Ireland is indeed an island located to the west of the United Kingdom in the North Atlantic Ocean. It occupies 5/6 of the southern part of the island and has a population of over 4 million. 40% of the populace lives within a 100 kilometers radius of the capital, Dublin, situated on the east coast. Ireland has the Euro (EUR, €) as its currency. Compare hotel prices in Ireland.
Even though Ireland is member of the European Union, it is not a signatory to the Schengen Agreement. Therefore, separate immigration controls are maintained. It is advisable to check with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to see what the latest requirements are.
Irish (Gaeilge) is the national and first official language. English is spoken everywhere.
The climate is best described as temperate maritime with mild winters and cool summers. January and February are the coldest months but the temperature rarely goes below freezing. June through to August are the warmest months. The temperature occasionally goes above 20°C (68°F). There is no rainy season as such. It rains throughout the year. It’s best to be prepared for four seasons in one day.
When to go
May through to September is the best time to go with the peak tourist season being July/August. May is charming with fewer crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere. Also, at this time of year, the flowers are coming into bloom and you will also see the lambs frolicking in the pastures. September is another good ‘shoulder season’ month to visit Ireland.
The secret to travelling through Ireland is preparing for moderately mild weather at all times and then being able to supplement basic dress with a warm sweater and/or rainproof top. Taking a hat is a good idea but not an umbrella due to the windy conditions. Should you be sightseeing, a pair of good walking boots is highly recommended as a lot of the sights are found in rugged terrain.
Ireland has 2 cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
OPW Heritage Card – Visitor’s can purchase one of these cards for admission to any of the Heritage Sites throughout Ireland which are funded by the Office of Public Works.
Blarney Castle – this historic castle is located in County Cork, and is known for its “Blarney Stone.” Legend has it that if the Blarney Stone is kissed, one will acquire the “gift of the gab.”
Cliffs of Moher located in County Clare – One of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. The Cliffs measure 230 meters in height and tower over the Atlantic Ocean. There are no safety barriers so caution is advised. The Cliffs are absolutely spectacular. Kilkenny, one of Ireland’s favourite tourist spots with the Medieval Capital, is just an hour and forty minutes by train out of Dublin City and is a must see. The beautiful buildings and, of course, the imposing Norman Castle are a sight to behold. There are numerous festivals throughout the year including the Arts Festival and Rhythm and Roots Festival. Connemara and Cong, is probably the most beautiful scenic spot in Ireland. About an hour’s drive from Galway Bay.
Bucket & Spade
Ireland has a total of 82 blue flag beaches dotted along its coastline. (Blue Flag is an International body that grades beaches to a high standard with facilities nearby – for further details: www.blueflag.org). It also has 2 blue flag marinas.
- Everyone in Ireland is late.
- Ireland is not known for its culinary delights. Irish cuisine can charitably be described as wholesome or hearty. Nearly all traditional meals include meat (especially lamb and pork), potatoes and cabbage.
- Be prepared to be asked if you have any crack. “Craic” pronounced “crack” is Irish for “fun”. An Irish person may be about to explode with a tumult of gossip or news, perhaps they’ve even won the lottery, or recently become engaged but, whatever it is, they will always respond with, “No, no craic”.
- In an emergency, dial 999 or 112.
- Alcohol is expensive in the Republic. A pint of Guinness starts at €3.60 going as high as €7.50 in Dublin.
- Almost all enclosed places of work, including bars, restaurants, cafés, etc., in Ireland have been designated as smoke-free. The larger bars and cafés usually have a (covered) outdoor smoking area, often with heating.
- Visitors to Ireland will find the Irish one of the most pleasant nationalities in the world. It is not uncommon for locals to approach confused looking visitors and offer their assistance.
- Get ready to make a lot of new friends with accents you can’t understand.
- If you don’t like sport, lie.
- A lot of social time is spent in the pub.
- Ignore Irish people wearing t-shirts. It’s seldom warm over there!