While I was studying abroad in London, my parents took a trip to Ireland to celebrate their anniversary. I flew over to spend the last weekend of the trip with them. We spent a night in Kilkenny, a village a couple of hours from Dublin (it would be a great day trip if you don’t have time to stay over!), before finishing the weekend in Dublin. I was surprised how much I loved Kilkenny – it’s quaint and walkable, but very picturesque with lots to do. Kilkenny Castle is right in the center (our hotel’s breakfast area looked right over it!). We packed our quick visit with live music (and some Bulmer’s, of course!), a castle tour, climbing a round tower, shopping, and lots of AMAZING gluten free food!
Gluten Free Accommodations in Kilkenny, Ireland
The River Court Hotel: If you’re looking for a great gluten free hotel in Kilkenny, look no further than the River Court Hotel. The hotel itself is wonderful – it’s right in the village, the rooms are really nice, there is a pool and jacuzzi, and as I mentioned above, the breakfast area overlooks the castle from across the river! They serve a buffet breakfast in the morning, and I was delighted to see that they had a separate table labeled “Coeliac Table”. The table had gluten free oats, gluten free bread, cheese, and a sign that said you can request coeliac-safe sausage. Needless to say, I requested the sausage and made myself a delicious breakfast sandwich! If you plan to stay here, I would call ahead to make sure that they still offer this, but it was really wonderful and I had no reaction at all to any of the food.
Gluten Free Restaurants in Kilkenny, Ireland
The Fig Tree:
One of my favorite dining experiences in Ireland! They mention right on the front page of their website that they offer a wide range of gluten free choices for those with celiac disease. On our first morning in Kilkenny, it was downpouring, and the Fig Tree is really the perfect place to be in the rain. It’s cozy and warm, and they offer gluten free soups and sandwiches! I had a gluten free ham and cheese sandwich and gluten free tomato soup – is there any better meal in pouring rain!? The gluten free bread was great, and I had no reaction to the meal. It honestly may be worth a day trip to Kilkenny solely for this sandwich 😉
Paris Texas was a surprise find – I wasn’t hungry earlier in the day, and by the time I was hungry for dinner, we found ourselves wandering the roads of Kilkenny for any open restaurants with gluten free food! Paris Texas notes at the bottom of their menu that gluten free pasta, pizza, and gravies are available, and that nearly every single main can be made gluten free. Unfortunately, by the time we went, the kitchen was no longer serving dinner – however, they were serving dessert! If you know me, dessert is always a suitable substitute for dinner, so we were in business. The name of the dessert was music to my ears: “Coeliac Tart”. Something about a gluten free menu item being referred to as for a celiac – it always makes me feel so much more confident in what I’m eating! You very rarely (I’m not sure if I can even think of an example?) see this in the states, but it’s very common in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe. The tart was a gluten free flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream, and oh man – it was good! I wish we had time to go back for a full meal, but we left the following morning for Dublin and did not have time!
Unfortunately, one of the other restaurants I meant to review, Sol Café, closed this past March. I had a lovely soup and sandwich combo there – it was another one of my favorite dining experience in Ireland. Sad to hear that it’s no longer there!
Put Kilkenny on your Ireland list! If you’re in Dublin for any period of time, you have no excuse not to make a quick trip to Kilkenny on the train 😉 It really is a lovely village with tons to offer (both in terms of attractions and gluten free food!). That wraps up my gluten free getaway guides for Ireland! Stay tuned for additions to the Dublin guide in November – I’m sure we will be doing LOTS of eating!
If you’re at all curious about Great Value Vacations (or scared of them, as I was…), here are a few tips:
Booking a vacation package isn’t the same as using a travel agent – just because it says it includes your lodging, you need to research and book the B&Bs independently. This is not made abundantly clear while booking, but it’s key – some B&Bs will not accept the type of voucher offered by Great Value, so you need to make sure you use the website portal they send you AND contact the hosts beforehand (especially if you’re gluten free, but even if you’re not)
Ireland still has a large surcharge for car rentals if you’re under 25 – we knew this, and it was still worth it to us, but if you’ll be 25 soon but aren’t yet, you should consider waiting (you’ll save a considerable amount) – call Dan Dooley independently, as Great Value will not handle this for you. If you, like us, have a package that starts in Dublin and you are under 25, you can call Dan Dooley and ask to pick up your car when you LEAVE Dublin (it’s hard to find parking anyway), which reduces the surcharge by two days
Call the airline (I believe it’s always Aer Lingus) to ask about reserving seats and gluten free food. Great Value books the flight, but you need to log in to your reservation and call separately to iron out the details.
Don’t be afraid to book it – there are so many negative reviews that we nearly didn’t, but we saw that the majority of the reviews were from people who didn’t know that they still had to do lots of planning (booking their lodging, figuring out car pick-up, etc) – Great Value packages the pricing, but that’s about it. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it for the lower price!
Did you miss the other Ireland Guides?
Gluten Free Dublin, Ireland
Gluten Free Galway, Ireland
Gluten Free Dingle, Ireland
Gluten Free Adare, Ireland