Ireland is a land of contrasts and has a rich and varied culture. Planning your holiday to Ireland should be fun, as there are so many things to see and do. Here are some helpful facts and information to help you plan your visit:
Area: 70,286 sq. km (27,137 sq. miles)
(Gaelic) is the official language, about 55,000 people speak
it as a first language. These people live mainly in the West
in areas known as the Gaeltacht. The majority of the population
Climate: The temperate climate
is due to mild southwesterly winds and the Gulf Stream. Spring
and autumn are generally very mild while summers are warm and
winter temperatures are much cooler. Rain falls all year. Required
clothing: Lightweights for the summer with warmer mediumweights
for the winter. It is advisable to have rainwear all year.
Banks: Banks are open Monday to Friday from 10am-4pm. In the larger cities, they stay open one day a week until 5pm. You may experience difficulty in getting acceptance of personal cheques and debit cards (like Switch and Delta) drawn on non-Irish banks, however, all the major charge and credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere.
Shopping: If you live in a non-European community country, you can claim the VAT off certain purchases.Special purchases include hand-woven tweed, hand-crocheted woollens and cottons, sheepskin goods, gold and silver jewellery, Aran knitwear, linen, pottery and Irish crystal. Shopping hours are 9.00-17.30/18.00 Monday to Saturday. Many towns have late night opening until 20.00/21.00 Thursday or Friday and smaller towns may have one early closing day a week.
Food & Drink: Ireland is a farming country noted for its meat, poultry and dairy produce. The surrounding sea, inland lakes and rivers offer an abundance of fresh fish including salmon, trout, lobster, Dublin Bay prawns, oysters (served with Guinness and wholemeal bread) mussels and periwinkles. All large towns and cities have a wide selection of restaurants and eating places to suit every taste. Pubs, for which Ireland is world-renowned, are sometimes called 'lounges' or 'bars'. Many pubs often have live music and folk singers with professional ballad singers and groups who are often highly accomplished. Irish coffee is popular. This is a glass of strong black coffee, brown sugar and whiskey served with cream and is particularly pleasant during the cool summer evenings. Most drinks are imported but the two most internationally distinctive products are whiskey and stout. Irish whiskey has a uniquely characteristic flavour and is matured in a wooden barrel for a minimum of seven years. Liqueurs such as Baileys and Irish Mist are both made from a base of Irish Whiskey. Certainly as popular as whiskey is stout, which is bottled or served from the tap. Guinness, one of the most famous, popular and distinctive drinks in the world is found everywhere. Licensing hours are 10.30-23.00 (23.30 in summer) Monday to Saturday and 12.30-14.00 and 16.00-23.00 Sunday.
Nightlife Most towns have nightclubs and discotheques and bars and pubs have live traditional music sessions. There is a good choice of cinemas, theatres and concerts throughout the country. Medieval castle banquets such as those at Kinnitty Castle are also very popular with visitors.
Mobile phones: Only the newer digital phones with GSM subscriptions and a roaming agreement will work in Ireland.