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Difference between revisions of "Ireland"

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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).
 
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).
  
National carrier (and formerly state owned) [http://www.aerlingus.com Aer Lingus] concentrates on providing cheap fares from central airports, with good service, and has cheap deals available from the UK, continental Europe, the USA and Dubai. It often compar4es favourably with Ryanair for flights booked close to the travel date. [http://www.ryanair.com Ryanair] is another source of flights to Ireland, particularly from the UK, however extras such as baggage charges, taxes and other charges can add a considerable amount to the total price. 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  [http://www.aerarann.ie/ Aer Arann] which provides domestic flights within Ireland and international flights mainly to and from the [[United Kingdom]].
+
National carrier (and formerly state owned) [http://www.aerlingus.com Aer Lingus] concentrates on providing cheap fares from central airports, with good service, and has cheap deals available from the UK, continental Europe, the USA and Dubai. It often compares favourably with Ryanair for flights booked close to the travel date. [http://www.ryanair.com Ryanair] is another source of flights to Ireland, particularly from the UK, however extras such as baggage charges, taxes and other charges can add a considerable amount to the total price. 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  [http://www.aerarann.ie/ Aer Arann] which provides domestic flights within Ireland and international flights mainly to and from the [[United Kingdom]].
  
 
===By train===  
 
===By train===  

Revision as of 20:17, 4 February 2008

[[File:Cork|250px|frameless|Ireland]]
Location
[[File:Location of Ireland|250px|frameless]]
Flag
[[File:Ei-flag.png|108px|frameless]]
Quick Facts
Capital Dublin
Government Parliamentary Democracy
Currency Euro (EUR)
Area 70,280 sq km
Population 4,172,013 (2006)
Language Irish, English
Religion Catholic 87.4%,
Church of Ireland (incl. Protestant) 2.9%,
Muslim 0.8%,
Other Religion 1.3%,
None 4.2%,
Not Stated 1.6%
Electricity 230V/50Hz (United Kingdom plug)
Country code +353
Internet TLD .ie
Time Zone UTC (winter) and UTC+1 (summer)
For other places with the same name, see Ireland (disambiguation).

Ireland is an island in north-western Europe which has been divided politically since 1920. The Republic of Ireland (Irish: Éire or Poblacht na hÉireann) [1] is a nation state of Western Europe. It constitutes the main portion of (the island of) Ireland, and is bounded to the northeast by Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann) which is part of the United Kingdom.

For the rest of this article, scroll down or click on the contents box on the left.


Contents

Understand

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 independence in 1922. The name "Ireland" applies to the island as a whole, but is also the official name in English of the independent state (i.e. the 26 counties which are not part of the United Kingdom), since 1937. The name Republic of Ireland is commonly used to distinguish the Republic from the North.

Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century B.C. 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 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. A failed rebellion on Easter Monday in 1916 showed a hint of things to come with years of civil 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 independence of 26 of Ireland's counties; 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 Republic of Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

Ireland's history post-partition has been marked with violence, a period known as the troubles generally regarded as beginning in the 1960s saw large scale confrontation between opposing paramilitary groups seeking to either keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom or bring it into the Republic of Ireland. The troubles saw many ups and downs in intensity of fighting and on many occasions they even spread to terrorist attacks in Britain. Both the government of the UK and Ireland were opposed to the terrorist groups involved with Irish governments seeking peaceful re-unification of Ireland. A peace settlement known as the Good Friday Agreement was finally approved in 1998, is currently being implemented. All signs point to this agreement being lasting.

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) and since then has saw massive economic growth placing it amongst Europe's richest countries today.

Regions

Regions of Ireland
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.
Northern Ireland
A home nation of the United Kingdom, covered in its own separate article.
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 and Blarney 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 with relatively little tourist activity, but 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

Cities

Road map of Ireland and its cities
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, gaelic 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.
  • Kilkenny (Cill Chainnigh) - attractive medieval town, 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. Centre of Irish rugby.
  • Sligo (Town and County)- Home to W.B. Yeats, internationally renowned poet. Mountains and beaches, scenery in general are the best points of Sligo.
  • Waterford (Port Láirge) - Ireland's oldest city. In the south-east and close to the ferry port at Rosslare. Waterford is a popular visit for those who want to learn more about the most ancient history of Ireland. It is quite possibly one of the best cities in the country as it is not too large and is full of history. Many festivals take place throughout the year including ((Spraoi)). The food is good and the Granary Museum is the best for ancient Irish history in the country. Don't forget to try a blaa before you leave. (A floury bread bun peculiar to this area of Ireland).
  • Wexford - Town and county in the "Sunny South-East"

Other destinations

Get in

Visa Requirements

  • Citizens of EU and EEA countries, most of North and South America, Japan, Israel, Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to visit Ireland.
  • 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 at [2].
  • Passports are not required to enter Ireland from the United Kingdom.

By plane

The Republic of Ireland is served by 4 international airports, Dublin (IATA: DUB), Shannon (IATA: SNN), Cork (IATA: ORK) and Ireland West, Knock (IATA: NOC). Dublin is connected to several cities in the US, Canada, the UK and continental Europe. Shannon, close to the cities of Limerick and Ennis, also has flights to the US, Canada, 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 to Boston and New York in USA, as well as various chartered flights to (mostly) holiday destinations in Europe.

Smaller regional airports that operate domestic and UK services include Donegal (IATA: CFN), Galway (IATA: GWY), Kerry (IATA: KIR), Sligo (IATA: SXL) and Waterford (IATA: WAT).

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).

National carrier (and formerly state owned) Aer Lingus concentrates on providing cheap fares from central airports, with good service, and has cheap deals available from the UK, continental Europe, the USA and Dubai. It often compares favourably with Ryanair for flights booked close to the travel date. Ryanair is another source of flights to Ireland, particularly from the UK, however extras such as baggage charges, taxes and other charges can add a considerable amount to the total price. 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.

By train

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 routes.

By bus

Cross border services are operated by Ulsterbus and Bus Éireann.

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.

By boat

Ireland is served by numerous services to Great Britain and France:

Other operators to Ireland include:

  • Irish Sea Express - Liverpool to Dublin
  • P&O Irish Sea - North West England to Dublin
  • Steam Packet Sea Cat - Operate services between the North West of England (Mainly Liverpool) to [[Dublin
  • Norse Merchant Ferries - operate Freight and Passenger services to Dublin from the North West of England

From Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Due to ROI's long relationship with the UK, anyone travelling anywhere throughout the British Isles (GB, ROI, and NI) does not require passports. As a consequence, there are no 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 North 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 almost always shown in kilometres. Occasionally, the police (Garda or An Garda Síochána) or customs officials may set up random checkpoints at or near border crossing points and may stop and question drivers exiting and entering, but are usually friendly and will normally wave tourists through without any trouble. When arriving at an Irish airport from Great Britain, you will be required to produce photo ID (drivers licence or passport) to prove that you are a British or Irish citizen.

Get around

By car

There are many car hire companies in Ireland and 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 (for example with credit card) when you rent a car.

Taxis

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 crusing 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 its 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 are (almost always) displayed in kilometres and speed limits 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. 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 far west), road signs are written in Irish only. In the North Iish is banned from road signage, and all distances are given in miles per hour. There are five types of road classification:

  • M-roads (Motorways, indicated by white on blue signs)
  • N-roads N1 - N50 (National Primary routes, main arterial routes indicated by white/yellow on green signs)
  • N-Roads N51+ (National Secondary routes - green signs)
  • R-roads (Regional roads, indicated by black on white signs)
  • L-roads (Local roads, white signs - rarely marked)

Ireland has a small but steadily growing motorway network which centers around Dublin. The main motorways are:

  • M50 The ring road around Dublin
  • The M1 (from Dublin to Newry) goes towards Belfast.
  • The M4 (from Dublin to Mullingar) heads towards Sligo and Galway.
  • The M7 (from Dublin to Port Laoise) goes in the direction of Cork and Limerick.
  • The M8 (from Cork to Fermoy) heading towards Dublin and Belfast.

Note that most motorways in the Republic have some tolled sections. Tolls are low by French or Italian standards, and vary from €1.70 upwards, depending on which motorway you are traveling on. Tariffs 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 are Euro cash only, so take care if you're arriving from the North via the M1.

For 2007, the tolled sections and their charges (for private cars) are as follows:

  • M1, Drogheda bypass section, €1.70
  • M4, Kilcock to Kinnegad section, €2.60
  • M8, Fermoy bypass section, €1.70
  • M50, between exits 6 & 7, €1.90
  • M50, Dublin Port Tunnel, €3 to €12 (depending on time of day)

There are numerous route of high quality dual carruageway, which are very near motorway standard; Dublin-Ashbourne (Derry), Dublin-Wicklow, Sligo-Collooney (Dublin), Mullingar-Athlone, Limerick-Ennis (Galway), and Cork-Middleton (Waterford).

Until relatively recently, the road network in Ireland was very poorly maintained and road signage sparse. Things have changed markedly on the major arterial N-roads which have seen major renovation work with help from EU funding. Lesser roads, however, are still, 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 N-, R- & L- numbered routes.

Driving 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.

Speed Limits

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
  • 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, M50, etc.) - 120 km/h

Local Councils may apply other limits in specific areas as required. A very common limit is that of 60 km/h when leading from a higher speed limit into a built-up area, and vice-versa. 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 and cities throughout Ireland being well catered for, while the ports of Rosslare and Dún Laoghaire are served by Hertz and Dan Dooley respectively. 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 an age range of 25 - 72 in order to rent a car, but in many cases you will need to be 28 in order to rent a full size car. There are some exceptions to this rule, but they are not advertised.

  • Thrifty Car Rental Ireland (AKA Malone Car Rental) €68 one-way fee, €22 airport fee. Locations in Dublin, Cork and Shannon.
  • Budget - €25 "city center location surcharge" (Galway or Dublin centre) or "standard airport surcharge" paid at pickup. One way fee of €25 to/from Galway Airport, Galway City, Kerry Airport, Killarney and Knock Airport. One-way fee to Belfast of €120.[3]
  • Dollar Car Hire Operates under the Thrifty umberella.
  • Avis - €26 airport surcharge, €25 Dublin city surcharge. Apparently no one-way fee.
  • Europcar - €23 "tax" fee, apparently no one-way fee except for premium model cars.
  • Carhire (aka Alamo / National) - €25 "location fee" plus €4 "credit card transaction fee" not included in quotes, €50 one-way fee ("optional extras")
  • Hertz - €25 one-way fee
  • National Car - €50 one-way fee, €10/day "underage" fee (27 and under), €6.76 "state tax" added on
  • Irish Car Rentals (Ireland's agents for Sixt and Argus) - €22 airport collection fee (if collecting from city, they add a €20 "collection charge" instead!) and €1.32 per day "road fund tax" not included in quotes. €6 personal insurance added to initial quote. No one-way fee for 3 day rentals, or certain times of the year (especially mid-week).
  • Dan Dooley- wide range of locations, but expensive!
  • Atlas Car Hire - locations in Dublin, Cork and Shannon, €50 one-way fee applies.
  • Campervan Hire from Bunk Campers- Budget Campervan Hire in Ireland available from Belfast & Dublin. Online Booking.
  • Campervan Hire Ireland - Campervan and Motorhome Hire in Ireland. Located near Shannon Airport.
  • Bicycle hire - in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, the biggst, enclosed, urban park in Europe.
  • Ireland Chauffeur Travel with Driver Guides –Private Chauffeur and Driver Guided Transportation all over Ireland.

By plane

Aer Arann operates an extensive domestic air network from its hub in Dublin with links to Cork, Kerry, Galway, Knock, Sligo and Donegal. They also operate from Cork to Belfast and Galway. Currently Aer Lingus operate only a single domestic route from Dublin to Shannon. British Airways operates a route from Dublin to Derry. Ryanair also operates flights from Dublin to Cork and Shannon rivaling Irish Rail and bus providers.

By train

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 office in the station itself. Not all special rates, e.g., for families, are available on line.

Note that there are two main stations in Dublin - Connolly Station (for trains to Belfast, Sligo and Rosslare) and Heuston Station (for trains to Cork, Limerick, Tralee, Kilarney, Galway, Westport, Kilkenny and Waterford.)

In the North, 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.

By tram

Dublin has a tram system, known as Luas (the Irish word for 'speed'). There are two lines. One (the red-line) operates from Dublin city centre (Connolly Station) to a large suburb south-west of the City (Tallaght) and the other (the green line) runs south-east (to Sandyford) 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.

By bus

  • Dublin has an extensive, city-wide bus service operated by Dublin Bus (or, in Irish, Bus Átha Cliath). Season tickets and all day tickets are also available.
  • 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 major towns.
  • 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 good discount compared to buying them at the station or on the bus.
  • Ulsterbus opperate bus services throughout the North.
  • Citylink provides frequent service from Galway to Shannon, Dublin, and Dublin Airport.
  • Busnestor runs the Galway to Dublin and Athlone to Dublin routes.
  • Aircoach connects Dublin with Cork and Belfast.

By boat

  • 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.

By bicycle

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.

Talk

English is spoken everywhere but Irish (Gaeilge) is the first official language. Most people have some understanding of this but it is used as a first language by only about 30,000 people, most of whom live in rural areas known as the Gaeltacht. About 40% (c. 1,500,000) of people in the Republic claim to understand and speak the language.

As the Gaeltacht are generally scenic areas it is likely that visitors will go there. Tourists will not be expected to speak Irish but it will 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 certain Irish Universities, it is necessary 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 sometimes is seen as a waste of resources by a certain few, the language is held fondly amongst the Irish themselves.

There is some Irish language broadcasting on TV and radio. Irish is related and very similar (but not identical) to Scots Gaelic. Of the Four Provinces, only one (Leinster) does not have its own dialect in the language. The Ulster dialect 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. See also: Irish phrasebook

Buy

The Republic of Ireland is part of the Eurozone, so as in many other European Union countries the currency here is the Euro (symbol: €). 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 (fuel is much cheaper in the Republic, resulting in many Northern motorists purchasing their fuel in the Republic) will give change in sterling if requested.

ATMs

ATMs are widely available throughout Ireland. Even in small towns it is unlikely that you will be unable to find an ATM.

Credit Cards

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.

Eat

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. Modern Irish cuisine emphasizes fresh local ingredients, simply prepared and presented (sometimes with some Mediterranean-style twists). Meat (especially lamb), seafood and dairy produce can be of a very high quality. Try some 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 small town of Kinsale near Cork has become internationally famous for its many excellent restaurants, especially fish restaurants.

Etiquette

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.

Drink

Matt Molloy's pub in Westport Co. Mayo

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 as Magners in other countries) is also a popular and widely available Irish drink. It is brewed in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. 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!)

Sleep

There are hotels of all standards including some very luxurious. Bed and Breakfast is widely available. These are usually very friendly, quite often family-run and good value. There is 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 also independent hostels which are marketed as Independent holiday hostels of Ireland. These are nearly always found in towns. There are official campsites although fewer than many countries (given the climate). Wild camping is tolerated, although you should seek permission.

Learn

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 world renowned, with The Chieftains musical group being its international ambassadors.

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. Especially in Dublin, there are many literary tourist attractions and tours.

See

OPW Heritage Card - Any visitor can purchase one of these cards for admission to any of the Heritage Sites in Ireland which is funded by the Office of Public Works. This card can be used to see many historic castles throughout Ireland

Blarney Castle- Located in Country Cork, this historic castle is known for its "Blarney Stone." Tradition is that if the Blarney Stone is kissed, one will have good luck. One kisses the stone by laying back and being held by an employee of the castle. Photographers are there to capture the moment!

Cliffs of Moher- One of Ireland's Biggest and Most Visited Tourist Attraction. The Cliffs are 230 meters in height and tower over the Atlantic Ocean. There is a souvenier shop. Safety is at vistor's discretion, there are no safety barriers, because it would ruin the natural tourist attraction. The Cliffs are an absoulte site to see

Work

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.

Stay safe

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 carry guns. It is a proud tradition of the service that standard policing is carried out in both rural and urban areas by uniformed officers equipped only with a modest wooden truncheon. Firearms are, however, carried by detectives.

Crime is relatively low by most European standards but not very different. Late night streets in larger towns and cities can be dangerous, as anywhere. 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 cell phones.

Stay healthy

Smoking

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.

Respect

Often, in smaller towns and villages and especially on a country road, if you walk past somebody it is customary to say hello. They may also ask you "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 detail on how you really are, if the person is a stranger - a simple hello or "how are you?" or a simple comment on the weather will suffice!

When driving on rural roads, particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass, it is customary to wave a thanks to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel. This is particularly prevalant 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 first 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 recognized. However, some people can be very persuasive - this isn't meant 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 are undoubtedly similar, but Irish people generally take pride in the differences between Ireland and Britain, and can be quite offended by tourists who do not acknowledge or show respect to these differences. Indeed it is not uncommon for foreigners (both before and after arrival into the country) to assume that Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom like Scotland or Wales, this assumption will generally cause offence to locals in the Republic of Ireland who take pride in Ireland's status as a state independent of the United Kingdom.

Following from this of course may lead to curiosity around the differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Public or semi-public discussions about religious differences, political views and 20th century troubles are generally avoided by Irish locals on both sides of the border; for the reason that opinions between individuals can be so vastly divided and unyielding, that most Irish people of moderate views have grown accustomed to just avoiding the topics in polite conversation. Tourists who often are quite fascinated by the history of the division, would be advised to show respect and caution to the differences of opinion that still exist on historical matters.

The Irish are renowned for their upbeat sense of humour, which can often be difficult to understand to the more unfamiliar tourists. Joking on almost any topic will be welcomed, although even mild racism is not appreciated by the majority. Most Irish people are quite happy for friendly jibes regarding the Irish love of potatoes and drinking alcohol, however any jokes regarding the potato famine of the 19th Century will cause a similar amount of offence as joking about the September 11th attacks would in the United States. This can be quite a surprise considering the time scales involved but it is a subject most Irish people still feel strongly about.


Contact

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.

Mobile / Cell Phones

There are more mobile phones than people in the Republic of Ireland, and the majority of these are prepay. 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 GSM 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.

Ireland has 5 mobile networks (prefix code in brackets)

Operator Band Dialling Prefix
Vodafone GSM 900/1800/UMTS 3G 087
O2 GSM 900/1800/UMTS 3G 086
Meteor GSM 900/1800 085
3 (Three) UMTS 3G 083
Tesco Mobile GSM 900/1800 089


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

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
Premium Rate (Adult) As above, but for adult-only calls 1559

Calling Home

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.

To 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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