Ireland

Ireland has a way of burying its way into your heart. Perhaps it’s the affable nature of the Irish, who seem to engage you in a chat at any chance and wield their derisive humour in even the grimmest of situations. Or the truly magnificent scenery of castles on rugged coastlines, whitewashed stone cottages set amongst green hills and haphazard stone walls running the breadth of the land. Then there are the dynamic cities filled with Gothic, Georgian and Victorian architecture, stellar art scenes and an enviable nightlife, which are beautifully contrasted by enchanting villages where you can understand how faeries and elves came into being.

And sure, it rains ALL the time and the days are more grey than not, but the warmth of the pubs, the beauty of the scenery and the charm of the people make this more than bearable.

And most importantly, Guinness really does taste better in Ireland.

Ireland Tours & Travel

All our Ireland trips

Ireland's Wonders

8 days from
USD $2,940
CAD $3,130
AUD $3,250
EUR €2,260
GBP £1,945
NZD $3,850
ZAR R29,580
CHF FR2,785

Travel from Belfast down to Dublin and experience the best that Ireland has to offer. Stalk along Giant's Causeway,...

View trip details

Celtic Villages & Islands

15 days from
USD $7,195
CAD $7,425
AUD $7,280
EUR €4,995
GBP £4,220
NZD $8,120
ZAR R72,870
CHF FR6,065

Experience the cultural charm of Edinburgh, look for the Loch Ness Monster, visit Galway Cathedral, explore Blarney...

View trip details

Articles on Ireland

What’s happening in Cuba and what does it really mean for travellers?

Posted on Fri, 19 Dec 2014

A “new chapter” in Cuba-US relations was rung in yesterday by media outlets the world over, with President Obama stating: ““We are choosing to cut loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American people, and for the Cuban people.”

Read more

South America: the best place to see out your 2015 resolutions

Posted on Thu, 18 Dec 2014

Prone to losing your resolutions mojo by January 2? We've got you covered.

Read more

Helping South America build a brighter future

Posted on Thu, 18 Dec 2014

South America is a beautiful destination, candid and colourful, but many South American countries are still working towards economic stability and equality.

Read more

Five reasons Chile is South America’s unsung hero

Posted on Thu, 18 Dec 2014

If you could trace a beaten track through South America, there’s a good chance you won’t find the wilds of Chile anywhere near it.

Read more

About Ireland

At a glance

Trips Available: 0
Capital city: Dublin (population 500,000)
Population: 4.7 million
Language: English, Gaelic
Currency: EUR
Time zone: (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Electricity: Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin) Type M (see D)
Dialing code: +353

Best time to visit Ireland

Don’t forget your umbrella! Although the wettest time of year is from October to April, rain is pretty much a guarantee year round. Summer, June to August, promises better weather, and the long days are welcome even if the sun isn’t shining. May, June and September are great months to travel to Ireland, as there are fewer tourists, more daylight and it’s usually relatively warm for Irish standards). July and August are the country’s busier months, but the festivals, events and good craic that take over the country more than make up for the increase in tourists.

History and government

Murals in Belfast

Early History

Tumultuous is a good word to describe Ireland’s often troubled and sorrowful history, which is filled with invasion, repression, deadly conflict, religious discrimination and emigration. Ireland’s history dates back to 8000 BC, and progressed from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural one. Christianity came to the island in the 5th century, replacing the old tribal and Druid societies, though many of the Celtic traditions were preserved. In the 800s, the Vikings started invading and regularly raided and plundered the island for upwards of two centuries. They set up settlements (most notably Dublin), but were eventually pushed out of Ireland by the Irish king Muirecán. (Ireland was then made up of many small kingdoms, who fought each other for dominance of other counties and the entire island.) Then came the Normans. When an exiled Irish king sought help from (English) King Henry II, he sent Norman forces to (successfully) recapture the Irish King’s counties. This event established Norman lords in Ireland, who soon ruled big tracts of Iand. This worried Henry II so much he invaded in person in 1172. Now it was not only Irish lords that were battling for control of the country, but Norman and English ones as well.

Fast forward to 1536 and Henry VIII, who tried to conquer Ireland and extend English law over the country. This was met with fierce resistance, especially when he tried to convert the Irish Catholics to Protestants. This opened up a brutal few centuries, where the endeavour for Protestant rule over Ireland led to many atrocities and battles. In the 1600s, land was confiscated from Catholics and given to Protestant settlers (known as the Plantations), triggering the first wave of mass Irish emigration. Remaining remaining Catholics were subject to persecution, with their rights becoming less and less as time went on.

The Irish Rebellion of 1798, led by the republican United Irishmen (who wanted to overthrow British rule and have a non-sectarian republic) was brutally quelled and Irish self-government was abolished. From 1845¬–49, Ireland suffered the Great Famine, which saw over a million people die from starvation and disease, and a million or more emigrate. Understandably, relations between the Irish people and the British got worse, as the government had many means to stop the severity of the famine. Another tragedy was that this period (along with other factors) contributed to English largely replacing the Irish language. From this time until 1912, there were many attempts at reinstating home rule (Irish self-government) and a number of rebellions were instigated but failed. It was also when two distinct groups emerged: the Irish nationalists (who wanted Ireland to be independent and governed by the Irish) and Irish unionists (who considered themselves British and wanted to remain in the union).

Recent History

In 1922, after the Irish War of Independence and many years of fighting, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed and Ireland was divided into Northern Ireland (six counties) and Southern Ireland (26 counties), known as the Irish Free State. This lead to the Irish Civil War, fought between those who wanted a unified Ireland and those who wanted to keep Northern Ireland under British rule. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) lost, and Northern Ireland remained ruled by Britain.

The Irish Free State was a predominantly Catholic state and the Roman Catholic church had a massive impact on the formation of the country, as it had over much of Irish history. In 1949, the Republic of Ireland was established and left the British Commonwealth. Up until the late 1990s, the economy of Ireland struggled and emigration was an ongoing problem. Unfortunately the economic boom of the 90s and 2000s has faltered, and economic troubles have once again returned. That said, the conservatism of the Catholic church has lost its grip over society, with many social reforms that would have once been unthinkable being implemented in the 90s.

After the division of the counties in 1922, Northern Ireland became a predominantly Protestant state. Years of violence between pro-British Unionists and pro-Irish Republicans have marked its history, which is a complicated and bloody beast woven with political, ethnic and religious differences. It is as fascinating as it is heartbreaking, and worth reading about in a sphere that can do it justice. See our list of recommended books for books detailing this period.

Top Picks

Top 5 Irish Mythical Creatures

1. Leprechauns

They are Ireland’s most well known mythical characters. They are male faeries who take the form of an old shoemaker and are depicted with mischief in their eyes. Leprechauns are the source of practical jokes, have the ability to grant wishes and have untold riches buried away.

2. Banshee

A banshee is a female faerie who is said to emit an other-worldly wail when someone is about to die. While usually heard rather than seen, reports of sightings range from the sight of a beautiful woman who utters a low, pleasant singing to a crone who emits a soul-chilling shriek.

3. Selkies

They are creatures that are seals in the water but are human once they shed their skin on land. They are often linked with tales of ill-fated romance, where either a human has stolen the selkie’s skin so they can’t return to the water (and must marry the human) or a human is taken to the depths of the ocean to be their spouse.

4. Dullahan

A dullahan carries its head under its arm and rides a black stallion – and sometimes drives a wagon made out of skeletons! Its mission is to claim souls, stopping only to call out the name of the person who will die. Those who try to watch him will endure a bucket of blood thrown at them or a whip made out of a spinal cord. Only gold can scare it.

5. Merrow

A merrow is the Gaelic version of a mermaid/merman – a half-human, half-fish creature with an amiable and benevolent nature. They are known to lure handsome men to live under the sea, but are also capable of living with humans and marrying them. They have a special hat called a cohuleen druith, and can’t return to the water if they lose it.

FAQs on Ireland

Tipping of 10-15% in restaurants is common. Some restaurants add a service charge to the bill, so check for this. It’s common to round up fare in taxis or leave around 10% if they’ve been particularly helpful.
Internet access is good in Ireland, with internet cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots easily found in most cities and major towns.
Mobile phone coverage is generally very good in most parts of Ireland. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.
Modern, flushable toilets are the standard in Ireland.
Pint of Guinness = 4.50 Euro
City public transport ride = 2.5 Euro
Simple cafe lunch = 15 Euro
Nice meal in a restaurant = 40 Euro
Tap water is considered safe to drink unless otherwise marked.
Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores and hotels in Ireland. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
ATMs are very common in Ireland, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Mar 18 St Patrick’s Day
Apr 21 Easter Monday
May 5 Bank Holiday
Jun 2 Bank Holiday
Aug 4 Bank Holiday
Oct 25 Bank Holiday
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 St Stephen’s Day

Please note these dates are for 2014. For a current list of public holidays go to: www.worldtravelguide.net/ireland/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Ireland Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Ireland

1. Be considerate of Ireland’s customs, traditions, religions and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive and supports the local community.

5. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

6. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Making Sense of the Troubles David McKittrick and David McVea
Modern Ireland 1600-1972 RF Foster
The Van Roddy Doyle
Journeyman Tailor Gerry Seymour
McCarthy’s Bar: A journey of discovery in IrelandPete McCarthy