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Ireland is arguably one of the nicest. greenest places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It has a long history and many cultural influences across the globe.
The Irish people are warm and friendly.
Click on the video for a brief history lesson
We also thought you would like some Travelling Tips for your Irish adventure.
Ireland is really 2 countries on the same patch of island. To the North is Northern Ireland and to the South is the Republic Of Ireland.
In 1922 after a bitter “war of independence” with the British, Ireland became a free state, with Northern Ireland staying as part of the UK. This has continued ever since. There have been many disputes between Catholic & Protestants during this period which eventually led to the troubles in the 1970’s when British troops were sent into Londonderry (now Derry) & Belfast to protect civilians. They quickly found themselves in the middle of paramilitary war, where Protestants, Catholics & the British forces were all guilty of murdering one another. This continued right up to 1998, when the good Friday peace agreement came into force.
This was basically an agreement for all sides to lay down their arms and agree to a peace treaty. The situation has remained relatively calm since then, thought tensions can rise between the old foes at anytime.
This is great news for the traveller of course.
1. Ireland has a different currency to N.Ireland
Ireland as an Independent country uses the Euro which it adopted in Jan 2002. N.Ireland is still part of the UK so still uses British Pounds as it’s currency. When crossing the border you need to be aware of this. In saying that, International banking cards work well both sides at ATM’s and chip terminals so you probably won’t notice much difference unless you use cash, which you will obviously have to change once across the border.
2. They do speak the same language – English
You might have thought that because Ireland broke away from the Uk in 1922, they might have adopted their native Gaelic language, but although 40% know some Irish , only 11% are fluent in it according to a report by the Economic and social research institute (ESRI) in the Belfast Times. In N.Ireland 11% have some knowledge of Irish Gaelic but only 2% are fluent in it.
If you speak English, you will be able to converse just fine wherever you are. Just be aware that if they are speaking in a local Gaelic accent, they aren’t being rude, they do actually have their own language.
3. They all drive on the left
Although Ireland isn’t in the UK, both they & N.Ireland still drive on the left. So if you’re a pedestrian remember to look right when beginning to cross the road. Equally important if you have rented a car also.
4. The Rep Of Ireland is more than twice the size of N.Ireland
Ireland has a area of 27,000 sq miles and N.Ireland has 14,000 sq miles and the whole island is 300 x 174 miles approximately
5. You can mention the troubles
Most of the “Troubles” where in N.Ireland, and when you visit those Cities most affected, Belfast & Londonderry, there is an understandable nervousness from some people about discussing it. However, most people are quite open about it. There are even tours which explain what the “troubles” were about and the route even passes the main areas of the “Troubles”. It’s probably best not to have too stronger opinion about it!
6. You Have To Wave Down The Buses
I’m afraid the Buses won’t automatically stop unless you wave them down. It’s quite a weird feeling being ignored by the bus driver. So don’t feel a dope and wave them down before they get to you as you see them approaching. This is especially true in rural areas!
7. Londonderry & Derry is the same City
Derry/Londonderry is the second biggest City in N.Ireland. One of the issues I found with N.Ireland was the “Londonderry” Issue. The Protestants who are in the majority in the north with 48% (against 41% Catholic), still call it Londonderry in accord with their UK counterparts, but the Catholics refer to it has Derry, I suppose to eliminate the “London” part. The official guidance is the using the “stroke” as in Derry/Londonderry. This gave name to the jocular name of stroke city. It won’t really offend anyone whatever you call it as the Irish really do have a great sense of humour and they will know you’re a tourist. I just fond it a bit of a shame that these ideals still exist today.
8. Check your baggage restriction
Irish air travel firm Ryan air are a budget airline, who offer ridiculously low travel fares to its passengers. This is great but comes at a cost as they are known for placing tough restrictions on bargain level fares, such as heavy cabin baggage restrictions. You can only take one cabin bag of 10 kg plus an handbag, before being hit with large fines for extra weight baggage.
9. Tipping isn’t essential
Ireland & N.Ireland don’t have the same tipping culture as other countries. If you are using a restaurant table service, it’s usual to tip about 10%. Large groups may find a service charge added to bill, but generally not. For Taxi’s and other services like Hairdressing etc, it’s polite to give about 10% but it’s all discretionary if they have provided good service.
10. You Might Need Your Raincoat Even In Summer
Ireland is a temperate Oceanic Climate and it can rain, buckets!
One minute its glorious sunshine, the next your drenched to the bone. So make sure to take a raincoat or umbrella even in the summer months unless in a heat wave. In the winter it can be quite cold and windy, so pack accordingly to the season.
11. They Have Short Days In Winter
Ireland’s daytime in the winter is from 8 am to 4 pm. This is quite short so remember to get your sightseeing in before dark if in the countryside.
In the summer the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm so quite the reverse of winter time.
12. You Really Should Rent A Car
Ireland is so beautiful with its long windy roads and green pastures. A great way to see it is to rent a car and see spectacular places off the beaten track. You can use trains & public transport to reach lots of the main attractions but renting a car is relatively cheap and you get to choose where and when you travel and when you stop for snacks etc.
13. Irish Folk Really Do Like Their Guinness
To visit Ireland and not try a pint of Guinness would be like visiting Egypt and not seeing the pyramids. It’s an acquired taste but I guarantee the more you drink it, the more you will like it. It’s also healthier for you than other alcohol as it only has 198 calories, which is a lot less than a large glass of wine or other alcohol pints. Just ask for “a pint of plain”, “he good stuff” or “pint of best”. Any good barman will know what your after!
14. Ireland really is safe
Ireland was voted 12th Safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index. US was 113th & UK 47th. That’s pretty safe by anyone’s standards, so chances are, you won’t run into any emergencies during your stay. One thing you should know is the emergency services numbers which are 999 or 112 in Ireland and just 999 in N.Ireland. The Police in Ireland are called Guarda.
15. You Should Get An Heritage Card
An Heritage card will set you back 40 Euro for an adult or 90 Euro for a family. There are other concessions you might look at on the Heritage website here
It’s a great way to see all the Heritage sites in Ireland and you will get free admission into Castles, Parks & War Memorials for a full year.
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