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Christ Church Cathedral

Who doesn’t want to go to Ireland? It really is a must see for most people, however a lot of the time visitors find it a bit too far out-of-the-way to include on their “Grand European Adventure”. When they go, it’s often in combination with England (don’t tell them that) and the rest of the British Isles. That or Ireland is taken on it’s own entirely. That’s how I experienced it, and that’s perfectly fine– as long as you go, because Ireland deserves all of the love that it gets.

Today Ireland really isn’t that hard to combine into a “Continental Trip” if you’d like thanks to budget carriers and their effect on the national airlines. In fact, Ireland actually can make a great starting place for those who haven’t traveled much, as its slow-paced, and has a population of very friendly people.

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Ocean cliffs on the Irish countryside

But if you do go to Ireland, don’t just do Dublin and the Blarney Castle. Don’t get me wrong, Dublin is one of my favorite cities and kissing that gross stone is something that shouldn’t be missed, just to say that you did. However, if you only stay within the bounds of the well-traveled road you’ll be missing out on a lot. I haven’t been to Northern Ireland unfortunately, but I’ve heard that  Ireland as a whole, and as one nation, is the way it was intended (heard this at the pub).

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The Irish coastline

The Irish countryside is spectacular and you’ll never see that much of a few shades of green anywhere else. It’s rich with beautiful farmland and rolling hills, little brooks, and more what we’d think of as the traditional Ireland. Oh and the sea! With smashing cliffs and rock covered beaches, it’s an experience that’s unique to this part of the world. Why not get a taste of that and some fish and chips down at the local watering hole. Now that’s a treat.

 


ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

  • The Republic of Ireland is on the Euro, and from my experience you’ll find a decent amount of places that accept credit card (chip enabled).  ATM’s are also readily available. That said, cash is usually preferred, especially after you get off the well tracked tourist route. I’d still use cash for most purchases.
  • In general, Ireland is very safe. However, some people have had issues in certain cities including Limerick and areas of Dublin, especially at night. Be aware of where you’re walking and try to avoid people who seem overly intoxicated, especially outside of drinking establishments. Fights can break out.
  • Most cities and towns in Ireland are very walk-able. As long as you’re staying near the city center, especially with Dublin, you can get away walking pretty much anywhere. In fact, I didn’t even bother trying to figure out Dublin’s public transit system while I was there, as I was able to walk to every single spot. The only exception is the Dublin airport. It’s located a bit outside of Dublin, though not as far as in some European cities, and is the gateway to how most people visit the country.
  • Trains are the best way to get around, but if you’d like you can rent a car. Personally I’ve never had a problem with just using trains any of the times I’ve been to Europe, Ireland was no exception. There are even plenty of rapid transit trains in the Dublin area that will help you escape the city into the nearby countryside. Personally I’d recommend taking a day trip up to Malahide, and visiting the castle and pleasant seaside town.
  • Drinking in Public is not legal in a lot of places though it’s up to the city and or county. According to the national laws, establishments are not to sell alcohol that will be consumed outside 100 meters of the premises. I believe the laws were created to cut down on public intoxication, however if you’re looking to enjoy a bottle of wine by the coast or a Guinness in the park, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’d enforce it as long as you’re not drunk and causing a scene.
  • Keep in mind that Ireland is predominately a Catholic country and if you plane on visiting any of Ireland’s churches (a must see) you’ll have to schedule such around the Sunday masses. Also, many places are closed Sundays, although that has been changing over the years.

COSTS / SAVING MONEY

  • Ireland’s prices are pretty average by European standards. In general, costs are higher in the cities, but deals are not completely elusive. Because Ireland is an island, that means there is a great deal of importing that has to be done for most commercial goods and food. Local food, especially fast food can often be the best deal as most of the ingredients come from the island itself. I actually found a lot of deals on clothing during early September.
  • Keep an eye out for fixed menus. You can often find fish and chips + a beer for a decent price, especially during lunch time. Happy hours can be found as well.
  • If you’re traveling around Ireland a lot, take a look at the Eurail pass as passes start around $125 for youth (through age 25) and $150 for adult. This can be a great value if you’re planning say a Dublin, Cork, Galway, back to Dublin trip (yes the pass works in Northern Ireland too).
  • Beer can actually be fairly pricey, especially in the main pub district of Temple Bar in Dublin. Branch a little off of that path and you’ll end up with an acceptable deal. Follow the locals.
  • Check out the Dublin Pass. Even if you’re not planning on exploring Dublin for more than a day or two, it includes airport transfer so it can really help shave a few Euro’s if you plan it right. Just make sure it’s going to be of value to your personal itinerary as you’ll need to visit a few of the places it works for to come out on top.
  • Take a look in the €1 stores. They can have everything from toiletries, to simple snacks. Various things that you might have forgotten can be purchased here for, you guessed it €1.