Ireland is an island of 84,288 sq km (32,544 square miles), off the west coast of mainland UK. The country is divided into the provinces of Ulster (9 counties) in the north; (Known as Northern Ireland , with approx 1million population and southern Ireland known as the republic of Ireland with approx 4 million population.) The total population of the 32 counties of Ireland is approximately 5 million.
Ireland is small enough to be visited in its entirety within a couple of weeks, in which time you cannot see everything worthwhile of course – but you will gather an impression of something new, strange and beautiful in the make-up of land and people. With a warm welcome your stay in Ireland lets you discover an island of contrasts.
Among Ireland’s natural advantages is 3,500 miles of coastline, so indented that you are never more than 70 miles from the sea. From most inland towns you can take a day trip to the coast, where you can enjoy the long, gently sloping beaches of the east and south-east, or head west to the rugged Atlantic coast, where the sea has a straight run of over 2,000 miles to America.
Add to this the 800 lakes and rivers that are a delight of inland Ireland. This alternation of land and water gives journeys in Ireland a fascinating variety.
Another Great advantage arises from an aspect of Ireland’s economic history which proved a blessing in disguise, for here is a country that has not been over-industrialized. The scenery is never marred by heavy industry and the rivers and lakes still run mainly pure.
A visit to this land is a sedative – because of the beautiful landscape and the relaxed way of life.
From the bright lights of Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick in the Republic of Ireland and Belfast and Londonderry in Northern Ireland, to the breathtaking countryside in between – Ireland can deliver a host of activities along the way!
Ireland’s climate with mild winters and relatively cool summers gives an opportunity to sample the outdoor life, from hill walking to deep-sea diving, there’s a whole world of activities to enjoy on the island of Ireland. Daily temperature in May is 14ºC. Dublin enjoys reasonable sunshine and rain belts reaching the east coast are frequently light and generally clear within a few hours. May and June are the sunniest months, with between five and seven hours of sunlight each day.
Music is everywhere you go, from the Castle Ward Opera in County Down or the Wexford Opera Festival, to the buskers on the street corners.
Traditional Irish music is aplenty and varies from sing-along sessions with a bódhran, violin and piano accompaniment, to organized festivals such as the Fiddler’s Green Folk Festival or the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. More recently, Ireland’s great musical successes include U2, Van Morrison, The Corrs and The Thrills.
Ireland has the virtue of being small. You can travel anywhere on the island within around seven hours, meaning you have no excuse for not fitting in some traveling in your time in Dublin.
Unfortunately, while the distances involved are not great, neither is Ireland’s transport infrastructure. With the exception of the major cities – Belfast, Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford – you won’t be able to travel by train. To reach the most beautiful areas, such as Donegal and Kerry, you’ll have to travel by road.
Luckily, while the trains are limited, there are coach services to every corner of Ireland.
No matter what time of year, the island of Ireland can have all four seasons in one day. But don’t stay indoors if it’s cold outside, there are plenty of things for you to enjoy!
Visit the many Castles, Gardens, Museums, Historic houses etc.
Take a bus tour. There are many to choose from depending on area.
Take in a show – No matter where you are in the country, you are bound to find music, dancing, drama and comedy at a venue near you.
Alternatively, look to the racetrack for a different type of show with the ever-glamorous Galway Races which take place at the end of October. Or check out the stars under a bright night sky by joining in the annual Wicklow Mountains Walking Festival.
Experience a ‘grand soft day’ – Should you experience what the natives call ‘a grand, soft day’, have your umbrella handy or take shelter at the nearest pub or restaurant to discover the delights of a warm turf fire, a steaming hot drink, delicious wholesome food and, of course, the banter of the locals.
How to get there
Scheduled air services operate to Belfast in Northern Ireland and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland from all major airports.
Most visitors to Ireland who wish to tour the country either regionally or otherwise bring their own cars. Ireland is especially attractive to the motorist because of its scenic beauty and the comparative absence of traffic on its roads even on the main trunk routes between the cities and towns.
Mainline trains run between Dublin and cities and towns throughout Ireland
In Northem Ireland there are three main rail routes out of Belfast Central Station; north to Derry via Ballymena and Coleraine, east to Bangor along the shores of Belfast Lough, and south to Dublin via Lisbum, Portadown and Newry. The joumey time to Dublin is just over 2 hours. Trains from York Rd station connect with the Larne/Scotland ferries. A bus service links both stations.
Ireland is served by a number of ferry routes, from the UK and France.
You can bring your car or go as a foot passenger to six ports around the island.
An express bus service network serves all the cities and most of the towns and villages outside Dublin; in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford there are local bus services which connect the city centres with their suburbs. Similarly in Northern Ireland, express buses from Belfast serve all the main towns and villages and there are excellent local bus services serving the cities and towns and their surroundings
For music lovers there are a range of events to choose from, from international opera festivals to rock concerts. Major venues such as Slane Castle, the Point Depot in Dublin, and The Odyssey and the Waterfront Hall in Belfast regularly showcase the best of Irish talent as well as international stars.
If literature is your thing, then festivals and summer schools are widely available including the Yeats Winter and Summer School, held in Sligo in February and August; Listowel Writers Week held in County Kerry in June, and the Bard of Armagh Festival of Humorous Verse that takes place in June. If you are a bit of a movie buff, Belfast, Cork, Galway, Londonderry and Dublin all boast international film festivals.
There are a wide range of Arts Festivals in Ireland including The Galway Arts Festival in July, which is graced with appearances by the world’s best writers and performers, The Kilkenny Arts Festival in August, which always draws an exciting mix of visitors from around Ireland and abroad, The Belfast Festival at Queens, which takes place every Autumn and brings together the very best of international talent and Dublin’s Theatre Festival which plays host to an eclectic mix of the world’s finest productions.
Food-wise, Ireland has many festivals and events throughout the year including the Galway Oyster Festival and the World Eating Oyster Championships at Hillsborough, both in September. The following month in Kinsale, the Gourmet Capital of Ireland, sees the Autumn Flavours Festival of Fine Food and Fun. On a slightly smaller scale, local fairs take place all over Ireland, where people come to sell their wares, listen to music and socialize.
Eating Dining Shopping
Dining in Ireland now offers a wide range of choices. Irish and European restaurateurs have opened high-class establishments, adding to a diverse range of restaurants that already includes Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and vegetarian establishments.
Local produce is a point of pride in the best kitchens everywhere and a growing interest in specialist production is reflected in the availability of products like hand-smoked fish and meats, baked goods and preserves, plus a wide range of organic vegetables and fruit, many of which are sold at markets as well as through ordinary shops.
Shops are generally open
Monday to Saturday 9.00am to 6.00pm, with late-night shopping until 8.00pm or 9.00pm on Thursday at many of the larger shopping stores.
On Sunday main shopping centres and some of the larger department stores open from midday until 5.00pm or 6.00pm. Many smaller supermarkets in towns and villages also open.
From 1782-1800, Ireland had a self-governing status under the Parliament of Ireland, but power was limited to the Anglo-Irish, Anglican minority and the mostly Catholic population were severely discriminated against politically and economically. This brief experiment in self-rule for the Anglican elite was terminated following the outbreak and vicious suppression of the 1798 rebellion. In 1801 his parliament was abolished and Ireland became an integral part of a new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the Act of Union. In 1922, after the War of Independence, the southern and western twenty-six counties of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom and became the independent state known today as the ‘Republic of Ireland’. The remainder of the island, known as ‘Northern Ireland’, remained part of the UK.
After independence in 1922, the Irish Free State suffered from economic difficulties and mass emigration for many decades. However since the 1990s the Republic has been enjoying economic success. Since its establishment the history of Northern Ireland has been dominated by sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants. This conflict erupted into the Troubles in the late 1960s.
Which is now history in this peaceful land.
Useful telephone numbers
Emergency Number 999
Airport Information (Dublin) 353 1 814 1111
Tourist Office: (Dublin) Tel +353 (0)1 679 1977
Holiday rents online:
National Transport Line
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