Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle because of the stunning green scenery it boasts, is an attractive and popular destination with a famous love of merrymaking and an outstanding literary tradition. From the vibrant metropolis of Dublin to the ancient castles and the Blarney stone, there really is something for everyone.
The weather in Ireland is quite similar to the United Kingdom, with warm summers, cool winters and a possibility of rain throughout the year.
Ireland has a number of public and bank holidays throughout the year, the most widely observed being at Christmas, Easter and St. Patrick's Day. There are some differences in bank holiday dates between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which often results in an influx of holiday shoppers crossing the border.
The Republic of Ireland has three main international airports. The busiest is Dublin Airport, approximately 6 miles (10km) from the city centre. The other airports are Shannon in the West and Cork in the South.
The rail network in the Republic of Ireland links most major towns and cities, with Dublin at the centre, and includes the Enterprise line which links Dublin to Belfast, in Northern Ireland.
Like the United Kingdom, driving is on the left, with the main difference being that signs and speed limits in Ireland are displayed in kilometres rather than miles. Seatbelts are required to be worn by law, and it is an offence to use a mobile phone while driving.
Most bus services in the Republic of Ireland are run by Bus Eireann, which operates a number of intercity, commuter and local networks. In addition there are a number of private operators. A number of services operate to the United Kingdom via the ports at Dublin, Dún Laoghaire and Rosslare Europort, and regular services also cross the border to Northern Ireland.
The official languages are English and Irish, with road signs in most areas showing both. Although English is the main spoken language throughout most of the country, some areas, known as Gaeltacht districts, are predominantly Irish speaking, and the road signs in these areas are in Irish only.
The following Irish phrases may be useful (Pronunciations in brackets):
Hello : Dia dhuit (jee ah gwit)
Goodbye : Slán (slawn)
Do you speak Engllish? : An Bhfuil Bearla agat? (on will bearla ahgut)
Please : Le do thoil (le the hull)
Thank you : Go raibh naith agat (guh rev mah ahgut)
The currency in Ireland is the Euro, which divides into 100 cents.
The domestic electricity voltage is 230V, using British 3-pin power plugs and sockets. Adaptors are widely available for US and EU plugs.
The telephone country code for the Republic of Ireland is 353, and there are a number of area codes. To call another country from Ireland, dial 00 before the rest of the number. For calls to Northern Ireland, dial 048 and the local number, which provides a cheaper rate than the standard international method.
In an emergency, dial 999 or 112 from any landline or mobile phone.
Some public toilets may be marked in Irish- Fir for men, and Mná for women.
Smoking is illegal in all enclosed public areas, however many pubs and bars have a covered smoking area.