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Wexford Holiday Homes :: General Info

General Information about Ireland

We have put together some general information about Ireland to help you plan your vacation in Ireland.

GeographyDemographyCurrency & Exchange RatesBanking HoursPostage, StampsElectricityLanguageHealth and Medical TreatmentNewspapersPassports and VisasPets and QuarantinePublic HolidaysPublic TransportRadio and TelevisionSales Tax RefundsTelephonesTipping

Geography

Position

Ireland is 51.5 degrees and 55.5 degrees north latitude and 5.5 degrees and 10.5 degrees west longitude. Ireland is the most westerly country of the European Union, separated from Great Britain by the North Channel on the northeast and the Irish Sea on the east.

Area

The total area of the island of Ireland is 84,421 square km (32,595 square miles), with the Republic of Ireland covering 70,282 square kilometres (27,136 square miles) and Northern Ireland covering 14,139 square kilometres (5,459 square miles). The length at its longest point is 486 km (302 miles), the width at its widest point is 304 km (189 miles), and its coastline extends over 5,631 km (3,499 miles).

Landmarks

The highest mountain is Carrantuohill (1,040 metres / 3,412 feet), near Killarney in County Kerry. The longest river is the Shannon (370 km / 230 miles). The largest lake is Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland (396 square km / 153 square miles).

Demography

Population

The population of the whole of Ireland is approximatley 5 million. The population of the Republic of Ireland is estimated at 3,621,000 (in 1996). Of those, over 1 million live in the greater Dublin area. Ireland has a young population, with 44% of the population under 25.

Provinces and Counties

The country is divided into four historic provinces:

Language

There are two official language in Ireland: Irish, which is the national language, and English which is the language of the majority of the population.

Irish is a Celtic language, closely related to Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton. It was the language of the vast majority of the population until the early 19th century. The shift to English happened quickly and by 1891 it was being spoken by over 85% of the population.

The early 20th century saw a national cultural revival as well as the establishment of an independent Irish State. Subsequent promotion of the Irish language by the state has preserved existing usage and increased bilingualism. Latest figures available show that 32% of adults claim a knowledge of the language.

Irish is the principle language in areas known as Gaeltachts, situated mainly along the western seabord. A state authority, Udaras Na Gaeltachts broadcasts nationally in Irish and a new Irish language television service, Telefis na Gaeilge was launched in November 1996.

Religion

The Irish Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion to all citizens.

According to the 1991 census, Irelandís religions were:

  • Roman Catholic: 91%
  • Church of Ireland (Anglican): 2.5%
  • Presbyterian: 0.4%
  • Methodist: 0.1%
  • Jewish: less than 0.1%

About 3% of the population belonged to other religious groupings or have no specific beliefs.

Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency of the Republic of Ireland is the Euro. The official abbreviation for the Euro is EUR, and its symbol is . Euro notes are in seven denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euro. There is 100 Cent to the Euro and coins are in eight denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Cent, and 1 and 2 Euro.

As Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the Pound Sterling or British Pound (symbol £, official abbreviation GBP) is in use and denominations are similar to that of the Euro.

Euro currency should only be used in the Republic and Sterling currency in Northern Ireland. Please check with your bank for rates of exchange. For visitors outside of the EU, Euro and/or Sterling can be purchased at any foreign exchange departments at your local bank or at any bank in Ireland (including those located at airports which are open for all flight arrivals). ATM's (Automated Teller Machines) are located at most banks and most accept major credit cards, particularly Visa and MasterCard, as well as Plus and Cirrus debit cards, and EC cards.

We accept most world currencies. If you need a quote in a currency other than Euro please submit your request using the Inquiry Form, and we will be glad to quote in the currency of your choice.

Banking Hours

Most banks in Ireland are open from Monday to Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 1.30 p.m. to 3.00 p.m. Of these, some branches are open through lunch. There is extended opening until 5.00 p.m. on one day per week (the choice varying from place to place).

In Northern Ireland the opening hours are 10.00 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. Monday to Friday. In some places, the banks close for lunch 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m.

In the Republic and Northern Ireland, in very small villages, banking services may be provided only on two or three days per week. Therefore, it is advisable that you make arrangements to get cash in the bigger centers. Cash dispensers have become more widely available in recent years and post offices can also provide limited cash services.

Postage, Stamps

An Post is Ireland's national postal service provider. As the parent company operating Ireland's largest communications, distribution, logistics and financial related service networks, An Post provides a wide range of services to both business and personal customers. The Post Offices division of An Post represents Ireland's largest retail network with over 1900 outlets throughout the country. The Post Offices web site provides a tool for finding the post office closest to your location in Ireland,

You should use Irish postage stamps on letters posted in the Republic and British postage stamps on letters posted in Northern Ireland. Postcards are widely available at tourist shops, newsagents, book shops, etc.

Electricity

Mains electricity is supplied at 220 Volts (50 cycles). Plugs are flat with three pins. An adaptor is needed to convert to the right plus size. A transformer is needed to convert American appliances (except for dual voltage equipment which needs only an adaptor).

Language

There are two official language in Ireland: Irish, which is the national language, and English which is the language of the majority of the population.

Irish is a Celtic language, closely related to Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton. It was the language of the vast majority of the population until the early 19th century. The shift to English happened quickly and by 1891 it was being spoken by over 85% of the population.

The early 20th century saw a national cultural revival as well as the establishment of an independent Irish State. Subsequent promotion of the Irish language by the state has preserved existing usage and increased bilingualism. Latest figures available show that 32% of adults claim a knowledge of the language.

Irish is the principle language in areas known as Gaeltachts, situated mainly along the western seabord. A state authority, Udaras Na Gaeltachts broadcasts nationally in Irish and a new Irish language television service, Telefis na Gaeilge was launched in November 1996.

Health and Medical Treatment

EU Citizens are entitled to free hospital treatment in a public ward and should procure an E111 form prior to departure. This should be presented to the doctor along with identification, if and when required. If you think you are entitled to benefits, you should apply within three days of becoming ill to:

Department of Social Welfare
EU Records
Floor 1
O'Connell Bridge House
Dublin 2

The Irish National Health Plan does not cover the United States or Canada. Consult your insurance agent or broker before your travel if your health plan does not include Ireland.

Visitors from other countries should check with their insurance agents or brokers before travelling.

Newspapers

Newspapers have been published in Ireland for over 300 years. More than 5 million national papers are sold in Ireland every week. Most national UK and national Irish papers are widely available from Newsagents and in Supermarkets. Some shops (Eason's in particular) have selections of imported continental newspapers.

Daily Newspapers

Evening Newspapers

Sunday Newspapers

Others

There are about 60 local newspapers usually published weekly and a wide variety of magazines dealing with current affairs, economic issues and leisure interests. British newspapers and magazines circulate widely in Ireland and some titles publish separate Irish editions.

Passports and Visas

Passports

Passports are not required by British citizens born in the United Kingdom travelling from Britain, identification may be needed. Citizens of Euro states and Switzerland may use a passport or national identity card.

Visas

Countries whose passport holders DO NOT require visas to enter Ireland:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Granada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, (Rep of South), Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi. Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Portugal, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Swaziland, Sweden, Trinidad, Tobago, Tonga, U.K.& Colonies, U.S.A., Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, Western Samoa, Zimbabwe.

British Dependent Territories (UK Colonies):
Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory (South Georgia, South Islands) British Ocean Territory (Chagos Archipeligo, Peros Banus Garcia, Danger island), Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands and Dependancies, Gibralter, Hong Kong *, Monserrat, Pitcairn, (Henderson, Ducie Islands), St. Helena and dependencies (Ascension Island, Tristan Da Sovereign base areas of Akroitiri and Dhekelia, Turks and Caicos Island, Virgin Islands.

* Note: A person in possession of a Hong Kong certificate identity requires an entry visa for the state.

Transit visas are required by nationals of the following countries:

Albania, Bulagria, Cuba, Iran, Romania, Lebanon, Moldova, Montene, Somalia, Sri Lanka.

If you require a visa or have any queries please contact the Irish High Consulate in the country of your permanent residence.

Pets and Quarantine

There are no restrictions on importing dogs or cats from Britain, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, provided your pet is coming directly and has been resident for at least six months.

All animals entering Ireland from other countries must be quarantined for six months. This is for protection against the introduction of rabies.

Public Holidays

The following are the public holidays in the Republic of Ireland. Most companies and many shops are closed on these days:

Public Transport

In the Republic of Ireland, the State transport authority, C.I.E. (Coras Iompair Eireann) is the umbrella body for three companies. Dublin Bus servicing Dublin, Bus Eireann servicing provincial areas, and Irish Rail operating city trains as well as the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) system.

Timetables for bus and train services, including details of various commuter and tourist tickets, are sold in outlets throughout the city.

For bus and train information within Ireland:

  • Tel: +353-(0)1-873 4222 (Dublin Bus)
  • Tel: +353-(0)1-836 6111 (Bus Eireann)
  • Tel: +353-(0)1-836 6222 (Irish Rail)

You can dial direct for a recorded timetable for most mainline rail details, and check the phone directory under Coras Iompair Eireann.

The DART rail service provides an efficient means of travel along coastal strip between Bray and Howth.

There is also a comprehensive bus network servicing routes throughout the country though times tend to be unpredictable. There are daily bus services to provincial towns including Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.

Eurail passes are valid for bus and trail travel everywhere in Ireland, e> services. CIE offers reduced rates rambler passes providing unlimited bus travel for 8 to 15 days, excluding city services. Tickets can be bought from bus or train stations in the Republic of Ireland or through a travel agents abroad.

Please see the Travel Info page for more comprehensive information about transportation and travelling in Ireland.

Radio and Television

National radio and television services are operated by Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE), the public broadcasting company which transmits on two television and five radio channels. British radio and television programming and Satellite channels (including CNN) are also widely available.

Irish speakers are served by RTE's dedicated radio channel Radio Na Gaeltachta and Telefis Na Gaeilge, the Irish language television station which was launched in October 1996.

The 1988 Radio and Television Act established The Independent Radio and Television Commission which has responsibility for licensing and overseeing independent radio and television broadcasting. In recent years, quite a number of independent local community radio initiatives have emerged across the country, gaining substantial audiences.

Sales Tax Refunds

The price of most goods includes value-added tax, or VAT (currently at 21%). As a visitor you can have this sales tax refunded at the end of your trip. Be sure to ask for a tax-free shopping form with each purchase and follow the instructions for completion.

Telephones

Telephones

Telephone tones and their significance vary from country to country. These are the tones used throughout the island of Ireland.

  • Dial Tone - a continuous high-pitched tone
  • Ringing Tone - a repeated double beat tone (burr-burr)
  • Engaged Tone - a high pitched, broken tone (beep-beep-beep)

Public Phones in Ireland

There are public telephones in many outdoor locations, as well as in Telecentres, public buildings - including rail and bus stations, shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels. Local, trunk and international calls can be dialled direct from these phones.

Telecom Eireann, the national phone company, has introduced Cardphones in cities and towns throughout Ireland. Cards can be purchased in Telecentres as well as post offices and retail outlets, displaying the Callcard sign. Cards can be purchased in 10, 20, 50 and 100 unit denominations. Operating instructions are displayed in each kiosk or on the payphone itself.

For location of Cardphones and Callcard Agents ring Freefone 1800 250 250. A list of all Irish regional codes and international direct dialling codes is contained in the front of the telephone directory.

International Credit Cards

Credit cards from most countries are accepted by the international telephone exchange for costs incurred by calls back to the country in which the card was issued.

Emergency Numbers

In case of emergency, Dial 999 and ask the operator for the emergency service you require: Fire, Gardai (Police), Ambulance, Boat and Coastal Rescue, Mountain and Cave Rescue. When the emergency service answers, state the address or location at which help is needed. Calls to these services are free of charge.

Useful Phone Numbers in Ireland

Here are some Irish phone numbers which might be useful to you:

International calls

For international calls from Ireland to other countries you must first dial 00, the international direct dial access code, and wait for a tone to get linked to the international network. Then dial the code of the country (France - 33, Spain - 34, United Kingdom - 44, Germany - 49, etc.), the area code (without the leading zero, e.g., 20 for London, 1 for Dublin, 89 for Munich, etc.), and finally the number of the subscriber.

Calls from abroad

To call a number in Ireland from abroad, dial the international code for Ireland (usually 00353), then the area code (e.g., 1 for Dublin), and finally the number of the subscriber in Ireland.

Mobile Phones

Of course, you can bring your own mobile phone and hook up on international mobile phone roaming. Check the instructions of your mobile phone provider for more details on how to use your mobile phone in Ireland.

Irish mobile phone numbers usually start with a 086 or 087.

Tipping

In most hotels and restaurants a service charge of 10-15% is added to the bill. A small tip is appreciated for good service. Tipping is not usual in pubs, except when you are served at your table. Cabs are tipped 10%.

Wexford Holiday Homes :: General Info