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The Health of Ireland's B&Bs

This is a question mainly for those who have traveled around Ireland on more than, say, two or three occasions in recent years (e.g., the past five to seven) and have typically stayed in the country's wonderful bed and breakfasts.

In his 2020 Ireland guidebook, Rick writes that B&Bs are becoming harder to find (unrelated to Covid-19, of course) because of competition from larger hotels. We don't doubt that's the case based on what he's seen, though we would appreciate hearing from others what your experiences have been and what you've observed in this regard during your travels around the country since 2013 or so.

The summer of 2021 (hopefully) will be our tenth trip in Ireland (all by bicycle), but the first since 2007. On all of these multi-week travels both in the Republic and in Northern Ireland, we carried the Irish Tourist Board's B&B Guidebook with us. Each annual edition contained close to 2,500 listings for small, family-run B&Bs, plus a very tiny number of larger, purpose-built ones. Ninety-five percent of the time, we'd simply arrive in any given town, knock on two or three doors and have a room in a matter of minutes. Only once did we have to inquire at more than a handful.

The current guidebook, which we just received, lists only about 450 B&Bs due mainly, we presume, to the predominance of the Internet. And from our on-line research in a number of sources this year, we're seeing many B&Bs offering amenities such as in-room TVs, larger facilities (6-12 rooms), candy or a bottle of wine in the room and the like, all of which we travel to get away from. A few even have rates approximating those of the pricier hotels.

So, please share your experiences and observations with us, focusing on small (2-5 rooms), family-run B&Bs. Are they an "endangered species," noticeably decreasing in number, as ubiquitous as ever or just don't have a presence in the guidebook or on the Internet and rely instead on walk-up (pedal-up?) guests?

We love the intimacy of staying in a family's small home with great Irish breakfasts and would be sorely disappointed if they are disappearing from the scene.

Slainte and thanks!

Posted by
1683 posts

David, we had a great experience at all of our Ireland B&Bs during our May 2017 self-driving tour. Of course everything has changed since then due to COVID-19. There will be nothing close to normal until there's a vaccine, and even then I think there will be hyper-vigilance regarding hygiene and so forth. There will be much less enthusiasm for a lot of people in enclosed areas.

My favorite memories of Ireland were the people, from the Irish to other travelers. The gold of Ireland is its people.

Posted by
62 posts

I come from Ireland myself and in my village this year both the B&B and post office shut down. Apparently this is happening all around the country, people are calling it the ´death of rural Ireland´, there just simply isnt enough demand in small villages to keep businesses like this open. I do beleive it is getting harder to find the type of B&B you are looking for but there definitely are still plenty in excistance.

Posted by
375 posts


That is indeed sad to hear.

Even the remote village of Glencolumbkille in Co. Donegal had three or four B&Bs each time we visited over the years. The first one we ever stayed at was in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare and became our "go-to" B&B at the beginning and end of almost all of our trips. Our hostess and her older children ran the place while her husband worked the farm, but after the four kids grew up and moved on she closed it.

If you don't mind, what is your home village? We may well have stayed there.