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All visitors to Ireland, apart from UK Nationals, are required to travel on their national identity card but it is recommended to carry a valid passport. Citizens living within the EU and most other western countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa do not require visas. All other countries should contact their local Irish Embassy/Consulate prior to travelling to the Republic of Ireland and visitors to Northern Ireland should contact their local British Embassy/High Commission or the Consular Office for Northern Ireland.
Further information for Republic of Ireland is available from Dept. of Foreign Affairs: www.irlgov.ie/iveagh For Northern Ireland, contact your local British Embassy or Consulate.
Ireland has a mild temperate climate with summer temperatures generally ranging from 60A^^(o)F/15A^^(o)C to 70A^^(o)F/20A^^(o)C. Temperatures in spring and autumn are generally 50A^^(o)F/10A^^(o)C and in winter between 40A^^(o)F/5A^^(o)C and 46A^^(o)F/8A^^(o)C. Snow is a rare occurrence in Ireland. Showers can occur at any time of the year, but generally do not last very long.
On 1 January 2002, the Irish punt was replaced by the Euro, a currency shared by 11 other EU countries. From 1 July 2002, it is the only legal currency in the Republic of Ireland.
The Euro consists of 100 cents. Notes will be A^EUR5, A^EUR10, A^EUR20, A^EUR50, A^EUR100, A^EUR200, and A^EUR500. Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, and A^EUR1.
In Northern Ireland (as is in the United Kingdom) sterling is the local currency. The notes consist of A^?5, A^?10, A^?20, A^?50, and A^?100. The coins are A^?2, A^?1, 50p 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p and 1p. The currencies of the Republic and Northern Ireland are not interchangeable.
Visa and MasterCard/Access and other major credit cards are widely accepted in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. ATM machines are located at most banks and accept Visa, MasterCard, and Eurocard.
UTC / GMT Ireland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and in accordance with daylight saving, clocks are put forward one hour mid-March and back one hour at the end of October. During summer, it stays light until as late as 11:00 pm but by mid-December, it is dark by 4:00 pm.
In the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, banks normally open around 9:30 am and close around 4:30 pm Monday to Friday with most banks open until 5:00 pm on Thursday. Shops are generally open Monday to Saturday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm with late night shopping till 8:00 or 9:00 pm on Thursday at many of the larger stores. On Sunday, many supermarkets and some of the bigger stores will open from midday until 5:00 or 6:00 pm.
Some libraries have an Email service available free of charge, but generally Internet cafes can be found in most large towns throughout Ireland. While the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are classed as two separate jurisdictions, telephone calls between the two are treated as national trunk calls. Pre-paid phone cards are widely available in both the Republic and Northern Ireland and are both more convenient and cost effective to use. For mobile phones, only digital phones with GSM subscriptions and a roaming agreement will work in Ireland. Visitors should consult with their supplier before departure.
The standard electricity supply is 220 volts AC in the Republic of Ireland and 240 volts AC in Northern Ireland (50 cycles) and so visitors from some countries may require a transformer and a plug adaptor. A plug adaptor is necessary for visitors to convert 2-pin plugs to the standard 3-pin plugs and can be bought at any electrical supplier.
Irish (Gaelic) and English are the two official languages of Ireland. Irish is also an official language of the European Union. While it is the native language of Ireland and widely taught in schools, English is spoken by everyone. There are, however, regions called 'Gaeltachts' where Irish is used daily as the vernacular of the locals. Gaeltachts are predominately located in the West, around Galway, but there are others in Kerry and Cork. The number of 'native speakers' has been in decline since the Great Famine of the last century and currently stands at around 80,000. This number is on the increase again, thanks to a revival of interest in the language. Several radio stations and even a television station (TG4) have helped this recovery. Ulster Scots, spoken in Northern Ireland, has in many ways shared the same historical fate as the Irish language. Thankfully, it too is undergoing something of a revival, being taught in schools and classes for adults keen to explore another facet of their national identity.
The weather can change very quickly and dramatically and so ensure that sweaters alongside light cottons are packed regardless of the time of year. A raincoat and/or umbrella are as necessary as a swimsuit when travelling in Ireland. As is a positive attitude and state of mind because in Ireland you cannot allow the weather to interfere with or upset plans.
Ireland has a comprehensive network of public and private bus routes making the country more accessible than ever before. Rail service is also available. There are metered taxis in Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway, and Limerick, but in other areas, you will have to agree on the fare beforehand. In Belfast and Derry, there are share-taxi services, which operate like a mini-bus. Taxis generally tend to wait at ranks in central locations and do not usually cruise the streets.
Most of the major car hire companies have desks at airports, ferry terminals, and cities across Ireland. Car hire companies in general do not rent to those under the age of 21 or over 70 years. All drivers need to hold a valid driver's licence. Car hire tends to be more economical if you make your bookings prior to arriving in Ireland. It is advisable to book in advance if you are traveling during the high season. The majority of rental cars are standard shift i.e. not automatic. If ordered in time automatic cars are available for an additional charge. A child's car seat should also be ordered in advance. Advise the car hire company if you are planning to travel between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Visitors traveling around Ireland by public transport should always enquire about special discounted fares or Rambler/Explorer tickets, which offer unlimited bus/rail, travel for 3, 5, or 15 days.
Visitors from Britain to the Republic of Ireland are covered under an agreement with the Department of Health, but some form of identification or an E111 form is necessary. British visitors to Northern Ireland require no documentation and will receive treatment as they would in Britain. Visitors from all other EU countries traveling to Ireland should obtain an E111 form (available from post offices) prior to departure. For visitors from non-EU countries to Ireland, private medical insurance is highly recommended.