People in Ireland love their dogs, and those dogs love their owners right back.
Why wouldn’t they? With an enviable amount of forests, hills and fields to explore, Ireland can feel like one big park. Living rooms across the land are peppered and sprayed with dog footprints of sand, mud and more, as humans and dogs explore this glorious land together.
From parks to stately grounds, from hills to beaches, we’ve listed some of the most (ahem) fetching places to walk your dog…
Phoenix Park, Dublin
We’ve talked before about this marvellous place in our picnic article. As you might imagine, the largest walled park in Europe serves a few purposes, and a haven for dogs and their owners is definitely one of them.
The park’s versatility extends to types of dogs: If your dog is family-friendly and loves people, then the Visitor’s Centre or Farmleigh is ideal; if he or she likes wide open spaces, they can be found dotted throughout the park (near the Mountjoy Cavalry Barracks is especially suitable); and if they like the various smells that a forest and pond provides, the area beside the Chapelizod entrance is for you.
The general rule for dog-walking is that they be kept under control, but some parts of the park require the dog to be on a lead; specifically, near the Visitor Centre, Farmleigh, near cycle lanes and roads, and when horses or deer are nearby
Bray Head, Wicklow
Bray Head is a treat for the senses, whatever your species. Humans will appreciate the fresh, sea air and the coastal views; while the diverse plants and abundance of other dogs will give your pooch plenty to sniff for.
This is a hill, but one with a summit that’s accessible to most walkers (two or four-legged). The route to the summit is a well-worn and clear dirt path. From the top, you can return down this path or head towards Greystones.
Bray Head is a popular spot for dog walking, though dog dirt left behind is decidedly unpopular with locals. So, please be considerate.
Castletown House, Kildare
An incredible building surrounded by acres of varied parkland and gardens; Castletown House feels like stepping back in time. (Indeed, it’s played host to live theatre performances of Pride & Prejudice!)
The main building is an old estate, once privately owned. Now, though, Castletown House and its land are part of the Office of Public Works.
Access to the main building is seasonal but the outdoor (dog-friendly) part is accessible year-round. This includes the award-winning Parkland and River Walks. These take in cherry blossom trees, buttercup meadows, gardens and the River Liffey.
It’s a magical place, where old buildings (bridges, towers) and wild plants jostle for domination. Unsurprisingly, it’s a hit with dogs and humans alike.
North Kerry Way
Stretching from Tralee to Ballyheigue, this stretch of 48 kilometres has a great reputation for being pooch-friendly (just as much as the better-known Dingle Way and Beara Way). Dogs should be kept on a lead, but they’ll still enjoy the freedom and wide spaces North Kerry has to offer.
Highlights include a slew of gorgeous beaches (dogs love the sand!), coastal strolls and the grand finale of Kerry Head, with its stunning views and fresh, mountain air.
You and your dog will enjoy the range not just of the sights and smells, but the surfaces, as this trail brings you across quiet country roads, sand and fields, some of which are next to bogs.
Like any long loop, there are plenty of options for where you can start and exit, so you can find the trail that best suits you and your four-legged friend.
Rosses Point, Sligo
A pleasant, flat surface for walking, Rosses Point is the name given to both the village and peninsula in scenic Sligo. In this case, we’re talking about the peninsula.
Part of the Wild Atlantic Way, this walk brings you to a welcoming, wide beach and a humbling ocean view. On the way, you’ll see mountains to one side and the village on the other.
Like much of the coast, Rosses Point is especially gorgeous at sunrise, twilight and sunset, so we’d advise trying to get the timing right to see what splendour the sky’s colours will bring. That said, it’s a pretty corner of the world whenever you visit. WB and Jack Yeats spent much of their childhoods here, and this spot inspired much of their poetry and painting.
Take the Lead
Ireland is paradise for dogs and their walkers. It’s a cornucopia of beautiful nature and (for the dogs) fascinating smells.
Don’t forget to follow local rules when you’re out with your canine – specifically regarding dog waste and leads. That way, strangers will love your dog just as much as you do!
And remember to stock up on OSI maps – taking you where you want to go. Find the locations mentioned in this blog post in the maps below.