Visitors to Ireland are likely to find the Irish to be among the most courteous nationalities in the world. It is not uncommon for locals to approach confused looking visitors and offer to help.
Often, in smaller towns and villages (especially on rural roads), if you pass somebody unknown to you, it is customary to say hello. They may instead simply greet you by asking “how are you?”, or another similar variation. It is polite to respond to this greeting, but it is not expected that you would give any significant detail on how you really are! If the person is a stranger – a simple hello and/or “how are you?” or a simple comment on the weather will suffice! In this regard, try something like “Grand day!” (if it isn’t raining, of course). The response will often be “It is indeed, thank God”.
When driving on rural roads (particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass), it is customary to wave “thanks” to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel. This is particularly prevalent in rural areas of the West of Ireland where many drivers will automatically wave at everyone who drives past them. A polite hand wave (or even with just the index finger raised from the steering wheel) is customary and will be appreciated.
When accepting gifts, a polite refusal (such as, “No really you shouldn’t”) is common after the initial offer of the item. Usually, this is followed with an insistence that the gift or offer is accepted, at which point your answer is likely to become more recognised. However, some people can be very persuasive and persistent. This usually isn’t intended to be over-bearing, just courteous.
Post offices are open daily from 0830 to 1730 Monday to Friday and from 0900 to 1200 on Saturday. Some smaller post offices close for lunch and bigger ones stay open longer on Saturday. Dublin’s main post office with great historical significance is the GPO (General Post Office) located on O’Connell St in Dublin City centre.
Public Telephones are located throughout the country but not as common in recent years.
The Republic of Ireland’s country code is +353.
The Northern Ireland country code is +44.
Internet & Mobile Broadband
Internet and email access is readily available throughout Ireland. Wireless hotspots are common throughout the country, available at most hotels/guesthouses/accommodation/public transport and at many pubs, cafes and restaurants. Wireless is also available on all public transport.
Voltage is 220V AC, at 50Hz. don’t forget to check the ratings of your electrical items before bringing them with you to Ireland.
Wall socket and plug (3pin plug) are shown below:
The unit of currency is the Euro/€
It is defined as a temperate oceanic climate. The country receives generally warm summers and mild winters. Occasionally in summer months Ireland can get some high temperatures and winter months can get very cold. Summer temperatures usually reach the high 20s °C most summers, while freezing temperatures in winter where temperatures can to below −1/-4 °C.
Driving in Ireland
In Ireland the driver’s seat is on the right hand side of the car and traffic travels on the left hand side of the road.
Before driving any vehicle on a road you must ensure that you familiarise yourself with the basic Rules Of The Road in Ireland and that:
- You hold a current driving licence for the class of vehicle.
- All Irish registered vehicles must have appropriate insurance cover and display an Insurance Disc, motor tax and NCT (if applicable) and display same.
- Vehicles from other jurisdictions must have adequate insurance cover in place
Some basic rules to remember when driving in Ireland:
- The maximum allowed driving speed on Irish roads are; Motorways 120km/per hour, National roads 100km/per hour, Regional roads 80km/per hour and urban areas 50km/per hour.
- The wearing of seat belts in front and rear seats of a vehicle is compulsory in Ireland.
- Irish Road Traffic laws deem it illegal use a hand held mobile phone while driving in Ireland.
- When hiring a car, it’s advisable to double check it has all the equipment you’ll need such as a spare wheel and wheel changing equipment, breakdown-warning triangle, hi-vis vest and the car’s owner’s manual.
- When driving in Ireland you’ll be subjected to Ireland’s driving penalty points system, a system designed to save lives and prevent injuries resulting from road crashes and collisions. When driving in Ireland on a foreign driving license, your details will be held on a separate database for the purpose of recording driver penalty points. If you later obtain an Irish driving license, any previously acquired penalty points will be activated on that license.
- It is recommended that drivers have dipped headlights on at all times when driving in Ireland.
- All children should be restrained in the correct child seat/restraint when travelling in a vehicle.
Drink Driving in Ireland
Drink driving is a very serious and punishable offence in Ireland.The legal limit for fully licenced drivers is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal limit for professional and learner drivers is 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The Garda Siochána has the power to set up random breath-test checkpoints around the country.
Parking in Ireland
Many Irish Towns and cities have on street parking. This may involve you purchasing a parking disc from a retailer or from a machine located close to the parking spaces. When visiting a town or city be sure to check what system is in place and avoid penalties for not displaying an appropriate parking disc or ticket.
It is compulsory for riders and pillion passengers to wear a safety helmet which must be properly secured. It is advisable to use dipped headlights at all times when driving in Ireland. Hi-visibility clothing should be worn to allow other road-users to see you clearly.
Speed limits in Ireland are measured in kilometres (km/per hour). Safety cameras are in use on Irish roads. Locations of cameras are available on www.garda.ie.
ATMs are widely available throughout Ireland. Even in small towns it is unlikely that you will be unable to find an ATM. Many shops and pubs will have an ATM in store, and unlike the UK, they cost the same to use as ‘regular’ ATMs on the street. Though in-shop ATMs are slightly more likely to run out of cash and be ‘Out of Service’.
Mastercard, Maestro and Visa are accepted virtually everywhere. American Express and Diners Club are now also fairly widely accepted. Discover card is very rarely accepted and it would not be wise to rely on this alone. Most ATM’s allow cash withdrawals on major credit cards and internationally branded debit cards.
Traditionally, tipping was never considered to be a necessity and was entirely optional. However, recently it has become common to tip up to 10% of the bill total. Some establishments will add a 10-15% service charge on top of the obligatory 13.5% Government VAT charge, especially for larger groups. If a service charge is levied, a tip would not normally be left, unless to reward exceptional service.
If you were unhappy with the service, then you would normally leave no tip.
Since March 2004 almost all enclosed places of work, including bars, restaurants, cafés, etc., in Ireland have been designated as smoke-free. Rooms in Hotels and Bed & Breakfast establishments are not required by law to be smoke-free. Even though they are not obliged to enforce the ban, owners of these establishments are, however, free to do so if they wish. Most hotels have designated some bedrooms or floors as smoking and some as non-smoking, so you should specify at the time of booking if you have a preference either way. The smoking ban also applies to common areas within buildings. This means for example that corridors, lobby areas and reception areas of buildings such as apartment blocks and hotels are also covered under the law.
Most larger bars and cafés will have a (covered) outdoor smoking area, often with heating. If one does not exist be aware that it is illegal to consume alcohol on the street so you may have to leave your drink at the bar.
Any person found guilty of breaching the ban on smoking in the workplace may be subject to a fine of up to €3,000.
Pay phones are fairly widely available (but becoming less so) and most take euro coins, prepaid calling cards and major credit cards. You can also reverse charges/call collect or use your calling card by following the instructions on the display.
International Calls : 00 + country code + area code + local number
Emergency Service dial 999 or 112 (Pan European code that runs in parallel). This is the equivilant of 911 in the US/Canada and is free from any phone.
Directory information is provided by competing operators through the following codes (call charges vary depending on what they’re offering and you’ll see 118 codes advertised heavily):
- 118 11 (eircom)
- 118 50 (conduit)