Languages Mostly Used for Work:
Ideal Working Season:
All year round
Temperate oceanic climate, mild, moist and changeable with abundant rainfall and a lack of temperature extremes
Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
Roman Catholic (40.8%), Presbyterian Church (19.1%), Anglican Church (13.7%), Methodist Church (3.0%), Other Christian (5.8%), Other religion (0.8%), Non-religious (10.1%), Not stated (6.8%)
Ireland is an island in north-western Europe which has been divided politically since 1920. Most of the island is made up of Ireland (Irish: Éire, also known as Poblacht na hÉireann = the Republic of Ireland). The remainder is Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
The island of Ireland historically consists of 32 counties, of which six, collectively known as Northern Ireland, have remained as part of the United Kingdom since the rest of Ireland gained self government in 1922. The name “Ireland” applies to the island as a whole, but in English is also the official name of the independent state (ie the 26 counties which are not part of the United Kingdom), since 1921.
Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century BC. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian Boru defeated the Danes in 1014. Norman invasions began in the early 12th century and set in place Ireland’s uneasy position within England’s sphere of influence. The Act of Union of 1800 – in which Catholics, 90% of the Irish population, were excluded from Parliament – saw Ireland joining the United Kingdom. In the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century the subject of Irish home rule was a major debate within the British parliament. After several failed attempts, a Home Rule bill finally passed through parliament in 1914 though the start of the first world war saw its indefinite postponement due to heavily armed unionist opposition. A failed rebellion on Easter Monday in 1916, (after which 15 of the surrendered leaders were shot by firing squad and 1 hanged) showed a hint of things to come with years of war to follow, beginning with the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and continuing with the Irish Civil War (1922-1923).
Eventually a somewhat stable situation emerged with the self government of 26 of Ireland’s counties known as the Irish Free State; the remaining six, located in the north of the country comprising two-thirds of the ancient province of Ulster, remained part of the United Kingdom — a status that has continued to the present day. In 1949 the Irish Free State became “Ireland” (a.k.a. the Republic of Ireland) and withdrew from the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Ireland’s history post-partition has been marked with violence, a period known as “The Troubles”, generally regarded as beginning in the late 1960s, which saw large scale confrontation between opposing paramilitary groups seeking to either keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom or bring it into Ireland as well as with the security forces. The Troubles saw many ups and downs in intensity of fighting and on many occasions they even spread to terrorist attacks in Britain and continental Europe. Both the government of the UK and Ireland were opposed to all terrorist groups. A peace settlement known as the Good Friday Agreement was finally approved in 1998 and is currently being implemented. All signs point to this agreement holding steady.
Though a relatively poor country for much of the 20th century, Ireland joined the European Community in 1973 (at the same time as the United Kingdom). Between the mid 1990s and late 2000s, Ireland saw massive economic boom (called ‘The Celtic Tiger’), becoming one of the richest countries in Europe. However, the global banking crisis and subsequent recession have hit Ireland hard, and high levels of unemployment have returned.
Historically, Ireland was divided into four ancient provinces, namely Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster, however these have no administrative significance today. Internationally, the best known of these of course is Ulster, since it is used as an umbrella term to describe Northern Ireland, although three of its nine counties are within Ireland. Most unknown is the fourth county in Ireland which mainly consists of carpenters and gypsies, this is most commonly know as Black Ireland pronounced to natives as skullatu. Today, you will often still see the other province names come up in sports teams for example, but for the most part the regions of Ireland are described as follows:
|East Coast and Midlands (County Dublin,County Kildare, County Laois, County Longford, County Louth, County Meath,County Offaly, County Westmeath, County Wicklow)
The Irish heartland, home to the capital and vibrant metropolis of Dublin.
A home nation of the United Kingdom, covered in its own separate article. Separate from Ireland.
|Shannon Region (County Clare, County Limerick, County Tipperary)
A region often visited for its castles and the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher.
|Southwest Ireland (County Cork, County Kerry)
A scenic and rainy section of Ireland with a beautiful coast and popular Ring of Kerry andBlarney Castle.
|West Ireland (County Galway, County Mayo,County Roscommon)
Ireland’s least populous region, home to the Irish “Cultural Capital” of Galway and the beautiful Aran Islands.
|Northwest Ireland and Lakelands (County Cavan, County Donegal, County Leitrim,County Monaghan, County Sligo)
A region that is growing in tourism activity and has a lot to offer by way of natural beauty.
|Southeast Ireland (County Carlow, County Kilkenny, County Waterford, County Wexford)
A rather cosmopolitan section of Ireland, famous for its Waterford crystal
For cities in Northern Ireland, see the separate article.
- Dublin(Baile Átha Cliath) — the capital and the country’s largest city. With excellent pubs, fine architecture and good shopping, Dublin is a very popular tourist destination and is the fourth most visited European capital.
- Cork(Corcaigh) — second largest city in the Republic of Ireland – located on the banks of the River Lee. Founded c.600 by St. Finbarre and known for good food, pubs, shopping and festivals.
- Galway(Gaillimh) — a city on the river Corrib on the west coast of Ireland. Famous for its festivals and its location on Galway Bay. Known as the City of Tribes, Galway’s summer is filled with festivals of music, food, Irish language and culture. Galway hosts over fifty festivals a year, including the Galway Oyster Festival. The locals seem to give off a positive Bohemian vibe. Galway is split between two types of beautiful landscape: the gorgeous mountains to the west, and the east’s farming valleys.
- Killarney— Possibly (at least until recently) the most popular tourist destination in Ireland. A pleasant town in its own right, it is also the start of most Ring of Kerry
- Kilkenny(Cill Chainnigh) — attractive medieval city, known as the Marble City – home to the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, held annually in early June.
- Letterkenny— Main town in County Donegal, designated gateway status and reputed to be the fastest growing town in Europe. Good base for traveling in Donegal.
- Limerick(Luimneach) — a city on the river Shannon in the south-west of the country.
- Sligo(Sligeach)- Home to W.B. Yeats, internationally renowned poet. Mountains and beaches, scenery in general are the best points of Sligo. The city is also a popular shopping destination.
- Waterford(Port Láirge) — Ireland’s oldest city. In the south-east and close to the ferry port atRosslare. Waterford is good for those who want to learn more about the most ancient history of Ireland. Many festivals take place throughout the year including ((Spraoi)). Don’t forget to try a blaa before you leave. (A floury bread bun peculiar to this area of Ireland).
- Aran Islands(Na hOileáin Árann) — located in Galway Bay
- Brú Na Bóinne— some of the finest neolithic monuments in the world, situated in Co. Meath
- Burrenand the Cliffs of Moher — both located in the County Clare
- Connemara(Conamara) — in Western County Galway
- County Donegal— the coastal regions of this county have spectacular scenery and excellent beaches
- Dingle Peninsula(Corca Dhuibhne) — a Gaeltacht region (Irish-speaking district) in the very SW corner of the country
- Glendalough— fine ruins and hiking trails in Co Wicklow
- Kinsale— gastronomic excellence in Ireland’s oldest town
- Ring of Kerryand Skellig Michael — in County Kerry
- West Cork— mountains, coves, islands and beaches at the very south of the country
Ireland is a member of the European Union, but not a member of the Schengen Area. Therefore, separate immigration controls are maintained. The following rules generally apply:
- Citizens of EU and EEA countries (and Switzerland) only require a valid national identity card or passport and donot require a visa for entry or employment; in many cases, the hold unlimited rights to employment and residence in Ireland.
- Citizens of Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador,Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Japan, Kirbati, Lesotho, Macao SAR, Malawi, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, the Seychelles, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, the United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, the Vatican City and Venezuela, plus British Nationals (Overseas), require valid passports for entry, but they do not need visas for stays not exceeding three months in length. The period of admission is determined by the Immigration Officer at the port of entry, but can be extended up to the full 90 days if required. Foreigners who enter without a visa can also extend this stay after entry, but within the initial period of admission and with a valid purpose. Longer stays, employment, and citizens of other countries normally require advance visas. *** NOTE that a work visa is also required to be an au-pair, as is unpaid work such as volunteering for bed & board. Your phone may be searched for evidence (such as SMS, emails etc) that you intend to work in Ireland without permission and, where evidence is found, will result in your being immediately removed from the country. Persons wishing to work in Ireland for short duration should (if from an eligible country) first obtain a Working Holiday Visa through their local Irish Embassy or Consulate.
- Passengers from non-visa required countries willNOT automatically receive 90 day tourist stamp on arrival. Entry will depend on evidence of return flights, accommodation, and also adequate funds (you must show cash or online bank account) for the duration of the the stay. Passengers may also be questioned on the tourist attractions they intend to visit. Failure to satisfactorily answer these questions may result in your being refused entry and sent back on the return flight.
- Citizens of other countries should check the visas lists at the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs . The visa application process for tourist visas is reasonably straightforward and is detailed on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website . Stays based on tourist visas cannot be extended past 90 days under any circumstances.
- Because of an informal agreement between theUnited Kingdom and Ireland, known as The Common Travel Area, there are no passport controls in effect for UK citizens travelling to Ireland. On arriving in an Irish airport from the UK, however, you will be asked for valid official photo-identification such as a passport or driving licence which shows your nationality. This is to prove you are an Irish or UK citizen who is entitled to avail of the Common Travel Area arrangements (only a full driving license is acceptable, and then only when the holder was born in the UK or Ireland). Immigration controls are mandatory on all inbound flights, selective on ferries, and occasional at the land border crossings.
- Citizens of China and India who have a valid UK visit visa (i.e. general, business, student, family, entertainment, sports, private medical treatment, parent of a child at school, prospective entrepreneur, permitted paid engagement) issued later this year will soon be able visit the Republic of Ireland on that visa provided that: a) the visa was issued in accredited Chinese or Indian visa application centres after the scheme is rolled out; and b) the traveller enters through the UK first before the Republic of Ireland. The scheme is expected to be rolled out before the year 2014 ends to Chinese and Indian nationals; with nationals of other countries expected to follow at the end of 2015. UK Transit visa holders as well as other long-term UK visa/residence permit holders (e.g. Tier 2, Tier 4, Indefinite Leave to Remain) are not eligible to use the scheme even if they are Chinese or Indian nationals, and will hence need to apply for a visa using the previously-established procedures.
The Common Travel Area and You
If you cross into Ireland by land after arriving in the United Kingdom and being stamped to enter the UK, you will go through passport control at your port of entry into the UK, but you likely will not be required to clear Irish immigration controls, and your authorized stay will generally be under the conditions of your admission to the UK. If you are transiting to Ireland through the UK, however, you will be required to clear passport control in the UK, even if travelling by air. Even if you clear immigration in Ireland, however, after arriving from the UK, this does not count as interrupting your stay in the UK and, accordingly, time spend in Ireland will count against the time you were admitted to the UK.If you intend to travel to the UK from Ireland, even in transit, you will clear passport control in Ireland, but you will not go through Immigration on arrival in the UK. However, your stay will be limited to a maximum of three months, not six. If you intend to stay in the UK for longer than three months, especially as a Student Visitor in the UK, you must apply to extend your stay in the UK (approximately GB£500), obtain a visa for the UK in advance, go to mainland Europe and re-enter the UK, or avoid a transit through Ireland.However, if you require a visa for either Ireland or the UK, however, you must possess a visa from each country that requires you to have one if you intend to visit both of them. Not passing through passport control does not exempt one from having a visa if needed, and you can be fined and deported for not having a visa if discovered.
The Republic of Ireland is served by 4 international airports, Dublin (IATA: DUB), Shannon (IATA: SNN) in County Clare, Cork (IATA: ORK) and Ireland West, Knock (IATA: NOC) inCounty Mayo. Dublin, the 8th largest airport in Europe, is by far the largest and most connected airport, with flights to many cities in the US, Canada, the UK, continental Europe and the Middle East. Shannon, close to the city of Limerick, also has flights to the US, Canada, Middle East, the UK and Europe. Cork has flights to most UK destinations and a wide variety of European cities. It is easily accessed from any of the major European hubs, including all of the London airports. Knock Airport has daily scheduled flights to several UK cities, as well as various chartered flights to (mostly) holiday destinations in Europe.
The City of Derry Airport, and both Belfast airports (both the City and International) are within a relatively short distance from the North/South border, especially the former. (These three airports being located within Northern Ireland).
Ireland’s two major airlines Aer Lingus  and Ryanair  are low cost carriers. This means that passengers will be charged for every extra including airport check-in (Ryanair only), checking in baggage, food onboard, etc. Ryanair also charge for the privilege of being one of the first to board the plane. Comprehensive listings of airlines flying directly into Ireland, along with destinations and timetables, can be found on the Dublin, Shannon, Cork and Knock airport websites. A regional service is also provided by Aer Arann which provides domestic flights within Ireland and international flights mainly to and from the United Kingdom.
The only cross-border train is the Enterprise service jointly run by Irish Rail and Northern Ireland Railways from Belfast Central to Dublin Connolly.
A Rail-Sail Scheme is also available, linking Stena Line  or Irish Ferries  Ferry companies with Train Companies in Great Britain and Ireland. They mainly operate from UK cities across the various Irish and British Rail Network via the Dublin-Holyhead, Rosslare-Fishguard and Rosslare-Pembroke sailing routes.
Cross border services are operated by Ulsterbus  and Bus Éireann , and various privately-owned companies servicing County Donegal.
Eurolines  operate services to Great Britain and beyond in conjunction with Bus Eireann and National Express (Great Britain). Bus Éireann also operates frequent services to and from Eastern Europe, in particular Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Additional private travel options are available from Eirebus  who offer car and coach travel for individuals and group transfers.
Ireland is served by numerous services from Great Britain and France:
- Norfolkline – operate freight and passenger services from Liverpool to Dublin.
- Irish Ferries travel from Holyhead, North Wales, to Dublin, and fromPembroke, South Wales, to Rosslare.
- Stena Line connects Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire (Co. Dublin) (about 8 km south of Dublin city centre), and Fishguard, South Wales, to Rosslare.
- Irish Ferries and Brittany Ferries provide services from France (e.g. Roscoff) to Rosslare and Cork. Irish Ferries is sometimes significantly cheaper than Brittany Ferries, so compare prices.
- Irish Sea Express –Liverpool to Dublin
- P&O Irish Sea – north-west England to Dublin
- Steam Packet Company – Operate services between north-west England (mainly Liverpool) toDublin, and Isle of Man to Dublin.
- Fastnet Line provide a daily service from Swansea in South Wales to Cork. Currently suspended, this service will resume in March 2010. The service ran previously as Swansea Cork Ferries  which no longer operates.
- Celtic Link Ferries operate the route from Rosslare to Cherbourg which was previously run by P&O Irish Sea.
Numerous companies now act as agents for the various ferry companies much like Expedia and Travelocity act as agents for airlines allowing the comparison of various companies and routes. Three well known brands are Ferryonline , AFerry  and FerrySavers .
From Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Due to ROI’s long relationship with the UK, there are no permanent passport controls at land border crossing points. In fact, the border is rarely signposted and it is often difficult to tell when you have crossed from the Republic into the Northern Ireland and vice-versa. The most obvious signal is that the roadsigns on the Republic side are mostly bilingual, in Irish and English, and speed limits and distances are shown in kilometres. You may also notice changes in lines in the road; yellow thick lines in the south and white thin lines in Northern Ireland. When arriving at an Irish airport from Great Britain, you will be required to produce photo ID (driver’s licence or passport) to prove that you are a British or Irish citizen. EU/EEA nationals do not need passports for travel between the two, but all other foreign nationals need a passport.
However, despite the lack of border controls, be keenly aware that you must possess a valid Irish visa if required for your nationality, or you risk being deported for illegal presence in Ireland. It is not uncommon that the Irish police (An Garda Siochána) check passports at the border occasionally – especially when traveling by bus or train.
If you are flying with Ryanair  – into Ireland from the UK you must be in possession of passport or equivalent national identity card. Ryanair will not accept a driver’s licence although Irish Immigration (GNIB) do.
There are many car hire companies in Ireland – Europcar, Hertz, Irish Car Rentals , Dan Dooley and more. You can pick up in the cities or at the airports, though it may cost more to pick up at an airport. Note that most Irish car hire agencies will not accept third party collision damage insurance coverage (CDW) (for example with credit card) when you rent a car.
Conventional wisdom suggests renting (hiring) a car that is an automatic transmission model. This is because many roads in Ireland are narrow, requiring the driver’s full attention, so an automatic transmission allows the driver to focus on the road instead of the machine. However, selecting a manual transmission (stickshift) model will allow the driver to select a smaller vehicle which better fits the small roads and saves gas (petrol) without a noticeable loss of power. In addition, roundabouts are more common in Ireland than in many other countries. Navigating roundabouts is easier with a stickshift because you downshift for extra power to speed up coming out of the turn. It should be noted that traffic already on the roundabout has right of way over traffic entering it, just as in the US. If you are coming to Ireland for a holiday, there is always the option of hiring a chauffeur driven vehicle for the duration with a number of companies offering chauffeur tours including Kennedy & Carr Custom Travel , TSI , CIE Tours  and Lynott Tours .
Holidaying using your own wheels is a popular and very enjoyable experience in Ireland. As the weather can change very rapidly, having the benefit of shelter whilst you drive caught on quickly in this corner of Europe. Unlike most of the rest of Europe, numerous free sites are available throughout the country for those on campervan style excursions across Ireland. However, finding these sites is not always easy- they are not documented on the web yet, although if you arrive in an area early, a simple query at the local council office will usually suffice. If you arrive into a town outside of office hours, normally the local person you ask will display typical Irish hospitality and point you in the right direction. Facilities vary, but fresh water and waste disposal are usually the required minimum. If facilities are poor, inform the local council, they will usually help.
It is highly recommended that you call ahead to book a taxi. The hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast you are staying in will usually call the cab company they work closely with for your convenience. Taxis should be reasonably easy to pick up on the streets in Dublin, Belfast and Cork but may be harder to find cruising the streets in smaller cities and towns so it is often best to telephone for one. It is recommended to call the cab company in advance if possible and give them a time to be picked up, no matter if it’s 4 hours in advance or 30 minutes in advance. Work with the same cab company your hotel does and let them know your final destination if there is more than one stop. You will also need to give them a contact phone number over the phone, so if calling from a pay phone, be prepared for them to deny your claim for a taxi cab. The average waiting time may be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on demand and time of day. All Taxis in Republic of Ireland operate on a National Fare basis, so the price should be relatively easy to calculate. For more information, see the Commission of Taxi Regulation website . Always ensure that the taxi you use has a meter, and that it is used for the duration of your journey.
Rules of the Road/Road User Etiquette
Driving and road rules in Ireland are similar to those of the United Kingdom – e.g. drive on the left and yield to the right on roundabout. The most noticeable difference is the fact that distances and speed limits are in kilometres per hour (km/h) in the Republic of Ireland. This can be confusing to anyone travelling across the border from Northern Ireland, which, like Britain, uses miles and miles per hour. The legal blood-alcohol limit is low, so it may be best to abstain. It is perfectly legal to temporarily use the hard shoulder to allow a faster moving vehicle overtake you, but remember that this maneouver is not allowed on a motorway. Drivers often ‘thank’ each other by flashing their hazard lights or waving – this is purely a convention. Road signs in the Republic are nominally bilingual, with place names displayed in Irish in italic font, with the corresponding English name in capitals immediately below. In the “Gaeltacht” areas (Irish-Speaking districts in the south-west (Kerry), west (Galway, Mayo), and north-west (Donegal), as well as other smaller gaeltacht areas in Meath and Waterford), road signs are written in Irish only. In Northern Ireland road signs are in English only and all distances are given in miles. There are five types of road classification:
Speed limits are defaults for the road classification only – if a lower speed limit is signed, it must be obeyed. Urban areas generally have a 50km/h speed limit.
- M-roads (Motorways, indicated by white on blue signs; Speed limit 120km per hour)
- N-roads N1 – N50 (National Primary routes, main arterial routes indicated by white/yellow on green signs; Speed limit 100km per hour)
- N-Roads N51+ (National Secondary routes – green signs; Speed Limit 100km per hour)
- R-roads (Regional roads, indicated by black on white signs; Speed limit 80km per hour)
- L-roads (Local roads, white signs – rarely marked, although signage is improving)
Ireland has an extensive motorway network which centers around Dublin. The main motorways are:
- The M50 (ring road around Dublin)
- The M1 (from Dublin to NI border) goes towards Belfast.
- The M2 (from Dublin to Ashbourne) towards Derry.
- The M3 (from Dublin to Cavan)
- The M4 (from Dublin to Mullingar) heads towards Sligo.
- The M7 (from Dublin to Limerick)
- The M8 (from junction with the M7 to Cork)
- The M9 (from Junction with the M7 to Waterford)
- The M11 (from Dublin to Wexford) along the east coast
- The M18 (from Limerick to Galway)
Note that most motorways in the Republic have some tolled sections. Tolls are low by French or Italian standards, and vary from €1.90 upwards, depending on which motorway you are traveling on. Tolls are displayed a few kilometers from the plaza. For the visitor, it’s important to note that the only tolled road that accepts credit cards is the M4 between Kilcock and Kinnegad. All others (except the M50) are Euro cash only, so take care if you’re arriving from the North via the M1. The M50 is barrier free and accepts no cash. Cameras are located on overhead gantries between J6 & J7 which read your number plate. If you have registered before online or by phone €2.50 will be taken from your credit card. If you have not registered, you must go to a Payzone branded outlet and pay the toll there. This option costs €3.
For 2010, the tolled sections and their charges (for private cars) are as follows:
- M1, Drogheda bypass section, €1.90
- M3, entire route, 2 tolls each of 1.30
- M4, Kilcock to Kinnegad section, €2.90
- M7, Portlaoise to Castletown section, 1.80
- M8, Fermoy bypass section, €2.70
- M50,Prices vary €2 with eToll tag, €2.50 with video a/c and €3 with no a/c
- M50,Dublin Port Tunnel, €10 (0600-1000 Northbound, 1600-1900 Southbound); €3 (all other times and public holidays); Free for heavy goods vehicles (greater than 2.5t), buses with greater than 25 seats, and vehicles of disabled drivers (with proper permits)
There are numerous routes of high quality dual carriageway, which are very near motorway standard; Dublin-Wicklow, Sligo-Collooney (Sligo), Mullingar-Athlone, and Cork-Middleton (Waterford).
Lesser roads, are, in many parts, poorly signposted, the only indication of what route to take often being a finger-sign at the junction itself. The road surfaces can be very poor on the lesser used R- & L- numbered routes.
Driving on regional and local roads in Ireland requires etiquette, courtesy and nerves of steel. Roads are generally narrow with little to no shoulder or room for error. Sight lines can be limited or non-existent until you are partway into the road. Caution should be taken when entering onto the roadway as well as when driving along it, with the understanding that around the next turn may be another motorist partway into the road. This is especially true in rural areas. Parking along the road, farm animals, as well as large lorries or machinery may also appear around the bend and be the cause for quick thinking or braking. It is not unusual for oncoming cars to navigate to a wide spot in the road to pass each other. On the other hand, when driving slower than following cars, it is common for drivers to allow others to pass or signal if the way is clear. Calculating driving time can be slower than expectations, due to the large increase in motorists and road conditions/hazards.
As mentioned above, speed limits in the Republic of Ireland (but not in Northern Ireland) are in kilometres per hour. The general maximum speed limits are as follows:
- Built-up area (e.g., in a residential or shopping district) – 50 km/h and sometimes 30 km/h
- Regional or Local Road (e.g., R292, R134, L12345, etc.) – 80 km/h
- National Road (e.g., N7, N17, N56, etc.) – 100 km/h
- Motorway (e.g., M1, M4, etc.) – 120 km/h
- Exceptions – M50 from the M1 to Junction 16 – 100km/h
Local Councils may apply other limits in specific areas as required. Also when roads are being maintained or worked upon in some way, the limit may be temporarily changed.
Car rental companies
There is no shortage of car rental companies in Ireland with all of the major airports, cities, major towns and ports throughout Ireland being well catered for. Renting a car in Ireland is very similar to the processes elsewhere in that you need a credit card in your own name and a full driver’s license for a minimum of two years without endorsement. Most car rental companies in Ireland apply a minimum age of 25 in order to rent a car, but in many cases you will need to be 28 in order to rent a full-size car. Car rentals in Ireland comes with the minimum insurance which will cover the car, but leave you with an excess deductible in the case of an accident. Additional insurance, known as Super Collision Damage Waiver, can be purchased to protect yourself against this excess when picking up the car.
It is also possible to rent a campervan, and there are quite a number of companies offering campervans for hire.
With improvements to the Motorway network, Domestic flights in Ireland have been reduced drastically, and are now only available between Dublin and Kerry and Donegal.
See also Rail travel in Ireland
Most trains in Ireland (all operated by the state-run Irish Rail  also known by their Irish name, Iarnród Éireann) operate to and from Dublin. Enormous expenditure on modernising the state-owned Irish Rail system is ongoing, including the introduction of many new trains. The frequency and speed of services is being considerably increased, especially on the Dublin-Cork line. If you book on-line for Intercity travel, be aware that there may be a cheaper fare option available to you at the ticket office in the train station itself. Not all special rates, e.g., for families, are available on line.
Advance booking can result in big savings and booking can be made a month in advance, e.g. an adult return between Kerry and Dublin can cost €75 if booked for the next day but can cost as little as €20 – €30 if booked well in advance. Trains nearly always book out for major sporting events in Dublin such the GAA Semi-Finals and Finals and Major Rugby and Soccer Internationals. Pay notice to this if planning to travel on weekends during August and September. The 1st and 3rd Sunday of September see both All-Ireland finals held and buses and trains see a massive upsurge in Travel as well the main roads to the counties participating.
Note that there are two main stations in Dublin – Connolly Station (for trains to Belfast, Dundalk, Sligo, Wexford and Rosslare) and Heuston Station (for trains to Cork, Limerick, Ennis, Tralee, Killarney, Galway, Westport, Kilkenny and Waterford.)
In the Northern Ireland , almost all services are operated by NIR  (Northern Ireland Railways).
In the Dublin city area the electrified DART  (acronym for Dublin Area Rapid transit) coastal railway travels from Malahide and the Howth peninsula in the North to Bray and Greystones in Co. Wicklow via Dún Laoghaire and Dublin city center. An interchange with main line services and the Luas Red line is available at Dublin Connolly.
Dublin has a tram system, known as Luas  (the Irish word for ‘speed’). There are two lines. One (the red-line) operates from Dublin’s Docklands starting at The Point (beside the O2 Arena) and the city centre (Connolly Station) to a large suburb south-west of the City (Tallaght) and the other (the green line) runs south-east (to Bride’s Glen) from St Stephen’s Green. Tickets must be puchased from machines before boarding the tram. Tickets are checked in the Luas at random by guards but generally ticketing works on a trust system. Thus free rides are possible, although not advisable, as the fines for fare-dodging can be quite high. The Luas tram provides a very useful link between Dublin’s Connolly and Heuston railway stations.
- Bus Éireann (or Irish Bus) operates an extensive intercity network plus local services in major towns. Bus Eireann’s website provides various options for buying online bus tickets which offer a small discount (about 5% to 8%) compared to buying them at the station or on the bus, which can be extremely expensive (example: €22 for 95km one-way journey Cork to Ballydehob in West Cork).
- Ulsterbus operates bus services throughout the North.
A number of privately-owned companies also provide intercity services. These include:
- JJ Kavanagh & Sons operate an extensive intercity network directly from Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport to Limerick , Carlow , Waterford , Clonmel ,Kilkenny and Dublin city Center plus local services in some towns and cities. Many intercity bus services have free WiFi onboard.
- Citylink provides frequent services from Galway to Dublin, Cork (via Limerick) and Clifden.
- Dublin Coach connects Dublin with Limerick and Portlaoise. Notably, the Portlaoise service operates every hour 24/7.
- GoBus runs a non-stop service between Galway and Dublin + Dublin Airport.
- Aircoach connects Dublin with Belfast, Cork and other small towns in the Dublin area.
- Shannon cruises are a leisurely way of traveling from one town to another.Dromineer and Carrick on Shannon are good bases.
- There are many canals in Ireland, and it is possible to travel by barge on some of them.
Ireland is beautiful for biking, but have a good touring bike with solid tires as road conditions are not always excellent. Biking along the south and west coasts you can be prepared for variable terrain, lots of hills and often into the wind. There are plenty of campgrounds along the way for long distance cyclists.
The planned Eurovelo  cycle route in Ireland will connect Belfast to Dublin via Galway, and Dublin to Rosslare via Galway and Cork. Visit their website for updates on the status of the path.
Dublin has some marked bicycle lanes and a few non-road cycle tracks. Traffic is fairly busy, but a cyclist confident with road cycling in other countries should have no special difficulties (except maybe for getting used to riding on the left). Note that, in Ireland, left turning cars have right of way over cyclists to their left. Cyclists have no special right of way over cars, particularly when using shared use paths by the side of a road, but share and get equal priority when in the traffic lane. Helmets are not legally required, but widely available for those who wish to use them. On the 13th of September 2009, Dublin Bikes was officially opened, making 400 bikes available to the public in around 40 stations across the city centre. The bikes are free to take for the first half hour, although a payment of €150 is required in case of the bike being stolen or damaged. When finished riding simply bring the bike back to any station and get your payment back.
Overall, Ireland has a mild but hot changeable oceanic climate with few extremes. In Ireland you may indeed experience ‘four seasons in one day’, so pack accordingly and keep up-to-date with the lastest weather forecast. No matter the weather, expect it to be a topic of conversation amongst the locals.
You may notice slight differences in temperature between the north and south of the country, and more rain in the west compared with the east.
Mean daily winter temperatures vary from 4°C to 7°C, and mean daily summer temperatures vary from 14.5°C to 16°C. Temperatures will rarely exceed 25°C and will rarely fall below -5°C.
Regardless of when you visit Ireland, even in middle of the summer, you will more than likely experience rain, so if you intend being outdoors, a waterproof coat is recommended.
English is spoken everywhere but Irish (Gaeilge) is the first official language. It is part of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family of languages.
Most people have some understanding of Irish but it is used as a first language by approximately 170,000 people, most of whom live in rural areas known as the Gaeltachts. About 55% (c. 2,500,000) of people in the Republic claim to understand and speak the language.
As the Gaeltachts are generally scenic areas it is likely that visitors will go there. Tourists are not expected to speak Irish, but attempts at speaking Irish with the locals are greatly appreciated. The language will also be noticeable on road signs, etc. For instance, a law was recently passed that changes the name of Dingle, County Kerry to An Daingean, the Irish version. This should not confuse visitors, as almost all recent maps carry placenames in both languages in Gaeltacht districts.
In order to enter most Irish Universities, it is necessary for Irish citizens to have taken Irish to Leaving Certificate (Examinations taken on leaving secondary or high school) level, and passed. Indeed it is a compulsory language at school in the Republic, although its method of teaching has come under criticism. Nevertheless, although it has come under threat, and some resent being forced to learn the language, others see use of the language as an expression of national pride.
There is some Irish language broadcasting on TV and radio. Irish is related (but certainly not identical) to Scottish Gaelic. The Ulster dialect of Irish has most in common with Scots Gaelic. However, some Irish people may take offense if you call Irish “Gaelic,” as this is seen as being an incorrect term, and refers to the entire family of languages that includes Irish, Manx, and Scots Gaelic. Referring to it simply as “Irish” is a fine alternative. It is not necessary to know any Irish in order to get around in Ireland though it will be appreciated if you refer to public bodies, institutions and figures by their Irish titles.
- Blarney Castle– Located in County Cork This historic castle is known for its “Blarney Stone.” Tradition is that if the Blarney Stone is kissed, one will be blessed with great eloquence, better known as “the gift of the gab.” One kisses the stone by lying back and being held by an employee of the castle. Photographers are there to capture the moment!
- Cliffs of Moher– Located in County Clare One of Ireland’s biggest and most visited tourist attractions. The Cliffs are 230 meters in height and tower over the Atlantic Ocean. This attraction, whilst beautiful in the Summer, can be a bit of a tourist trap. If you intend to take your own transport, the over-priced car park is your only option (since the road is too narrow to park on) and to purchase your ‘pay-and-display’ parking ticket, you will need to go all the way through the gift shop (on the opposite side of the road), before returning to place it in your car.
- Kilkenny– One of Ireland’s favourite tourist spots, this Medieval Capital just 1 hour 40 minutes train out of Dublin City is a must see. Its beautiful buildings and of course imposing Norman Castle – not to mention the numerous festivals including the Arts Festival and Rhythm and Roots Festival – make Kilkenny a most desirable location.
- County Donegal– An amazing area to see if you have your own transport, as bus services can be fairly limited. This part of the country is very traditional and you can expect to see plenty of low stone walls, thatched roof houses, rugged hills, cliffs and golden sand beaches. Best visited during Spring or Summer, there are plenty of hills walks and photo opportunities waiting to be discovered.
- Bus Tours – For travellers wishing to experience Ireland on a budget, there are a variety of inexpensive bus tours in almost every part of the country. These tours can range from hop-on hop-off busses in major cities such as Dublin and Cork to 5-day trips through some of the most scenic parts of the country. The bus drivers/guides are generally well informed about Irish history and enjoy sharing local legends and songs with anyone happy to ‘lend an ear’.
The Irish love their sport. It is a country with many sports. The largest sporting organisation in Ireland, and the largest amateur sporting organisation in the world, is the Gaelic Athletic Association, more commonly referred to as the GAA. The GAA governs Ireland’s two national sports which are Gaelic Football and Hurling. To those that have never seen it, Gaelic Football could at its simplest be described as a cross between soccer and rugby, but there is much more to it than that. Hurling is the fastest field game in the world. If it could be categorised into a group of sports, then it would be closest to the field hockey family, but Hurling is unique. No visit to Ireland, especially during the summer months, would be complete without seeing a Gaelic Football or Hurling match, ideally live but at least on the TV. The biggest matches of the year take place during summer culminating in the two finals which are both in September, on two separate Sundays. The All-Ireland Hurling Final is normally on the first Sunday of September and the All-Ireland Football final is on the third Sunday of September. These are the two largest individual sporting events in Ireland, so tickets are like gold dust. Croke Park, the venue for the two finals, has a capacity of 82,300 people, making it one of the largest stadiums in Europe. Those that can’t get tickets will crowd around televisions and radios, and around the world Irish people will be watching or listening to the finals.
While Gaelic Football and Hurling are the two biggest sports, Ireland has much else to offer in terms of sport. Ireland is a world leader in breeding and training race horses. There are many race tracks around the country and many big racing festivals throughout the year.
Golf is another huge sport in Ireland. Ireland has many great professionals, but for the visitor there are many golf courses around the country. Golfing holidays are popular.
Soccer and Rugby are also popular in Ireland. Ireland’s rugby team in particular is amongst the best in the world. There are also many soccer clubs around Ireland and both sports have many competitions.
Being an island, Ireland has many water sports. Sailing is big in Ireland. On the west coast in particular Ireland has very high seas, ideal for surfing, even if the weather isn’t always great.
Ireland has all these and many other sports. So if you want a sporting holiday, you could do worse than going to Ireland.
Ireland has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. These 24 countries are: Austria,Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia,Slovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marinoand the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members. Together, these countries have a population of more than 330 million.
One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.
In Ireland, the currency is pronounced as Euro, i.e. without the s, even for amounts worth €2 or higher.
Stand Alone Cash machines (ATMs) are widely available in every city and town in the country and credit cards are accepted in 90% of outlets. Fees are not generally charged by Irish ATMs (but beware that your bank may charge a fee).
Along border areas, as the UK pound sterling is currency in Northern Ireland, it is common for UK pounds to be accepted as payment, with change given in Euro. Some outlets, notably border petrol stations will give change in sterling if requested. (Fuel is now generally cheaper in the South, resulting in many Northern motorists purchasing their fuel South of the border.)
Recent differences in prices of goods between the Irish Euro and the British Pound have resulted in increasing numbers of Irish shoppers crossing the border to purchase goods which are a lot cheaper in Northern Ireland than in the Republic. A November 2008 article in a Northern Newpaper highlighted how up to €350 can be saved by buying your Christmas shopping in Derry & Belfast in the North than in the likes of Letterkenny in Donegal.
Only a few years ago when the Celtic Tiger was still very much alive and well the economic situation was reversed.
ATMs are widely available throughout Ireland. Even in small towns it is unlikely that you will be unable to find an ATM. Many shops and pubs will have an ATM in store, and unlike the UK, they cost the same to use as ‘regular’ ATMs on the street. Though in-shop ATMs are slightly more likely to run out of cash and be ‘Out of Service’.
Mastercard, Maestro and Visa are accepted virtually everywhere. American Express and Diners Club are now also fairly widely accepted. Discover card is very rarely accepted and it would not be wise to rely on this alone. Most ATM’s allow cash withdrawals on major credit cards and internationally branded debit cards.
Tax Free Shopping
If you are a tourist from a non-EU country, you may be able to receive a partial refund of VAT tax (which currently stands at 23%.) However, unlike some other countries, there is no unified scheme under which a tourist can claim this refund back. The method of refund depends solely on the particular retailer and so tourists should ask the retailer before they make a purchase if they wish to receive a VAT refund.
One scheme retailers who are popular with tourists operate is private (ie. non-governmental) VAT refund agents. Using this scheme, the shopper receives a magnetic stripe card which records the amount of purchases and VAT paid every time a purchase is made and then claims the VAT back at the airport, minus commission to the VAT refund agent, which is often quite substantial. There are multiple such VAT refund agents and so you may need to carry multiple cards and make multiple claims at the airport. However, note that there may NOT be a VAT refund agent representative at the airport or specific terminal where you will be departing from, or it may not be open at the time you depart. In which case, getting a refund back could become more cumbersome as you may need to communicate with the VAT refund agent from your home country.
If the retailer does not operate the VAT refund agent scheme, they may tell you that you all you have to do is take the receipt they produce to the airport and claim the refund at the VAT refund office at the airport. However, this is incorrect. Irish Revenue does not make any VAT refunds directly to tourists. Tourists are responsible for having receipts stamped by customs, either in Ireland upon departure or at their home country upon arrival and then send these receipts as proof of export directly to the Irish retailer which is obligated to make a VAT refund directly to the tourist. Therefore, for example, if you have made 10 different purchases at 10 different retailers, you will need to make 10 separate claims for refunds with every single retailer. Note, however, that some retailers do not participate in the scheme all together and so you may not be able to get any VAT refund from some retailers. Therefore, if you plan on receiving VAT tourist refund on your purchases in Ireland, you should be careful where you shop and which refund scheme they operate, if any.
Further details on VAT tourist refunds can be found in the document Retail Export Scheme (Tax-Free Shopping for Tourists) .
Food is expensive in Ireland, although quality has improved enormously in the last ten years. Most small towns will have a supermarket and many have a weekly farmers’ market. The cheapest option for eating out is either fast food or pubs. Many pubs offer a carvery lunch consisting of roasted meat, vegetables and the ubiquitous potatoes, which is usually good value. Selection for vegetarians is limited outside the main cities. The small town of Kinsalenear Cork has become internationally famous for its many excellent restaurants, especially fish restaurants. In the northwest of the country Donegal Town is fast becoming the seafood capital of Ireland.
Irish cuisine can charitably be described as hearty: virtually all traditional meals involve meat (especially lamb and pork), potatoes, and cabbage. Long cooking times are the norm and spices are limited to salt and pepper. Classic Irish dishes include:
- Boxty, potato pancakes
- Champ, mashed potatoes with spring onions
- Coddle, a stew of potatoes, pork sausages and bacon; a speciality ofDublin
- Colcannon, mashed potatoes and cabbage
- Irish breakfast, a famously filling spread of bacon, eggs, sausages andwhite and/or black pudding, a type of pork sausage made with blood (black) or without (white). Irish Breakfast is often just refered to as a “fry”, and is usually available well past normal breakfast times in restaurants.
- Mixed Grill. Similar to the Irish Breakfast, but with added lamb chop, chips, and peas.
- Irish stew, a stew of potatoes and lamb (not beef!), with carrots, celery and onions in a watery broth full of flavour
- Bacon and Cabbage, popular and traditional meal in rural Ireland, found on many menus
- Seafood Pie, a traditional dish of chunky fish pieces topped with mashed potato and melted cheese
Note that the first four listed dishes (and their names) vary regionally, and are not common throughout the entire country.
Try some gorgeous soda bread, made with buttermilk and leavened with bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast. It is heavy, tasty and almost a meal in itself!
The days when potatoes were the only thing on the menu are long past, and modern Irish cuisine emphasizes fresh local ingredients, simply prepared and presented, and utilizes influences from many countries across the world. Ireland has also since embraced a cosmopolitan restaurant and food industry that has incorporated many novel varieties of cuisine. Common ingredients still include meat (especially lamb), seafood, and dairy, and Western meat staples found elsewhere, such as chicken and pork, are also regularly served in Ireland. Today, these elements have been blended with other ethnic techniques and flavor profiles found outside of strictly traditional Irish cuisine. In many instances, restaurants that serve ethnic food are more plentiful (and some would argue more appealing to locals) than classical Irish fare. Thai, Italian, American, and Mediterranean influenced food is plentiful in Ireland’s larger cities and is very good.
Only basic table manners are considered necessary when eating out, unless you’re with company that has a more specific definition of what is appropriate. As a general rule, so long as you don’t make a show of yourself by disturbing other diners there’s little else to worry about. It’s common to see other customers using their mobile phones – this sometimes attracts the odd frown or two but goes largely ignored. If you do need to take a call, keep it short and try not to raise your voice. The only other issue to be concerned about is noise – a baby crying might be forgivable if it’s resolved fairly quickly, a contingent of adults laughing very loudly every couple of minutes or continuously talking out loud may attract negative attention. However, these rules are largely ignored in fast-food restaurants, pubs and some more informal restaurants.
Traditionally, tipping was never considered to be a necessity and was entirely optional. However, recently it has become common to tip up to 10% of the bill total. Some establishments will add a 10-15% service charge on top of the obligatory 13.5% Government VAT charge, especially for larger groups. If a service charge is levied, a tip would not normally be left, unless to reward exceptional service.
If you were unhappy with the service, then you would normally leave no tip.
Alcohol is very expensive in most areas of the Republic. Pints of Guinness start at €2 per pint in Galway, can get as high as €7.50 in Dublin, and does not become less expensive until you reach Northern Ireland. While in the North, pints of Guinness instantly become cheaper by €1.50 euro on average. Despite this, public houses (more commonly known as pubs) are plentiful and frequented often by locals in most cities in Ireland, though the environment in each can be substantially different depending on the time of day one attends. Nightclubs that serve alcohol can also be regularly found in Ireland, however they may charge a cover fee and higher prices for beverages than pubs.
Ireland is the home of some of the world’s greatest whiskey, having a rich tradition going back hundreds if not thousands of years. With around fifty popular brands today these are exported around the world and symbolise everything that is pure about Ireland and where a visit to an Irish distillery is considered very worthwhile. The Jameson distillery is a common tourist destination found near the center of Dublin.
Another one of Ireland’s most famous exports is stout, a dark, dry beer. The strong taste can be initially off-putting but perseverance is well-rewarded! The most famous variety is Guinness, brewed in Dublin and available throughout the country. Murphy’s and Beamish stout are brewed in Cork and available mainly in the south of the country. Murphy’s is slightly sweeter and creamier-tasting than Guinness, while Beamish has a strong, almost burnt taste. Several micro-breweries are now producing their own interesting varieties of stout, including O’Hara’s in Carlow, the Porter House in Dublin and the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork. Ales such as Smithwick’s are also popular, particularly in rural areas. Bulmers Cider (known outside the Republic as ‘Magners Cider’) is also a popular and widely available Irish drink. It is brewed in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Nearly all the pubs in Ireland are ‘free houses’, i.e. they can sell drink from any brewery and are not tied to one brewery (unlike the UK). You can get the same brands of drink in all pubs in Ireland across the country.
There are a small number of ‘microbreweries’ in Ireland, pubs which brew their own speciality drinks. They are a recent occurrence and can mostly be found in Dublin.
Despite the (sometimes negative) reputation about Irish people loving their drink, most pubs in Ireland will have the same small collection of drinks.
All pubs (and nightclubs) in Ireland by law have to close by a certain time, depending on venue and the day. This varies from 11:30pm to 1:30am, to 3:30am. The owners will flash the lights (or less commonly sometimes ring a bell) to signal that it is almost ‘closing time’, this is ‘last orders’ and is your last chance to get a drink. When the pub (or club) wants to close, they will frequently turn on all the lights as a signal for people to finish up and leave.
It is important to note that it is illegal to smoke in all pubs and indeed places of work in Ireland. Many pubs and restaurants have provided ‘smoking areas’ outside their premises where space has allowed them to.
The other competitor for national drink of Ireland is tea. The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other people in the world. Cork, Dublin and Galway abound with slick, stylish coffee bars, but if you visit any Irish home you will probably be offered a cup of tea (usually served with milk, unless you explicitly state otherwise!). Coffee is also widely drunk in Ireland. (If you don’t drink tea, you drink coffee!)
There are hotels of all standards including some very luxurious. Bed and Breakfast is widely available and a wide selection of Tourist Board Approved bed and breakfasts can be found on the B&B Ireland website . These are usually very friendly, quite often family-run and good value. There are independent hostels which are marketed as Independent Holiday Hostels of Ireland , which are all tourist board approved. There is also an official youth hostel association – An Óige  (Irish for The Youth). These hostels are often in remote and beautiful places, designed mainly for the outdoors. There are official campsites although fewer than many countries (given the climate). Wild camping is tolerated, although you should seek permission if it is directly within eye shot of the landowners house. Never camp in a field in which livestock are present. There are also specialist places to stay such as lighthouses, castles and ringforts.
No stay in Ireland is complete without sampling its magnificent language, first language to thousands across the island. A few common phrases are easy to pick up. It is however important to note that the vast majority of Irish people do not speak, or in many cases understand, the Irish language with any degree of fluency. A tourist using the Irish language will very often be greeted with indifference.
Some Useful Irish Phrases:
· Please: Le do thoil (Leh duh hull)
· Goodbye: Slán (Slawn)
· How are you? Conas atá tú?/Cén chaoi ina bhfuil tú? (cunas a taw two) (cane cwe in a vuill two)
· Hello: Dia dhuit (dee a gwit)
· Thank you: Go raibh maith agat (guh rev mah agat)
· Tomorrow: Amárach (a maw rock)
· Excuse me: Gabh mo leithscéal (Go muh leh scayl)
· What’s your name? Cad is ainm duit? (cod is an im dit(ch))
· Cheers!: Sláinte (slawn cha)
You can learn many interesting facts about Ireland’s history and culture. One of the things Ireland is most famous for is Irish dancing. (Riverdance, a popular show centered on Irish step dancing, started in Ireland.) Irish traditional music is also popular throughout.
Ireland has internationally-respected universities, including the venerable Trinity College Dublin (the only college of the University of Dublin). The National University of Ireland has constituent colleges in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Maynooth. Other colleges/universities include Dublin City University (DCU), University of Limerick (UL), Institues of Technology in the larger towns/cities around the country and other higher education colleges.
Literature has many great Irish authors (writing in both Irish and in English), including James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan and Oliver Goldsmith. The writer of Gulliver’s Travels, Dean Jonathan Swift, was from Dublin, and poets W. B. Yeats and Patrick Kavanagh also hailed from Ireland. There are many literary tourist attractions and tours in Dublin, especially.
Ireland is part of the European Union/European Economic Area, and as such any EU/EEA or Swiss national has an automatic right to take up employment in Ireland. Non EU/EEA citizens will generally require a work permit and visa. Further information can be found on Citizens Information , the Irish government’s public services information website.
The police force is known as An Garda Síochána (or just “Garda”), and police officers as Garda (singular) and Gardaí (plural, pronounced Gar-dee), though informally the English term Guard(s) is usual. The term Police is rarely used, but is of course understood. Regardless of what you call them, they are courteous and approachable. Uniformed members of the Garda Síochána do not, unlike the Police force in Northern Ireland, carry firearms. Firearms are, however, carried by detectives and officers assigned to Regional Support Units and the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), a tactical unit similar to SWAT. Police security checks at Shannon Airport can be tough if you are a solo-traveller.
Crime is relatively low by most European standards and are mainly fueled by alcohol. Late night streets in larger towns and cities can be dangerous, as anywhere. In the absolute majority of situations, taking a taxi home at night instead of walking and avoiding the visibly inebriated will keep you out of trouble. Crime during the day is rare but can happen. For instance, be wary when asking for directions. An overly courteous volunteer may offer their assistance only to lead you to a secluded area where you could come face-to-face with a knife and a demand for your wallet. If you need Gardaí, ambulance, fire service, coast guard or mountain rescue dial 999 or 112 as the emergency number; both work from landlines and mobile phones.
Road safety is well maintained, and Ireland has a reputation for having some of the safest roads in Europe. However, this is not an accolade upheld in rural areas, where small towns and villages are carpeted by roads filled with potholes, many of which can go unfixed for weeks. Most of the roads in the country are also very narrow and winding, and there has been a recent increase in traffic density. Keep a sharp eye open for potholes and speeding cars if you happen to leave any of the major cities in a rented vehicle.
Irish public healthcare is provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE), which is comparable in quality to most neighbouring healthcare systems. Visiting EU citizens are entitled to cost-free medical assistance in the event of an accident or illness if they apply for a European Health Insurance Card. Visitors outside out of the EU will need to purchase travel insurance or bear the full cost of medical care should they require it. Exceptions may apply for emergencies or in the case of hardship.
Irish hospitals are currently undergoing a major patient-bedding crisis. The country currently has under 260 beds per 100,000 inhabitants, far below the EU average of 521. Corridors choked with indisposed people on trolleys is not an uncommon sight, and all bar the most grievous of ailments may have to wait hours, sometimes days before receiving treatment. If you can help it, take great care not to suffer serious injury or illness while travelling in Ireland at this time, or your trip will face a prolonged interruption.
Since March 2004 almost all enclosed places of work, including bars, restaurants, cafés, etc., in Ireland have been designated as smoke-free. Rooms in Hotels and Bed & Breakfast establishments are not required by law to be smoke-free. Even though they are not obliged to enforce the ban, owners of these establishments are, however, free to do so if they wish. Most hotels have designated some bedrooms or floors as smoking and some as non-smoking, so you should specify at the time of booking if you have a preference either way. The smoking ban also applies to common areas within buildings. This means for example that corridors, lobby areas and reception areas of buildings such as apartment blocks and hotels are also covered under the law.
Most larger bars and cafés will have a (covered) outdoor smoking area, often with heating. If one does not exist be aware that it is illegal to consume alcohol on the street so you may have to leave your drink at the bar.
Any person found guilty of breaching the ban on smoking in the workplace may be subject to a fine of up to €3,000.
Visitors to Ireland are likely to find the Irish to be among the most courteous nationalities in the world. It is not uncommon for locals to approach confused looking visitors and offer to help.
Often, in smaller towns and villages (especially on rural roads), if you pass somebody unknown to you, it is customary to say hello. They may instead simply greet you by asking “how are you?”, or another similar variation. It is polite to respond to this greeting, but it is not expected that you would give any significant detail on how you really are! If the person is a stranger – a simple hello and/or “how are you?” or a simple comment on the weather will suffice! In this regard, try something like “Grand day!” (if it isn’t raining, of course). The response will often be “It is indeed, thank God”.
When driving on rural roads (particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass), it is customary to wave “thanks” to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel. This is particularly prevalent in rural areas of the West of Ireland where many drivers will automatically wave at everyone who drives past them. A polite hand wave (or even with just the index finger raised from the steering wheel) is customary and will be appreciated.
When accepting gifts, a polite refusal (such as, “No really you shouldn’t”) is common after the initial offer of the item. Usually, this is followed with an insistence that the gift or offer is accepted, at which point your answer is likely to become more recognised. However, some people can be very persuasive and persistent. This usually isn’t intended to be over-bearing, just courteous.
One thing which some visitors may find disconcerting is the response an Irish person may give to a “thank you”. Most Irish people will respond with something along the lines of “It was nothing” or “not at all”. This does not mean that they didn’t try hard to please, but rather it is meant to suggest “I was happy to do it for you, so it was not any great difficulty” (even though it may have been!).
The Republic of Ireland and Britain undoubtedly have notable similarities. However, Irish people generally take great pride in the cultural differences that also exist between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain. Locals can be quite offended by tourists who do not acknowledge or show respect to these differences. Indeed, it is not uncommon for visitors (both before and after arrival into the country) to incorrectly assume that all of Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom (similar to Scotland and Wales). This incorrect assumption will generally cause offense and/or bemusement to locals, who take pride in the Republic of Ireland’s status as a state independent of the United Kingdom. This may lead to genuine curiosity about the differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Public or semi-public discussions about religious differences, political views and 20/21st century troubles are generally avoided by locals on both sides of the border. This is because opinions between individuals are so vastly divided and unyielding, that most Irish people (of moderate views) have grown accustomed to simply avoiding the topics in polite conversation. Most Irish people are moderate in their views. However, it is wise to avoid any political or religious discussion unless you are invited to discuss these topics. Tourists (who are often fascinated by the history of the division) would be advised to show respect and caution if they choose to discuss the differences of opinion that still exist on historical matters.
The Irish are renowned for their upbeat sense of humor. However, their humor can sometimes be difficult to understand for more unfamiliar tourists. Joking on almost any topic will be welcomed, and although mild facetious racism will fetch a chuckle from some, anything needlessly disparaging will not be tolerated by most. Most Irish people are quite happy for friendly jibes regarding the Irish love of potatoes and drinking alcohol. However, jokes regarding recent Irish crises, be it the potato famine of the 19th Century (in which approximately two million people died or fled) or the Troubles (whose aftereffects still bother the country from time to time), should be avoided in any conversation. Joking about these topics could in many instances cause a similar amount of offense (for example) as joking about the Holocaust would among Jewish people.
If the official name of an institution is in Irish (such as the Oireachtas or Gardaí), try to use the Irish name, even if you are unsure as to the correct pronunciation. Irish people will generally be understanding and appreciate the effort even if you get it wrong, whereas they will often consider it culturally ignorant and rude if you simply use the English term instead.
LGBT visitors will find that most Irish people are tolerant of same-sex couples, whether cordially or begrudgingly. Some may find themselves the target of stares and the butt of mild jokes if they display affection publicly. This is normally the Irish sense of humor, but if one feels this is not the case then common sense should prevail, and failing that the Gardaí should be called.
Phone numbers in this guide are given in the form that you would dial them from within Ireland. This form in general is a two- or three-digit area code (always begins with a 0), and the local number, which may be from five to seven digits long. When dialling a land line number from another land line within the same area (i.e., the same area code) the area code can be ignored, and the local number only is required.
There are more mobile phones than people in the Republic of Ireland, and the majority of these are prepaid. Phone credit is available in very many retailers, usually in denominations from €5 to €40. Be aware, that some retailers charge a small commission on this credit, while many others don’t, so it does pay to shop around.
All mobile numbers begin with 087, 086, 085 or 083 (this code must be dialled regardless of location or operator of dialler). Mobiles are cheap by European standards to buy, and if staying for more than 2 months, it could be cheaper to buy a phone than phone cards.
A tri- or quad-band GSM phone will work, but you should check that your operator has a roaming agreement. It can be expensive to receive and make phone calls while roaming.
You can also buy a cheap prepay SIM card if you have an unlocked handset. This can be considerably cheaper as it means that you will be assigned an Irish number which you can be called at during your trip and your outgoing calls are charged at normal Irish mobile rates.
If you do not have an unlocked tri- or quad-band GSM phone then is possible to buy a mobile phone in Ireland from any of the cell phone companies. If you need a cell phone number before you travel, you can rent a phone from – Rentaphone Ireland .
Phones that have the 1800MHz band but not 900MHz will work but coverage is extremely poor outside urban areas.
Ireland has 4 mobile networks (prefix code in brackets.) Additional virtual networks such as Tesco mobile exit which piggy-back on the infrastructure of another network
|Vodafone||GSM 900/1800/UMTS 2100||087|
|O2||GSM 900/1800/UMTS 2100||086|
|Meteor||GSM 900/1800/UMTS 2100||085|
|3 (Three)||UMTS 2100||083|
However, customers who change between networks have the option to retain their full existing number, so it is possible for a Vodafone customer to have an 085 prefixed number, for instance. Digiweb are expected to launch services in the near future, with a prefix code of 088.
Non-geographic numbers are those which are not specific to a geographical region and are technically charged at the same rate regardless of where the caller is located.
|Call type||Description||Dialling Prefix|
|Freephone||Free from all phonelines||1800|
|Shared Cost (Fixed)||Cost one call unit (generally 6.5 cent)||1850|
|Shared Cost (Timed)
(also known as Lo-call)
|Cost the price of a local call||1890|
|Universal Access||Cost the same as a non-local/trunk dialling call||0818|
|Premium Rate||Generally more expensive than other calls||1520 to 1580|
Pay phones are fairly widely available (but becoming less so) and most take euro coins, prepaid calling cards and major credit cards. You can also reverse charges/call collect or use your calling card by following the instructions on the display.
for dial internationally: 00 + country code + area code + local number
To dial Northern Ireland from Ireland a special code exists; drop the 028 area code from the local Northern Ireland and replace it with 048. This is then charged at the cheaper National Irish rate, instead of an international rate.
To dial an Irish number from within Ireland: Simply dial all of the digits including the area code. You can, optionally, drop the area code if you’re calling from within that area, but it makes no difference to the cost or routing.
Fixed line numbers have the following area codes:
- 01 (Dublin and parts of surrounding counties)
- 02x (Cork area)
- 04xx (parts of Wicklow and North-East midlands and Northern Ireland (048))
- 05x (Midlands and South-East)
- 06x South-West and Mid-West)
- 07x (North-West)
- 08x (Mobile phones)
- 09xx (Midlands and West)
Operator service is unavailable from pay phones or mobile phones.
Emergency Service dial 999 or 112 (Pan European code that runs in parallel). This is the equivilant of 911 in the US/Canada and is free from any phone.
Directory information is provided by competing operators through the following codes (call charges vary depending on what they’re offering and you’ll see 118 codes advertised heavily):
- 118 11 (eircom)
- 118 50 (conduit)
- 118 90
These companies will usually offer call completion, but at a very high price, and all of them will send the number by SMS to your mobile if you’re calling from it.
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