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Ireland

This article does not cover Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

In cliché, Ireland (Irish: Éire) is the land of shamrocks; of green fields and mythical leprechauns; of pubs brimming with friendliness and craic, where every Guinness is poured with the time and respect it deserves. The reality is more nuanced, of course, but there is certainly a rich culture that, along with its people, has been exported around the world. The inspiration for artists, from the literary genius of George Bernard Shaw to U2, among the best selling music bands of all time, the Emerald Isle is a real gem just waiting to be discovered.

Regions

Northern Ireland, a home nation of the United Kingdom, is covered in its own separate article.

Cities and towns

For cities in Northern Ireland, see the separate article.

  • Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath) — the capital and largest city in the Republic of Ireland. 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) — the country's second biggest city — located on the banks of the River Lee. Founded c.600 by St. Finbarre and known for great food (especially seafood), pubs, shopping and festivals. If you venture outside of the city along the coastline which boarders the atlantic ocean, you will find long windy beaches, beautiful villages with history, castles and an array of outdoor activities to enjoy.
  • 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 (Cill Áirne)— 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 trips.
  • Kilkenny (Cill Chainnigh) — attractive medieval town, known as the Marble City — home to the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, held annually in early June.
  • Letterkenny (Leitir Ceanainn) — 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 strategically sited where the river Shannon broadens into its mighty estuary in the south-west of the country. First city to receive the designation of National City of Culture (2014).
  • Sligo (Sligeach) — 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 RosslareWaterford 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).

Other destinations

For other destinations in Northern Ireland such as the Giant's Causeway, see the separate article.

  • 1 Aran Islands (Na hOileáin Árann) — located in Galway Bay
  • 2 Brú Na Bóinne — in Co. Meath are some of the finest neolithic monuments in the world, the oldest of which is Newgrange, dating back to 3100 BC.
  • 3 Burren (Boireann) and the 4 Cliffs of Moher (Aillte an Mhothair) — both located in the County Clare
  • 5 Connemara (Conamara) — an Irish speaking region in Western County Galway
  • 6 County Donegal (Contae Dhún na nGall) — the coastal regions of this county have spectacular scenery and excellent beaches
  • Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhne) — a Gaeltecht region (Irish-speaking district) in the very South West corner of Ireland
  • Glendalough (Gleann Dá Loch) — fine ruins and hiking trails in Co. Wicklow
  • Kinsale (Cionn tSáile) — gastronomic excellence in Ireland's oldest town
  • 10 Ring of Kerry and 11 Skellig Michael — (Sceilig Mhichíl) in County Kerry
  • 12 West Cork (Iarthar Chorcaí) — mountains, coves, islands and beaches at the very south of the country

Understand

History

There is evidence that the island of Ireland has been inhabited by humans as far back as the year 3100 BC. Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century BC. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century led to important Norse settlements in DublinWexfordWaterfordCork and Limerick. Military alliances shifted and melded frequently but monastic, Christian scholars endured and persisted and sent successful missionaries to Scotland, England and as far afield as Switzerland.

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 that came into force on 1 Jan 1801 — in which Catholics, 90% of the Irish population, were excluded from Parliament — saw Ireland joining the United Kingdom. Some bars to non-Anglican civic participation were removed in the 1820s, but 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 although 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 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 known as the Irish Free State; the remaining six, located in the north east 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" (also known as the Republic of Ireland) and 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 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 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 and continental Europe. The governments of both 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 2008, Ireland saw a massive economic boom (and was 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.

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Historically, the island of Ireland consisted 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 geographical term "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 1937. To distinguish the country from the island as a whole, sometimes the description Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann) is used. As part of the Good Friday agreement between the Irish and British governments, all Northern Irish citizens are entitled to dual British and Irish citizenship, just as they are entitled to choose to be only British or only Irish citizens.

However, apart from changes to the road surface and road signs, you probably won't notice much of a difference when actually crossing the convoluted and often obscure international boundary between the six counties of Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland. One key difference, though, is that road signs in Northern Ireland are in miles, while those in the Republic of Ireland are in kilometres. Spot checks excepted, there are no formal border markings or controls.

Climate

Overall, Ireland has a mild but 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 latest 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.

Get in

Visa requirements

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 do not require a visa for entry or employment; in many cases, they hold unlimited rights to employment and residence in Ireland.
  • Citizens of Andorra, Antigua and 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, Kiribati, 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.
  • 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 Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Sark, the United Kingdom and Ireland, known as The Common Travel Area, there are no passport controls for citizens of these countries travelling to Ireland from any of these countries. 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 entitled to avail of the Common Travel Area arrangements. Immigration controls are mandatory on all inbound flights, selective on ferries, and very occasional at the land border crossings.

By plane

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) in County 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.

Smaller regional airports that operate domestic and UK services include Donegal (IATA: CFN), 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).

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 on board, 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 DublinShannonCork 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 with train connections in Great Britain and Ireland. They mainly operate from UK cities across the various Irish and British Rail networks via the Cairnryan-Belfast, Holyhead-Dublin, Fishguard-Rosslare and Pembroke-Rosslare sailing routes.

By bus

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.

By boat

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

  • Irish Ferries travel from Holyhead, North Wales, to Dublin, and from Pembroke, 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.
  • P&O Ferries — Liverpool to Dublin
  • Steam Packet Company — Operate services between north-west England (mainly Liverpool) to Dublin, and Isle of Man to Dublin.
  • 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 Ireland's long relationship with the UK, there are no permanent passport controls at the land border. In fact, the border is rarely signed and it's often difficult to tell when you have crossed from the Republic into Northern Ireland and vice-versa. The most obvious signal is that the road signs 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. EEA and Swiss nationals do not need passports for travel between the two, but still need to prove both their identity and nationality if stopped for a spot check; all other foreign nationals need a passport. When arriving at an Irish airport from Great Britain, you will be required to produce photo ID (driving licence or passport) to prove that you are a British or Irish citizen.

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.

If you are flying with Ryanair into Ireland from the UK you must be in possession of a passport or equivalent national identity card. Ryanair will not accept a driver's licence although Irish Immigration (GNIB) do.

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. Most Irish car hire agencies will not accept third party collision damage insurance coverage (for example with a credit card) when you rent a car.

There are a large number of roundabouts in Ireland. Traffic already on the roundabout has right of way over traffic entering it, in contrast to 'traffic circles' sometimes employed in the US.

Caravanning

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. Caravan parks are generally available reasonably close to all tourist attractions. However, many caravan parks are only open during the main tourist season, usually considered to be between the beginning of April and the end of September. Overnighting at the side of the road or other locations that are not caravan parks is generally not tolerated and many locations are signposted to show any relevant by-laws preventing any overnight camping or caravanning. It is worth doing some planning before travelling with a caravan, as many of the non-main roads are not well suited to campervans or caravans due to the narrowness and general condition of these small roads. Main roads and national routes are however well suited to these vehicles. There is a list of approved caravan parks listed on the Camping-Ireland website.

Taxis

Taxis in Ireland will have green and blue decals on both the driver and passenger doors containing the word "TAXI", the taxi license number and the transport for Ireland logo. These decals are being phased in since January 2013 and not all taxis will have them yet.

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 the 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 and road user etiquette

The rules of the road in Ireland are similar to those of the United Kingdom; drive on the left and yield to the right at a roundabout. The most noticeable difference is the fact that distances and speed limits are displayed in kilometres in the Republic. This can be confusing to anyone travelling across the border from Northern Ireland, which, like the rest of the UK, uses miles and miles per hour. The legal blood-alcohol limit is low (though one of the highest by European standards), so it may be best to abstain. It is perfectly legal to temporarily use the hard shoulder to allow a faster moving vehicle to overtake you, but remember that this manoeuvre is not allowed on a motorway. Drivers often 'thank' each other by flashing their hazard lights or waving, but this is purely a convention. Road signs in the Republic are nominally bilingual, with place names displayed in Irish in italics, with the corresponding English name in capitals immediately below. In the "Gaeltacht" areas (Irish-Speaking districts), road signs are written in Irish only.

There are four types of road classification in Ireland which are:

Speed limits are defaults for the road classification only — if a different speed limit is signed, it must be obeyed. Urban areas generally have a 50km/h speed limit.

Ireland has an extensive motorway network centred on Dublin. Note that most motorways in the Republic have some tolled sections. Tolls are low by French or Italian standards, and vary from €1.40 (M3) to €3.10 (M50), depending on which motorway you are travelling on. Tolls are displayed a few kilometres 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 Junctions 6 & 7 which read your number plate. If you have registered before online or by phone €2.60 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 €3.10.

The main motorways are (Tolled sections and their charges are for private cars):

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.

Speed limits

As mentioned above, speed limits in the Republic of Ireland (but not in Northern Ireland) are in kilometres per hour. When crossing the border into the republic on main roads, you can expect to see a large sign announcing that speed limits are given in kilometres per hour and all speed limit signs have the text "km/h" on them to remind drivers.

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

Car hire companies are plentiful, with all major airports and cities well catered for. The ports of Rosslare and Dún Laoghaire are served by Hertz and Dan Dooley respectively. As elsewhere, the main driver needs a credit card in their own name and a full driver's license for a minimum of two years without endorsement. Most rental companies apply a minimum age of 25; many require you be 28 to rent a full-size car. Rentals include minimum insurance which covers the car, leaving a deductible owed in the case of an accident. At additional cost, Super Damage Waiver (SDW) can reduce this deductible to zero.

Quite a number of companies offer campervans for hire.

By plane

With improvements to the Motorway network, Domestic flights in Ireland have been reduced drastically, and are now only from Dublin to Kerry and Donegal.

By train

See also Rail travel in Ireland

Most trains in Ireland (all operated by the state-run Irish Rail usually 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.

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 as 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 as the main roads to the counties participating.

Note that there are two main stations in Dublin - Connolly Station (for trains to Belfast, Sligo and Rosslare) and Heuston Station (for trains to CorkLimerickEnnisTraleeKillarneyGalwayWestportKilkenny and Waterford.)

In Northern Ireland, almost all services are operated by (Northern Ireland Railways (NIR).

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 centre. 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 the Luas (the Irish word for 'speed'). There are currently two main lines with 54 stations between them. 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). The green line runs south-east (to Bride's Glen) from St Stephen's Green. The two lines are not currently linked together. An extension to the green line, known as luas cross city, is currently being constructed which will see the green and red lines cross each other. Work on the extension is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

Operation times:

  • Monday to Friday — 05:30 to 00:30
  • Saturday — 06:15 (Green Line), 06:30 (Red Line) to 00:30
  • Sunday — 06:45 to 23:30 (Green Line), 07:00 to 23:30 (Red Line)
  • Bank holidays — same as Sundays, except trams run until 00:30

Tickets must be purchased from machines before boarding the tram. Tickets are checked in the Luas at random by inspectors 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

  • 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. Some Bus Éireann buses and stations provide free WiFi.

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 LimerickCarlowWaterfordClonmelKilkenny and Dublin city Center plus local services in some towns and cities. Many intercity bus services have free WiFi on board.
  • Citylink provides frequent service from Galway to ShannonDublin, and Dublin Airport.
  • GoBus runs non-stop services between GalwayDublin + Dublin Airport and Cork.
  • Aircoach connects Dublin with Cork and with most major hotels across Dublin on its routes to Leopardstown, Greystones, Dalkey and Ballsbridge.

By boat

  • Shannon cruises are a leisurely way of travelling 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. The Grand and Royal canals are fully navigable from Dublin to the Rivers Shannon, leading to the cities of Limerick and Waterford. Information can be obtained from Waterways Ireland. The managing body for Inland waterways.

By bicycle

Ireland is beautiful for biking, but use a good touring bike with solid tyres as road conditions are not always excellent. Biking along the south and west coasts you should be prepared for variable terrain, lots of hills and frequent strong headwinds. There are plenty of camp grounds 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). 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 traffic lanes. Helmets are not legally required, but widely available for those who wish to use them. Dublin Bikes has 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, simply bring the bike back to any station and get your payment back.

Talk

See also: Irish phrasebook, English language varieties

English is the main language spoken in Ireland, but Irish or Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge) is the first official language according to the constitution. It is part of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family of languages. It is not necessary to know any Irish in order to get around in Ireland.

Most people have some understanding of Irish but it is used as a first language by only about 30,000 people, most of whom live in rural areas known as Gaeltachtaí. About 40% (c. 1,500,000) of people in the Republic claim to understand and speak the language, although some people will exaggerate their fluency in Irish when discussing the matter with foreigners.

Irish is a compulsory language at school in the Republic, and required In order to enter certain Irish Universities.

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. Refer to it simply as "Irish". In Irish, it is called "Gaeilge" (Gail-ga).

Tourists keen to learn a few words of the Irish language often fall for a prank where they are taught swearing in Irish but told they are learning a greeting or other similar phrase.

See

It's more than just a stereotype: Ireland's highlights are indeed the stuff of knight's tales. That's at least true for its myriad of fascinating castles, dramatic cliff shores, lush rolling pastures and rugged hills. Many of the country's main attractions are of a sturdy kind of beauty. There's the megalithic tombs of Brú na Bóinne, older than the Egyptian pyramids and the inspiration for some of the famous Celtic symbols of later times. Of much later date is the beautiful Blarney Castle in County Cork, known for its "Blarney Stone." According to tradition, kissing the Blarney Stone will bless a person with "the gift of the gab", or a remarkable eloquence. Achieving it requires lying back while a castle employee holds you and a photographer captures the moment. Equally interesting is the Rock of Cashel, the remains of a majestic 12th century castle overlooking the green surrounding plains.

The island's rough coast line is one of its main tourist brochure draws, and rightfully so. Despite the modern tourist industry that surrounds them, the stunning 230m high Cliffs of Moher remain a spectacular place and the most popular of the cliffs to visit. It's surely among the most dramatic spots, but only one of many scenic parts of the Irish coast. Head to Achill Island to see the Croaghaun, the highest of them all, as well as the lovely Keem Bay and other beaches. Visit the beautiful Aran Islands, where local culture has survived the test of time and green pastures are dotted with castles and churches. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way to take in more of the scenic shores, stopping for breaks in charming coastal towns. More inland there are a number of national parks worth exploring, including the limestone karst landscapes of the rest of the Burren (of which the Cliffs of Moher are part). The vast peatlands of Ballycroy National Park offer another great place for hikes, as do the lakes and forests of Killarney National Park. The pleasant town of Killarney itself is home to Ross Castle but also serves as a popular starting point for the Ring of Kerry.

The Medieval Capital Kilkenny is easy to reach from Dublin and one of the country's favourite tourist spots. 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. If you have or can rent your own vehicle, explore the amazing area of Co. Donegal Expect to see plenty of low stone walls, thatched roof houses, rugged hills, cliffs and golden sand beaches in this traditional region. Best visited during Spring or Summer, there are plenty of hill walks and photo opportunities waiting to be discovered.

Limerick has the majestic King John's Castle, but Cork and Galway also make for popular summer destinations full of lively nightlife and historic heritage. And then... there is of course Dublin. Quintessentially Irish and a fine place to sample the country's famous beer culture, it's also home to some excellent sights. Dublin Castle is a fine choice, and Trinity College has a wonderful library where you can see one of the oldest manuscripts in the world, the Book of Kells. While any sightseeing should be topped-off with a pint, serious beer lovers should probably consider doing so at the Guinness Storehouse.

Do

  • 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 and ear'.

Sport

Irish people love their sport. 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 including Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, Sligo Rovers, Shelbourne etc, tickets cost as little as €15 for a full match which many home fans will guide you around. 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. Kitesurfing is growing everyday in Ireland, from the East to the West coast. Check Dollymount in Dublin City, Rush, Bettystown, Blackrock/Dundalk on the East Coast and Sligo (Rosses Point), Donegal, Kerry on the West Coast

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 a bustling scene for folk and popular music; see Music in Britain and Ireland.

Buy

Money

Ireland uses the euro. It is one of several European countries that uses this common currency. All euro banknotes and coins are legal tender within all the countries.

One euro is divided into 100 cents.

The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

  • Banknotes: Euro banknotes have the same design in all the countries.
  • Normal coins: All eurozone countries have coins issued with a distinctive national design on one side, and a standard common design on the other side. Coins can be used in any eurozone country, regardless of the design used (e.g. a one-euro coin from Finland can be used in Portugal).
  • Commemorative two euro coins: These differ from normal two euro coins only in their "national" side and circulate freely as legal tender. Each country may produce a certain amount of them as part of their normal coin production and sometimes "Europe-wide" two euro coins are produced to commemorate special events (e.g. the anniversary of important treaties).
  • Other commemorative coins: Commemorative coins of other amounts (e.g. ten euros or more) are much rarer, and have entirely special designs and often contain non-negligible amounts of gold, silver or platinum. While they are technically legal tender at face value, their material or collector value is usually much higher and, as such, you will most likely not find them in actual circulation.

Stand-alone cash machines (ATMs) are widely available in every city and town in the country and credit cards are accepted most 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 Newspaper highlighted how up to €350 can be saved by buying your Christmas shopping in Derry and Belfast in the North rather 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

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'.

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 ATMs allow cash withdrawals on major credit cards and internationally branded debit cards.

In common with most of Europe, Ireland uses "chip and PIN" credit cards. Signature-only credit cards, such as those currently used in the US, should be accepted anywhere a chip and PIN card with the same brand logo is accepted. The staff will have a handheld device and will be expecting to hold the card next to it and then have you input your PIN. Instead, they will need to swipe the card and get your signature on the paper receipt it prints out. Usually this goes smoothly but you may find some staff in areas that serve few foreigners are confused or assume the card cannot be processed without a chip. It is helpful to have cash on hand to avoid unpleasant hassle even in situations where you might have been able to eventually pay by card.

Tipping

Tipping is not a general habit in Ireland. The same general rules apply as in the United Kingdom. It is usually not customary to tip a percentage of the total bill, a few small coins is generally considered quite polite. Like most of Europe it is common to round up to the nearest note, (i.e. paying €30 for a bill of €28).

In restaurants tipping 10-15% is standard and for large groups or special occasions (wedding/anniversary/conference with banquet) tipping becomes part of the exuberance of the overall event and can be higher, indeed substantial. Tipping is not expected in bars or pubs and unnecessary in the rare bar or 'Superpub' that has toilet attendants. In taxis the fare is rounded off to the next euro for short city wide journeys, however this is more discretionary than in restaurants. In hotels a tip may be added to the bill on check out, however some guests prefer to tip individual waiters or room attendants either directly or leaving a nominal amount in the room.

In all cases, the tip should express satisfaction with the level of service.

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 (i.e. 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 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) .

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. The small town of Kinsale near 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.

Cuisine

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:

  • Seafood Chowder, Irish seafood soup, a MUST; every restaurant has their own recipe, delicious!
  • Guinness Bread, like it says in the title, a brown bread which is sweet
  • Oysters, try the Atlantic and Pacific types
  • Boxty, potato pancakes
  • Champ, mashed potatoes with spring onions
  • Coddle, a stew of potatoes, pork sausages and bacon; a speciality of Dublin
  • Colcannon, mashed potatoes and cabbage
  • Irish breakfast, a famously filling spread of bacon, eggs, fried tomato, mushrooms, hash brown, sausages and white and/or black pudding, a type of pork sausage made with blood (black) or without (white). Irish Breakfast is often just referred to as a "fry" or fry up, and is usually available well past normal breakfast times in restaurants.
  • Mixed Grill. Similar to the Irish Breakfast, but with added lamb chop, pork chop, steak, 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.

However the days when potatoes were the only thing on the menu are long gone, and modern Irish cuisine emphasizes fresh local ingredients, simply prepared and presented (sometimes with some Mediterranean-style twists). Meat (especially lamb), seafood and dairy produce is mostly of an extremely high quality.

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!

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.

Finishing your meal

At restaurants with table service, some diners might expect the bill to be presented automatically after the last course, but in Ireland it seems to be the custom that you must affirmatively ask for it to be delivered. Usually coffee and tea are offered at the end of the meal when removing dishes, and if you don't want any, the best response would be "No thank you, just the bill, please." Otherwise the staff will assume you wish to linger until you specifically hail them and ask for the bill.

Drink

Pints (just over half a litre) of Guinness start at around €4.20 per pint, and can get as high as €7.00 in tourist hotspots in Dublin.

One of Ireland's most famous exports is stout: a dark, creamy beer, the most popular being Guinness which is brewed in Dublin. 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, although lighter, has a subtle, almost burnt, taste. Opting for a Beamish or Murphy's while in Cork is sure to be a conversation starter and likely the start of a long conversation if you say you prefer it to Guinness.

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 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.

Alongside the indigenous beers and spirits of Ireland, many bars, particularly in tourist areas, will carry a selection of the most popular international brands (Budweiser, Heineken, Tuborg) as well as a selection of 'world beers' such as Belgium's Duval, Italy's Peroni, America's Sam Adams, Australia's Coopers and a selection of Eastern European beers such as Tyskie, Zywiec, Utenos, Budvar and Staropramen.

Alcohol can be relatively expensive in Ireland, particularly in tourist areas. However local 'Whats on' magazines will carry information on 'Happy Hours' when some bars loss lead with €3 beers or offer two for the price of one. Happy Hours can start as early as 15:00 and go on until 21:00. Some bars may offer 'Pitchers' of beer which typically hold just over three pints, for €10-€11.

Bars must serve their last drinks at 23:30 Sunday to Thursday and 00:30 on Friday and Saturday, usually followed by a half hour 'drinking up' time. Nightclubs serve until 02:00.

It is illegal to smoke in all pubs in Ireland. Some pubs will advertise a 'beer garden,' usually a heated outdoor area where smoking is allowed.

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 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 but try and seek permission—especially where you'll be visible from the landowner's house. Never camp in a field in which livestock are present. There are also specialist places to stay such as lighthouses, castles and ring forts.

Learn

No stay in Ireland is complete without sampling its magnificent language, mother tongue to thousands across the island. Areas where Irish is the first language are known as Gaeltacht (Gayl - tockt)and can be visited most notably in Counties DonegalGalway, Kerry and Cork. However, a few common phrases are easy to pick up and go a long way in the pubs!

Outside of the Gaeltacht, the vast majority of Irish people use English in daily life, however.

Banter, Plamas and Craic.

In everyday interactions Irish friends and relations engage in a style of conversation often surprising if not alarming to unprepared tourists. The insult, putdown or sideswipe, known as 'banter,' is a highly nuanced art-form for showing affection or endearment. So a man may introduce his wife of twenty years as 'my current partner' and she might casually reply 'oh dear god, is that bald creep still stalking me'. It's all in the timing and tone and not to be attempted unless you are visibly in a good mood. Plamas is the inversion of Banter where you would highly exaggerate someones good qualities (real or imagined) for example somebody orders you a beer and you announce 'You know you are the Mother Teresa of thirsty people everywhere..except taller and maybe better looking'. If you join a group of people for a few beers and the Banter and Plamas is flowing and wicked, you are having 'the Craic', high spirited and witty friendly teasing, and just know you can't be anywhere else except Ireland. Be careful though, if your Irish host really likes you then your looks, nationality, attributes and views are all subject to Banter and Plamas.

Work

Ireland is part of the European Union/European Economic Area and, as such, any EU/EEA/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, (literally, 'Guards of the Peace'), 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 but not very different. Late-night streets in larger towns and cities can be dangerous, as anywhere. Don't walk alone after sunset in deserted areas in Dublin or Cork, and be sure to plan getting back home, preferably in a taxi. Fortunately, most violent crime is drink- or drug-related, so simply avoiding the visibly inebriated can keep you out of most potential difficulties. If you need Gardaí, ambulance, fire service, coast guard or mountain rescue dial 999 or 112 as the emergency number; both work from landlines/house phones and mobile/cell phones.

In the unlikely situation where you are confronted by a thief, be aware that Irish criminals in general are not afraid to resort to conflict. Surrender any valuables they ask for and do not resist, as hooligans are bound to have sharp or blunt weapons with them. If you are the victim of a crime, report it immediately. CCTV camera coverage in towns and cities is quite extensive, and a timely phone call could help retrieve your lost belongings.

Many roads in the country are narrow and winding, and there has been a recent increase in traffic density. Ireland is currently upgrading their roads, but due to financial constraints many potholes do not get mended in a timely manner. If using a rented car, keep your eyes peeled for any dents in the road as even the smallest of them could precipitate a rollover or a collision.

Stay healthy

Smoking

Almost all enclosed places of work, including bars, restaurants, cafés, etc., in Ireland are designated as smoke-free. Ireland was the first European country to implement the smoking ban in pubs. 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. This is a great way to meet up with locals. A new concept called 'smirting' has been developed - 'smoking ' and 'flirting'. 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

Visitors to Ireland will find that the Irish are one of the nicest nationalities in the world. However, it will depend upon the region you are in whether or not locals will provide helpful advice. When lost, as may often happen given the road signs are quite different to other nations, ask in a local shop for advice and let them know where you are trying to go and be as specific as possible. Often the directions are by local landmark and don't be afraid to ask for more specifics. The more tourist areas tend to be more friendly than other areas.

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. A simple hello 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. To which the response will generally be "It is indeed, thank God". At the same time in some rural areas a greeting from a stranger can be viewed with suspicion if you did not wait for them to address you first which is viewed as more polite and respectful.

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 also applies when there are no traffic lights, and a driver lets you cross the road.

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.

The Irish usually respond to a "thank you" with "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!). This can often also mean that they expect that they can ask for a favour from you at some point or that you are in some way indebted to the person who did something for you. There is a significant amount of you scratch my back I'll scratch yours entrenched in the Irish culture.

Public or semi-public discussions about religious differences, political views and 20th century troubles are generally avoided by locals on both sides of the border. 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, especially since almost everyone in small towns knows each other well.

The Irish are renowned for their sense of humour, but their humour can often be difficult to understand for more unfamiliar tourists. While the Irish will joke about any other culture or themselves and may overtly appear to be tolerant of non-nationals joking about them, they are often offended.

LGBT visitors will find most Irish people to be accepting of same-sex couples, although overt public displays of affection are rare outside Dublin, and Cork City to some extent. Ireland introduced civil partnerships in 2011 and voted to legalise same-sex marriage in 2015. Conservative values can still be found in Ireland, especially with the older generation. As in many other countries, the younger generation are generally more accepting. Ireland has anti-discrimination laws that are predominately for the workplace and very few cases have actually been brought forward. Common sense should prevail in all areas. However within recent years, acceptance has become far more widespread. In 2015, opinion polls leading up to the marriage equality referendum repeatedly showed, without almost any variation, that about 75% of Irish people supported gay marriage rights.

Connect

Phone numbers in this guide are given in the form that you would dial them from outwith Ireland. When using a landline within Ireland, the international dial prefix and country code of +353 should be substituted by a single 0.

By mobile/cell phone

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, 083 or 089 (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 have a European or American phone, it is likely the charger accepts both 120V and 240V power (but be sure to check the rating on the plug or transformer lest you fry it!) but you will still need a cheap plug adapter you can pick up at many convenience or grocery stores after you arrive, or a department or travel accessory store before you leave to be on the safe side. (Ireland uses the same voltage and plugs as the United Kingdom; see Electrical systems.)

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.

If you do not have a "chip and PIN" debit card (most U.S. debit and credit cards do not have a chip) and permanent contact information in Ireland (landline, address) then in some cases you may have problems paying for phone service. Having cash on hand in Euros may make this process considerably easier, and you might want to try that first to speed things along.

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 piggy-back on the infrastructure of another network

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.

Calling home

Pay phones have become quite rare, but they are still available in limited numbers. Most take euro coins, prepaid calling cards and major credit cards. You can also reverse the charges/call collect or use your calling card by following the instructions on the display.

To dial outwith Ireland: 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 and on a land-line phone, but it makes no difference to the cost or routing. The area code is always required for calls from mobiles.

Fixed line numbers have the following area codes:

  • 01 (Dublin and parts of surrounding counties)
  • 02x (Cork)
  • 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 services dial 999 or 112 (Pan European code that runs in parallel). This is the equivalent 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 (Eir)
  • 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.

Postal rates

Postal services are provided by An Post. The costs of sending postcards and letters are:

  • Inland mail (including the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland): €0.70 (up to 100g)
  • International mail (all other destinations, including Great Britain): €1.05 (up to 100g)

Rates correct as of April 2016.

Family Genealogy Trip in Ireland

Glengarriff, Ireland

It only took me 34 years to visit my family’s ancestral homeland of Ireland. Joined by my parents & sister, we traveled to the Emerald Isle to research our history.

Like most Americans, I’m a mutt. My family immigrated to the United States from Ireland, Poland, Germany and England. Mostly from Ireland though — including my paternal grandmother.

Concentrating on the side of the family with the most recent links to Ireland, we decided to visit the area where my grandmother was born. A small south-western coastal village called Glengarriff in County Cork.

I was especially excited for this journey, as it was the first time that my family members were going to travel with me internationally, and years since we’d traveled together for any kind of road trip. Woohoo!

Guinness For Breakfast

Dublin Castle

Arriving In Dublin

The first order of business once we arrived in Dublin after checking into the Trinity City Hotel was to grab a large Irish breakfast and wash it down with a few pints of Guinness at O’Neil’s Bar & Restaurant. At 10am of course. We were off to a good start.

Hey, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in Ireland?

We spent the rest of the day exploring Dublin by bus and on foot. Everyone was running on little sleep due to the intercontinental flight the night before, so our activities were kept to a minimum.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle was originally built as a defensive structure for the city of Dublin, later serving as residence for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland who governed for the King of England. These days it’s used for presidential inaugurations and state functions.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is Ireland’s largest church, founded back in 1191. Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) was once the dean, and is currently buried here. Dublin actually has two cathedrals belonging to the Church of Ireland, the other being Christ Church Cathedral.

Teeling Whiskey Distillery

Most people who visit Dublin go to the Jameson Distillery, which is just a showroom for tourists. The only working Irish Whiskey distillery in Dublin is called Teeling. We watched the whiskey process from start to finish and tasted the difference between single grain, single malt, and age.

Rock of Cashel

Port Town of Cobh

Irish Genealogy Road Trip

Now that we’d experienced a taste of Dublin, it was time to embark on the core mission of this trip. Searching for any information we could find about my grandmother’s life in Ireland before she sailed to Boston in 1930.

Prior to traveling to Ireland, my sister Lindsay had done some research on Ancestry.com which helped us track down basic United States immigration records for my grandmother.

To expand on those, we also enlisted the services of Eneclann, a genealogy research company. They provided a detailed report based on Irish census information with all kinds of interesting facts we’d never known before!

Like that we came from a family of fishermen and farmers.

Armed with this new knowledge we rented a car and began driving southwest across Ireland on the M8 through the town of Cashel and the city of Cork stopping at famous landmarks along the way.

One such landmark is the port town of Cobh, formerly Queenstown, where 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America left from. Including my grandmother in 1930!

Glengarriff, Ireland

Paudie & Kathleen Connolly

Glengarriff Village

Arriving in Glengarriff after navigating some of Ireland’s notoriously narrow roads, we checked into a quaint local bed & breakfast called Carraig Dubh House perched on a hillside overlooking the town. It was here we met the cheery owners Paudie & Kathleen.

They would be the key to unlocking the mysteries of our quest.

We explained that we were in Glengarriff as part of a genealogy trip, and asked if they might remember my grandmother or her family. Of course they did! In a small town of 800 people, everyone knows everyone.

My aunt had given us an old postcard of Glengarriff from when she visited a while back. It was said to feature the McCarthy family home that my grandmother grew up in.

Old Postcard of My Grandmother’s House

We Found It!

Searching For The House

Our hosts took one look at the postcard and confirmed our suspicions. Yes that’s where she grew up, and it still exists! In fact it’s just down the road…

The traditional 3-room Irish home made of stone is located at a place called Ellen’s Rock, a famous spot for photos when Glengarriff was a popular tourist attraction and ocean cruise destination in the early part of the century.

We jumped in the car and headed over to see it for ourselves.

Sitting on the edge of Bantry Bay, the building has seen better days yet was still standing. Turns out it’s owned by my father’s cousin Teddy, a long-lost family member none of us had ever met before.

Our next mission? Track down Teddy and buy him a beer!

Everything seemed to be falling into place perfectly.

My Dad Meets His Cousin Teddy

Garnish Island Gardens

Meeting With Relatives

Teddy keeps the McCarthy family tradition of fishing and sailing alive as a boat captain for the Harbour Queen Ferry. They take tourists out on fishing trips and ferry rides to the beautiful Garnish Island Gardens.

We went down to the docks, but unfortunately just missed him, so we decided to ride the ferry out to Garnish Island and explore the gardens. Motoring past happy seals sunbathing on rocks.

Concluding the island excursion, we surprised Teddy with an unexpected family visit. He seemed a bit taken aback, and not sure how to respond. Who are these strangers from the United States claiming to be relatives?

We made plans to meet later that evening at The Cottage Bar, a favorite local watering hole in town. Hopefully we would all get to know each other a bit better over a few pints of Guinness.

Sacred Heart Church in Glengarriff

McCarthy Family Plot

Learning Family History

Teddy brought his wife Abigail to join us at the bar. Luckily she acted as a translator too, his thick Irish accent difficult for us Yankees to understand! We learned that Teddy likes to work on old boats, just as my father does.

My great grandfather Timothy was apparently a fisherman & boatman. He boasted the most groomed mustache in town, and was always seen wearing his favorite bright white pea cap.

My sister Lindsay apparently looks just like Teddy’s daughter Marie.

One mystery we never solved is why my grandmother sailed from Ireland to the United States on her own when she was only 17 years old. Everyone we spoke with seemed to remember her siblings, but almost nothing about her.

The town church and local cemetery was our next stop, paying respect at my great grandfather’s grave and chatting with the local priest. My grandmother’s birth was never registered in official county documents, but we did have her baptismal record from the church.

Father Michael Moynihan explained to us over coffee that this was common in those days, as many people from the countryside didn’t bother to travel to the city to register their children so soon after birth, and often forgot to later.

Irish Traffic Jam

Learning to Drive on the Right

Towering Cliffs of Moher

Wild Atlantic Way

Overwhelmed with all that we had learned in just a few days, it was time to say our goodbyes and continue our Irish road trip up the West coast along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The complete route stretches 2,500km (1553 miles), however we were driving the southern section up through Dingle and on to Galway before heading back across the country to the capital. I’ll go into more detail in future posts, but the highlights for me were Slea Head Drive and the Cliffs of Moher.

Driving in Ireland can take some getting used to! The back roads are super narrow with no shoulder to pull off on, locals drive fast, curves are sharp, and sheep are plentiful.

But by the 3rd or 4th day I started to get the hang of it. A good trick is to buy the “learner” sticker sold at gas stations so locals don’t get pissed at your incompetence on their roads.

Overall I’d say our Irish genealogy road trip was a success. Together we teamed up to track down relatives, learn about our heritage, and experience a little Irish culture, food, drink, and hospitality.

Ireland’s coastal landscapes are breathtaking to see in person. It was a memorable journey, and I’m happy I experienced it with my family. ★

READ NEXT: Inspiring People I’ve Met Traveling

Have you ever been on a family genealogy trip before?

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher

Doolin, Ireland

A cold wind blows as I walk along the legendary Cliffs of Moher. Ireland’s most famous landmark rises dramatically out of the ocean, waves crashing into rocks far below.

Whoever he is, he’s too late. See?! The Cliffs of Insanity! ~ Vizzini

A favorite childhood movie of mine is the 80’s cult classic The Princess Bride, a crazy fairy tale adventure through the mythical kingdom of Florin.

In one scene, Princess Buttercup’s kidnappers are chased across the ocean by the Man in Black before they climb the steep “mile-high” Cliffs of Insanity.

While not quite a mile high, Ireland’s 700 foot Cliffs of Moher are certainly imposing enough to feature them in the movie. Now that I’ve finally seen them myself, I can assure you the cliffs are even more astounding in person!

Cliff Views Looking South

O’Brien’s Tower

Cliffs Of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are located about 90 minutes south of Galway on Ireland’s west coast in County Clare. They’re part of a scenic driving route called the Wild Atlantic Way.

While technically the cliffs are Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction with one million visitors each year, at 5 miles long, there’s plenty of room to explore if you enjoy walking.

A visitor’s center was built into the hillside so people can experience the site without intrusive buildings wrecking the view, and a scenic walking path branches out in two directions across the top.

The cliffs range in height from 390 feet to 702 feet tall, and are home to over 30,000 birds, including colonies of Atlantic Puffin that usually make an appearance in late March.

Stunning Cliffs of Moher

Hag’s Head Tower

Walking Over The Sea

There are safety barriers to keep you from getting too close to the edge of the cliffs, but only up to a point. If you keep walking, eventually the barriers end.

Some people risk standing or sitting right on the edge…

I was one of them. However do so at your own risk! There’s often strong winds at the Cliffs of Moher, with freak gusts reportedly blowing people off to their deaths from time to time.

The Namurian shale & sandstone ledges that make up the cliffs will sometimes crumble without warning due to erosion, creating another danger.

To the south, there’s a beautiful old stone tower from the Napoleonic Wars called Hag’s Head. Walking here from the visitor’s center will take the average person about 1 – 2 hours.

To the north, O’Brien’s Tower marks the highest point of the cliffs. It’s just a short walk away from the visitor’s center and offers the best views in both directions. You can pay an additional $2 to climb the tower.

Flowers Growing on the Edge

Visiting The Cliffs

There are two villages near the Cliffs of Moher, Liscannor (6 km south) and Doolin (7 km north). Both are small, but you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bed & breakfasts, and pubs with live music to relax in after a day of exploring.

Tourism is highest here during the months of July & August making the area quite crowded. However in September it wasn’t bad at all, especially if you walk beyond the area around the visitor’s center.

Other potential adventures include viewing the cliffs from below on a ferry boat, or hiking the entire 12 mile (20 km) Coastal Walk over the cliffs.

There is a good reason why Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher are so famous. Walking the winding dirt path on the edge of a precipice, its beautiful Atlantic Ocean views & surrounding landscapes are awe inspiring.

It’s a truly magic travel experience to have in the Emerald Isle. ★

More Information

Location: Doolin, Ireland [Map] Accommodation: Churchfield Bed & Breakfast Official Website: Cliffs Of Moher Total Cost: €6 Entry Fee, €2 for O’Brien’s Tower Useful Notes: Like always, I recommend visiting popular tourist attractions early or late to avoid large crowds. The best time for photography is just before or during sunset, when the cliffs are bathed in light. Plan to visit for at least 2 hours if not more. Recommended Reading: Lonely Planet Ireland

READ NEXT: Finding My Roots In Ireland

Have you ever visited the Cliffs of Moher?

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Trips for cyclists in 2017 include itineraries in France, Britain and Ireland, and Canada.

Photo by Frank McKenna

IN AN INCREASINGLY BUSY world, going for a surf is a chance to get back to nature, test yourself against the ocean, have fun and get some exercise. And these days learning to surf doesn’t have to be the fearful, difficult proposition it once was. Forgiving foam surfboards and qualified surf instructors mean standing up and riding a wave in your first session is very likely — and then you’re hooked.

Read on for Matador’s list of the best surf spots to start your new addiction…

Byron Bay, Australia

This one-time sleepy dairy town turned hippie-surfer-stockbroker enclave is quite possibly the best place in the country, maybe the world, to learn to surf. There’s a variety of waves to suit different levels, from gentle rollers off Watego Beach to the beach breaks of Tallows and The Wreck (in small swells).

Byron Bay Surf School offers both lessons and accommodation. Or stay at the Byron Bay YHA (formerly J’s Bay), complete with pool.

Best time to go: March to May for warm weather and consistent swell .

Kuta, Bali

On an island famous for its grinding left-hand reef breaks, Bali still offers great options for learners. The long sandy stretch of beach in front of the famous Kuta and Legian tourist strip can turn on fun waves for beginners in small swells — but watch the currents when it’s bigger.

Various beach huts rent old surfboards for about 20,000 rupiah per hour. When the wind picks up in the afternoon there’s a bunch of options to keep you busy, from practising yoga in Ubud to partying late at Ku De Ta in Seminyak.

Best time to go: May to September for offshore winds and a party atmosphere.

Lagos, Portugal

While there are rarely waves in Lagos itself, this picturesque Algarve town is the base for many surf schools in the region, and it’s not hard to see why. A variety of great waves are within a 30-minute drive, including the protected break at Arrifana — a favourite for learners at low tide.

Among the surf schools based in Lagos, Surf Experience is the longest established and one of the best.

After a day spent learning to surf, refuel at one of Lagos’ cheap but delicious restaurants. After 10 PM, the clubs come alive, the clientèle spurred on by cheap cocktails and refreshing bottles of Sagres beer for just €2.

Best time to go: Northern hemisphere spring and autumn to avoid the summer crowds and higher prices.

Photo by Trevor Cleveland

Surfer’s Point, Barbados

Located on Barbados’s more protected southern coast, Surfer’s Point in Inch Marlowe is the perfect location to learn to surf in an idyllic, tropical setting. Former competitive surfer and Barbadian local Zed Layson runs the popular Zed’s Surfing Adventures. Zed offers two-hour lessons on easy-to-ride foam surfboards, plus a range of accommodation options near the point.

Best time to go: Anytime, although the rainy season from June to October may limit your tanning time.

Waikiki, Hawaii

What better place to learn to surf than the home of surfing itself? Hawaii’s ancient kings rode the surf on crude wooden boards before missionaries in the 19th century frowned on the sport for being a godless activity.

Thankfully, surfing is back bigger than ever. The gentle rolling waves of Waikiki are perfect for beginners, offering long rides and a (mostly) fun, easy going atmosphere. Canoe’s is the most popular, and consequently most crowded, break but you’ll be among beginners so catching waves is relatively easy.

Boards can be rented from the shacks on the beach by the hour or take a lesson from one of the many surf schools in the area.

Best time to go: There are waves year round although the Hawaiian summer from June to August sees consistent south swells.

Taghazoute, Morocco

Thanks to its long, righthand point breaks, Morocco has been a popular winter destination for European surfers since the 1970s, with convoys of VW campervans parked beside the various breaks.

These days, you don’t need to be a hardcore surfer to enjoy the waves, with a variety of surf schools to choose from.

In the south, Taghazoute almost has more surf camps than surf spots, so you’re bound to find one that suits your budget. Hash Point and the beaches around Agadir can throw up an easy wave for learners. If it’s flat, the chilled port town of Essaouira is just three hours north by bus and makes a great day trip.

Best time to go: The big swells roll in from November to February, but early autumn has smaller waves and warmer weather.

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky

Newquay, UK

For a country known for its crap weather, the British sure love their surfing. Newquay’s Fistral Beach is surfing ground zero in Britain, with a variety of backpacker hostels, surf cafes, and surf schools in and around the town.

Newquay’s headlands mean there are surfable waves in most conditions, from the swell-exposed Fistral to the protected Watergate Bay just around the corner. If you have access to a car, the crystal clear peaks at Sennen Cove an hour south are worth the drive in clean swells.

Best time to go: September to October are the most consistent months. You’ll need a 4/3 or even a thick 5/4 wetsuit to brave the chilly water in winter and spring.

Bundoran, Ireland

Ireland is the new surfing hot spot in Europe; its world class, uncrowded waves now lure surfers from around the world.

Bundoran in County Donegal on Ireland’s west coast is a great place to learn the basics, with a variety of beach breaks on offer. If the swell is small, try Tullan Beach in town. If it’s too big, head 10 km north to the more mellow Rossnowlagh Beach. The respected Bundoran Surf Co. offers lessons as well surf-and-stay packages.

And five places to avoid

  • North Shore, Hawaii: With waves regularly reaching above 10 feet in winter, this coast is no place for the novice. Hell, even experienced surfers regularly come to grief here.
  • Coolangatta, Australia: Home of the Superbank. When it’s on it’s so crowded you can almost walk out to the surf on the back of paddling surfers.
  • Port Elizabeth, South Africa: Would you surf in the same waters where tourists flock to go swimming in shark-proof cages?
  • Fuerte Ventura, Canary Islands: Sharp lava reefs, sea urchins, strong winds, localism and thumping Atlantic swells. Experienced surfers only.
  • Puerto Escondido, Mexico: Has a reputation as one of the heaviest beach breaks in the world. The waves here are consistently above head high and routinely snap surfboards like twigs.
More like this: Arctic swells: Surfing the end of the Earth
One recent eye-catching promotion offered one-way tickets to Ireland for $65. Are there any catches? Well, a few.

MARY JANE KELLY WAS BORN in Limerick around 1863 and died in London’s East End in 1888. Everything in between is vague. What little we know about her comes from police interviews with the people who knew her — she’d told men she lived with that she was born in Limerick, then she moved to Wales, then she became a prostitute in London’s ritzier West End, then she briefly lived in France with a man, then she ended up in Victorian London’s much scarier East End.

On November 8th, she went out for the night, got drunk, and eventually retired to her tiny room in Miller’s Court, on “the worst street in London.” This final night of her life has been dissected a million different ways by professionals and amateurs. What we know is this: at 10:45 in the morning on November 9th, Kelly’s landlord knocked on her door to collect rent. She didn’t answer, so he went in, and found her body, literally ripped apart.

Mary Jane Kelly was the final and most gruesome victim of the killer known as Jack the Ripper. Her mutilated corpse became the subject of the first-ever crime scene photograph. She became far more famous in her brutal death than she possibly could have in life.

Irish refugees

My Irish ancestors came to the US in spurts — the first of them came during the potato famine in the 1840s, when the choice was to either catch a boat to America or starve. The rest of them trickled in over the next 60 years. Almost all of them ended up in New York and New Jersey. My grandfather was born poor in Newark. His father died of a heart attack when he was only 14, and then shortly afterwards, his older brother was killed in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

My Grandpa was a rags-to-riches story. He worked his way up from janitor to an executive at General Electric. He met my grandmother and took her on dates to the Jersey Shore. When his work transferred him to Cincinnati, Ohio, he settled there, where his daughter, my mom, met my dad.

Heritage was not an emphasis in my family. We were told we were Americans, and since both of my grandfathers were self-made men, our history was that of the American dream. Our story started when our ancestors set foot on America’s shores. But this wasn’t a history that was particularly deep — the stories only went back a couple of generations, and they were all tales of success and triumph. I was an awkward, lazy, and angry teenager — I couldn’t relate to tales of hard work and success. These people who’d conquered life did not feel like ancestors of mine.

There were moments when my grandfather would seem to show a deeper nostalgia, and it was when he was singing. He had a beautiful bass voice, and on St. Patrick’s Day, he would drink Guinness and sing “Galway Bay” and jokey Irish folk songs. His voice was slow, soft, and melancholy. He had jowls, and they would flap comfortingly when he shook his head with each note. The sound came from some place deeper and sadder. I was hooked on this grandfather — he was so much more human than the one who’d conquered poverty and had risen above.

Living on the Ripper’s turf

In 2011, I moved to London to go to grad school. When selecting housing, I more or less flipped a coin, and ended up in Lilian Knowles Student Housing in London’s East End. I knew a bit about the East End from one of my favorite books, Alan Moore’s From Hell, a comic book about the Jack the Ripper murders, and I was delighted to see that I was smack dab in the middle of Jack’s territory. I’d read about pubs like the Ten Bells, and the church right around the corner had featured heavily in the book.

My kitchen at Lilian Knowles was situated directly over the street, and every day, tour groups would walk by while I was cooking my dinner. The guides would always be wearing heavy top hats and holding lanterns. They’d park outside my window and start talking:

“THIS, my friends, was once ‘the most dangerous street in London.’ Right here we have what used to be known as ‘The Providence Row Night Refuge,’ which was once a place for the destitute women and children of Whitechapel to stay. Mary Jane Kelly herself lived here briefly while working for the nuns. The Refuge served the community until 1999, when it was converted to housing for a different class of poor people: students.”

This was a laugh line. The tourists would inevitably look up at me, in my shabby clothes, as they laughed.

Lilian Knowles, formerly the Providence Row Night Refuge. My kitchen was the window directly under the “Women” sign. Photo by Jim Linwood

“If you turn around,” the guide would continue, “you will see a fenced off alley way. This, my dear friends, is no longer open to tourists. This alley leads to what was once Miller’s Court, where Mary Jane Kelly would meet her grisly end.”

I was shocked the first time I heard this. That? That was a boring alley next to a car park. I walked over later and craned my neck, trying to see some old remnant of Miller’s Court, but there wasn’t much to look at. So I moved on.

Mary Jane Kelly and me.

While I was living in London, I decided to do some family research. A few years before, my grandfather told me that he’d never found out where his brother was buried. So I went online and found it almost immediately: he was buried in Luxembourg. By the time I’d made it to London, I knew my grandpa wasn’t going to ever get to the tomb of his brother, so I caught a train to Luxembourg and visited it myself.

At my uncle’s tomb.

When I got home, I showed some pictures to my grandfather, who started telling me more about his family — how his brother had been a troublemaker, had gotten into trouble with the law, and the judge had told him the choice was enlisting in the Army or going to jail.

After that, loops started closing, and I couldn’t stop learning about my family. I didn’t even have to look — it fell right into my lap. First, at my housing in London, in the place where Mary Jane Kelly once lived, I met and fell in love with a girl from New Jersey. She’d grown up blocks away from the place where my grandparents went on their first date on the Jersey Shore.

We eventually moved back and got married. My wife, who works in politics, got focused on healthcare in New Jersey. My grandmother told me that my great-great aunt Rose had been one of the first female doctors in the state of New Jersey, and had worked on Ellis Island. She told me that her family had long been active in the state’s Democratic party, and that there was the odd political radical in my lineage. I opened an Ancestry account and started piecing together my old family tree. I talked to my Grandpa, shortly before he died, and he named as many relatives as he could remember. I tried to take the history back centuries, but it was not particularly easy, as Irish people tended to name their kids the same five things. I gave up the hope that I’d discover that I was the great-great-great-great grandson of George Washington, but I was miffed to discover that I wasn’t related to anyone famous at all.

With one possible exception — Grandpa had been related, a couple generations back, to a family by the name of Kelly. Every third person in Ireland, at the time, seemed to be named Kelly, so tracing them was next to impossible, but as far as I could tell, the Kelly’s had left Ireland in the late 1860’s, early 1870’s for either Britain or the US. The ones that came to the US would end up as my direct descendants. The ones that went to the UK — who knows where they ended up? But they did have a daughter, born in 1862, who went off Ancestry’s record books in the 1870’s. Her name was Mary J. Kelly.

The violence that brought us to America

The Irish people I’ve met don’t recognize the American version of St. Patty’s Day. They’ve called me out for even calling it St. Patty’s Day. And it’s fair — There are 33 million Irish-Americans. There are only 6 million people on the island of Ireland. Most American Irish are so disconnected from their homeland that they know little more about their culture than Catholicism and Guinness.

Most of the fourth or fifth generation immigrants I know have their own American rags-to-riches stories. But as I reached into the past, I found that our immigrant stories were far uglier, far more complex, and far more human than the Gilded Age glitziness I’d been shown in my childhood. The Irish were driven here by poverty and violence, and often met the same even once they’d reached our shores. They starved in Irish famines and fought in American wars.

Mary Jane Kelly is probably not a direct relative of mine. My genealogy skills just aren’t that good, and there were a lot of Mary Kelly’s in 1860’s Ireland. But thousands of my ancestors were just like her. They struggled just as hard, they lived and died in oblivion. Not everyone gets tied to the world’s most famous serial killer. It’s about the last way, I think, any of us would want to achieve immortality.

Most of my family history will be forever hidden. But when my grandpa sang, I could still hear Ireland in his voice. It was older than he was, and in it, there was darkness. It felt like a place I’d been. It felt like home.

Photo: focal_leat

Ireland is an easy place to visit, with a famously friendly population. With the countryside of technicolor greens, cold Guinness and live music in homey pubs, the stark stone cottages of the Aran Islands, a slab of warm soda bread with tea on a rainy day. Each year, Ireland hosts millions of travelers: hikers, historians, bibliophiles and beer-ophiles, looking for a bit of the famous Irish craic. Here are a some guaranteed experiences you’ll have on a trip to Ireland and a few spots we recommend you visit.

1. Rich cultural history

 Trinity College DublinDublin, IrelandYou don’t want to miss this. The stunning architecture of Trinity College. It is a perfect place to stroll around after a pint of Guinness. Also don’t miss the Book of Kells in the library. #free #history #ireland #architecture

Ireland may be small, but culturally speaking, it is a giant. From literature to music, Ireland has produced some of the greats. Joyce, Yeats, Beckett, Shaw, Wilde, Sinead O’Connor, U2, Brendan Gleeson, Francis Bacon, Neil Jordan…I could go on, but gloating doesn’t become us.

 Ireland’s School of FalconryGalway, IrelandFlying the Falcons at Ashford Castle with my brother and sister is something that We’ll all remember for a very long time. Definitely the highlight from our time in Ireland. #falconry #ireland

At Dunluce Castle outside Portrush in Northern Ireland, there are megalithic stone formations just next to the road, castles crumbling into fields or perched on cliffs, and random walls and forts and towers scattered around the country. Photo by Kate Siobhan Mulligan.

2. Beautiful countryside

 Connemara National ParkGalway, IrelandIf Western Ireland is calling you, do not pass up the Twelve Bens, the mountain range located in the Connemara region. There are numerous hikes that take you into the range, but the Diamond Hill trail is a great introduction with spectacular views. The 7km loop will gradually take you through bog land before gaining elevation, gifting you with views out to the coast line. At the summit, you can delight in a sweeping 360• panorama. It’s gorgeous and moderate, a perfect start to your trekking adventures! #hiking #ireland #galway #connemara #diamondhill #mountains #europe #explore

Ireland is tiny, so you’d think we would see more of it, but until recently the roads were too crappy to traverse the island that much. The Cliffs of Moher carve a zig-zag out of the Clare coast, The Burren is a vast limestone wonderland filled with bogs housing our ancestors and preserving them perfectly, if a bit leathery. The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (although technically in Northern Ireland, not the Republic). And I can guarantee you you’ve never seen so many rainbows in your life. That’s because of all the leprechauns. Seriously. (Or the rain, but whatever…)

Giant’s Causeway, located in Northern Ireland. This geological formation is worth the trip. The hexagonal basalt columns are larger than your feet, of all different heights and shades of grey. Photo by Kate Siobhan Mulligan.

The iconic Cliffs of Moher are about an hour south of Galway, in County Clare. Stay for sunset. Photo by Kate Siobhan Mulligan.

3. The Irish language

 Powerscourt House & GardensWicklow, Ireland#green #horses

Ahhhh, Gaeilge. It may not be evolving, but it’s still there, on ATMs, at bus stops, and in some parts, it’s still thriving. Seeing as every Irish person has to take it for their Leaving Cert, it enables even the least fluent of us to have a solid linguistic back-up when travelling. We can bitch and moan about people in our immediate vicinity without them having a clue what we’re saying. Granted, slurs don’t get much more vulgar than “Póg mo thóin” (Kiss my ass), but regardless, it’s something we’ve got that no one else does. So there.

4. Friendly people

 Old Jameson DistilleryDublin, IrelandDoes one really need a reason to pop in for a tour and a drink? It doesn’t disappoint

We’re friendly as fuck. The fact that we don’t even hate the English anymore is proof that we can make amends with pretty much anyone. Anyone visiting our fair nation will come back with tales of invitations to dine with the natives, breaking bread, swigging whiskey, and singing songs until the wee hours. The weather may be shit, but we make up for it with our good vibes and open door policy.

Ray Blackwell, the manager of De Barras in Clonakilty. De Barras was recently voted (again) as one of the best pubs in all of Ireland. Photo by Kate Siobhan Mulligan

5. Neutrality

 Cliffs of MoherClare, IrelandThe incredible Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of #Ireland

Ireland’s political neutrality has safeguarded us from war and diplomatic red-flagging. The Irish are natural fence sitters, choosing to keep the peace rather than rock the boat, which leads larger land masses to welcome us with open arms, saying “Come! Tend our bars, heal our sick, pick our apples! We know you mean no harm!”. They say the our army is the fittest in the world, training around the clock for a battle that will never be fought.

6. The rain

 O’Brien’s TowerClare, IrelandBeautiful tower at the Cliffs of Moher

The rain in Ireland is practically perpetual. We don’t even really have seasons anymore, you can just tell what time of year it is by the quantity and temperature of the drizzle or downpour. However, the rain bestows on us a particular hardiness, an all-weather resistance that those from more tropical nations lack. Nothing can phase us. No yoga class shall go unattended, no party un-partied, no barbeque un-grilled, and no school missed. We are Irish, and we brave the weather without raincoats or umbrellas, baring our chests and legs to the elements in defiance of Mother Nature’s constant test.

A small town on the Beara Peninsula. Photo by Scott Sporleder.

7. Security

 Glenveagh CastleCounty Donegal, IrelandCastle out on a lake in the middle of nowhere. Rent a bike in the parking lot and go for a cruise up the lake. Lots of different trees and plants and a beautiful garden at the castle. #castle #bike #lake

The Emerald Isle is very safe. Since the recession things, like phones have become a hot commodity for thieves, and say goodbye to your bike if you leave it in town overnight, but apart from that, it’s fairly chill in terms of danger. There’s no large-scale drug racket like in Mexico, no sprawling slums like in Brazil, no man-eating bears like in Canada, and no spirit-crushing dictators like in North Korea. The most perilous thing you’ll encounter at night is a drunk stumbling home after a night’s drinking, and he’s too busy worrying about the holy show he made of himself to bother with you.

Rick Steves Ireland 2017

Rick Steves

You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling in Ireland.With this guide, you can explore lively Dublin, quaint Kilkenny, and the moss-draped ruins of the Ring of Kerry. Navigate meandering back roads that lead to windswept crags on the dramatic Dingle Peninsula. Explore Ireland's revered past by following St. Patrick's footsteps to the Rock of Cashel. Marvel at Newgrange, the mysterious mound older than the pyramids; then connect with today's Irish culture by grabbing a pint at the local pub, enjoying the fiddle music, and jumping into conversations that buzz with brogue.Rick's candid, humorous advice will guide you to good-value hotels and restaurants. He'll help you plan where to go and what to see, depending on the length of your trip. You'll get up-to-date recommendations on what is worth your time and money. More than just reviews and directions, a Rick Steves guidebook is a tour guide in your pocket.

Lonely Planet Ireland (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Ireland is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Slurp oysters and clap your hands to spirited fiddle music in a lively Galway pub, explore medieval castles in Dublin and beyond, or set off amid vibrant green hills toward Atlantic coastal trails; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Ireland and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Ireland Travel Guide:

Full-colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - including customs, history, art, literature, music, landscapes, sports, food and drink Free, convenient pull-out Dublin map (included in print version), plus over 86 colour maps Covers DublinWaterfordKilkennyCork, Kerry, KildareLimerick, Clare, GalwaySligoDonegal, The Midlands, Louth, Belfast, Armagh, Derry, and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Ireland , our most comprehensive guide to Ireland, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for just the highlights of Ireland? Check out Lonely Planet Discover Ireland guide, a photo-rich guide to the country's most popular attractions. Looking for a guide focused on Dublin? Check out Lonely Planet  Dublin guide for a comprehensive look at all the city has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Ireland: A Novel

Frank Delaney

In the winter of 1951, a storyteller, the last practitioner of an honored, centuries-old tradition, arrives at the home of nine-year-old Ronan O'Mara in the Irish countryside. For three wonderful evenings, the old gentleman enthralls his assembled local audience with narratives of foolish kings, fabled saints, and Ireland's enduring accomplishments before moving on. But these nights change young Ronan forever, setting him on a years-long pursuit of the elusive, itinerant storyteller and the glorious tales that are no less than the saga of his tenacious and extraordinary isle.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Ireland

DK

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Ireland is your in-depth guide to the very best of Ireland.

From touring historic castles to exploring the countryside along the mystical Ring of Kerry to drinking Guinness in Dublin's coziest pub, experience the best of what the Emerald Isle has to offer.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Ireland.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city map of Dublin includes street finder index for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Ireland truly shows you what others only tell you.

Recommended: For an in-depth guidebook to Dublin, check out DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Dublin, which offers the most complete coverage of Ireland's capital city, trip-planning itineraries, and more.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

Frommer's EasyGuide to Ireland 2017 (Easy Guides)

Jack Jewers

Meant to be carried with you as you travel, this highly portable, concisely-written 288-page book introduces travelers to one of the world’s most richly rewarding destinations. It includes all of the nitty gritty details one needs to plan a trip, from hotels and restaurants to try, to savvy tips on the best ways to get around the country. But British author Jack Jewers, who has been writing guidebooks to Ireland since 2006 (and is the proud grandson of an Irishwoman), also provides an affectionate and insightful take on Irish culture and history that will greatly enhance your trip to the Emerald Isle.   The book is:- Completely updated every year and printed in large, easy-to-read type.- Packed with helpful maps, including a full-color fold-out map- Precise about pricing, with Euro and British Pound (for Northern Ireland) amounts listed for every attraction, restaurant, hotel, nightspot and shop in the guide—so there aren’t any nasty surprises.- Filled with information on the fascinating culture, history, art history and cuisine of Ireland that will make your visit richer- Laden with no-holds-barred reviews, which will introduce you to the country’s most authentic lodgings (hotels, B&B’s, castles), eateries, museums, historic and nature sight so you can stretch your budget further, whether you’re a luxury-seeker or a backpacker.

Ireland: Ireland Travel Guide: 101 Coolest Things to Do in Ireland (Budget Travel Ireland, Backpacking Ireland, Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Belfast) (Volume 1)

101 Coolest Things

Congratulations! You've Found the Ultimate Guide to Ireland Travel!You are super lucky to be going to Ireland, and this guide will let you know all of the coolest things to do, see, and eat around the country, in places like Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Kerry, GalwayLimerickShannon, and more.Why You Need 101 Coolest Things to Do in IrelandThis Ireland guide will give you the lowdown on:the very best things to shove in your pie hole, from incredible street markets through to Irish favourites like Guinness stewincredible festivals, whether you would like to be entertained at the Dublin Fringe Festival, or you’d prefer to party in the wilderness at Electric Picnicthe coolest historical and cultural sights that you simply cannot afford to miss from a church that dates way back to the 7th century to historic castlesthe most incredible outdoor adventures, whether you’d like to climb to the highest peak in Ireland or you’d enjoy a night kayaking experience on an Irish lakethe places where you can party like a local and make new friendsand tonnes more coolness besides!GET Your Copy NOW!Tags: Ireland Travel Guide, Travel to Ireland, Ireland Holidays, Ireland History, Ireland Restaurants, Ireland Festivals, Irish Food, Budget Travel Ireland, Backpacking Ireland, Ireland Accommodation, DublinGalway, Belfast, Cork, Eire, Northern Ireland, ShannonLimerick, Ireland Hiking

Ireland: A Luminous Beauty

Peter Harbison

Island light is magical. And none more so than Ireland's. Ireland's light floods the landscape, luring the senses with a restless presence. The water surrounding and carving through the island reflects back to us the ever-changing movement of the wind-blown clouds and light. Stop for a minute and the settings change: what was straight is bent, light is dark, still is in motion. It is as though an unseen hand directs the wind, the clouds, and the light to harness our attention.

Ireland: A Luminous Beauty is a collection of stunning full-color photographs by some of Ireland's finest landscape photographers with concise text blending history, myth, and a sense of place. Many of the photographs were taken in the early morning light or as the sun set. That hour after sunrise and before sunset, with the sun low in the sky, is known to photographers as the golden hour and favored for its soft, diffused light.

We take a journey to one of the most beautiful places in the world. From the ancient stone monuments of the Boyne Valley to the treacherous stone steps of Skellig Michael; from the distinctive columns of the Giant's Causeway and the spectacularly sited Dunluce Castle ruins to lush, green countryside and fields of heather; from the limestone of the Burren (the rockiest part of Ireland) to exuberant stretches of flowers and gardens; from a moody sea and crashing surf to massive stone cliffs battered by the relentless pounding of the waves, and from steely rivers to tranquil lakes, it's all here.

The Irish respond to this dramatic environment by transforming it into one that solidifies and enriches their own sense of place. We all have this instinct to create our own space, but the Irish have made an art of it. Through the ancient, natural, and cultivated landscapes, surrounded by history and legend, we discover and celebrate the spirit of Ireland and its luminous beauty.

Frommer's Ireland 2017 (Complete Guide)

Jack Jewers

Frommer’s guidebooks are different. They’re written by expert journalists, exhaustively researched, impartial and opinionated. From popular tourist destinations such as Dublin and the Ring of Kerry to less-traveled regions such as Donegal and the North, Ireland will be more accessible and richer for visitors who follow our author's seasoned, perceptive, and adventurous suggestions.This book features:> Gorgeous color photos of the sights and experiences that await you.> Advice from Ireland expert, Jack Jewers, who has been exploring the back roads of his ancestral homeland, Ireland, for years. He'll tell you the smartest way to experience major attractions such as Giant's Causeway, Dublin and Newgrange, and he'll also clue you into dazzling country roads, prehistoric ruins without signage scattered in farm fields, and lively little music bars where the regulars speak Gaelic.> Advice on the best lodgings, restaurants, and pubs, researched by Jewers in person. His authoritative, candid reviews will help you make choices that suit your tastes and budget.> Exact prices, so there’s never any guessing.> Up-to-the-minute coverage of shopping and nightlife in cities and towns; detailed walking tours; lively coverage of history and culture; accurate neighborhood maps; and advice on planning a successful family vacation.

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Petty crime (pickpocketing, bag snatching and stealing passports) occurs, particularly in areas frequented by tourists. Violent crime, although rare, occurs in larger cities. Avoid secluded parks and unlit areas.

Car theft is on the rise, especially in Dublin; rental vehicles are especially targeted. Vehicles should be parked in secure parking lots.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Scams

Automated banking machine (ABM) card and credit card scams are becoming more common. 

See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

Public Transportation

Taxis are widely available. The tariff structure counts time stopped in traffic as part of the fare. In Dublin, gridlock can prove expensive. Expect long delays during rush hours.

Intercity bus and train services are occasionally affected by overcrowding and traffic congestion or disrupted by strike action.

Ferry services are available between Ireland and the United Kingdom. Ferries can be delayed or cancelled due to weather conditions.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash.

Emergency services

Dial 112 for emergency assistance.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

The standard of health care in Ireland is high, and excellent medical care is widely available. Payment is required before treatment.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Canada and Ireland are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Ireland to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Irish authorities.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict.

Driving laws

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

Traffic drives on the left. Turning at a red light is prohibited. Reduce speed on narrow, uneven country roads. The use of a cellular telephone while driving is prohibited, unless it is fitted with a hands-free device.

Motorways in Ireland are subject to tolls. For more information, please visit the AA Ireland website.

Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Money

The currency of Ireland is the euro (EUR).

Credit cards and traveller’s cheques in U.S. dollars and euros are widely accepted. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available in urban centres.

When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.

Climate

Heavy rains are frequent, sometimes resulting in flooding.