The current population of Ireland is 4,937,786.
In the winter months, Ireland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). From late March until late October, the clocks go forward one hour to Irish Standard Time (IST) in the Republic of Ireland and British Standard Time (BST) in Northern Ireland.
English is the native language of most Irish people and is spoken everywhere, but Irish (Gaeilge) is the first official, and national, language. It is part of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family of languages, and is very similar to, but not mutually intelligible with, Scottish Gaelic.
The largest religion in the country is Christianity, particularly Roman Catholics making up approximately 84%. There is a small number of other religions, including Ireland Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Muslims, and Jews.
Whether you need a visa to enter Ireland depends on your citizenship.
If you’re a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) member state (27 countries of the European Union, together with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and many other countries including USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, you don’t need a visa to visit the Republic or Northern Ireland. South African visitors can visit the Republic of Ireland without a visa, but need a UK visa in order to enter Northern Ireland.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a full list of countries whose citizens do NOT need a visa to visit Ireland.
If your country is not on this list, contact your local Irish embassy/consulate before you travel to find out your visa requirements. If you’re planning on travelling to Northern Ireland, contact your local British embassy/high commission or consular office.
In the Republic of Ireland, the official currency is the euro (€). One euro consists of 100 cents.
Notes: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
Coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2.
In Northern Ireland, pound sterling (£) is the local currency. One pound sterling consists of 100 pence.
Notes: £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100.
Coins: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2.
The voltage in Ireland is 230v/50Hz. The plug type is G, which has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern.
Visitors from abroad will need an adaptor for appliances that have been brought from home, such as portable computers, hairdryers, and phone chargers. As voltage can differ from country to country, you may also need to use a voltage converter or transformer whilst in Ireland.
It rains in Ireland sometimes, but long showers are quite rare. The mild climate makes every season suitable to visit Ireland. In summer, the average daytime temperature inland is approximately 18 ° C. The southeast part of Ireland generally gets the best weather – that’s why the Irish call it the "sunny south east". The winter, December to February is the coldest months with an average temperature of 5 ° C. Occasionally, the temperature drops below freezing and apart from a few brief periods of cold, snow is rare, however, the rain can make it feel colder than it is.
GETTING TO England
Since Ireland is on an island, it is not possible to drive directly into the county, however it is possible to take a ferry (including high speed catamarans) which accommodates motorized vehicles from England, Isle of Man, and Wales.
GETTING AROUND BY PLANE
The main point of arrival for international flights in Ireland is Dublin, Belfast in the north, and Shannon, near Limerick city in County Clare.
What is VAT?
VAT is a 23% sales tax charged on most goods and services sold in Ireland. Financial, medical and educational services are exempt from VAT. Live theatrical and musical performances are also except unless food or drink is served during performance.
How does tax-free shopping work?
Visitors to Ireland who live outside of the EU are entitled to claim back a portion of the VAT on purchases made during their stay. Most retailers participate in the VAT refund scheme and you can ask for a VAT refund form in the store once your purchase has been completed. You must fill the form out fully, making sure to include a credit card number to facilitate the refund. The goods must be exported outside of the EU within three months following the month of purchase and typically, it will take between four to six weeks to receive your refund from the refund agent.
Alternatively, you can claim your refund in cash through Planet and Carroll's Irish Gifts at four refund points in Dublin – 57/58 Upper O’Connell St, Ballast House, Westmoreland St and 22/23 Suffolk St, and 12 Henry Street.
If the purchase value of any one item on your VAT refund form is €2,000 or above, you will need to present your form, goods receipt and the item to Customs at your point of exit for a validation stamp. There are two main refund agents in Ireland, Planet and Fexco and you can visit their websites for more information on how to shop tax free.
What cards can I use in the Ireland?
Credit, debit, Visa and Mastercard’s are widely accepted throughout Ireland, while American Express cards are less commonly accepted.
Can I get cash out with my credit or debit card?
Credit cards can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs. You can also withdraw cash with Mastercard or Visa debit card. ATM withdrawals is usually accompanied by an exchange fee.
Most street shops open between 9 and 10 am, and close between 5 and 6 pm, Monday to Saturday. Some towns may have different hours with early closing days. All major cities are open Sunday from around 12pm to 6 pm; the same rule applies for hours on public holidays.
Malls and shopping centers open at 9 am, but closing times vary, from Monday to Wednesday and Saturday. Thursday and Friday opening hours are usually 8 am. Sundays and public holidays, hours are typically between 12 pm and 6 pm.
Expect most museums and other attractions to be open between 10 am during the week and 12 pm on Sundays, closing at 5 or 6 pm. Some museums are closed on Mondays and on public holidays. Other tourist attractions are closed during low season, late March to October, or operate on limited hours, typically in rural areas.
Tipping is not a standard practice in Irish culture, but for certain services, in particular restaurants, taxis and personal services it is appreciated.
For restaurants, bars/pubs it is common to tip between 10 and 15 per cent. However, many restaurants automatically add a service charge to the bill, so do check before leaving a tip. It is not customary to leave a tip when buying only a drink in a pub or a bar.
For taxi services, rounding up to the closest 5 or 10 is acceptable.
When using your mobile phone keep in mind that only digital phones with GSM subscriptions and a roaming agreement will work on the island of Ireland.
If you are not sure what type of phone you have, check with your supplier before you travel. Almost all EU mobile phone networks will have a partner service in Ireland. Be sure to check what roaming charges are for both call and internet tariffs as these can vary.
The EU Parliament has set new maximum charges for mobile phone usage throughout Europe. There is a cap on the amount that can be charged for downloading data while abroad (70 cents per MB), and companies must alert customers when they approach €50 in data usage.
Companies such as SIM Local offer local SIM cards to visitors also. The card is inserted into the phone, pre-loaded with a certain amount of credit allowing travelers to access internet and phone calls at local tariffs.
Republic of Ireland Tel: 112 or 999
Northern Ireland Tel: 999
The fire, ambulance and police services in Ireland and Northern Ireland are all contactable via the above numbers.
Weights & Measures
Britain is officially metric, in line with the rest of Europe. However, imperial measures are still in use, especially for road distances, which are measured in miles. Imperial pints and gallons are 20 per cent larger than US measures.
Imperial to Metric
1 inch = 2.5 centimetres
1 foot = 30 centimetres
1 mile = 1.6 kilometres
1 ounce = 28 grams
1 pound = 454 grams
1 pint = 0.6 litres
1 gallon = 4.6 litres
Metric to Imperial
1 millimetre = 0.04 inch
1 centimetre = 0.4 inch
1 metre = 3 feet 3 inches
1 kilometre = 0.6 mile
1 gram = 0.04 ounce
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
THE NAME Ireland
The name evolved over many centuries from the old Irish word for a goddess; Eriu, who is believed to have been the matron goddess of ancient Irish mythology. Eire, derived from Eriu is the Irish spelling, while the letters ‘Ire’ with the suffix ‘land’ created the English spelling we all known as Ireland.
LOCATION, AREA AND FRONTIERS
Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, and the third largest in Europe, stretching 486km long and 275 km wide, and covering approximately 84,500 square kilometers. Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom.
Ireland can be further divided into 4 provinces: Connacht, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster, with 32 counties. 26 in the Republic of Ireland and 6 in Northern Ireland.
For more information: www.ireland.com