Part of the charm of the Grand Canal is the chance to chuck the common, usually run-of-the mill, urban hotel in favor of mom-and-pop operated-B&Bs. When night falls and feet are beginning to fail, there are few places more inviting than an Irish country Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Each has its own character and style, its own pleasant host or hostess and its own local-flavor stories. The welcome the weary walker finds is typically pleasant, personal and sincere. Many that are located close to the canal cater to walkers and anglers and can tell you what lies ahead of you the next day. (A reminder—be sure to find out how far from the canal a selected B&B is. You could be in for another hours’ walk to reach it. But most often the B&B will offer you their mobile phone number and will arrange to pick you up, and then return you to the canal the next day.) Rarely do you have a bad experience at a B&B.
I stayed in this hospitable B&B in Sept 08
B&Bs can be seasonal. Some B&Bs that are open in the summer months are closed other months. B&Bs also may not be taking reservations for any number of reasons, ranging from their visiting relatives elsewhere to taking holiday. I’ve encountered both of those situations.
For me, it’s the personal attention that I relish so much. After a long day hoofing it, sometimes with a nagging blister, beyond the front door to a B&B is a warm welcome, usually a cup of tea or coffee and some scones or biscuits. Then the next morning, as if you will never eat again, you sit down to one of those deliciously mammoth full Irish breakfasts. What a way to start another day!
Of course in addition to the traditional B&B you’ll find the larger guest house, with qualities similar to a B&B, but with more rooms, and more opportunities for fellowshipping with the other guests. For those staying a week or so, consider a self-catering accommodation. One that I recently learned about is Ballycommon House, right on the Grand Canal between Tullamore and Daingean. (www.ballycommonhouse.com)
A somewhat complicating matter is the formal system of official approval of B&Bs, guest houses and other accommodations. Approved accommodations appear in published directories and you will rarely be unpleasantly surprised or disappointed by selecting an approved facility. Many others are not approved, for any number of reasons. I’ve stayed at unapproved B&Bs and been very content with my stays. But at one unapproved B&B I was terribly disappointed and had that “should have known better” feeling.
Clean, full-service bathrooms are fully expected (and always found) in approved B&Bs
I know of no way other than word of mouth in the community to learn about the unapproved B&Bs. Owners of approved B&Bs are usually reluctant to tell you about one that’s not approved in the village of your destination. But at pubs, grocery stores, and from other non-approved owners, you usually can find directions to other similar facilities.
Finding your accommodations
There are several sources for B&B and guest house information and reservations. Tourism Ireland is a good place to start. Their site ( www.discoverireland.ie) will lead you to several approved B&Bs, guest houses, hotels, self-catering houses and the like. A recent check of their accommodations directory for County Offaly found 3 in Edenderry, 2 with a Daingean address and many in Tullamore. Banagher, a small town on the River Shannon about 5 km south of Shannon Harbour with a marina and a delightful river village quality has B&Bs, hotels and the area’s only hostel, Crank House Hostel (www.banagher.net/hostel)
You might also check out www.countyoffaly.com and www.offaly-bnb.com . for accommodations information.
Call ahead or email for reservations and be sure to jot down their land line and mobile phone numbers. Keep the numbers in a rainproof sleeve or zip-lock bag and as a courtesy, call again the night before to remind them you will soon arrive and even your estimated arrival hour.
With some trepidation I am including below some research I conducted over the Internet in 2008 or 2009. A friend who was following my route for part of the way across Ireland was interested in learning where I found accommodations. So I rounded up my old notes from 2003 and added what I learned by scouring the Internet, and sent him the following information. So bear in mind this list will be dated. Nevertheless it might give you a head start. Be sure to alert me to errors—email me at Grandcanalhiker@aol.com
B&B or guesthouse accommodations
The ones I stayed in I mark as *. Two friends from Tennessee went a year later along this same route and stayed in B&Bs marked as **
(Most of the B&Bs are in or around Naas, which is about 2 or 3 miles south of Sallins. Those that are on Sallins Rd would presumably be closer to Sallins.)
(1)--Mill House B&B in Naas but about a mile from Sallins
Leinster Grove, Oberstown, Naas.
Tele--045 86 6138
(2)--Boreen Lusk B&B, about 1.5 to 2 miles from canal
Sallins Rd, Naas
+353 (0) 45 87-5282
(3)--Norcenni B+B **
Sallins Rd, Naas
Mrs. Vena Murphy
1 The Sycamores, Sallins Rd, Naas
Auburn Lodge (owner--Catherine....) * (I stayed there in May 08) **
Colonel Perry St
353 046 973 1319
(1)--Beachlawn Farmhouse **
Mount Lucas, Daingean
Tullamore (You can go to www.discovertullamore.com )
Mrs. Claire Gilsenan
Clonminch Rd (5 min walk to town centre)
057 93 52054
(2)--Ivy Lodge B&B **
Daingean Rd, Tullamore
Mrs. Anne O’Brein
Culleen, Durrow, Tullamore
Mrs. Lucy Bradley
057 93 51364
(5)--Hill View B&B, about 1 mile north of canal *
Mr. Martin Moran (I think)
Mrs. Clare Moore
Harbor Masters House (on banks of canal)
at Shanoon Harbor
Mrs. Grainne Kirwan
Brosna Lodge Hotel
+353 (0) 5791 51350
Crank House Hostel * (I stayed there two times)
Now--cross the River Shannon and head toward Portumna
(1)--Portumna House * (I think this where I stayed.)
1 St Brendan’s Rd, Portumna
+353 (0) 90 974 1078
(2)--Birch Cottage B&B
St. Joseph’s Rd
+353 (0) 86600 2256
(3)--Clonwyn House Hotel and B&B
+353 (0) 90 9741351
(1)--Old Rectory B&B **
Cross St, Loughrea
353 91 847130
(2)--An Choill B&B
353 91 87 0895
Clareview HOuse **
Mrs. Brenda McTigue
3 km east of Kinvara on R 347
The website www.hostelgalway.com lists 11 hostels. I stayed at the Galway City Hostel. Since they change so much over the years, a recommendation from 3 or 4 years ago may be worth little now. But was an ok hostel.
Some B&Bs are real treats. This view from the window of my bedroom in a B&B just south of Omagh welcomed me after a long day on foot.