Travelling in Ireland: essential tips

So you’re planning a vacation in Ireland? For many, visiting the Emerald Isle is a lifelong dream that is finally being realised; it may be a chance to visit your ancestral home for the very first time and might even be an opportunity to meet distant relatives. For others it’s a whimsical notion that takes hold and becomes a plan, an adventure waiting to happen. Often, after the flights have been booked, the reality of navigating around the rugged green landscape sets in and travellers are left slightly bewildered as to how to begin planning the trip and what exactly to expect. For these I have put together some tips that I hope are useful.

Doolough Valley, Co. Mayo

Getting around

Public transport in Ireland varies considerably depending on where you are. Dublin, for example, has an excellent bus system as well as the luas (a light rail system with 54 stations in and around Dublin city)

A good train system runs between the major cities such as Cork and Dublin where train tickets should be booked in advance online if possible but can also be bought on the day in stations. The issue with public transport arises when you venture beyond the cities and big towns, where some villages may have one or two buses visiting per day and other rural areas may not be accessible by public transport at all. To see the most scenic areas and explore the wild coast, renting a car or organising a  private driver guide with local knowledge is definitely the best option.  Get out into the most scenic coastal and off the beaten path places in your car and make sure to stop at a gem of a  local pub for lunch and some local colour!

Signposts in Irish and English

Ireland has an extensive road network; having never been invaded by the road building Romans, the road system is more organic than in neighbouring England and mainland Europe. In recent decades motorways have been built that link the main cities, making driving longer distances much quicker and easier. On the other end of the scale are narrow local roads known as bothairins or boreens (the word means small cow path in the Irish language). These roads sometimes have grass growing in the middle of them and often have insufficient room for two cars to pass by each other, so hone your reversing skills before you get behind the wheel and don’t forget to give a friendly salute to anyone who politely hugs the ditch to let you pass by.

signpost

Dressing for the weather

It’s said that there is no such thing as bad weather merely the wrong clothes – an important thing to remember when visiting Ireland. The country has a pretty mild climate and in fact, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t rain all the time. The east of the country can get between 750 and 1000mm of rainfall per year and the western half of the country can experience up to 1400mm with December and January being the wettest months. The weather is changeable and often unpredictable, therefore having a light rain coat rolled up in your back pack will come in handy, all year round. Multiple light layers are perfect and a pair of waterproof hiking shoes are useful if you plan on exploring the hundreds of castles dotted around the countryside or the coastal paths of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Currency in Ireland

The currency in Ireland, along with much of Europe is the Euro. The majority of shops, restaurants and hotels accept most types of credit cards.  There are ATM machines, accessible 24 hrs a day, in most towns in Ireland, however, these are less frequently found in rural areas. Prices for drinks and meals out can vary considerably from place to place.  Bar staff aren’t usually tipped unless they have gone out of their way to help you or make your visit more enjoyable, you won’t offend either way so it’s really at your discretion. It is polite to tip in restaurants, especially if you are with a group – 10 to 15 % is the norm.

Language

You will notice that sign posts throughout the country are written in both the Irish language and in English. Most Irish people can speak Irish as learning it in school is compulsory, however, few would consider it their first language. If you are keen to hear Gaelic being spoken, there are pockets of Irish speaking areas, known as Gaeltachts where you can try out any phrases you might have learnt in preparation for your vacation. These areas are mostly located on the west coast (see the areas in green on the map). The radio station called RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, available on FM in Ireland and via satellite and on the Internet is another great way of listening to the language while travelling the country.

Gaeltachts or Irish speaking areas (in green).

Gaeltacht

Ireland is a small country with lots to do and see. It’s worth doing your research before you get there and plan your travel and accommodation in advance. Local knowledge is invaluable and can be the difference between you having a mediocre holiday and the trip of a lifetime.

Naomi Sheehy is CEO of Ireland Luxury Travel.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Comments (1)

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  1. Sean says:

    Being from Dublin I’,m always keen to read what others post about Ireland. Naomi makes a lot of good points here. Though Ireland is small … take time to see it and you will be rewarded in spades!

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