- Capital: Dublin
- Population: ~4.6 million
- Language: Irish, English
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Time Zone: UTC 0
Money: ATM’s can be found almost everywhere and are all linked to the central international money systems. Credit (Visa and MC) and Debit cards can be used virtually anywhere with the exceptions of some B&B’s in rural areas; that will only take cash. Chip and PIN cards are common and are now considered the norm. Only expect American Express to be accepted at major chains.
VISA’s in Ireland: VISA’s are not required for most citizens of Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and the USA.
Phones: Phones running on the GSM network should work in Ireland, but be mindful of high roaming charges. Cheap local SIM cards can be obtained for €10 and are recommended to reduce phone costs.
WHEN TO GO:
- High Season (June-Sep) – Weather at its best and accommodation rates at their highest.
- Shoulder Season (Easter-May / Sep-Oct) – Weather typically good, sun + rain in May. Indian summers and warm weather likely in Sep. Fewer crowds and declining accommodation rates.
- Low Season (Nov-Feb) – Cold and Wet. Reduced hours of operation from Oct to Easter. Most things in Dublin will be unaffected.
WHERE TO GO: (TOP LISTINGS)
- Connemara – A district in western Ireland, northwest of Galway. Ultimately a bog running through a series of mountains and windswept plains creating the most awe-inspiring scenery in the whole of Ireland.
- Dingle Peninsula – The rugged farmed land spread out between the mountains and the crashing waves of the Atlantic, of this northernmost peninsula of County Kerry in southern Ireland, has long been hailed as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Package that together with wonderful lively towns full of friendly people, tasty ale, and music. Consider Dingle as your home base for exploring.
- Galway City – A base from which all of western Ireland can be explored. Long noted for its colorful bars, endless music, weekend-long parties, street cafes, art and deep history. University students make up close to a quarter of its population keeping the city current with all things. Dubbed the most Irish of all towns, listen for Gaelic to be spoken in the streets.
- Rock of Cashel – The site of the conversion of Aenghus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century. Originally the Rock of Cashel was the seat of the High Kings of Munster. Aka: St. Patrick’s Rock, Cashel of the Kings.
- Cork City – Locals claim the cheerful city of Cork to be the real capital of Ireland. It is a crossroads of new and old, artsy cafes litter every street corner and traditional music can be found throughout. Foodies claim Cork to be the best that Ireland has to offer.
- Ring of Kerry – The standard tract used to explore County Kerry. Essentially a circular route taking you through the famed County Kerry and all of its natural glory. It is no secret and can be very busy with fellow travelers.
- Kilkenny City – The optimity of what visitors envision for their trip to Ireland. Known for its picturesque Medieval Mile bookended by a church and castle, it is classic Ireland. Nicknamed the Marble City, it is popular with local, as well as, international tourist.
- Cliffs of Moher – Located in County Clare more than a million people a year make a pilgrimage to the cliffs. Rising above the ocean as much as 702 feet and stretching for more than five miles, the Cliffs of Moher provide one fantastic vantage point. Note: Use extreme caution as there is no guard between you and the edge.
- Trinity College, Dublin – The gorgeously illustrated manuscript of the Book of Kells is the main draw here, but the massive Long Hall of the Old Library should not be skipped. Ireland’s most prestigious college, reminiscent of Oxford, Harvard, and Cambridge.
The most vibrant folk music in Western Europe is kept alive and well in Ireland.
- Leo’s Tavern – Live sessions nightly in the summer. Home of Clannad, Enya and Moya Brennan. Donegal, Ireland. website.
- Matt Molloy’s – A Traditional Irish Atmosphere and the Best of Irish Traditional Music. Live Ceilidh (traditional music and dance) starts at 9 pm nightly. Mayo, Ireland. website.
- Miltown Malbay – A town in the west of County Clare, Ireland, near Spanish Point, where all the pubs feature Irish trad sessions.
- Tig Cóilí – situated on Mainguard Street at the end of Shop Street. This cozy bar is well known for its nightly Traditional Irish music sessions and is considered the best in Galway, Ireland. website.
- Marine Bar – An Irish pub with authentic Irish music, traditional hospitality, and of course, the water of life. The Marine Bar is the real thing, a 200-year-old pub that has music nightly year-round. Waterford, Ireland. website.
- T&H Doolan’s – provides informal traditional Irish music sessions most nights, attracting some of the best musicians in the area. (Wed nights in particular) Waterford, Ireland.
Finding live music in Ireland is kind of like finding Guinness, but here are a few highlights.
- Whelan’s – The history of the venue can be seen on the walls where tourists can see pictures of prestigious artists who have played and left their mark on this Irish institution. Dublin, Ireland. website.
- Everyman Palace Theater – Elegant Victorian landmark showcasing Irish and international drama, dance and ballet performances. Cork, Ireland. website.
- Róisín Dubh – is an established live music venue in Galway, Ireland known for showcasing emerging bands. (pronounced Ro-sheen dove or Ro-sheen doo, meaning “Black Rose”) website.
- Sean’s Bar – is a pub in Athlone, Ireland. It claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland, dating back to 900 AD and received a certificate in 2004 from Guinness World Records repeating the claim. Live music nightly in the summer. Athlone, Ireland. website.
- Peter Matthews – One of Drogheda’s top spots for live music (Thursday to Sunday), McPhail’s (as it’s always called, no matter what the sign says) is popular with a younger crowd and features everything from heavy metal cover bands to trad sessions. Drogheda, Ireland. website.
- Spirit Store – The Spirit Store is a pub focused on the creative, cultural, musical and arts activities in Louth, Ireland. Be sure to check out the upstairs. website.
Ireland has plenty for the whole family throughout the country.
- Dunlewey Lakeside Centre – is a strange mixture of a craft shop, museum, restaurant, petting zoo, activity center, theater, and concert venue. Be sure to take the boat trip on the lake with a storyteller who vividly brings to life local history, geology and ghoulish folklore.
- Lough Key Forest Park – Lough Key has for many centuries drawn people to its spectacular views, abundant wildlife, historic buildings, and evocative islands. This beautiful landscape is steeped in a rich history. It is an 800-hectare park on the southern shore of Lough Key, 40 km southeast of Sligo town and 3 km east of Boyle in Ireland. Formerly part of the Rockingham estate, it is open to the public. The park features a canopy walk, bog garden, outdoor adventure playground, Moylurg Tower, a lakeside café and more.
- Great Western Greenway – The Great Western Greenway is a greenway rail trail in County Mayo, Ireland. It is 42 kilometers long and begins in Westport and ends in Achill, passing through the towns of Newport and Mulranny as it runs along the coast of Clew Bay. Bicycles are available for rent for all sizes.
- Fota Wildlife Park – Fota Wildlife Park is a 75-acre wildlife park located on Fota Island, near Carrigtwohill, County Cork, Ireland. The park is home to nearly 30 mammal and 50 bird species. Cork, Ireland.
- Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre – overlooks the greater Tralee Bay; which encompasses over 8000 acres of pristine nature reserve and is an accredited site of Wetland of International Importance. Tralee Bay is of considerable ecological and conservational significance due to the wide variety of habitats contained within the area.
The Celts and those who came before were very busy, but many a war has left most of these sites as ruins.
- Askeaton – also historically spelled Askettin, is a town in County Limerick, Ireland. Located on the N69, the town is built on the banks of the River Deel some 3 km upstream from the estuary of the River Shannon. Look for the 14th-century ruins of a castle, monastery, and church.
- Brú na Bóinne –is a World Heritage Site in County Meath, Ireland and is the largest and one of the most important complex of Megalithic sites in Europe, dating back to the Neolithic period. Brú na Bóinne, which means the ‘palace’ or the ‘mansion’ of the Boyne, refers to the area within the bend of the River Boyne.
- Carrowkeel – is a Neolithic passage tomb cemetery in the south of County Sligo, near Boyle, County Roscommon. A Cheathrú Chaol in Irish means ‘the Narrow Quarter’.
- Clonmacnoise – The monastery of Clonmacnoise is situated in County Offaly, Ireland on the River Shannon south of Athlone. Clonmacnoise was founded in 546 by Ciarán, a young man from Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon. (Cluain Mhic Nóis in Irish, meaning “Meadow of the Sons of Nós”)
- Devenish Island – Devenish contains one of the finest monastic sites in Northern Ireland. A round tower thought to date from the 12th century is situated on the island, as are the walls of the Oratory of Saint Molaise, who established the monastery in the 6th century, on a pilgrim route to Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. It became a center of scholarship, and although raided by Vikings in 837 and burned in 1157, it later flourished as the site of the parish church and St Mary’s Augustinian Priory.
- Dún Aonghasa – is the most famous of several prehistoric forts on the Aran Islands of County Galway, Ireland. It is on Inishmore, at the edge of a 100-meter high cliff.
- Glendalough – or Glendaloch is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland. It is renowned for its Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin, a hermit priest, and partly destroyed in 1398 by English troops.
- St Patrick’s Day – Ireland erupts into one gigantic celebration on March 17th, in particular, Dublin with its five-day festival centered around a massive parade.
- Galway Arts Festival – Music, drama and a variety of artistic endeavors are on display at the country’s most prestigious art festival. Last two weeks of the month.
- Willie Clancy Summer School – created to celebrate a famed local piper and draws the world’s best player for an event lasting nine days. Festivities begin the first Saturday of July. Milltown Malbay, Ireland.
- All-Ireland Finals – The Hurling and Gaelic football championships in Dublin’s Croke Park are held on the second and fourth Sunday, respectively, of September.
- Entertainment Ireland – Countrywide listings for every kind of entertainment.
- Failte Ireland – Official tourist board website with loads of practical info and a vast accommodations list.