Things to Know About Ireland
We’ve put together some general information about Ireland to make sure you’ve got all the facts before planning your trip. There’s also more tour specific information in our FAQ’s section. And if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for you can contact us. Our team is always happy to lend a hand.
As part of the European Monetary System, the basic unit of currency in Republic of Ireland is the Euro (€), while Northern Ireland remains on its existing currency system of sterling pound (£).
Foreign exchange bureau are available throughout the country in banks, tourist information offices, and airports. Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit cards will be widely accepted in Ireland. Visitors with other cards should ask in advance if they will be accepted.
Even though the Irish currency has been the euro since 2002, the Central Bank in Dublin will still exchange punts.
Ireland's climate is influenced heavily by the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in mild winters with temperatures in the coldest months, January and February, rarely falling below freezing. The sunniest months are May and June with up to 18 hours of daylight. In the warmest months; July and August, temperatures can sometimes reach 25 C (78 F).
Weather can alter dramatically from day to day; it can change from fair to showery and back again to fair in a matter of minutes. June is typically the driest month and the winter months of December and January the wettest.
Further details and on-line weather updates are available at www.met.ie
The Longest drought in Ireland was recorded in 1938 in Limerick, when there was no rainfall for 38 consecutive days during the months o April and May.
Most shops are open from 09.00 – 18.00hrs, Monday-Saturday.
Thursday in Dublin and Belfast is late night shopping to 20.00 / 21.00hrs. The larger shopping centres usually stay open late until 21.00hrs on Thursday and Friday.
Many shops are open on Sundays from 12.00 – 18.00hrs.
Museums and tourist sites are generally open Tuesday-Saturday 10.00 to 17.00hrs and Sunday 14.00 to 17.00hrs.
Banks are open 10.00 to 16.00hrs, Monday to Friday. In small towns they may close for lunch from 12.30 to 13.30hrs.
Post offices are open weekdays 09.00 to 17.00hrs and Saturdays 09.00 to 13.00hrs; some of the smaller country offices close for lunch.
Pubs are open Monday to Thursday 10.30 to 23.30hrs,
Friday and Saturday 10.30 to 00.30.
On Sunday, pubs are open 12.30 to 23.00hrs.
All pubs close on Christmas Day and Good Friday, but hotel bars are open for guests.
The original Guinness Brewery in Dublin has a 9,000 year lease on its property, at a rate of 45 Irish punts per year.
National Emergency Numbers
In case of emergency dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator for the service required.
In 2010 Ireland’s emergency services helpline was updated to include a Caller Line Identification feature, which immediately recognises the callers' location and forwards theml to their nearest local control centre, in effect speeding up response times.
The electrical current in Ireland is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC). Wall sockets take plugs with 3 flat-pins, as in the United Kingdom. To use American appliances both a converter and adapter are required except for dual voltage appliances, which need only an adapter, for example laptop computers.
There are currently over 140 windfarms on-line and operational in 25 counties across Ireland
Ireland has two official languages; Irish and English, with dual-signage in place nationwide. English is spoken throughout and is the everyday working language, while Irish is generally confined to certain regions in the south-west, west, and north-west coastal areas, areas more commonly known as the Gaeltacht.
The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia, in County Galway.
Irish Literature has become recognised the world over for its quality with famous contributors including James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, W B Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Brendan Behan, and in more recent times Brian Friel, John Banville and Roddy Doyle. No fewer than four Irish writers have had the honour of winning The Nobel Prize for Literature in the 20th century.
Ireland is famed globally for its production of musical talent, both traditional and current. Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann or the Fellowship of Irish musicians, has done much to preserve and promote traditional Irish music, both at home and abroad.
More recently artists and bands including U2, Van Morrision, The Cranberries, The Corrs, The Chieftains, Sinead O'Connor, Boyzone and Westlife, have become famed sons and daughters of the Irish music scene. Riverdance, the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest interval act has become an international phenomenon playing a major role in exporting the rich culture of traditional Irish music, song and dance to a world-wide audience.
In 1969, shortly after Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix was asked in an interview: "So Jimi, what's it like to be the best guitarist in the world?" to which he answered: "I don't know, ask Rory Gallagher".
Hurling is the national sport of Ireland and, together with Gaelic Football, is very popular in Ireland. All-Ireland Finals are held annually in September in Croke Park, Dublin, a magnificent 82,300 capacity modern stadium which also currently plays host to Ireland's Soccer and Rugby internationals during the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road.
Soccer is also widely played in Ireland with many of Ireland's top players ploying their trade in England's Premier League.
Rugby is also very popular and is played at provincial, club and school level. The Irish International Team has become increasingly successful in recent years and are current Grand Slam champions, while Leinster hold Rugby's version of the Champions League - The Heineken Cup. Home Rugby internationals will return to their Lansdowne Road home once renovations of the new Aviva stadium are complete in Summer 2010.
The Irish Rugby Team is an all-Ireland team comprisesd of players from both the Northern Ireland and the Republic. Ireland’s Call is an anthem sang at Irish Rugby Internationals as a sign of this unification.
March 17th is Saint Patrick's Day, a day when the world celebrates our Patron Saint with us! St. Patrick's Day.
Every year in Dublin St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in grand style with a five day long festival.
We have 9 Public Holidays in the Calendar Year in Ireland;
January 1st (New Year's Day)
March 17th (St. Patrick's Day)
Monday after Easter (Easter Monday)
First Monday in May
First Monday in June
First Monday in August
Last Monday in October
December 25th (Christmas Day)
December 26th (St. Stephen's Day)
Ireland’s national emblem – the Harp is the only musical instrument used as a national emblem in the world.
The Republic of Ireland being a parliamentary democracy has a national parliament called the 'Oireachtas', consisting of a President and two houses. The 'Dáil' is the House of Representatives, while the 'Seanad' is the Senate, the Dáil being the primary of the two houses. The Head of the Government is known as 'An Taoiseach' (Chieftan), is the Prime Minister of the country and the office of An Taoiseach is currently held by Brian Cowen TD.
Up until the 1920’s Irish couples could marry legally on St. Brigid’s Day (Feb 1st) in Teltown, County Meath, by merely walking towards each other.
Ireland is a sovereign, independent and democratic state, as set out and adopted by referendum in 1937. The Constitution sets out the administrative structure of Government and declares all the powers of Government derive under God from the people.
The first Irish Constitution was signed at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel.
Non-EU citizens visiting the Republic of Ireland can apply for a refund of the value-added tax (VAT). VAT is not refundable on accommodation, car rental, meals or personal services.
Many shops and department stores operate a system called Cashback enabling non-EU residents to collect rebates in the currency of their choice at Dublin or Shannon Airport on departure. Forms for the refunds must be picked up at the time of purchase, and the form must be stamped by customs upon departure from the airport.
Artists in Ireland (playwrights, composers, painters, photographers, sculptors etc.) are exempt from paying tax on any money earned from the sale of their art with a cap at €250,000.
Passports are not required by British citizens born in the United Kingdom and travelling from Britain, however photo identification is commonly required and should be carried. Citizens of European Union states and Switzerland may use a passport or national identity card to gain entry to the Republic of Ireland.
All other nationalities must produce a passport to gain entry to the Republic of Ireland.
Click here to visit the Department of Foreign Affairs website for further information.
Details of citizens requiring a visa to enter the Republic of Ireland may be obtained by visiting the Department of Foreign Affairs website by clicking here.
Ireland’s world famous Aran sweaters can be distinguished from one another by their “family weaves”. So family members could identify one another by the weave they were sporting.
The international dialling code for Ireland is 353 and for Northern Ireland is 44.
When dialling an Irish number from abroad, drop the preceeding 0 from the local area code e.g. Within Ireland, our telephone number is 01 - 293 3000. From outside Ireland our number is +353 - 1 - 293 3000.
Cell phones are called mobile phones in Ireland and can be purchased on a pre-pay service, where the user tops up their account with credit, only paying for the calls that they make.
Postage stamps within Ireland for a standard letter or card cost 55c; while to the UK, Europe and rest of the world it is 82c.
The very first Irish stamp was adorned with an image of the map of Ireland.
Ireland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and, in accordance with daylight saving, clocks are put forward one hour in mid-March and back one hour at the end of October annually.
In summer months light can be expected as late as 23.00hrs; however winter months bring shorter days and by mid-December it can be dark by 16.00hrs.
Every year in Newgrange, during the summer and winter solstices a unique phenomenon occurs when this ancient structure is filled with sunlight, which enter through a small oppening above its entrance.
Hotels and restaurants may add a service charge of between 10%-15% to the bill in lieu of a tip and generally is clearly displayed. If in doubt, ask whether service is included.
Tipping in pubs is generallly not expected, with exceptions for table service; taxi fares are usually rounded up, incorporating a small tip.
While in Dublin you might notice the green eco-friendly cycle taxis lined up waiting to bring you to one of Dublin's many attractions. You may be surprised to find out that this service is in fact free, but it’s always nice to show your appreciation for your pedal pushing driver with a bit of a tip.
The Gathering Tour Self-Drive Tour 8 Days
Gathering your best of Ireland
Starting from $649 pps
Castle's of Ireland Self-Drive Tour (8 Days)
Enjoy the best castles in Ireland
Starting from $752 pps
Honeymoon Self-Drive Tour (12 Days)
Romancing the Emerald Isle and each other!
Starting from $2,204 pps