Known as the Emerald Isle for its bountifully verdant landscapes; Ireland, despite its small size, has made cultural and historical contributions have been felt by the rest of the world for quite some time. Throughout its history; Ireland has been a wellspring for some of the most famous and highly-regarded authors and poets such as George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Jonathon Swift, James Joyce and many more. Teeming with culture; this North Atlantic island nation's traditions and customs are some of the most distinctive on the planet, and it is a joy to be taken away by them. From the arresting greenery of the countrysides to the, the respectable, yet merry people; Ireland is a shining nation that is an unmatched destination for travel-seekers.
After centuries of invasions and incursions by the Vikings, Danes, Normans, and ultimately, the English; Ireland established their independence in 1922 and became a soverign nation. For decades preceeding and following indepedence; Ireland was wracked by religious and political tensions, mostly notably the "The Troubles" in the 1960s. When Ireland gained indepedence, there was a condition that involved partitioning Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the former being a country within the United Kingdom. This created the "Trouble's conflict" with the beliigerents being those Irish people loyal to the United Kingdom, those wanting to reunite the country and the government of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland would be instramental in drawing this conflict to a close in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement and tensions are still lingering to this day. The metoric rise of Ireland's economy from 1995 until 2007 was brought to a holt with the 2008 banking crisis, plunging the country into a recession. In recent years the Irish economy is gradually recovering with foriegn investments into the country from buinesses in nations like the U.S.
Size (land area): 27,132 sq miles, slightly larger than West Virginia.
Border Countries: United Kingdom
Elevation: The lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean 0 ft. below sea-level and the highest point is Carrauntoohil 3,415 ft above sea-level.
Religion: Roman Catholic 84.7%, Church of Ireland 2.7%, other Christian 2.7%, Muslim 1.1%, other 1.7%, unspecified 1.5%, none 5.7%
Languages: English (official, the language generally used), Irish (Gaelic or Gaeilge) (official, spoken by approximately 38.7% of the population as a first or second language in 2011; mainly spoken in areas along the western coast)
Ireland requires U.S citizens to carry a valid U.S passport when traveling to Germany. A visa is not required for U.S travelers whose stays won’t exceed 90 days.
Source: The World Factbook
Ireland is an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean located in Western Europe, west of the United Kingdom. The territory of Ireland covers 27,132 sq miles, consisting of 26,595 sq miles of land and 536 sq miles of water.
The currency in Ireland is the Euro. The Euro is a currency decimal is divided into 100 cents. There are 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 Euro, and coins of 2 and 1 Euro and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. There is no limit to the amount of money that can be introduced into the country.Visitors can exchange money at hotels, banks or ATMs.
What to Wear:
The rule of thumb while traveling to Ireland is to be prepared because Irish weather is known as having four seasons in one day, due to how unpredictable the weather can be. To play it safe, it is suggested that you dress in layers so that you can take off or put on clothing as the weather dictates. Always expect a possiblitiy of rain, no matter the season, but the rainfall doesn't last long in Ireland. Sweaters, a waterproof jacket and comfortable shoes are a must so that you are ready to confront anything the Irish weather has to offer.
Food and Drink:
Irish cuisine reflects the crops and the livestock that abound on the Emerald Isle, most famously meals such as Irish stew and black pudding. Potatoes have been a staple of the Irish diet for centuries and it isn't any wonder why many popular Irish dishes include potatoes. Many Irish dishes revolve around mouth watering meats such as lamb or beef. For breakfast, the Irish don't skimp out on the portions with the traditional, Full Irish Breakfast, including bacon, sausage, eggs, tomato, toast and baked beans. Stews and soups, accompanied by a variety of breads, are very popular Irish dishes. Irish cheeses are world-renowned and delight the senses. For those whole enjoy imbibing in adult beverages, Ireland has no shortage of tasty varieties. Dark ales and stouts are commonly enjoyed beers in Ireland, most famously Guinness.
For a short Airport Transfer €5-10 is sufficient. For longer transfers €10-30.
Generally there are three options, outlined on the menu.
• "A Service Charge of x % will apply" - this means what it says, your final bill will be subject to an additional charge; no further tips are necessary.
• "Service included" - this means that the prices are a flat rate, no tips are required and the prices are final. Again if the server has been attentive a €5 or €10 left on the table will always be appreciated.
• If none of these apply servers will usually expect a tip of around 10-15%
Service is always included and in general no tips are expected but they are welcome nonetheless. For excellent or unusual services a few Euros (the classic "fiver", a €5 note) are appropriate left for the housemaid or the porter who brings your bags up.
In Ireland tips are not really expected but no taxi driver will object if you round the bill up a bit to the nearest euro. In England the taxi drivers expect a 10% tip on the fare.
If you try to tip in a pub you'll more than likely earn a happy but incredulous stare!
When to Travel?
Weather by Regions
The most ideal time to visit Ireland would be in the summer months, during June through August. During these months Ireland's temperatures rise up to comfortable levels, around 60°F. Ireland's climate is distinct in that it avoids the sustained freezing temperatures that other countries on mainlaind Europe encounter because it sits in the path of the warm North Atlantic Gulf Stream that keeps generally keeps temperatures above freezing and the average temperature in the winter is about 40°F.
In the mountain areas, the regions tend to receive most frequent rainfall and snowfall compared to the rest of the country. Because of the wind, parts of the country east of the mountains like Donegal, Galway and Kerry are considered the wettest places in Ireland.
The East Coast
In contrast to the mountainous areas, the east coast of the country is found to be the dryest region of the country, with places like Dublin and Kildere experiencing an average of 60°F in the summer months and an average of 41°F in the winter months. In August, the region has the its most rainfall, averaging 3 inches of rain.
Given the nickname, "The Sunny Southeast", this region of Ireland is the nation's warmest and sunniest. In the south east, around places like Cork, the temperatures average around 60°F and in the winter months the temperature averages around 43°F. The area of West Cork is an anomoly because of the effects of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream bearing down on the area; places like Garnish Island in West Cork is considered a micro-climate because it has the temperatures to sustain sub-tropical plantlife that could never thrive in other parts of the country.
For First Timers, a southern loop around the island is a good introduction to Ireland; it has an excellent mix of scenery, towns and options that cater to visitors. It’s best to take at least 10 days for such a tour, this number just happens to extend beyond the one-week vacation most US citizens allot and the more ideal length of two weeks of travel.
With only a week and flying into/out of Dublin, time is extremely limited and distance – how far you can go versus how far you want to travel each day – must be considered. Driving in Ireland is not like driving in the US. Short distances can take a long time because of small winding roads, traffic, etc. Even the larger “motorways” can be slow due to traffic, accidents or just taking in the beautiful scenery and unfamiliar roads and signage. Visitors should expect to get lost at some point during their trip; it’s all part of the Irish Experience.
If you only have a week, it’s best to do one of two options: cover as much as of the island as possible with single night stays along the way OR plan on a series of bases along your route with multi-night stays that allow you to experience these areas with a bit more depth.
It is also important to be aware that Ireland has two major airports, Dublin on the east coast and Shannon on the west coast. Choosing the right airport or flying into one and out of the other can dramatically improve your experience and reduce unnecessary backtracking.
Resting on the eastern shores of Ireland is the nation's capital; Dublin, which has been a point of interest ever since the city was established in the late 900's by the Vikings. Cloven in half by the River Liffey, creating a Northside and Southside; Dublin is a vivacious city, not only due to nearly half of the city's population being below the age of 25, but because the city has a character of its own. "The Fair City" is replete with historical landmarks and sites that honor the city's storied past. Dublin Castle has been a constant in the city of Dublin for the past 800 years. This castle is a grand indicator of Ireland's historical struggle for its independence, due to it serving as a symbol of English occupation until 1922, when the nation gained its independence. Ireland's oldest university, Trinity College, established in 1592, is the city's crowning academic institution. The Trinity College Library houses over 6 million books and is home to the famous illustrated manuscript, The Book of Kells, which was created in 800 and it is a considered one of the jewels of religious artefacts. There are no shortage of greenery in Dublin with the city having the distinction of having the most green spaces per square mile in all of Europe. For nightlife and shopping; Dublin abounds with trendy pubs, clubs and shopping areas like Grafton Street where you can shop until you drop. The Temple Bar area is a notable hotspot for nightlife in the city, attracting partygoers from all around Europe. For those fans of Ireland's favorite beer, Guinness, take a tour of the popular Guinness Storehouse, pour yourself a pint, tour the facility, learn the history and even climb to the seventh floor to enjoy a picturesque view of Dublin. Dublin's atmosphere is just as charming as itself people and its awaiting to charm you.
Known as "Ireland's Cultural Heart", Galway located on Western Coast of Ireland is a cultural hub on the Emerald Isle. Galway is a city where the age-old traditional Irish music is kept alive and resounds around the city in different pubs, as well as the many festivals that are held in Galway every year. Galway is rooted in European history because of it key location as a harbor during the Middle Ages. Galway was the epicenter for trade with the French and the Spanish during that time. One of the city's important landmarks is Lynch's Castle which was once home to one of the most powerful famililes in the city of Galway. Lynches were a long of line of gentry who's decendents became mayors and important figures in the city. Its medievel architecture is a rare example of Galway's Middle Aged history because it is only building left from that time period in Galway. The Church of Ireland St. Nicolas' Collegiate Church is Ireland's biggest Middle Age Church still in use. The dome, portico, pillars and arches are a sight to behold. In line with Galway's position as the cultural center of Ireland, the city holds fifty-one concert venues, three dance companies, ten festival companies, twenty-three music organizations and twelve theater companies all within the city. Galway exudes cheery festivals with the summertime Galway Arts Festival and wintery Christmas Markets. Galway is known as the most Irish city on the Island and its a great opportunity to place yourself in the center of Irish culture.
Originally a haven for Irish monks and later turned into a settlement by the Vikings in the tenth century; Cork has transformed into a bustling urban center that is on par with most mainland European cities. In 2005, Cork was designated the European Captial of Culture and that moniker is fitting because the delights that can be found in this refined city. Cork has the full diversity of a mainland European city of renown and has been that way for centuries. This melting pot produced resturants that run the gamut of delicious international food such as Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Thai, Indian and African style eateries. For foods of the Irish variety, head over to Cork's centuries old English Market, where fresh, locally sourced produce, fish, meats, cheeses and breads are on full display. The city of Cork with its interweaving waterways and countless bridges has many historical sites of note and museums that helps bore visitors back into the Cork's past. One may tour the famous church tower of Shandon, enjoy the joyous sounds of the 160 year old Cork Opera House, take in the granduer of Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral or walk down the historic St. Patrick Street that is lined with interesting architecture and the main shopping area in the city. For the night-owls or those who enjoy nightlife will have no difficulty having a great time crawling the many traditional pubs in the city. Cork is a vibrant city that definitely shouldn't be looked over because you are sure to miss out.
The Northwest region of Ireland which incorporates counties such as Donegal, Cavan, Sligo and Monaghan is known as Ireland's most idyllic, as well as the most enchanting region in Ireland. The small villages, rolling hills, all emcompassing greenery and settings seemly straight out of a storybook, the Northwest Region offers all spectacular, yet simple pleasures that nature has to give. The woodlands, mountains, white sand beaches, fresh air and dreamy landscapes have been known to romance those who visit the region.
11 Days / 10 Nights • Daily Departures by Private Car and Guide
Explore the breath-taking features of the Emerald Isle in the comfort and refinement of luxury travel.
Featuring: Dublin, Ashford Castle, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Lough Derg, Adare, Killarney, Blarney, Cobh, Cork, Cashel, Kilkenny and Kildare.
13 Days / 12 Nights • Daily Departures by Private Car and Guide
Trail-blaze around the charming idylls and the greenery of Ireland in comfort during this extensive 13-day luxury journey.
Featuring: Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Cork City, Kenmare, Kinsale, Ring of Kerry, Kilarney, Dingle Peninsula, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Connemara and Galway.
6 Days / 5 Nights • Daily Departures by Private Car and Guide
Come and Capture or Be Captured by the Elegant Castles of Ireland.
Featuring: Dublin, Castle Leslie, Antrim, Belfast City, Ashford Castle, Clifden, The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren.
7 Days / 6 Nights • Daily Departures by Private Car and Guide
Everyone in Ireland agrees that Cork, the largest county and the one farthest to the south, sets the most sumptuous table on the Emerald Isle. From its farms, rivers, and ovens come butter and milk of almost biblical goodness, cheeses to silence French snobs, beautiful fish, scones and jams sweet enough to make the English commute. Much of this regional bounty is on display at the Covered Market—a.k.a. the Old English Market—in Cork city; but don't expect some folkloric bazaar lost in a time warp. Here, under a grand vaulted ceiling, such vernacular foodstuffs as crubeens (pig's feet) and phantasmagorical innards sit cheek by jowl with fromage from organic farms in the mountainous west, delectable breads, and girth widening pastries. We also visit Kilkenny, Dublin and famous cookery School in Wicklow!
Featuring: Dublin, Wicklow, Kilkenny, Cork, Kinsale and Kildare.
11 Days / 10 Nights • Daily Departures by Private Car and Guide
It takes in some stunningly unspoiled parts of the Irish countryside and goes through mountainous areas, the rolling landscape of river valleys, and seascapes. You will be able to visit some of the finest gardens, historic mansions and splendid medieval ruins, as well as museums art galleries and wonderful little shops in the cities and villages along the way. You will be in places where some of the best golfing, walking, fishing and riding is available and there are really outstanding restaurants in the areas that we would suggest for overnights. With a pub to every 300 of the population they are never far from a convivial meeting place, often with impromptu music sessions.
Featuring: Dublin, County Wicklow, Kilkenny, Cashel, Cork, Kinsale, County Kerry, Shannon, Connemara, and County Clare.
12 Days / 11 Nights • Daily Departures by Private Car and Guide
What a better way to celebrate your union than to experience the stunning landscapes, charming ambiance and the warm embrace of Ireland.
Featuring: Dublin, Boyne Valley, Ashford Castle, Connemara, Galway, The Burren and Loop Head.