Long gone are the days where Ireland was one of the poorest countries in Europe and its natives fled to all corners of the globe in search of refuge. Today, it is cool to be Irish and, thanks to the like of The Corrs, Boyzone and U2, evocative images of Ireland now pervade popular culture across the globe. The Ireland of the new millennium is a modern, progressive European nation whose ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy is booming, but it is not only Irish eyes that are smiling as more and more tourists discover Ireland for themselves. Dublin is undoubtedly the spiritual and cultural heart of the Emerald Isle. Crowding around the banks of the murky River Liffey, the city, like the country, is bound in rich layers of history, back to the days when Celtic tribes wandered the peat bogs, to the present that sees the city overflowing with trendy bars and nightclubs. Elsewhere, the cities of Cork, Galway and Limerick boast their own charms, but it is out in the rolling countryside that you can unearth the idyllic Ireland of the movies. Here, in the atmospheric old pubs, you can experience the legendary Craig where music and song lead the course of an evening. Alternatively, ramble over the hills of Glenmalure or sail through the mist-shrouded Pater-Noster Lakes.
Area: 70,2857 sq km (27,137 sq miles)
Geography: The Republic of Ireland lies on the north Atlantic Ocean to the west and is separated from Britain by the Irish Sea to the east. The northeastern part of the island (Northern Ireland) is part of the United Kingdom. The country has a central plain surrounded by a rim of mountains and hills offering some of the most varied and unspoiled scenery in Europe – quiet sandy beaches, semi-tropical bays warmed by the Gulf Stream and rugged cliffs make up the 3500 miles of coastline.
Language: Irish (Gaelic) is the official language, however, the majority speaks English
Credit Cards: MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and VISA are all accepted.
Travelers Checks: Accepted throughout Ireland.
Banking Hours: 10am-4pm Monday to Friday
Air: The Republic of Ireland’s national airline is Aer Lingus (EI)
Approximate flight times:
London to Dublin is 1 hour 15 minutes
New York to Dublin is 7 hours 30 minutes
Chicago to Dublin is 10 hours 50 minutes
Los Angeles to Dublin is 12 hours 45 minutes
Dublin Airport (DUB) (www.dublin-airport.com) is 10km (6 miles) north of the city. The 41A city bus leaves Abbet Street every ten minutes (travel time 35 minutes). Bus no.747 runs to O’Connell Street, the central bus station and onto Parnell Square. Airport express coaches and taxis are available to the city center.
Shannon Airport (SNN)) (www.shannonairport.com) is 24km (15 miles) west of Limerick (travel time 25 minutes).
Cork Airport(ORK) (www.corkairport.com) is 8km (5 miles) southwest of the city (travel time – 15 minutes). Bus services are available to and from both Limerick and Clare, approximately every hour. A daily express coach travels between Limerick and Shannon and between Galway and Shannon. Taxi service is available to Limerick.
Social & Business Customs
Ireland is a farming country noted for its meat, bacon, poultry and dairy produce. The surrounding sea, inland lakes and rivers offer fresh fish including salmon, trout, lobster, Dublin Bay prawns, oysters, mussels and periwinkles. Dublin has a wide selection of restaurants and eating places to suit every pocket, as do the other major towns. Visitors should note that “tea” is often almost a full meal with sandwiches and cakes.
Irish coffee is popular. The two most internationally distinctive products are whiskey (spelt with an “e”) and stout. Irish whiskey has a uniquely characteristic flavor and is matured in a wooden barrel for a minimum of seven years. Certainly as popular as whiskey is stout, which is bottled or served from the tap.
Most towns have discos or dancehalls and many bars and pubs have live music and folk singing with professional ballad singers and groups who are often highly accomplished. Medieval castles are very popular with visitors and there is a good choice of theaters and cinemas.
Special purchases include hand-woven tweed, hand-crocheted woolens and cottons, sheepskin goods, gold and silver jewelry, Aran knitwear, linen, pottery, Irish crystal and basketry.
9am-5:30/6pm Monday to Saturday. Many towns have late night opening until 8-9pm Thursday or Friday. Note: It is possible to claim “cash back” on goods bought in Ireland on leaving the country.
The Irish are gregarious people and everywhere animated craic (talk) can be heard. Close community contact is very much part of the Irish way of life. Almost everywhere there is an intimate small-town atmosphere. Visitors will find the people very friendly and welcoming no matter where one finds oneself in the country. A meal in an Irish home is usually a substantial affair and guests will eat well. Dinner is at midday and the evening meal is known as tea. Even in cities there is less formal wear than in most European countries and casual dress is widely acceptable. Handshaking is usual and modes of address will often be informal.
The customary tip in Ireland is 10-12%. Many hotels and restaurants add this in the form of a service charge indicated on the menu or bill. It is not customary to tip in bars unless you have table service when a small tip is advised.
Business people should wear formal clothes for meetings. Local business people are very friendly and an informal business approach is most successful. However, it is advisable to make prior appointments and to allow time to complete business matters. Avoid business visits in the first week of May, during July, August and at Christmas or New Year.
The Temperate climate is due to mild SW winds and the Gulf Stream. Summers are warm and winters are much cooler. Spring and autumn are very mild. Rain falls all year.