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Ireland's Budget Lodgings Allow Savin' o' the Green

March 26, 2000|LUCY IZON | Lucy Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Internet

Ireland on a student budget isn't impossible when you hook up with an organization like Celtic Budget Accommodation Centres. It's a network of 10 economical accommodations across Ireland that have been approved by Bord Failte, the Irish Tourist Board.

The Celtic centers offer single, twin and multi-bed rooms, 24-hour reception, dining facilities and self-catering kitchens. There are no age restrictions and no membership requirements.

In the low season (November through February), rates start at $10 for a bed in a dormitory room, $14 in a twin room or $16.25 in a single room. From July to September, beds in dormitory rooms start at $11, in twin rooms from $15; a single room starts at $18. You can expect rates to be slightly higher at the Dublin and Galway city locations.

Rates include a continental breakfast, linens and taxes. Bathrooms are down the hall. For rooms with private bath add $2.60 per person, per night.

If Dublin is your gateway, there are three centrally located facilities that make it easy to explore Trinity College, the National Gallery, the Dublin Writers Museum, Dublin Castle (which dates to 1204), a distillery and brewery and the Temple Bar district.

They are Abraham House, which can accommodate up to 138 travelers, at 82/83 Lower Gardiner St., Dublin 1, telephone 011-353-1- 855-0600, fax 011-353-1-855-0598; Avalon House (a two-minute walk from Dublin's main shopping area, Grafton Street), at 55 Aungier St., Dublin 2, tel. 011-353-1-475-0001 or 011-353-1-475-0303, Internet; and Ashfield House, located beside Trinity College and just a short walk to Temple Bar. You'll find it at 19/20 D'olier St., Dublin 2; tel. 011-353-1-679-7734, fax 011-353-1- 679-0852.

If you arrive by ferry from France or southern Wales, your gateway may be Cork. In the center of the city is the family-run Sheila's of Cork. The 112-bed hostel is at 4 Belgrave Place, Wellington Road, Cork; tel. 011-353-21-505-562, fax 011-353-21-500-940, Internet sheilas. Just five miles from town is Blarney Castle.

About 14 miles from Shannon International Airport, overlooking the Abbey River in Limerick, is Barrington's Lodge. You can base yourself there to visit the city's King John's Castle, or head off to see the dramatic Cliffs of Moher. The lodge is located at Georges Quay, Limerick; tel. 011-353-61-415-222, fax 011-353-61-416-611.

The city of Galway is popular with students, artists, musicians and young travelers, and is known for good music in the pubs at night. Centrally located, across from the train and bus station, is Great Western House. Use it as a base for the city or a stepping-off point to visit the Aran Islands with their curious ruins. Great Western House is on Frenchville Lane, Eyre Square, Galway; tel. 011-353-91- 561-150, fax 011-353-91-561-196, Internet

Some of the most beautiful and popular areas of Ireland are Killarney, the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. One place to stay in this region is the modern Westward Court in Tralee. It accommodates up to 165 travelers. You can find it at Mary Street, Tralee, County Kerry; tel. 011-353-66-718- 0081, fax 011-353-66-718-0082, Internet

You can contact Celtic Budget Accommodation Centres for more information at 13 S. Leinster St., Dublin 2; tel. 011-353-1-662-1991, fax 011-353-1-678-5011, Internet For a $2 fee, the central office can make reservations. You can also contact the facilities directly (no booking fee), or when in Ireland you can reserve your bed at the next hostel from the one where you are staying for $2.

Fortunately, Ireland has a variety of hostel- and budget-accommodation services that have been approved by Bord Failte, including An Oige (the Hostelling International affiliate with 37 locations), Independent Holiday Hostels (no membership requirements) and USIT Accommodation Centres (USIT is Ireland's national student travel service).

The Irish Tourist Board Internet site at home includes links to information on these services.

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