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Ireland Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips


 

Ireland's long history is easy to trace through its Stone Age passage tombs and ring forts, medieval monasteries and castles, its elegant Georgian architecture and staunch literary figures. The island's tragic side is almost as easy to spot; the reminders of Ireland's long and difficult relationship with Britain are ubiquitous.

The north-eastern corner of Ireland is part of the UK and its official name is Northern Ireland. It is also referred to as 'the North', or Ulster, a reference to the historical province of Ulster that, following the partition of Ireland in 1921, was ceded to Britain. The rest of Ireland is known as the Republic of Ireland, although you may hear it referred to as Eire, the Irish Republic, the Republic, Southern Ireland or 'the South'.

Highlights

Some of the best scenery in the Republic includes the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, the barren stretches of the Burren, the rocky Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher. In Northern Ireland the Causeway Coast and the Glens of Antrim are a must.

Ireland is littered with castles, forts and religious sites in various stages of ruin. Prime examples can be found at Glendalough, Cashel, Kilkenny, Blarney, and, in Northern Ireland, Carrickfergus and Dunluce.

When to Go

The tourist season begins the weekend before St Patrick's Day (17 March) and is in full swing from Easter onward. In July and August the crowds are biggest and the prices the highest. Many tourist facilities close or have shorter opening hours in the quieter winter months.

Dangers

Ireland is probably safer than most countries in Europe, but the usual precautions should be observed. Drug-related crime is on the increase, and Dublin has its fair share of pickpockets. Be careful with your belongings when you visit pubs and cafes.

Time

GMT/UTC.

Business Hours

Offices are open 9 am to 5 pm weekdays shops a little later. On Thursday and/or Friday, shops stay open later. Many are also open on Saturday.

Public Holidays & Special Events

Public holidays in both the Republic and Northern Ireland are: New Year's Day, 17 March (St Patrick's Day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, 25 and 26 December. Both countries also have one 'bank holiday' Monday in May, June, August and/or October when most shops and businesses are closed. Protestants in Northern Ireland celebrate Orangeman's Day on 12 July.

The All-Ireland hurling and football finals both take place in Dublin in September. There are some great regional cultural events around the island, like the Galway Arts Festival in late July. In Dublin, Leopold Bloom's Joycean journey around the city is marked by various events on Bloomsday (16 June). The Dublin International Film Festival, in April, is also a highlight. In Northern Ireland, July is marching month and every Orangeman in the country hits the streets on the 'glorious 12th'. Other events include the Belfast Festival at Queen's in November.

Emergency

The emergency number in both the Republic and Northern Ireland is 999.

Foreign Embassies

Canada (01-478 1988), 65-68 St Stephen Green, Dublin
UK (01-205 3742), 29 Merrion Rd. Dublin
USA (01-668 9946), 42 Elgin Rd, Dublin

 

Ireland


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