Some helpful Tourist Information

Getting Here
You can fly to Ireland from most countries in Europe and major cities in the United States. Many routes link to cities in the UK with frequent flights from London to Dublin Airport. Ferry services from the Britain sail to Dublin (Dublin Port or Dun Laoghaire) and Rosslare, Belfast and Cork. Continental ferry sailings from France serve Rosslare and Cork.

Passport/Visa Controls
Citizens of EU countries and from Liechtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland require a passport or national ID card. US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens need a passport but do not require a visa to enter Ireland. UK citizens have free access to Ireland without passport or visa requirements. Visas may be required from citizens of other countries. Check before travelling.

Climate
Ireland has a temperate climate with weather that has no great extremes, but which is nevertheless variable. Walk out in the sun, get wet in the rain, dry out in the wind ………all of this in the space of ten minutes. The word most often used to describe our weather is 'changeable'. It can also be very localised: torrential rain at one end of a village, pleasant sunshine at the other. With this in mind, be sure to pack an umbrella and some light rain-ware.

If visiting during the warmer months of June, July and August bring light summer clothes: shorts, tee-shirts, light slacks. You will also need to bring some warmer clothes for the cooler evenings and occasional cold snaps. In cooler seasons, of course, substantially warmer clothing is needed.

Currency
Since January 2002, when Ireland said farewell to the Punt, the unit of currency has been the Euro. You can change your currency into Euro at all bank branches, and Bureaux de Change offices at airport, ferry and rail stations and at ATM machines using your credit card.

Motoring
If you intended driving during your visit, take extra care. Ireland is one of only a few countries where you drive on the left side of the road. It will seem strange initially to be driving on the 'wrong' side, and extra caution is certainly needed especially for the first few days. After that, it becomes routine and you will cease to even think about it. Otherwise, exercise all the usual safety you would in your own country. Be mindful that extra care must be exercised while driving in rural areas. Roads can be narrow, winding and badly maintained, and to add to your difficulties, around any turn a surprise could await you …………. a flock of sheep, a herd of cows, a combine harvester. Take care!

Crime
As everywhere else, Ireland has its share of crime, including that which is specifically targeted at tourists. That said, Ireland is on the whole safe for visitors and you can expect to enjoy your visit without mishap. You would need to be unlucky to become a victim, but it is advisable to take sensible precautions to safeguard yourself and your property. This applies particularly to Dublin where a serious drugs problem exists along with its attendant vices of violent attacks, general theft, burglaries and muggings.
Remember these points:
  • Don't make an obvious public display of your wealth or large amounts of money.
  • Don't carry loosely secured handbags.
  • Don't leave your belongings on open display in your car.
  • Don't park your car at night in isolation from other vehicles; stick with the crowd.

As with all travel, make sure you have good insurance cover. If the worst happens and your property is stolen or you suffer personal injury you may need for insurance purposes to report this to the Irish police (the Gardai). This is in fact the only reason to contact them. They are an efficient but ineffective force whose work is constantly undermined by the courts. Judges here treat Irish society as a grand version of the Roman Colosseum where they view the Irish public as some form of legitimate prey for the predator criminals that the courts daily release upon them. If as a victim you are in contact with the Gardai, they will be sympathetic -- genuinely so -- but they will not help, probably because they know its pointless. If your particular criminal is caught -- unlikely - refuse to get involved in the futile process of making statements or going to court. Most criminals go unpunished in any serious sense, and you will only end up wasting valuable holiday time.

Tipping
Unlike some continental countries where tipping attaches to nearly every minor service, in Ireland it is limited to a few defined areas. Principally, it is appropriate to tip in hotels and restaurants in the order of 10 to 15 per cent, and only then when no service charge applies. It is also becoming common to give a small tip to the overworked lounge boys and girls you find in busy pubs. These are usually high school kids or foreign students, and they will appreciate whatever you give them. If you take a tour bus on a scenic trip to the countryside, it is customary to tip the driver.

Taxi drivers are a different story. "How can I extort from thee; let me count the ways." They fleece their passengers with an unjustifiable range of silly charges. You have a bag, a baby, a smile: it's day, it's night, the moon shines bright. What starts out as a simply unreasonable charge becomes ludicrously exorbitant when all the extras are added on. You feel you are being charged for each working limb. After hiring his overpriced cab and forking out for all the extras, the taxi driver expects you to be happy with his service. He may also expect a tip. Stick to your guns.....be mean!

Begging
They are not genuine! That is the first thing to remember if you encounter people begging. Irish social services and financial supports are good, and no individual or family need suffer because of difficult circumstances. Whatever other problems they may have, no one needs to beg. Still, begging persists because some well-intentioned people foolishly fund the problem, or should that be the industry. If you are confronted by this problem, do your bit and don't encourage it. Keep your money to yourself.

Health
Ireland is a safe destination. You will not need vaccines or insect repellent. Food and water is safe, and hygiene standards are good. As with all foreign travel, take the sensible precaution of getting good health insurance cover. If you are from within the European Union countries you should bring the usual E111 form. As Ireland has a reciprocal with the UK, British tourists do not require this form.

Smoking Ban
The traditional image of a smoky Irish pub was officially consigned to history on the 29th of March 2004. Although hotel bedrooms are exempt from the ban, it will be applied to all other areas within hotels and also in bars, night clubs and restaurants.