Visiting Ireland

Visiting IrelandVisiting IrelandVisiting IrelandVisiting IrelandVisiting IrelandVisiting Ireland
Visiting IrelandVisiting IrelandVisiting IrelandVisiting IrelandVisiting IrelandVisiting Ireland

 

Visiting Ireland

 

Introduction - Visiting Ireland

If you are considering planning a visit to the beautiful island of Ireland, then this article is well worth a read.

Many people think of coming to Ireland and thankfully many do. Others shy away because of what they have seen over the last 30 years. Thankfully things have changed and although there is still the odd sporadic incident, generally it is now safe to make a visit to Ireland. The crime rate in Ireland is low, in fact one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and lower than that of the USA.

 

History

I could write books on the history of Ireland but will try to do a potted version as means of a background. Ireland is a small island essentially surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and has an overall population of approximately 6 million people. It is around 300 miles north to south and 100 miles east to west. For an island so small, it has had a turbulent history and books have yet to be written about what may yet come to pass.

Christianity came to Ireland around 450 AD and at that time was divided into four provinces, Ulster, Munster Leinster and Connacht. Ireland was at that stage, and indeed for the next few hundred years run by kings and High kings, many of whom battled for supremacy. It was around 750 AD that the Vikings arrived and Dublin came into being as an important port.

There has always been a great debate about the English invading Ireland, but it is more complex than that. The King of Leinster was essentially banished and he went to Henry 2nd in France for help. He agreed to help and sent Strongbow, a Welsh Baron, who effectively took control of Ireland. He had been promised the King of Leinster daughters hand in marriage and that he would also become heir to the King of Leinster.

This was viewed as a threat by Henry 2nd of England and he mounted a campaign and took control of Ireland, establishing Ireland as a Kingdom in 1199. This however did weaken and once again Norman Barons took control and adopted an Irish culture. It wasn't until the Tudor period that this battle would recommence once again with Henry VIII and his own personal views on his marital status. It was his actions then that have sowed the seeds of conflict that exist to this day. Henry got himself elected King of Ireland by the Irish Parliament and due to his fall out with the Catholic Church created plantations and gave land to his protestant supporters as reward for their support.

In the 1640s Oliver Cromwell ruthlessy attacked anyone who did not support the protestant cause and catholics were essentially exiled to the infertile lands of the west coast. Irish catholics supported James II as he fled from England, his throne having been taken by William of Orange.

The famous battle of the Boyne ensued in 1690 and victory by William established the protestant victory still celebrated on the 12th july every year. An Act of Union was passed in 1800 which made Ireland part of the United Kingdom. The Great Famine then decimated Ireland in 1841 with over a million people dying and a million more emigrating, mostly to the USA. Ireland became a place of wilderness and death and in truth no-one had any real key interest in governing such a place.

Emigration continued through the earl 1900s and it was then that many young activists started a plan to reclaim Ireland for the Irish. Many protestants wished to stay aligned to the United Kingdom and this led to the famous Easter Rising in 1916. A bloody civil war ensued and in 1921 the Irish Free State was declared which separated Ireland. Six counties in what is now known as Northern Ireland remained with the United Kingdom and the remaining 26 counties formed an Irish Republic in 1948.

In the 1960s civil right started a momentum throughout the world and Northern Ireland was no exception. Some young catholics had been allowed to attend universities for the first time and many students at universities began civil right campaigns with the slogan "one man, one vote." At that time voting rights were allocated by status and land and business ownership. Even in areas where there was mainly a catholic population, protestants sat on all the councils as they owned the land, and had great power in the allocation oh housing, schools and work. Trouble ensued at these marches as the Unionist government tried to suppress these marches and violence erupted. In 1969 the British Army was sent in to protect catholics who were being burned out of their homes, a strange quirk if ever there was one.

Violence continued and catholics quickly turned against the army when internment was introduced as a measure to stop the re-creation of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) This violence continued for well over thirty years with countless atrocities and the loss of over 3,000 lives. This lasted until 1998 when the Good Friday agreement was signed and ceasefires happened. In 2009 a local power sharing government exists with the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein having the control. It is hard to think that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness would ever have formed a government but it seems that miracles do happen.

So for the purpose of your holiday, there is still a Northern ireland with six counties and they form part of the United Kingdom and use pound sterling as their currency. The other 26 counties form Southern Ireland and use the Euro as their currency. Be sure to bring both if you plan to do a tour of Ireland. At this moment in time a pound sterling will buy one euro and ten cents.

ATM Machines are available but if you are staying in a rural area they are very limited. If in doubt stop in a town and get your money there as it is always better to be safe than sorry.

 

Things you should know

 

Weather

Sping time starts around March and lasts through until June and you can expect temperatures of around 10-15 degrees throughout this period. Summer is from July through to September and temperatures around 15-22 degrees typically, and you may just be lucky and get the odd hot spell when temperatures can reach 25 degrees. Fall begins from October through to December and temperatures drop significantly to around a few degrees above freezing and it gets cold in the evenings, often reaching zero degrees over night. Winter begins in January through to March and temperatures seldom get above a few degrees over freezing. At some stage we usually go get a few waves of snow but never much more than a few inches, though every now and then we get a large flurry which can get up to one foot deep.

Irrespective of the time of year you can nearly always guarantee rain so always come prepared. A light rain jacket in the spring and summer is highly recommended.

Airports

There are twelve airports in Ireland and they vary greatly in their choice of destinations. They can include local, European and International and always best to check the individual airports as flight destinations and arrivals can change. The two biggest Irish airline companies are Aer Lingus and RyanAir.

  • Belfast City Airport
  • Belfast International Airport (International)
  • Cork Airport
  • Derry Regional Airport
  • Donegal Regional Airport
  • Dublin Airport (International)
  • Kerry International Airport (International)
  • Ireland West Airport Knock
  • Galway Airport
  • Shannon Airport
  • Sligo Regional Airport
  • Waterford Regional Airport

Car hire, taxi, bus and train services are available at the larger airports. Depending on where you are visiting in Ireland it is always best to decide which airport services that area and check for flight availability from wherever you are departing.

Accommodation

A wide range of accommodation is available from hotels, Bed and Breakfast, Hiring apartments or houses, Caravanning, camping, hostels, boat hire etc. Once you have decided on what type of accommodation you need there is a wide selection of options available to you. The only words of caution I would offer are to check for festivals in a particular area at any given time. For example trying to book a hotel in Dublin on the 17th March would be rather difficult as it is St.Patrick's day and rooms are at a premium.

Car Hire

In Ireland all driving is on the left hand side of the road and all cars have a right hand drive as standard. There are hundreds of roundabouts and these are always tricky for visitors. They allow traffic to go off in different directions without the need for traffic lights and as you approach them you should always look to your right and if a vehicle is coming, then you must stop and give way, otherwise it is safe to continue on without stopping. We do have traffic lights as well and they work on a Red Amber Green. Red is for stop, amber is for get ready and green for go. Always check with your insurance company if you plan to drive your own car when visiting as we are two different countries. If you hire a car make sure the insurance covers all of Ireland if you plan to travel throughout all of Ireland.

Petrol and diesel are expensive at around 1 pound sterling a litre and a typical car hire is around 20 pounds sterling a day for a small car and around 45 pounds sterling a day for a family car. Generally all road signs are written in English. In purely Irish speaking areas (very small number) you may find some written only in Irish.

The wearing of seat belts is mandatory for everyone in the car. Finally please be very careful as many of the roads are narrow and windy and great care is needed when driving.

Smoking

Smoking is banned in any public buildings, restaurants and in pubs. Some hotels do have smoking rooms but if you are a smoker, make sure you ask first. Be careful if you do smoke in certain cities as they have litter wardens who will hit you with a 60 pound fine should you drop your butt in the street. That's about 90 USA dollars so be careful. A pack of cigarettes will set you back around 5-6 pounds so an expensive habit.

Medical Insurance

Always check with your travel insurance before you come that you are covered in Ireland. Both Northern and Southern Ireland are in the EU so make sure you are covered.

What to do when you are finally here?

Golfing, fishing, water sports, sight seeing, walking, hiking, beaches, historic buildings, churches and the list is truly endless. There really is something for everyone to do and see. The common language spoken throughout Ireland is English and you will always be made welcome by everyone. Tourist offices are in every major town and city and they will provide you with a host of things to do and see.

Don't miss out on seeing the famous Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Bushmill's Distillery, Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge and the North Antrim Coast, all of which can be seen in one or two days. Then there is the haunted Ballygalley House Hotel and some of the most panoramic golf courses in the world. A trip to Belfast and a tour of the city are highly recommended.

Then we have the kissing of the blarney stone, or go to Dublin and see the Book of Kells, Trinity College and the famous Guinness Brewery. Go racing for a day and chance your luck. I am fairly certain whether it is a holiday for those of you who wish to simply lay back and chill, or for those of you who want an activity packed holiday, you will find it here in the Emerald Isle.

http://thegiantscauseway.blogspot.com

Hi, I am Enda and have lived in Ireland for all of my life some 52 years. I have travelled the length and breadth of this island and know and love it. Over those years I have met many visitors to our country and have produced this article to try and make their arrival easier, and when they are here to make their stay more enjoyable. I hope I have achieved this and that we see many more visitors to our beautiful island.

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