Tour at a Glance
|DUBLIN||1 - 5|
|GALWAY||5 - 7|
|KINSALE||7 - 9|
|Transfer||Dublin International Airport [DUB]||Brooks Hotel|
|Transfer||Brooks Hotel||Dublin Heuston Station|
|Transfer||Galway Railway Station||Park House Hotel & Restaurant|
|Transfer||Park House Hotel & Restaurant||Actons of Kinsale|
|Transfer||Actons of Kinsale||Cork Airport [ORK]|
|Train||Dublin Heuston Station||Galway Railway Station|
Set at the western side of the United Kingdom, with the Celtic Sea to the south and the North Atlantic Ocean to the west, the island of Ireland (and Northern Ireland) has many treasures packed into its compact territory. Its magnificent natural landscapes are strewn with spectacular Nordic castles and gorgeous Georgian country houses. Its vibrant heritage includes a lively traditional dance and music culture, a rich literary tradition, and some of the world’s cosiest pubs. The bustling capital of Dublin offers up an exciting nightlife scene, stately architecture and quaint riverside charm, while beyond the cities, the countryside boasts vast areas of unspoilt wilderness. Add the country’s famously hospitable and humourous locals and it’s no wonder that Ireland appeals to travellers of all ages and from all walks of life.
BANKING AND CURRENCY
Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding €10,000 or equivalent must be declared if travelling from or to a country outside the European Union.
Currency exchange services are available in banks, airports and bureaux de change.
Banking hours: Mon-Fri 09h30-16h30. In Dublin, banks stay open Thurs until 17h00; there are also late opening nights in other parts of the country, but the day will vary.
American Express, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are all widely accepted. ATMs are available everywhere, catering for Cirrus and Maestro symbols.
Travellers cheques are accepted throughout Ireland. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller’s cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.
TRAVEL, TRANSPORT AND GETTING AROUND
Aer Arran (www.aerarann.com), Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com) and Flybe (www.flybe.com) currently have domestic routes, between them covering Dublin, Kerry, Shannon and Donegal. Domestic airports include Galway (GWY), Sligo (SXL), Carrickfinn (CFN) and Kerry (Farranfore) (KIR), as well as various small airstrips. Given the size of the country, however, internal flights are rarely essential.
Car hire is available from all airports and seaports, as well as major hotels. All international hire companies are represented in Ireland, as well as local operators. Drivers must be 21 or over. A full licence from the driver’s home country is required, and the driver will normally be required to have had at least two years’ experience.
It is advisable to book hire cars in advance, especially in the peak season, and a child seat should be ordered in advance also. Advise the car hire company if the car will be driven into Northern Ireland.
Ireland has a comprehensive road network. Getting from A to B by road might look relatively straightforward, but it’s always advisable to have a detailed road map or, better still, sat nav. Be aware that many signposts list place names in both Irish and English. Vehicles are driven on the left side of the road. Main roads are of a high quality. Minor roads can vary in standard, with some remote stretches being potholed.
Speed limits are 50kph (30mph) in towns and cities, 80kph (50mph) on local roads (this is displayed on white signs) and 100kph (60mph) on national roads (this is displayed on green signs). Seat belts should be worn at all times.
EU nationals taking cars into the Republic of Ireland should have with them registration documents as proof of ownership.
Taxi services are available in all cities and towns and at hotels, rail and bus stations and taxi stands. You’ll find metered taxis in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, but may elsewhere have to agree on a fare beforehand.
Ireland is generally bike-friendly and can make for a superb touring destination. Bikes can be hired from most cities, and many towns, with ease.
Bus Eireann ((01) 836 6111 for Dublin central station; www.buseireann.ie) has a comprehensive network of bus routes across the country.
Most major cities have decent, well-priced public transport networks. The emphasis is usually on buses or suburban rail. Dublin also has its own tram system.
Rail services in Ireland are run by Iarnród Eireann (Irish Rail)(tel: (1) 836 6222; www.irishrail.ie) and express trains run between the main cities. There are two classes of accommodation, with restaurant and buffet cars on some trains.
Ferry services run to the Aran Islands with Aran Island Ferries (www.aranislandferries.com).
It is possible to visit some of the other outlying islands, such as the Skellig Islands and Saltee Islands, on pleasure-boat or charter trips.
FOOD, DRINK AND CUISINE ADVICE
Levels of hygiene are of a high standard in Ireland, so travellers should only take precautions that they would do in any other developed country. There’s no more danger of being served contaminated or undercooked food in Ireland than anywhere else. A statutory, independent, science-based body, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, is tasked “to take all reasonable steps to ensure that food produced, distributed or marketed in the State meets the highest standards of food safety and hygiene reasonably available.”
Tap water is generally fine to drink, although stories in recent years have suggested that in some areas the levels of fluoride might be risky, particularly to bottle-fed babies. Bottled water is readily available.
Local ingredients are at the heart of the culinary boom which has taken hold of Ireland in the last decade or so. It’s not as if artisan and organic dishes now dominate the nation’s dinner tables, of course, but those in search of genuinely good food won’t have to search too far to be well rewarded. Unsurprisingly, this is especially true in major cities. Dublin in particular has a significant number of Michelin stars.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Ireland’s relatively temperate climate is due to mild southwesterly winds and the effects of the Atlantic Gulf Stream. Summers are warm – only rarely getting unpleasantly hot – while temperatures during winter are much cooler, although it’s far from common for the temperature to drop below freezing and snowfall is rare. Spring and autumn are very mild, with rainfall expected all year round.
The other chief characteristic of the climate, however, is its unpredictability. You might be basking in balmy T-shirt weather one week, then wrapping up to stave off the chill the next – all the while with an umbrella to hand.
CLOTHING AND DRESS RECOMMENDATIONS
Lightweight clothing is recommended during summer with warmer medium weight clothing advised for the winter. Rainwear is advisable throughout the year. If you find yourself lacking anything essential on arrival, of course, all key centres are well stocked with clothing outlets, with the larger cities particularly good in terms of picking up high quality outdoor equipment.
ELECTRICITY AND PLUG STANDARDS
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Ireland are the “Type G ” British BS-1363 type. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance’s plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Ireland usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you’re plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance is not compatible with 220-240 electrical output, a voltage converter will be necessary.