Ireland is a safe and welcoming place to travel. But, wherever you visit, it always pays to know your rights, what to expect and what the local might expect of you, too.
Use this page to find out about the laws, customs and quirks of the Emerald Isle, as well as some basic tips for first-time visitors.
You will need to bring a 220V 3 pronged adaptor to recharge your cell phones, cameras, laptops. Most of the hotels have hairdryers. Most 4 star hotels offer complimentary wifi services.
The currency in Ireland is the Euro (€). The currency in Northern Ireland is the pound sterling (£). The cheapest, easiest and safest way of getting Euro or Pound Sterling is to use your debit card in any of the thousands of ATM's across Ireland & Northern Ireland. You get the best exchange rates and you can take out money as you need it.
To give you some idea of costs a lunch of soup and sandwich with tea/coffee would be about €8-10 per person.
A pint of Guinness will range from about €5.50 in Dublin to about €4.50 in Cork/Kerry. A Gin & Tonic in a bar/pub would be about €7.00.
Souvenirs range from as little as €2.00 for a postcard to €20.00 for a Plate with Irish Blessing.
Ireland does not have a strong tipping culture. We only tip in restaurants, taxis and for personal services. All tips are at your discretion and are around 10%
Our escorted tours: At the end of the tour if you are extremely happy with your tour guide (who is also your driver), then a gratuity of 80.00 Euro to 120.00 Euro per person would be considered an excellent tip.
Ireland is a great destination for solo travellers. North and south, it is a very safe place to visit and you will find most people to be friendly and welcoming. Statistically, it is among Europe's safest travel destinations. Click here to find out more about travelling solo in Ireland.
A great way to keep an eye on any tricksters that might try to take advantage of your uncertainty in a new country is to check in with the guys at TravelScams (Ireland page).
English is the main language spoken, but you will see some road signs and place names written in Irish Gaelic. There are many Irish speaking areas in the west of Ireland, but everyone who has Irish as a first language also speaks English.
Ireland is part of the same time zone as London. During the winter, the time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). From last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October, Ireland moves its clocks forward from GMT by one hour (GMT+1). Smartphones and similar devices will usually detect the correct time zone when they connect to WiFi. Your airline will also tell you the local time when you land.
Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland drive on the left. The legal age to drive in Ireland is 16 yrs old.
There are plenty of locations to hire cars in Ireland, including at all the airports. It is also often possible to hire the car from one location and return it to a different one.
From Dublin, all the other major cities (Cork, Galway, Limerick & Belfast) are within a few hours' drive, so Ireland is an easy country to self-drive.
Please note: if you are used to North American roads, you may find our Irish roads rather narrow and windy!
The international prefix used when dialling somewhere outside of Ireland is 00. To call a US phone number from Ireland, the phone number should begin 001. For Australia the number should begin 00 11. See here for a full list of Country Calling Codes.
The Irish country code is +353. To call an Irish number from United States/Canada the number would be 011 353. To call an Irish number from Europe the number would be 00 353. To call an Irish number from Australia the number would be 0011 353. To call My Ireland Tour offices you would dial:
Bring a good rain jacket. There can be rain showers on the Atlantic coast. The average temperature is 50 F. Not too hot and not too cold. Weather can be changeable but it's rarely extreme. For up to date weather forecasts please see met.ie
During the day as you tour around casual clothing is the order of the day. In the evenings in the hotel dining rooms and bars, smart casual would be the norm. (If you wish to step it up a bit further for example in 5 Star Lough Eske Castle and 4 Star Ballynahinch Castle you would not look out of place)
Every country has its own unique habits and eccentricities. Ireland is certainly no different. If you want stay on the good-side of the notorious 'Irish Mammy', part of what follows isn't so much advice as it is a survival guide.
Everybody in Ireland drinks Tea. Tea is the lifeblood of Ireland. Tea is not a choice, tea is a way of life. I'm having a cup tea as I write this, I had a cup of tea with my breakfast and there is a good chance I will have a cup of tea later. If, by chance, you are coming to Ireland to meet your other half's mother and you don't drink tea, start taking notes...
1) You love tea, 2) you like it a very specific way, (e.g a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and a tiny drop of milk...this will come in handy later), 3) the cup of tea your other half's mother makes you is the best cup of tea you've ever had in your life!
By asking for it a very specific way, and complimenting the result, you have made the mothers day. You could now proceed to burn down the house and you will still be held in high regard. Refuse a cup of tea or say you don't mind how it's made and you will be looked upon with distrust and the chances of staying with your other half will become greatly reduced.
The legal drinking age, both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, is 18 years. Most places will ask for either a passport or driving licence as acceptable forms of ID — if you are lucky enough to look close to the legal age limit.
In most countries, the rules for drinking in a pub are as follows: you buy your own drinks for the night, you tip the bar staff either after every drink or at the end of the night, and that's it. While tipping bar staff in Ireland is certainly appreciated, it can also improve your chances of being served quickly the next time around, it is by no means a rule.
Drinking in rounds is also not a rule but it is pretty much standard procedure. The easiest way to describe it is to imagine two guys going to a local pub. For the sake of this story, let's call them John and Mike. John takes a seat in the pub, Mike goes up to the bar and buys his own drink and John's drink. Mike returns with the 2 drinks, they drink their drinks and now it's John's turn to go up to the bar and buy the same 2 drinks... and so on and so on. So far, so easy. This system, while remaining airtight to the general Irish population for centuries, is by no means flawless. Let's say John and Mike are now joined at the bar by their friend, Martin. Martin can join the round no problem... now each member of the system buys his drink and the remaining other 2 drinks. In our example, Martin will have to buy the next round, after he arrives, in order to catch up on the round, (assumming, of course, that John and Mike are now squared off on the original round).
The round system can only be compromised when one of the members moves out of the prearranged price bracket, (beer, stouts and ales are usually priced about €5 per pint in Irish pubs, a glass of wine or a spirit is about €7)... or if a member pulls the dreaded 'Irish Goodbye' i.e slipping out of a pub without anyone knowing. Pulling an 'Irish Goodbye' when you are the next person to buy a round is a sin of unspeakable consequences on the Irish pub scene.
It's very true that everyone in Ireland loves talking, chatting, catching up (usually over a cup of tea), having a chin-wag, having a gossip etc.
If you listen closely, you will come to realise that it's not so much that the Irish love talking, rather they Irish love talking about the weather.
There may be a bit of padding on either end of the conversations but what remains is entirely about the weather. While telling a story and setting a scene, it's almost a prerequisite to start with how the weather was... even if the story takes place indoors, you can still mention something about the temperature. This will set the Irish mind at ease and you can continue on, uninterrupted, with your story. If you are listening to a story from an 'Irish person' and they have started a story without mention the weather, that person is not Irish and you should proceed with caution.
If the weather is good, you say: 'Tis grand'
If the weather is bad, you say: 'Ah, it'll be grand'
It is said that the neurologist Sigmund Freud once referred to the Irish as "the only race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use".
This may have come from the Irish love and constant use of the word 'grand'. To the outsider, the word's meaning can become confusing as it is used to express, joy (grand!), sadness (ah, grand), sarcasm (oh, that's grand!), hope (ah, it'll be grand). It's a word that can get you out of, or into, any situation in Ireland.
The Fry-Up is up there with Tea in terms of its popularity with Irish people.
The 'Fry-Up', or simply the 'Fry', or to give it its proper name the 'Full Irish Breakfast' consists of pork sausages, pork rashers, fried eggs, black pudding (made from pork blood, pork fat and cereal) and white pudding (the same as the black pudding but does not contain blood), baked beans, toast and, you guessed it... a massive serving of tea!
There is a strong tradition in Ireland of lighting candles in church for good luck. If someone has an exam coming up an excited relative with say 'I'll light a candle for you at mass.' Should the person go on to pass the exam the relative will say 'See, that was my candle.' Should the person fail the exam the relative will say 'Ah, I should have lit two!'