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Public Restrooms while on in the road in Ireland

I'm one of those women who need to stop and use the restroom about once an hour, particularly in the mornings. Thankfully, my husband has reached that "age" when he needs to stop also, so he doesn't complain anymore.

Here in the States, I keep an eye out for highway rest areas, fast food restaurants and/or grocery stores, which all have public restrooms. At the stores we usually buy something so we don't feel guilty.

What are our options when out in the Irish countryside? How frequently can we find public restrooms? Anything specific to watch for?


Posted by
6936 posts

This may not address exactly where you're going, or how you're getting there, as we were on a bicycle trip between Galway and Dingle in 2011, but towns are pretty frequent, so there's always a pub nearby. Even when we travelled on a "highway," it was a two-lane road and not at all like a U.S. Interstate or toll superhighway in France or Italy where "rest stops" or gas station/fast food/bathroom facilities appeared every few exits, so we relied on towns.

Several grocery stores had a restroom, and were happy to allow using them for the asking, but they weren't always "public" in the sense of a sign pointing you to the restroom or an access door that was always open and available for anyone to walk thru. A couple of times, a store employee had to lead us thru the back hallways and even unlock the restroom door once.

Dublin, Cork, and other places may be different, but in The West, a toilet was usually available, but you might have to ask first.

Posted by
135 posts


Cyn has nailed it, really. Ireland is not really set up with the sort of motorway service areas that most of mainland Europe (or the UK) has, so you need to be more inventive when looking for public toilets! Funnily enough, the 'ordinary' roads (i.e. not the motorways, which mainly radiate out from Dublin) are more likely to have petrol filling stations and convenience stores where they may well have a toilet if you ask. Tourist sights generally have facilities too. Be aware though that public toilets can range from the sublime to the (almost) medieval, although unpleasant ones are rare nowadays.

You may need to plan a little more carefully though if you venture out into truly non-urban areas - Irish villages can be quite far apart, and coastal and mountainous areas can be miles from the nearest hamlet, let alone a public toilet. You wouldn't be the first tourist in history to have to find a shady ditch or secluded sand dune out of view, and use it as nature intended - no offence meant, by the way. Thus biodegradable toilet tissue is worth having....

Posted by
1994 posts

I don't think you're going to have a problem – mostly because I don't remember it being an issue. And if rest stops were really hard to come by, I'd remember.

I do remember occasionally walking into a pub where I wasn't a customer, wandering to the back (or downstairs), and finding the ladies room. No one ever objected.

Posted by
150 posts

I found finding a restroom more challenging in Dublin and in large cities than I did in the rural areas. Starbucks and McDonalds for instance where one might stop in the States to use a bathroom have signs posted that restrooms are for customers only. Once you purchase something they will give you a key or code to unlock the restroom. We would buy a bottle of water. On Grafton and O'Connell Street areas we used department stores as needed. Yes, you can go into a pub/cafe and look for their restrooms also. We've were never stopped.

Most of the tourist sites you visit will have rest rooms available. If the tour buses are there (like at Waterford or Clonmacnoise) there will be a line. That said I did not worry about finding a restroom as we always found one. Even at the Beehives on the Dingle Peninsula there is a portable toilet!

At the Dolmans we saw a German tourist relieving herself in public with her husband attempting to provide coverage. It didn't seem to be a problem for her or anyone else.