Useful Information about Ireland
Below there is general information on what to bear in mind when travelling to and in Ireland. There may be many things different to your home country and culture. Typically driving on the left and not the right. The quality of the surface on country roads. Ireland's public holidays. There is so much, shop and bank opening times, using a public phone, the rail and bus system, the list just goes on and on. However, these are the things that will make your holiday interesting.
The population of the Republic of Ireland is estimated at over 4 millions (in 2004). Of those, over 1,2 million live in the Greater Dublin Area. Ireland has a young population, with 44% of the population under 25.
Size & Area
Ireland has a width of 275km (170 miles) at its widest point and a length of 486km (301 miles) at its longest. The country has a total coastline of 3,172km (1,970 miles). It covers an area of 84,421 square kilometres (32,595 square miles).
Ireland is 51.30 & 55.30 degrees north latitude and 5.30 & 10.30 degrees west longitude. The island of Ireland is just west of Great Britain and is the westernmost island in Europe.
The Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary democracy with two houses of parliament, an elected President who is head of state and a prime minister (Taoiseach) who is head of government.
Northern Ireland is part of the UK (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and is governed by the Northern Ireland Assembly under the aegis of the UK government in London.
Ireland consists of four provinces that are broken down into 32 counties as follows:
ULSTER: Cavan, Donegal, Monaghan (all in the Republic), Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone (all in Northern Ireland)
LEINSTER: Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow
MUNSTER: Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford
CONNACHT: Mayo, Galway, Roscommon and Leitrim
Time Zone Information
From late October to March Ireland is on GMT (5 hours ahead of US Eastern time - 1 hour behind Central European Time).
From late March to October Ireland is on GMT +1 hour. Ireland goes to daylight saving time 2 weeks ahead of the U.US.
The following are the public holidays in the Republic of Ireland. Most companies and shops are closed these days.
- January 1st
- March 17th
- Friday before Easter
- Monday after Easter
- First Monday in May
- First Monday in June
- First Monday in August
- Last Monday in October
- December 25th
- December 26th
- December 31st
- New Year's Day
- St. Patrick's Day
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- May Day Holiday
- June Holiday
- August Holiday
- October Holiday
- Christmas Day
- St. Stephen's Day
- New Year's Eve
Passports & Visas
Passports are not required by British citizens born in the United Kingdom and travelling from Britain. However, identification may be needed. Citizens of European Union states and Switzerland may use a passport or national identity card. All other nationalities must have a passport.
Countries whose passport holder DO NOT require visas to enter Ireland:
|Brazil||Korea(Rep of South)||Slovenia|
|Denmark||Malawi||Trinidad & Tobago|
|El Salvador||Malta||UK & colonies|
|Greece||New Zealand||Western Samoa|
* British Dependent Territories Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory (South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands) British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Archipelago, Peros Banos, Diego Garcia, Danger Island), Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands and dependencies, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, (Henderson, Ducie and Oneno Islands), St. Helena and dependencies (Ascension Island, Tristan Da Cunha), the sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Turks and Caicos Island, British Virgin Islands.
TRANSIT VISAS ARE REQUIRED BY NATIONALS OF THE FOLLOWING COUNTRIES:
Albania, Bulgaria, Cuba, Iran, Romania, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Somalia, Sri Lanka.
If you require a visa or have any queries please contact the Irish Embassy or consulate in your country of permanent residence.
The Republic of Ireland is one of the Euro zone countries and the Euro (€) became the official currency on 1st January 2002. €1 euro is made up of 100 cents. Visitors from other Euro zone countries do not need to exchange currency. Visitors from outside the Euro zone will need to exchange their own currency for Euro. Please check with your bank for rates of exchange. Euro can be purchased at foreign exchange departments at your local bank or at any bank in Ireland (including those located at airports that are open for all flight arrivals). ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) are located at most banks and most accept major credit cards, particularly Visa and MasterCard, as well as Plus and Cirrus debit cards.
Shops & Shopping
Retail shops are open Monday to Saturday, generally from 9.00 to 18.00 and do not close for lunch. Supermarkets now stay open 7 days a week, and later than 18.00 at least one or more days each week. An increasing number of shops now open on Sundays.
All the major credit cards are accepted and some shops provide a 'bureau de change' service and/or permit payment in foreign currency at the prevailing rates.
Sales Tax Refunds
The price of most goods includes value-added tax (VAT). Visitors from outside of the EU can have this sales tax refunded at the end of their trip. Be sure to ask for a tax-free shopping form with each purchase and follow the instructions for completion.
In most hotels and restaurants a service charge of 10-15% is added to the bill. A small tip is appreciated for good service. Tipping is not usual in pubs, except when you are served at your table. Cabs can be tipped 10%.
Banks & Bureau de Change
Bank opening hours are 10.00 to 16.00, sometimes until 17.00. Bureau de change services are available at all bank branches as well as full range of tourist and non-resident financial services.
Driving can be a real pleasure since Irish roads are the least congested in Europe. Here is some useful information for driving in Ireland.
Unless signs indicate otherwise, speed limits are:
- In cities 50km/h (30mph)
- Open road 100km/h (60mph)
- Motorway 120km/h (70mph)
REMEMBER TO DRIVE ON THE LEFT IN IRELAND
Seatbelts must be worn by the driver and passengers at all times. The major car hire firms are represented in Ireland, and you will find them represented at airports, ferry ports, and all major cities.
Mains electricity is supplied at 220 Volts (50 cycles) and the plugs are flat with three pins. An adapter is needed to convert to the right plug size. A transformer is needed to convert American appliances (except for dual-voltage equipment which needs only an adapter).
A growing number of tourist facilities are adapting their facilities for people with disabilities.
For more detailed information, a country by county fact sheet is available from:
The National Rehabilitation Board
25 Clyde Road
Pets & Quarantine
There are no restrictions on importing a dog or cat from Britain, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, provided your pet is coming directly and has been resident there for at least six months. All animals entering Ireland from other countries must be quarantined for a period of six months. This is to protect against the introduction of rabies.
In case of emergency, Dial 999 or 112 and ask the operator for the emergency service you require: Fire, Gardaí (Police), Ambulance, Boat & Coastal Rescue, Mountain & Cave Rescue. When the emergency service answers, state the address or location at which help is needed. Calls to these services are free of charge.
Telephones & Internet
Telephone tones and their significance vary from country to country. These are the tones used throughout the island of Ireland:
- Dial Tone - a continuous high pitched tone
- Ringing Tone - a repeated double beat tone (burr-burr)
- Engaged Tone - a high pitched, broken tone (beep-beep-beep)
There are public telephones in many outdoor locations, as well as in telecentres and public buildings (including rail stations, bus stations, shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels). Local, trunk and international calls can be dialled direct from these phones.
Public telephones accept cash, callcards or both. Callcards can be purchased from many shops.
A list of all Irish regional codes and International direct dialling codes is contained in the front of the telephone directory. Cheap Rates are available on Weekends, Bank Holidays, and after 6pm each day.
Internet Café's will now be found in many cities and towns. Prices vary. Some of these café's also provide public telephones.
Radio & Television
National radio and television services are operated by Radio Telefís Éireann (RTE), the public broadcasting company that transmits on two television and five radio channels.
TV3 is an independent television station offering a broad variety of news and entertainment.
British radio and television programming and Satellite channels (including Sky and CNN) are also widely available.
Irish speakers are served by RTE's dedicated radio channel Radio na Gaeltachta and TG4, the Irish language television station which was launched in October 1996. The 1988 Radio and Television Act established The Independent Radio and Television Commission that has responsibility for licensing and overseeing independent radio and television broadcasting. In recent years, quite a number of independent local and community radio initiatives have emerged across the country, gaining substantial audience.
Newspapers have been published in Ireland for over 300 years. Today, there are six morning daily papers:
- The Irish Independent
- The Irish Times
- The Irish Examiner
- The Star
- The Belfast Telegraph
- The Irish News
Three evening newspapers are published:
- The Evening Herald
- The Evening Echo
- The Belfast Newsletter
Newspapers from most other countries can also be purchased throughout Ireland.
Trains & Busses
In the Republic of Ireland, the State transport authority, CIE (Coras Iompair Eireann) is the umbrella body for three companies - Dublin Bus (Serving the city), Bus Eireann (serving provincial areas from Dublin) and Irish Rail (Operating inter-city trains as well as the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) system).
Timetables for bus and train services, including details of various money-saving commuter and tourist tickets, are sold in outlets throughout the city.
For bus and train information within Ireland:
Tel: 01 873 4222 (Dublin Bus)
Tel: 01 836 6111 (Bus Eireann)
Tel: 01 836 6222 (Irish Rail)