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Ireland Travel Guide

Cliffs of Moher Ireland Adventures
Ireland

“May the Irish hills caress you, may her lakes and rivers bless you, may the luck of the Irish enfold you, may the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.”

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Trim Castle Ireland

Top Five Destinations In Ireland

  1. Dublin Ireland’s attractive capital is a gritty but lively city full of rich history, Georgian architecture, gorgeous churches, characteristic pubs, and beautiful parks. Guinness and Jameson’s tours make it extra memorable.
  2. Cork Is a quirky seaport within a bustling cosmopolitan city where you will find intimate pubs with live-music, wonderful markets, friendly locals, and deep cultural history to explore. Add to that an area full of magnificent castles. It is quintessential Ireland.
  3. Cliff of Moher/Doolin Is where you will discover the heart of Ireland’s spectacular Wild Atlantic coastline. This historical landmark is a geographical wonder within a rich conservation area.
  4. Galway This seaside medieval bohemian city, is dotted with brightly painted pubs filled with lively music, gorgeous cathedral and churches, riverside walks, and fun pedestrian streets. Many sites near Galway to enjoy.
  5. Kilkenny A medieval city that is full of history, energy, and life. Explore the breathtaking scenery, cultural attractions, and wander cobblestone streets inside these ancient walls. You will find a network of quaint villages, lovely castles, and welcoming countryside just outside of this city.

Did you know?

Ireland Stats

  • Population: 5.1 million
  • Capital City: Dublin
  • Currency Euro: (EUR)
  • Government type Parliamentary Republic
  • Known as the Republic of Ireland
  • President Michael Higgins
  • Ethnic groups: Irish 82.2%, other white 9.5%, Asian 2.1%, unspecified 2.6%, other 3.6%
  • Language: English (official, the language generally used), Irish (Gaelic or Gaeilge) (official, spoken by approximately 39.8% of the population)
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 78.3%, Church of Ireland 2.7%, other 2.4%, none 9.8%, unspecified 5.6%
  • US State Department Risk Level: 3 due to Covid
  • Terrorist groups: Continuity Irish Republican Army; New Irish Republican Army (2019)
  • 32 counties make up Ireland.
  • Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle.
  • The Patron saint of Ireland is Saint Patrick.
  • There are over 30,000 Castles and Ruins in Ireland.
  • The average family size is four, two adults and two children.
  • GDP 413 billion
  • The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks are Ireland’s highest mountain range, at 1,038m (3,406ft).
  • The Irish Harp is the official emblem of Ireland.
  • Over 70-80 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry.
  • Major exports: food products, zinc-lead, machinery, pharmaceuticals chemicals, computers, medical devices, and animal products.
  • Inventions from Ireland: Halloween, The US White House, submarine, color photography, guided torpedo, hypodermic needle, chocolate milk, croquet, tattoo machines, portable defibrillators, seismology, tanks, and ejection seats.
  • Industries: Agriculture, tourism, pharmaceuticals, and organic chemicals.
  • Approximately 50% of the population is less than 28 years of age. 
  • Ireland does not have postal codes.
  • Newgrange is 5000 years old and older than the ancient pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge.
  • Approximately 50% of the population is less than 28 years of age. 
  • Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, Ireland covers one-sixth of the island’s land.
  • Dublin is home to over one-quarter of the total Ireland population.
  • Shamrock (a type of clover) is the national symbol of Ireland.
  • Life expectancy 81.5 years old.
  • Literacy rate 99%.

Fun facts

  • The Irish are known to be strong drinkers, but they consume more alcohol for such a small country than most nations on earth.
  • Ireland is the sixth-highest consumer of beer per capita after the Czech Republic, Namibia, Austria, Germany, and Poland.
  • The Irish are the second biggest tea drinkers in the world.
  • Irish surnames beginning with O’ mean ‘descendant of ’ in Irish Gaelic.
  • The ancestral language of Irish people is Irish Gaelic. Sadly in the 2011 census found that only 82,600 people in Ireland speak Irish outside of school. 
  • Halloween is derived from the Irish Festival of Samhain, which celebrates the end of the harvest.
  • The longest word in Irish is Grianghrafadoireachta, which means Photography.
  • Seans’s Bar, the oldest pub in Europe, is in Athlone’s town between Dublin and Galway.
  • One of the oldest books globally, a Latin book of Gospels from the 9th century, resides in Dublin’s Trinity Library.
  • Guinness brews 3 million pints a day in Dublin. Nigeria is the top consumer of Guinness.
  • Leprechauns are a huge part of Irish tradition. In Irish folklore, these tiny men can fit on top of your shoulder. They are believed to have buried numerous pots of gold throughout Ireland.
  • Ireland has been used as a location for several famous films, including Star Wars, The Mackintosh Man, The Princess Bride, Braveheart, and Harry Potter.
  • During the 1840s, Ireland’s staple crop – the potato – failed, leading to the Great Famine. An estimated million people died of starvation between 1846 and 1851, and two million emigrated between 1845 and 1855.
  •  In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for Guinness Brewery’s land in Dublin.
  • There is a tradition called “Bumping” in Ireland. It is a strange Irish birthday tradition when they lift the birthday child upside down and gently tap his head on the floor the number of times, as is his age plus one.
  • The Blarney stone draws visitors from all over the world. It is said to endow whoever kisses it with the eternal gift of eloquence – the ‘Gift of the Gab.’
  • At the Olympics, boxing is Ireland’s most successful sport.
  • Gaelic football and hurling are traditional sports in Ireland and remain the most popular sports in the country.

Ireland Map

Good to know before you go

  • Tipping in Ireland. Generally, people do not tip for many services such as hotels, taxis, and bars, except in restaurants. In restaurants, Irish people typically tip between 10% and 15% of the bill, depending on the service. At times there could be service charges, so watch for that.
  • Credit cards are widely accepted everywhere. Small villages markets or cafes prefer cash.
  • Overall, clothing is casual, contemporary, and well kept. Western attire like blouses, sneakers, and denim are common. Business wear is generally formal but relaxed. Raincoats an essential Irish wardrobe piece. Wear layers as the weather can change quickly.
  • In Ireland, they drive on the left. It may seem intimidating, but trust us, we have driven twice in Ireland, and it becomes natural pretty quick. This is a country that you can never do justice without your own car. The magic is the castles, small villages, the country, and off the beaten path surprises. Irish are good drivers, but they can go fast. The major roadways are excellent and easy to navigate. Country roads vary. There are often two-way roads that are only one car wide. At times you find animals on the road. Be aware. Use GPS as tiny roads not well marked. Parking was easy in most places. There are no toll roads in Ireland.
  • This is a small country. A bit bigger than South Carolina but smaller than the next closest Maine. To cross it takes 2-3 hours. It makes it very doable and manageable.
  • It is proper etiquette in Ireland to acknowledge other drivers on the road. This is done by raising a hand or simply just a finger from the steering wheel. Even if you are a foreigner, this is a courtesy; Irish people greet others on the road this way.
  • Handshakes with eye contact are the most common way to greet people in Ireland.  Handshakes are used at both the beginning and end of a meeting.
  • Using the person’s first name, even if you don’t know them, is typically appropriate for etiquette in Ireland.  
  • Cuisine in Ireland is not something you hear much about, but there is much to enjoy. From lamb to fish, stews and soups, bangers and shepherd’s pie, and, of course, potatoes, Irish food involve hearty, simple, family cooking. The large breakfasts were our favorite; that blood pudding grew on us. What would a morning be without it?
  • Trains are a nice way to get around, but they are expensive at the last minute. Book in advance if you can.
  • Buses don’t stop automatically in Dublin; you need to flag them down. You will also note locals often thank the bus driver as they get off the bus.
  • If you want to see lots of Irish cultural attractions, it’s a good idea to get a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works. It provides free admission to all fee-paying state-managed heritage sites in Ireland, including castles, national parks, and war memorial gardens. We used it often and found it very valuable.
  • If invited to a friend’s or relative’s home, you should bring a small gift as a token of your appreciation. Flowers, wine, or some chocolate are considered proper etiquette in Ireland. If you can bring a gift from home, it would be well received.
  • When with a group of friends at a pub, a system of “rounds” is used. Each person in the group will offer to buy a round for everyone in their group and take turns. It is considered rude not to buy a round.
  • Public displays of affection such as hugging, touching, or simply being overly physical with others in public are considered inappropriate etiquette. Avoid using PDA and respect others’ personal space in Ireland.
  • Sunday is a day of rest for many of the Irish. Although establishments in most Irish cities and towns are open on a Sunday, many of them operate with limited hours or open late in the day or not at all. Make sure to check your location’s hours ahead of time.
  • The Irish have an international reputation for extending céad míle fáilte or ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’, but Irish friendliness can sometimes seem reserved. They love to chat but aren’t outgoing by nature.  
  • Using loud voices and being disruptive can be considered bad etiquette in Ireland with some locals.
  • Irish have a little filter when speaking. They swear often. Take it stride and smile.
  • Smoking in public is illegal in enclosed public places. Pubs can have designated areas.
  • Irish people aren’t afraid of arguments and good at expressing their own opinions. However, some Irish people are sensitive about religion and past conflicts of their country.
  • It is a very safe country.

Ireland Essential Info

US Consular Emergency
The 24-hour number from a US Phone 1-888-407-4747
Outside of US 011-202-501-4444

US Embassy Dublin
42 Elgin Rd
Ballsbridge
Dublin 4
Ireland
+(353) (1) 668-8777
 Emergency
+(353) (1) 668-8777
Email
[email protected]

Emergency Numbers
GENERAL 112 or 999

Country Code
+353

Time Zone
UTC+1

Driving
Left side

Adaptors
Large Type G (Same as the UK)
Voltage 230V

Tourism Office
www. tourismireland.com

When to go to Ireland

The shoulder seasons are the best time to visit Ireland. April to May and September to October is the best time to visit this beautiful country. Our first trip was in April, the second in May, and both were lovely overall. In the shoulder season, prices are more reasonable, and space is less of an issue. Crowds will be smaller. In the fall, the colors can be spectacular. Both shoulder seasons can be chilly, so plan for layers.

Summer is warmer and has less rain. The one advantage of summer is the long 18 hour days. You can truly make every evening moment count. The crowds can be an issue as that is when most tourists go.

Winter is rainy with very short days. The temps rarely go to freezing; snow is infrequent. There are often fireplaces in pubs, and you see them well used in the winter.

Ireland is known for rain, and that is a simple fact. It isn’t the Emerald Isle for no reason. Plan for it year-round. The lowest rain month is May.

  • Summer 54-74 °F (16-20 °C)
  • Spring 46-53 °F (8-15 °C)
  • Fall 57-64 °F (14-18 °C)
  • Winter 3-42 °F (4-6°C)

Our Favorite Ireland Resources

This resource section contains some Amazon affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Travel Books/Guides

Ireland was our first trip overseas as a travel team. It was life-changing for both of us. We can never get enough of Ireland; the people, the culture, the history, natural beauty, and of course, the castles. It is just perfect, and each region is unique and magnificent.

Lonely Planet’s Ireland (Country Guide) by Lonely Planet

A passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on the highlights Ireland has to offer and what hidden discoveries await you. Get drawn into brooding landscapes and windswept coast, visit pubs and enjoy music, learn about Dublin, Cork and Galway and explore centuries of history. Great photography and lots of details to aid in planning. Discover this travel guide here

Rick Steves Ireland 2020 by Rick Steves

Full disclosure, we are huge Rick Steve’s fans; it will be rare we do not recommend one of his wonderful guides, and this is a great resource for Ireland. We love his travel style and perspective. His off-the-beaten-path approach, together with his independent travel philosophy, matches well with how we travel. The guides never disappoint. This book made the cut into our suitcase and was a fantastic resource. Find this must-have guide here

DK Eyewitness Ireland (Travel BC Guide) by DK Eyewitness

The ideal travel companion, full of insider advice on what to see and do, plus detailed itineraries and comprehensive maps for exploring beautiful Ireland. Everything you need to know is clearly laid out within color-coded chapters. Discover the best of Ireland and its 32 counties. In this lovely illustrated guide. Find this guide here

Our favorite websites

1. Ireland tourism site

2. US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Ireland Country Info

We cannot encourage you enough to visit this website as you plan and prepare for your trip. This is the US Federal Government addressing the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency US and Embassy contacts, health, local laws, special circumstances, threats, traveler vulnerabilities, government warnings, and transportation in Ireland. This is your best and most reliable resource for all this important info. Check back often before you go, as things can change quickly. Being prepared is essential in all travel, but especially internationally.

Ireland International Travel Information (state.gov)

3. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers Health Resource

This CDC travel resource provides essential health info for your specific destination. Using their tool you, can determine which vaccines, medications, and health advice recommendations are needed for Ireland.

CDC’s Travelers Health Page for Ireland

Our favorite maps

Lonely Planet Ireland Planning Map by Lonely Planet

Durable and waterproof. Comes in a handy slipcase. Easy to read this map with practical road and travel information. Explore the rich history of Ireland. Major sites and landmarks are marked. Mapped road network with distances and designations for major highways to the off-the-beaten-path roads. There are not the usual choices of maps for Ireland, which is odd. Though we default to Google maps, this came in handy when service was poor or during construction detours. Find this essential map here

Our Favorite Apps

Rome2rio: Trip Planner Trip and Holiday Organizer Enter any address, landmark, or city; the app will instantly display all your travel options, booking info, along with accommodation providers, and things to do. Find on your local app store.

Rick Steve’s Audio Europe This app includes a vast library of Rick Steve’s audio content. Get cultural and travel info. Includes self-guided tours of top attractions and historic walks. A must-have. Find on your local app store.

Do you have a favorite Ireland travel resource? Share your favorites in the comments section at the bottom of this page or

© 2021 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved

Our Ireland Posts

Squaremouth.com

Our favorite travel insurance site!

If you are booking a trip, don’t forget to get travel insurance within 14 days of your first booking. We could not be stronger advocates of being well insured. Not for the little stuff but the big stuff like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it. Over the years, we have used many sites but have now found our go-to place. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, they use top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover Covid medical issues and cancellations. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems with your policy.

MedjetAssist

Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world

They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the US to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. They cover Covid-related transports as well.

Medjet carries its own policies. The policy is only for transport and no other aspects of travel insurance. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for $295. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.

Expedia.com 

Hotels, home rentals, BNBs, flights, and other transportation & tours 

Expedia is a US-based company whose mission is to power global travel for everyone and everywhere. Whether planning a family vacation, booking for business, or organizing the trip of a lifetime, they are a fantastic resource. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you would need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, cruises, to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.  

Booking.com

Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, Flights, and other Transportation & Tours 

Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. It is one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes.

We always start with Expedia to check prices, but it sometimes says it is sold out. We then try Booking.com, and we find it lists plenty of rooms. It could be they are a Europe-based company. Try both before booking accommodations.

Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO)

Traveling with a family or having an extended stay at your destination?

With over 2 million bookable vacation rentals, VRBO connects homeowners with families and vacationers looking for something more than a hotel for their trip. The VRBO community offers families or groups various rental property types such as condos, cabins, lake rentals, beach houses, etc.

VRBO is under the Expedia group ownership now, which many were worried about, but it hasn’t panned out to be a concern. It is a massive network that also has access to all forms of lodging should issues arise. Joelle has used VRBO for many years with her family, with no problems to date.

Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travelers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travelers around the world use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do, and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions from nearly 8 million businesses, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places to see nearby. We use them for guidance and research on every trip, it is a valuable app for the independent traveler.

Rail Europe

Discover Europe by Train

Rail Europe sells train and bus tickets for travel across Europe. They cover 24 countries, 105 rail operations, and 20,000 stations. They are the official rail and bus operations agents in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Rail Europe continues to add coverage all the time.

It is a fast, easy and economical way to purchase train and bus tickets for Europe. Eurail passes are also available to buy through their site.

Amazon.com

An excellent source for travel essentials and guides

Amazon is one of the most extensive shopping online sources in the world. On behalf of their customers, teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery. They offer a vast inventory, and it is their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com that provide extensive options for customers.

We buy most of our travel books, accessories, and luggage from Amazon. We have ordered up to two days before travel and get what we need.

Travelpro Luggage

Thoughtfully Designed | Meticulously Constructed | Quality Guaranteed.

We have used this luggage for years, left briefly to try others, and returned to Travelpro. Travelpro luggage is carried by crews from over 90 airlines worldwide.

Travelpro takes the time to learn what travelers want and need, then builds it. The key factor for us is that it must be lightweight upfront and very resistant to rough handling. Their luggage is the best, and we could not recommend it enough. It is our go-to luggage.

iVisa

Travel documentation made more accessible

iVisa.com is dedicated to providing customers with a simple, fast, and reliable way to get travel documentation for their journey. Their online application process makes getting visas, health declarations, or passport photos a breeze, all from your home’s comfort. As a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry, they take pride in making global travel more accessible for everyone. In the end, it is a simple and affordable travel resource to get the necessary entry documents complete for your international travel.

This section contains affiliate links. If you use these links (the ads with photos are NOT affiliate links) to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

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