Ireland is a country known for friendly people and green landscapes. Rugged coastlines, pastures, and gloomy castles are all part of the charm. Take a pint at a pub and dine at an enchanting small restaurant.The island of Ireland historically consists of 32 counties, of which six, collectively known as Northern Ireland, have remained as part of the United Kingdom since the rest of Ireland gained independence in 1922. The name "Ireland" applies to the... Read more...
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Cities and Destinations in Ireland
Ireland is a country known for friendly people and green landscapes. Rugged coastlines, pastures, and gloomy castles are all part of the charm. Take a pint at a pub and dine at an enchanting small restaurant.
The island of Ireland historically consists of 32 counties, of which six, collectively known as Northern Ireland, have remained as part of the United Kingdom since the rest of Ireland gained independence in 1922. The name "Ireland" applies to the island as a whole, but in English is also the official name of the independent state (i.e., the 26 counties which are not part of the United Kingdom), since 1937. The name Republic of Ireland is commonly used to distinguish the Republic from the North. In the United Kingdom, 'Southern Ireland' is the commonly used term for the Republic, despite the fact that Northern Ireland occupies only a small portion of the island's landmass; 'Southern Ireland' thus occupies about 70 % of the area of Ireland.
Though a relatively poor country for much of the 20th century Ireland joined the European Community in 1973 (at the same time as the United Kingdom) and since then has seen massive economic growth placing it amongst Europe's richest countries today.
About 15% of Ireland is Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. The remainder of the island is the Republic of Ireland. There are four traditional provinces of Ulster in the northeast, Connaught in the northwest, Leinster in the southeast and Munster in the southwest. The Republic of Ireland has 26 counties and Northern Ireland has 6 counties.
For visitors arriving by airport there are three major airports, Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport and Belfast International Airport. There are direct flights from North America or you can fly to the United Kingdom and take a connecting flight into Ireland. There are many flights everyday from London to Shannon and London to Dublin.There are seven regional airports in the Republic of Ireland; Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Knock, Sligo, and Waterford. In Northern Ireland there two regional airports; Belfast City Airport and Derry City Airport. The national airline of Ireland is Aer Lingus (telephone 800-474-7424).
You can also reach Ireland by ferry from the European continent or Britain. You can even bring a car with you. You can reserve a cabin for a longer crossing and ferries have shopping and restaurants to keep you occupied. Rough seas can be a problem so you may want to take some seasickness medicine before you depart.
Renting a car has advantages in Ireland. If you want to see the countryside then a care makes it much easier. If you are staying in one city then there is public transportation available. The downside to a car rental is the cost of view and the cost of the rental. Distances are short between destinations but it can take longer than you expect due to narrow and winding roads. If you are accustomed to driving on the right side of the road then left hand driving can be a challenge, especially on a roundabout (traffic circle).
Your driver’s license is sufficient unless you visit for longer than six months. But if you are under 24 or over 75 or you have had a license for less than 12 months, you may not be able to rent a car. Driving in Ireland can be dangerous because of narrow roads and lack of shoulders on the road. Road signs are in kilometers in the Republic of Ireland. In Northern Ireland the signs are in miles.
It is highly recommended that you call ahead to book a taxi. The hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast you are staying in will usually call the cab company they work closely with for your convenience. Taxis should be reasonably easy to pick up on the streets in Dublin, Belfast and Cork but may be harder to find crusing the streets in smaller cities and towns so it is often best to telephone for one. It is recommended to call the cab company in advance if possible and give them a time to be picked up, no matter if it's 4 hours in advance or 30 minutes in advance. Work with the same cab company your hotel does and let them know your final destination if there is more than one stop. You will also need to give them a contact phone number over the phone, so if calling from a pay phone, be prepared for them to deny your claim for a taxi cab. The average waiting time may be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on demand and time of day. All Taxis in Republic of Ireland operate on a National Fare basis, so the price should be relatively easy to calculate. For more information, see the Commission of Taxi Regulation website. Always ensure that the taxi you use has a meter, and that it is used for the duration of your journey.
Rules of the Road/Road User Etiquette
Driving and road rules in Ireland are similar to those of the United Kingdom-e.g. drive on the left and yield to the right on roundabout. The most noticeable difference is the fact that distances are (almost always) displayed in kilometres and speed limits in kilometres per hour (km/h) in the Republic of Ireland. This can be confusing to anyone travelling across the border from Northern Ireland, which, like Britain, uses miles and miles per hour. The legal blood-alcohol limit is low so it may be best to abstain. Drivers often 'thank' each other by flashing their hazard lights or waving-this is purely a convention. Road signs in the Republic are nominally bilingual, with place names displayed in Irish in italic font, with the corresponding English name in capitals immediately below. In the Gaeltacht areas (Irish-Speaking districts in the far west), road signs are written in Irish only. In Northern Ireland road signs are in English only and all distances are given in miles. There are five types of road classification:
M-roads (Motorways, indicated by white on blue signs)N-roads N1-N50 (National Primary routes, main arterial routes indicated by white/yellow on green signs)N-Roads N51+ (National Secondary routes-green signs)R-roads (Regional roads, indicated by black on white signs)L-roads (Local roads, white signs-rarely marked)
Ireland has a small but steadily growing motorway network which centers around Dublin. The main motorways are:
M50 The ring road around DublinThe M1 (from Dublin to Newry) goes towards Belfast.The M4 (from Dublin to Mullingar) heads towards Sligo and Galway.The M7 (from Dublin to Port Laoise) goes in the direction of Cork and Limerick.The M8 (from Cork to Fermoy) heading towards Dublin and Belfast.
Note that most motorways in the Republic have some tolled sections. Tolls are low by French or Italian standards, and vary from €1.70 upwards, depending on which motorway you are traveling on. Tariffs are displayed a few kilometers from the plaza. For the visitor, it's important to note that the only tolled road that accepts credit cards is the M4 between Kilcock and Kinnegad. All others are Euro cash only, so take care if you're arriving from the North via the M1.
For 2007, the tolled sections and their charges (for private cars) are as follows:
M1, Drogheda bypass section, €1.70M4, Kilcock to Kinnegad section, €2.60M8, Fermoy bypass section, €1.70M50, between exits 6 & 7, €1.90M50, Dublin Port Tunnel, €3 to €12 (depending on time of day)
There are numerous route of high quality dual carruageway, which are very near motorway standard; Dublin-Ashbourne (Derry), Dublin-Wicklow, Sligo-Collooney (Dublin), Mullingar-Athlone, Limerick-Ennis (Galway), and Cork-Middleton (Waterford).
Until relatively recently, the road network in Ireland was very poorly maintained and road signage sparse. Things have changed markedly on the major arterial N-roads which have seen major renovation work with help from EU funding. Lesser roads, however, are still, in many parts, poorly signposted, the only indication of what route to take often being a finger-sign at the junction itself. The road surfaces can be very poor on the lesser used N-, R-& L-numbered routes.
Driving in Ireland requires etiquette, courtesy and nerves of steel. Roads are generally narrow with little to no shoulder or room for error. Sight lines can be limited or non-existent until you are partway into the road. Caution should be taken when entering onto the roadway as well as when driving along it, with the understanding that around the next turn may be another motorist partway into the road. This is especially true in rural areas. Parking along the road, farm animals, as well as large lorries or machinery may also appear around the bend and be the cause for quick thinking or braking. It is not unusual for oncoming cars to navigate to a wide spot in the road to pass each other. On the other hand, when driving slower than following cars, it is common for drivers to allow others to pass or signal if the way is clear. Calculating driving time can be slower than expectations, due to the large increase in motorists and road conditions/hazards.
As mentioned above, speed limits in the Republic of Ireland (but not in Northern Ireland ) are in kilometres per hour. The general maximum speed limits are as follows:
Built-up area (e.g., in a residential or shopping district)-50 km/h and sometimes 30 km/hRegional or Local Road (e.g., R292, R134, L12345, etc.)-80 km/hNational Road (e.g., N7, N17, N56, etc.)-100 km/hMotorway (e.g., M1, M4, M50, etc.)-120 km/h
Local Councils may apply other limits in specific areas as required. Also when roads are being maintained or worked upon in some way, the limit may be temporarily changed.
Car rental companies
There is no shortage of car rental companies in Ireland with all of the major airports and cities throughout Ireland being well catered for, while the ports of Rosslare and Dún Laoghaire are served by Hertz and Dan Dooley respectively. Renting a car in Ireland is very similar to the processes elsewhere in that you need a credit card in your own name and a full driver's license for a minimum of two years without endorsement. Most car rental companies in Ireland apply an age range of 25-72 in order to rent a car, but in many cases you will need to be 28 in order to rent a full-size car. There are some exceptions to this rule, but they are not advertised.
Bus Éireann is the bus service network with local and town to town services. Express buses run from one city to another. Taking a bus is an affordable way to travel within Ireland. You can buy passes that include rail and bus services to save money. There are also combination passes that cover both Ireland and the United Kingdom, including a ferry trip.
Most trains in Ireland (all operated by the state-run Irish Rail also known by their Irish name, Iarnród Éireann) operate to and from Dublin. Enormous expenditure on modernising the state-owned Irish Rail system is ongoing, including the introduction of many new trains. The frequency and speed of services is being considerably increased, especially on the Dublin-Cork line. If you book on-line for Intercity travel, be aware that there may be a cheaper fare option available to you at the office in the station itself. Not all special rates, e.g., for families, are available on line.
Note that there are two main stations in Dublin-Connolly Station (for trains to Belfast, Sligo and Rosslare) and Heuston Station (for trains to Cork, Limerick, Ennis, Tralee, Kilarney, Galway, Westport, Kilkenny and Waterford.)
In the North, almost all services are operated by NIR (Northern Ireland Railways).
In the Dublin city area the electrified DART (acronym for Dublin Area Rapid transit) coastal railway travels from Malahide and the Howth peninsula in the North to Bray and Greystones in Co. Wicklow via Dún Laoghaire and Dublin city center. An interchange with main line services and the Luas Red line is available at Dublin Connolly.
Dublin has a tram system, known as Luas (the Irish word for 'speed'). There are two lines. One (the red-line) operates from Dublin city centre (Connolly Station) to a large suburb south-west of the City (Tallaght) and the other (the green line) runs south-east (to Sandyford) from St Stephen's Green. Tickets must be puchased from machines before boarding the tram. Tickets are checked in the Luas at random by guards but generally ticketing works on a trust system. Thus free rides are possible, although not advisable, as the fines for fare-dodging can be quite high. The Luas tram provides a very useful link between Dublin's Connolly and Heuston railway stations.
When to go
Ireland is a safe place for travelers, but as in any city in the world, you still want to take precautions to protect your belongings. Be aware of pickpockets in Dublin or Belfast. Carrying large amounts of cash, your airline tickets, or your passport on your person is not recommended.
If you are out late at night, particularly in Dublin don’t wander around alone. Be sure your hotel is in a safe area and take a taxi if you are out late instead of walking. Keep rental cars locked with no valuables in sight. Be aware of where your camera, computer or other expensive items are at all times.
There are been political unrest in past decades in Northern Ireland, so check with the U.S. State Department before your trip for any warnings. Violence lessened since the Good Friday Agreement was signed. There have been outbreaks of violence however in the last couple of years.
If you get sick while in Ireland then you can ask the hotel where you are staying and they can probably find a doctor or clinic for you. You can also contact the consulate for your home country. Another option is the Irish Medical Council in Dublin (telephone 01/498-3100) for a recommendation. You may receive treatment at a local hospital or for minor illnesses there are walk-in clinics available. Generally, you will have to pay for medical treatment at the time of service.
To avoid any health problems be sure to bring prescription medications and be sure to have the generic name of the drugs so an Irish pharmacist can refill them if necessary. While the local water supply is generally safe, if you have a compromised immune system, are young or elderly then bottled water is recommended.No vaccinations are usually necessary when traveling to Ireland. You can check with The Centers for Disease Control for health alerts before your trip.
Ireland was first settled on the eastern coast around 6000 BC. The Gaels arrived from Europe between 600 and 150 BC to conquer the original settlers.
Before 400 AD Ireland was divided into five kingdoms, called the “Five Fifths of Ireland" which eventually evolved into seven independent kingdoms. These kingdoms sometimes combined forces to raid Roman controlled Britain and the European continent. Saint Patrick was a young man of 16 who was captured in a rain and when he escaped at the age 0f 22 he vowed to convert Ireland to Christianity.
Vikings attacked Ireland, beginning in the 9th century. In 1152 Danish settler and the Gaelic people formed a Church. Pope Adrian IV gave the English king Henry II control over Ireland to rein them in. The English invaded Ireland in 1168 and began setting in place reforms that disagreed with traditional structures already in place.Normans moved to Ireland and settled in the east, near Dublin from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Conflicts between the Irish inhabitants and the settlers caused a law to be enacted in 1367 to separate the two factions.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries English rulers exerted more control over Ireland. In the mid sixteenth century a revolt was suppressed by Queen Elizabeth and she took land to give to English settlers. English law was prevalent throughout Ireland by 1660.
In the seventeenth century all schools for Catholic children were closed and children were taught in Protestant schools. This helped to polarize Ireland into Catholics and Protestants. In 1798 there was a revolt that resulted in the end of the Irish parliament. In 1801 the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed. This resulted in further tension between the Catholic and Protestant Irish.
The potato famine of the 1840’s devastated the population of Ireland causing over a million and a half of the population to die from starvation or disease or leave Ireland to emigrate to another the United States.After the famine the movement for a separate Irish government intensified as Catholics gained more power in parliament. In 1914 a home rule bill was passed but because of World War I its enactment was delayed.
In 1920 separate parliaments were established for northern and southern Ireland. But the Northern Ireland parliament was the only viable parliament to emerge. In 1921 the Irish Free State was established between southern Ireland and the United Kingdom. A war broken out between the factions over the signing of this treaty with Britain. But the treat remained in force. In 1937 southern Ireland created the state of Eire. It became the Republic of Ireland in 1948. In 1992 the EEC (European Economic Community) welcomed the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Irish State was end and legally put under English rule.
A bloody violent conflict ensued in Northern Ireland with the involvement of the IRA republican army. After two decades of conflict the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 which lessened violent conflict in the region. The peace lasted until 2009 when violence broke out again in Northern Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland has flourished since the 1990’s. The”Celtic Tiger” was known for its global economic strength. In 2009 an economic crash ended that golden era.
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Quick Facts about Ireland
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