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Ireland Country Information
The lure of Ireland lies in its landscapes and its people, and it is through involvement with either, or both, that visitors get to experience the soul of this ancient land of saints and scholars.

Ireland's hills are a walker's paradise, not only because of the extensive network of trails, but because by being on foot one gets to appreciate the lakes and rivers, the coastal views and ever-changing sky-scapes that are so much part of the Irish landscape. Watersports such as angling, sailing and surfing are popular too, and many visitors come for the golf, but the real passion of the Irish is horses - there is a potential Derby winner in every valley and a packed betting shop in every high street.

The Irish weather is not the most predictable in the world, but then much of the beauty of the Irish landscape is due to its climate…and there has to be a price tag on being nicknamed the 'Emerald Isle'. Poor weather has had positive influences on the Irish way of life. Music and song plays an integral part in daily life and visitors are able to experience this in the many pubs so characteristic of the social landscape of Ireland.

The Basics
Time: GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. UK-style three-pin and round three-pin plugs are in use.

Money: The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR). Currency can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change and ATMs are widely available. Credit and debit cards, as well as travellers cheques, are widely accepted.

Language: English, Irish (Gaelic) is spoken in some Western areas.

Travel Health: There are no special health requirements for visitors to Ireland. Health insurance is advisable unless from the UK or other EU countries, most of which have reciprocal agreements with Ireland. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) should be obtained before departing for travel to Ireland. Medical facilities are good, and payment for treatment is usually required in cash.

Tipping: A 10% tip will be welcomed in restaurants and cafes, but tipping is not usual in bars and pubs. Tipping is not common for other services.

Safety Information: Most visitors to Ireland enjoy a fairly high level of personal safety. However, travellers should take sensible precautions against petty theft. Terrorism is no more a threat than in other Western countries.

Local Customs: Smoking in pubs, cafes and restaurants is illegal.

Business: The Irish are very sociable and although the usual elements of business etiquette apply (punctuality, formal wear, a courteous manner), expect good conversation and a rather relaxed air. Handshakes are customary on introduction, and take the lead from the host with regards to using first names or surnames. Business hours are usually from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, with a lunch break from 1pm to 2pm.

Communications: The international access code for Ireland is +353 (do not dial the first zero of the area code). The outgoing code is 00, or 048 for Northern Ireland, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g. 1 for Dublin. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main tourist areas.

Duty Free: Travellers over 17 years arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars, 250g tobacco or a proportional mix of these; 1 litre spirits with more than 22% alcohol volume, or 2 litres dessert wine with a maximum 22% alcohol content, or a proportional mix of these products, and 2 litres table wine; perfume up to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods for personal consumption to the value of €175 per adult or €90 for children under 15 years. Prohibited items include meat or dairy products or raw vegetables.

Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: United States nationals require a passport valid for the period of intended stay, but no visa is required.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens travelling from Great Britain to Ireland only require proof of nationality. Otherwise British travellers coming from another country require a passport. No visa is required if the passport is endorsed British Citizen, British National (Overseas) or British Overseas Territories Citizen. In all other cases, a visa is required.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian nationals require a passport valid for the period of intended stay, but no visa is necessary.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport valid for the period of intended stay, but no visa is required.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals must hold a passport valid for the period of intended stay, but no visa is required.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealanders require a passport valid for the period of intended stay, but no visa is necessary.

Passport/Visa Note: Passports should be valid for the period of stay (except for EEA member states, including Switzerland). It is recommended that all nationals, other than those from the EU, hold a return or onward ticket, unless they are continuing travel by other transportation, and must have sufficient funds to cover intended period of stay.

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Weather and Climate In Ireland
Dublin has a maritime temperate climate, and less rainfall than the rest of the 'emerald isle', although winters are still very soggy and damp and showers are common all year round. The wettest month, December, averages 76mm of rainfall. Summers in Dublin are cool and pleasant, temperatures in July peaking at around 68°F (20°C), the most sunshine being experienced in May and June. Winters, apart from being wet, are mild with the mercury rarely dropping to freezing point. Snow is unlikely, the main precipitation being rain, but a few flurries can occur

Ireland is notorious for experiencing cold, damp weather for much of the time. This is due to its temperate climate, but is compensated for by its delightful green countryside. It is, however, possible to enjoy some warm, sunny and dry days during the pleasant summer months between May and September, and this is the best time to travel to Ireland. Irish winter days are short, usually rainy and foggy, but the Gulf Stream winds batter the west coast ensuring that temperatures remain above freezing.

Attractions in Ireland

  • Kinsale - Kinsale is an old fishing village just 18 miles (29km) south of Cork. Best known for the world renowned Old Head Golf Links, with its spectacular setting on a narrow head leading out into the Celtic Sea, Kinsale has a number of sights of interest including The Courthouse and Desmond Castle.
  • Trinity College - Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College is Ireland's oldest university and counts Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde, along with many other great thinkers and writers, amongst it past-students.
  • Temple Bar District - The hub of Dublin's nightlife is to be found in this quaint, cobbled district, which is full of shops, traditional pubs, theatres, cinemas and trendy clubs laid out on pedestrianised streets.
  • Guinness Storehouse - Guinness is now brewed all over the world but St James's Gate, in the heart of Dublin, was where Arthur Guinness set up the business in 1759. The Guinness Storehouse celebrates Ireland's favourite brew by taking visitors on a journey, floor by floor, through the past, present and future of the world-famous beer.
  • Blarney Castle - Blarney Castle is one of Ireland's oldest and most historic castles, built around 1446. An ancient stronghold of the MacCarthys, Lords of Muskerry and one of the strongest fortresses in Munster, its walls are 18ft (5m) thick in places.
  • Cliffs of Moher - The majestic Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's top visitor sights overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in County Clare. The majestic cliffs rise from the ocean to a height of 702ft (214m) and extend for a distance of five miles (8km). Formed by layers of sandstone, shale and siltstone, the cliffs have stood unchanged for millions of years, and they welcome visitors who come to marvel at their splendour, and to enjoy views towards the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara.

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Events in Ireland

  • St Patrick’s Day Festival - Nowhere else in the world is St Patrick's Day observed with more fun and celebration than in Dublin. The St Patrick's Day Festival has become a five-day party filled with 'craic' or good times with a varied programme of events, including lots of traditional and contemporary Irish music.
  • Bloomsday Festival - James Joyce fans around the world celebrate Bloomsday on 16 June every year, but nowhere as creatively as in Dublin, the birthplace of the famous novelist.
  • Festival of World Cultures - With more than 160 events in 40 venues throughout Dun Laoghaire town, and featuring artists from 50 countries, the annual international arts and culture festival entertains audiences in excess of 200,000.
  • Irish Derby - The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Day is one of the most prestigious horse racing events of the year. Held at The Curragh, one of Europe's oldest sporting grounds, this event attracts the attention of horse-lovers from across the globe, and especially in the horse-mad country of Ireland itself.
  • Hallowfest - This Halloween Festival takes place over a bank holiday weekend and hosts a range of activities for both young and old, such as games, fun walks, spooky storytelling and a spectacular Fireworks display.
  • Irish Music and Dance Show - The banquet and show is a highly entertaining performance of live traditional Irish music, ballads and Irish dancing which takes place at the Merry Ploughboy Pub.

Airports in Ireland

Dublin Airport (DUB)

  • Location: The airport is situated seven miles (11km) north of Dublin, near the M50 and M1 motorways.
  • Time: GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Main number: +353 (0)1 8141111. Car parking: +353 (0)1 8144328.
  • Getting to the city: Several bus services, involving more than 700 buses including Dublin Bus and Flybus, connect the airport to all parts of Dublin and the city's central train station, both day and night with fares starting at €6. Taxis are available outside the Arrivals Hall, the fare is best agreed in advance and should be around €20 to the city centre. There are car-hire desks in the Arrivals Concourse.
  • Car rental: Hertz, Avis, Budget Car Rentals all operate from car-hire desks in the Arrivals Concourse. There are also a number of pre-booked car-hire desks on this concourse.
  • Airport Taxis: Taxis are available in front of the Arrivals Hall and a taxi from Dublin Airport to the city centre costs about €20, and an extra charge for baggage may be added, as well as a surcharge in the evenings and on weekends. All taxis have meters but are only used for destinations in the 'Dublin City Taxi Metered Area'. It is wise to negotiate the price with the driver beforehand.
  • Facilities: Airport facilities include a bureau de change and ATMs, numerous restaurants, pubs and bars, several shops, a church and tourist information. Disabled passengers are well catered for; travellers with special needs are advised to contact their airline in advance.
  • Parking: One short-term car park close to the terminal; one off-site long-term car park serviced by free shuttle service.

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Shannon International Airport (SNN)

  • Location: The airport is situated 15 miles (24km) from Limerick city and Ennis, and 56 miles (90km) from Galway City.
  • Time: GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +353 (0)61 712 000 (switchboard); 712 400 (information desk, 6am - midnight); 471 664 (tourist information).
  • Getting to the city: Taxis operate day and night; buses and coaches operate during the day to Limerick and other Irish cities.
  • Car rental: There are numerous car rental companies represented at the airport including Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Thrifty.
  • Facilities: Shannon Airport is fairly small and facilities are not extensive, but include a bureau de change, ATMs, restaurants and bars and several shops. There are good facilities for disabled passengers; travellers with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
  • Parking: Short- and long-term car parking is available.

Cork Airport - Aerfort Chorcaí (ORK)

  • Location: Farmers Cross, 4 miles (6.5km) south of Cork city.
  • Time: GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +353 (0)21 431 3131.
  • Getting to the city: A Skylink shuttle leaves to Cork city from the airport every half hour. There are also city buses that depart from the airport to the city. There are also taxis and rental cars available at the airport, and it takes about 25 minutes to reach the city centre.
  • Car rental: Car rental companies operating from the arrivals hall in the airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar Car Rentals, Alamo and Thrifty.
  • Airport Taxis: There are taxis available outside the airport arrivals hall and the fare to the centre of Cork is about €15.
  • Facilities: The information counter is in the arrivals hall, between the car rental counters and the Londis shop. There are ATMs, a bank and Bureau de Change at the airport, as well as a VIP lounges. There is also a sports bar with big-screen TVs, a Starbucks café and a Subway Sandwich outlet at the airport.
  • Parking: There is both short- and long-term parking available at the airport.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is more than 0.08 per cent, severe penalties include fine and/or imprisonment plus disqualification. Random breath testing is now in force throughout Ireland.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car or motorcycle (exceeding 150cc) 17.

Fines:
On-the-spot fines for parking and speeding offences. Wheel clamps are in use. In some areas parked cars can be towed away if causing an obstruction and a significant fee is charged for its release.

Fuel:
Unleaded petrol (95 octane) and diesel available. No leaded petrol. Lead replacement petrol and LPG are extremely limited in Ireland. Petrol in a can is permitted but forbidden on board ferries. Credit cards accepted at most filling
stations; check with your card issuer for usage in Ireland before travel.

Driving Distances:
Cork to Killarney - 86 kms (1hour / 15 minutes)

Dublin to Dun Laoghaire - 12 kms (20 minutes)
Dublin to Cork - 255 kms (3 hours)
Galway to Limerick - 100 kms (1hour / 30 minutes)
Kerry to Shannon - 130 kms (2hours)
Knock to Sligo - 70 kms (1hour)
Shannon to Dublin - 220 kms (2hours / 45 minutes)
Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for more driving distances

Lights:
Dipped headlights should be used in poor daytime visibility.

Motorcycles:
Dipped headlights during the day compulsory. The wearing of crash helmets is compulsory for both driver and passenger.

Motor Insurance:
Third-party compulsory.

Passengers/Children in cars:
Children under 3 years of age may not travel in a car (other than a taxi) unless they are placed in an appropriate child restraint, they can travel on the front seat of the car if they are in a rear facing restraint system and the airbag is disabled.

Children over 3 who are under 1.5m and weigh less than 36kg must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in cars fitted with seat belts. If the car is not equipped with seat belts they must travel on the rear seats.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front / rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers: In built-up areas 50km/h, outside built-up areas 60- 100km/h according to road signs and 120 km/h on motorways.

Compulsory equipment :

  • Warning triangle - for vehicles with an unladen weight exceeding 1,524kg (1.5 tons).

Other rules/requirements:

Rule of the road is drive on the left; overtake on the right. Horns must not be used between 2330 and 0700 hours.

Distances are given in kilometers. Some level crossings have manual gates which motorists must open and close.

A GPS based navigation system which has maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras must have the ‘fixed speed camera PoI (Points of Interest)’ function deactivated.

The use of radar detectors is prohibited; they can be confiscated by the Garda.

Barrier free tolling now operates on the M50 Dublin, your number plate will be recorded when you pass through the toll and the fee must be paid by 8pm the following day at the latest, this can be paid at any of the ‘payzone’ outlets.

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