John McEntee brought his pet pug Guinness, pictured, on a ferry from Pembroke to Rosslare in County Kerry
When Queen Victoria visited Killarney with her beloved Pekingese, Looty, in 1861, the spoiled pet became Britain’s first dog tourist. Since then, thousands of dogs from Great Britain have visited the Emerald Isle with their owners.
Until Brexit, these pooches enjoyed shared travel territory between the two countries. They simply boarded a plane or ferry with their owners without any paperwork.
Not like that now.
We took our pug Guinness (so called because its color resembles a half-poured pint of Irish stout) via Irish Ferries from Pembroke to Rosslare in Dingle, County Kerry.
A view of the coast road at Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula – the final destination of John and Guinness. Dogs enjoyed the shared travel area between Ireland and England until Brexit, but in order to travel with Guinness, John had to obtain an eight-page travel document from a UK vet and arrange rabies and deworming injections
First we had to get an eight-page travel document from the British veterinarian. This was in addition to rabies and wormers. (Despite the absence of rabies in both countries.)
The cost was more than £200.
We also had to book a Dingle vet to do the return paperwork and give Guinness another deworming shot before pointing his wet nose towards Rosslare. When we showed up for the required treatment on our last day, the vet’s wife apologized for his absence.
“He’s with the foal,” she explained. “He’ll be back in an hour.”
John and Guinness soaked up the ‘Georgian splendour’ of Marlfield House near Gorey in Wexford. Above is one of the guest rooms
Guinness rampaged through the 16 acres of gardens and grounds at Marlfield House
On his trip to Dingle, John drove past the Duke of Devonshire’s Lismore estate in Waterford, pictured above
Guinness is so named because its hue resembles a half-drained pint of Irish stout
We broke our outward journey – the grueling five-hour drive from London – with a night’s accommodation at the no-frills Days Inn in Magor, Wales (£65).
Arriving in County Wexford after the four hour drive, when Guinness balked at the kennels provided (he slept in our Fiat 500 with the sunroof open), we drove the 50 miles to the Georgian splendor of Marlfield House near Gorey.
Manager Diana Quick looked after Guinness and happily accommodated him in the magnificent Engraved Room with four-poster bed, family portraits, antique harp and 18th-century tapestries.
“We only take small, well-behaved dogs,” she explained as Guinness removed his leash, ran through the French windows and rampaged through the 16-acre gardens and grounds.
From there it was a four hour drive past the Duke of Devonshire’s Lismore estate in Waterford, winding roads through Waterford and Cork to Pax House in Dingle, a luxury, dog-friendly bed and breakfast with stunning views over Dingle Bay.
There, owner John O’Farrell fed an already well-fed dog breakfast sausages wrapped in swan-shaped tinfoil.
While in Kerry, John had to book an Irish vet to handle the Guinness return paperwork. Above is the county’s Dunmore Head
John describes Pax House in Dingle (pictured) as “a luxurious, dog-friendly bed and breakfast”.
Pax House owner John O’Farrell prepared breakfast sausages in swan-shaped tinfoil for Guinness. Above is one of the rooms of the B&B with a view
Above are some of the stunning views across Dingle Bay that can be enjoyed from Pax House
Uncharacteristically for a Pug, Guinness enjoyed swimming. He was undeterred by his first dip in the breakers of the Atlantic at commanding Inch Beach.
This was where Sarah Miles was tracked down by suspect husband Robert Mitchum in David Lean’s epic Ryan’s Daughter.
Guinness also enjoyed his guest appearance at legendary Dingle pub Dick Mack’s, where Ryan’s Daughter star Mitchum, stranded for almost a year while Lean waited for a perfect sea storm, sipped his favorite Chivas Regal.
The pub reckoned that by 1969 he had consumed half of Ireland’s Scotch imports.
Guinness was “unfazed by its first Atlantic Breaker dip at Inch Beach (above)”
On the left is Guinness in front of the legendary Dingle Pub Dick Mack’s. Actor Robert Mitchum, pictured right, was known for drinking his favorite Chivas Regal in the pub while filming Ryan’s Daughter
There, Guinness was confident in his own popularity. Regular orders roared: “Three pints of Guinness and a glass of Guinness” prompted barking and theatrical howls.
The day before he left, entered the West Kerry Dog Show and won his category.
The rosette and trophy left him stunned. As is his shortlist for Best in Show.
Vetoed, unfortunately by locals who were wondering who this porter-colored foreign dog was.
Irish Ferries operate a range of cruises and fast ferries between Holyhead and Dublin and between Pembroke in South Wales and Rosslare. Fares start from £119 each way. Pets travel free but must be booked in advance (www.irishferries.com/uk-en/Travel-to-Ireland).
Marlfield House, Gorey, County Wexford. Rooms start from £399 per night. To book email [email protected] or visit marlfieldhouse.com.
Pax Guest House, Dingle, County Kerry. Rooms cost around €200 (£168) a night. To book contact John O’Farrell at [email protected] or visit www.pax-house.com.
Visit Ireland.com for more information.