Book: Ecoescape Ireland: The handbook to responsible escapism: A travel guide to the greenest places in Ireland.
Author: Catherine Mack
Publishers: Travel/Green Living
For more details www.ecoescape.org
1. Delphi Mountain Resort, County Galway
The location is an "eco escape" extraordinaire, nestled between two contrasting stretches of water, Killary Harbour and the Bundorragha River, which is fed by numerous mountain streams. Take part in motor-free sports in the forests, rivers and beaches, or just lie back in a bath full of organic seaweed.
. delphimountainresort.com; +353 (0) 95 42208. From €40 a night (£32)
2. Trinity Island Lodge, County Cavan
Overlooking nothing but the ruins of a 13th-century Abbey, Lough Oughter, swans in flight, and a canoe with your name on it, this lakeland retreat is on its own forested island, in the highly underrated landscape of County Cavan. It is seconds' walk from the water, and after a day's swimming, fishing or just bobbing about, you can come back to the wood-burning sauna. No wonder the Monks loved it.
. trinityisland.com; + 353 (0) 49 43 34314. From €700 (£552) for a weekend, €1,100 (£868) for a week
3. Cnoc Suain, County Galway
Stay in one of the refurbished stone cottages on this Connemara farm in the Irish-speaking region of the country. Drink in their own "shebeen", and watch performances of Irish music and poetry twice a week by a roaring fire. "We wanted visitors to just stop and absorb the Connemara culture, rather than glimpsing it through a coach window". But this is no theme park, just a family oozing with pride and determination to protect and share some of the joys of its Gaelic heritage.
. cnocsuain.com; +353 (0) 91 555 703. From €450 (£355) for a residential weekend
4. The Old Milking Parlour, County Wicklow
Only an hour from Dublin, minutes from the Wicklow Mountains, and a six-mile cycle to one of Ireland's finest beaches, Brittas Bay. Architect couple, Delphine and Philip, have converted the milking parlour in what was an old Quaker homestead, and is now their own. They have done so to the highest sustainable standards, combining old and new with flare. This one would put Kevin McLoud on McLoud Nine.
. ballymurrin.ie; +353 (0)404 48206. From €400 (£315) a weekend (low season)
5. The Benwiskin Centre, County Sligo
From this community-run hostel, you can take on some of the finest walking and cycling in Ireland. Into the Gleniff Horseshoe Valley, where Irish myth tells us, lovers Gráinne and Diarmuid spent their last night together before dying, watched on and unaided by jilted lover Fionn. Dramatic landscape in every sense.
. benwiskincentre.com; +353 (0)71 91 76721. From €15 (£12) a night
6. Wineport Lodge, County Westmeath
Don't even think about coming here by car. Take a train to Athlone, and they will pick you up at the station. And you won't need a car when you get here, because you won't want to leave. The hot tub, as well as all the serene and luscious rooms, overlook the reeds and waters of Lough Ree.
. wineport.ie; +353 (0)64 39010. From €195 (£154) a night
7. Tory Bush Cottages, County Down
It is worth arriving in darkness, just to be able to watch the sun rise over the heather, moss and bog-covered Mourne Mountains the next morning. The name given to this mountain range, suggests a sad desolate place. Nothing could be further from the truth. My heart literally skipped a beat as I opened the curtains and looked out from this eco-loft into the surrounding hills.
. torybush.com; +44 (0)28 4372 4348. From £130 (£103) for a two-night stay
8. Clare Island Yoga Retreat, County Mayo
People like to escape in different ways. Some to the mountains, others to a remote beach. I have a thing about islands, and a particular thing about this one. It draws me back, again and again, and one of these days I will just miss the boat and stay. Like Ciara Cullen, who moved there 20 years ago. If it is a real retreat you are after, her timber yoga studio, house and cottage in the hills of Clare Island, overlooking the Atlantic, is about as far from the world, as you can get.
. yogaretreats.ie; +353 (0)98 25412. From €250 (£197) for a weekend retreat
9. South Reen Farm, County Cork
The website calls it a retreat. I call it a rural idyll. Hidden in a corner of West Cork, it is surrounded by water, with Lough Cluhir overlooking the farm, the depths of South Reen harbour at the end of the road, and the roaring waves of the Atlantic over the hill. Take a morning dip in the tiny bay, go whale-watching in the afternoon, and kayaking off the pier at midnight.
. southreenfarm.com; +353 (0)28 33258. From €650 (£512) a week. See also whalewatchwestcork.com and atlanticseakayaking.com
10. Gregan's Castle Hotel, County Clare
Simon and Frederieke, the owners of this family-run hotel, are more than aware of the privileged position they hold, high up in a valley of the extraordinary limestone landscape of The Burren. Instead of playing Lord and Lady of this exquisite manor, they are leaders in the community, taking a strong stance on sustaining The Burren, as well as the livelihoods of those who live there. As a member of the Burren Beef and Lamb Producers Group, the hotel sources all such meat from local farmers, and all smoked fish, salads, eggs and cheeses are sourced from small producers in The Burren.