “B.” Ireland’s green revolution is in full swing; meat and potatoes and dreary factory towns are giving way to hip, cosmopolitan cities and culinary gifts as wondrous as Ireland’s green countryside.
Green Building Courses
About one hour west of the city of Cork in Castletown is The Hollies: Centre for Sustainable Living, offering courses in permaculture, natural building, and a class titled “Building With Heart: An Holistic Approach to Designing Houses in Dialogue with the Landscape.” The Hollies founders have built several structures using cob, straw, and an insulating material that Ireland has in abundance: sheep’s wool. Castletown, Enniskeane, Co. Cork, 353 23 47001
The Quay Co-op
The Quay Co-op, in Cork, offers a great selection of organic vegetarian foods, natural remedies, vitamins, and beauty products. Just upstairs, low-cost, tasty vegetarian selections are served cafeteria-style, and the cappuccino is made from fair trade, organic beans. 24 Sullivan’s Quay, Co. Cork, 353 21 317026
Farther south in County Cork, less than an hour from the city, Lettercollum House in Timoleague serves mostly organic, locally grown vegetables and meats, with fresh herbs from the garden and home-baked breads. Timoleague, Co. Cork, 353 23 46251
Colorful artwork, tile floors, plant boxes filled with fresh herbs, and innovative veggie foods create an atmosphere that seems more appropriate in California than the cobblestone streets of Killarney. Fleming’s Lane (off High Street), Killarney, Co. Kerry, 353 64 34295
Sheedy's Hotel and Restaurant
The stark, stunning Burren, an area in western Ireland, is steeped in historical importance, with ancient stone circles, passage graves, and medieval castles. On the western edge of the Burren, in Lisdoonvarna, Sheedy’s Hotel and Restaurant awaits the weary explorer. Eleven hotel rooms have recently been renovated, and the dining room is often booked until well after the local dinner hour. Creative, mostly organic entrées are served in a nonsmoking environment. Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, 353 65 7074026, email@example.com
The Dolmen Centre
Located in County Donegal, the Dolmen Centre is the country’s first ecotourism visitor center. Solar panels, wind turbines, and a geothermal pump supply energy needs, and a reed-bed filtration system and composting tank handles waste products without any chemicals. Portnoo, Co. Donegal, 353 75 45010