Irish Weather is mild enough for palm trees to grow year-round at the Great Southern Hotel in Parknasilla, Co. Kerry; hotels like Dromoland Castle are ideal for an Irish Honeymoon; reservations are needed at popular B&Bs like Bunratty Woods House; Children who visit Ireland enjoy places like Newgrange Farm; Irish food is a culinary delight, like this rack of lamb at the Blue Haven, Kinsale.
"Some sunny spells with some outbreaks of rain" is the most popular daily weather forecast in Ireland. The locals often say that you can expect four seasons in one day! Warmed by the Gulf Stream, Ireland has a mild climate all year averaging 35░-45░F in winter and 65░-75░F in summer. With snow rare and summers temperate, Ireland has been called the "land of perpetual spring." It can be cool in May/June and warm in September/October or vice versa.
The ever-present showers keep the fields green and bring brilliant rainbows over the hillsides. At times, it can be warm and humid in the summer months (in the 70's), but air-conditioning is still a novelty. The grass stays green all year, flowers begin to bloom in February, and palm trees flourish from the Ring of Kerry to the Glens of Antrim all year long.
It's no wonder that the weather is a constant topic of conversation in Ireland. And there's one word that you can always rely on to describe the Irish weather: changeable!
Since the weather is so changeable (it can be cool in the morning, and warm in the afternoon, and vice versa), casual and comfortable clothing that can be mixed and matched, and layered, is best.
Jeans and slacks are perfectly acceptable for touring in Ireland, but shorts are not usually worn, unless there's a "heat wave" in the 80's. Men might want to bring a jacket or blazer for evening meals in deluxe hotels, but jackets/ties are not usually required. A shirt with a pullover sweater is more common. Women might like to have a dress or skirt-outfit for evening meals at fancier hotels, although, again, it is not required. Slacks with a pretty blouse or sweater are worn as often as dresses or skirts.
Other items for your packing list: comfortable shoes for walking; all-weather coat or jacket; fold-up umbrella; plenty of film for picture-taking; and sunglasses. Yes, the Irish sun can be very strong! If you have sensitive skin, bring sun-block as well the Irish sunburn index can get quite high, even on cool days.
Lastly, be sure to pack all of your medicines and prescription drugs in your hand-carry luggage that you will always have with you. It is also wise to bring along a copy of all your prescriptions, in case they have to be filled while traveling.
Yes! 2002 brought a new ease of travel around Europe, thanks to the introduction of the "euro" - a single currency for 12 (out of 15) European Union (EU) countries. Ireland shares the euro currency with Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. The euro makes the 12 participating European countries more like US states - with the same currency freely circulating. No more changing money at borders, bureaux de change, or banks each time you enter a new land. Note: a notable exception to the euro currency system is Great Britain, and consequently Northern Ireland still uses the pound sterling, not the euro. If you are visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland in the same trip, you will need euros for Ireland and pound sterling for Northern Ireland. They are not interchangeable.
Like the dollar symbol ($), the euro's "e" symbol also has two parallel lines running through it, but they are horizontal in direction. When writing about the euro, the abbreviation is "EUR." Like the US money, euro currency is based on a decimal system. Euro notes (paper money) come in denominations of 5 euros, 10 euros, 20 euros, 50 euros, 100 euros, 200 euros and 500 euros. Coins have the following denominations: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, and 1 euro and 2 euro coins.
Most of your lodging, meal, transport, entertainment and shopping purchases can be made by credit cards (most widely accepted are American Express, Visa, and Mastercard), but you will need some euro currency for postcards, stamps, snacks, lunches, drinks, and incidentals. You can bring your money in the form of U.S. dollar travelers checks; and change your travelers checks, as needed, into euros at banks. But be warned: traveler's checks cost extra money, and many banks tack on high fees to cash a traveler's check. You can also buy a small amount of euros before your trip at USA Airports -- or at Shannon/Dublin/Belfast Airports on arrival. However, the most convenient way to obtain euros in Ireland is by using ATM machines which are plentiful in cities and towns. ATM machines, with 24-hour access, accept major credit cards and most major debit cards. It is wise to contact the credit/debit card company that you use in advance and verify that your particular card will work in Ireland, and find out exactly what you need to know to make transactions (PIN numbers etc.). A very helpful article on this topic can be found on the Magellans web site at The ABC's of ATM's Abroad.
Note: On March 17, 2007, Ireland introduced a new Chip-and-PIN credit card system, according to the Irish Payment Services Organization. Chip-and-PIN means that a credit or debit card has a computer chip and must use a PIN number to complete a transaction, not a signature. Credit card holders in Ireland are ahead of the US with this new technology - Americans do not use this system yet. So what will happen when you try to use your American credit or debit card in Ireland? “Cardholders with cards from countries that have yet to upgrade (to this new system) will always sign… in all of these cases the PIN pad will automatically recognize that a signature rather than a PIN is required.” So American visitors can continue to sign for credit and debit card transactions until the day when the US makes the transition to Chip-and-PIN technology. This new system is designed to combat credit and debit card fraud. For more information, go to www.chipandpin.ie
Electricity in Ireland (220 volts, 50 cycles) is not compatible with U.S. voltage, so you can't plug your appliances into electrical outlets, unless you have an converter or transformer and Irish three-pronged plugs (adaptors).
Many U.S. department stores, travel specialty shops, or web vendors (e.g. Magellans) sell kits with converters and a variety of plugs for use with American appliances. The exception to this rule is electric shavers which can be plugged into a special dual-voltage outlet in hotel bathrooms. Most Irish hotels have a hairdryer in each bedroom for guest use. If you are staying in B&B accommodations, some will have hairdryers in rooms or to lend to guests, but not all will provide this service, so it is best to bring all of your own appliances and to use converters and three-prong plugs. If you are staying for a while or plan to travel again to Ireland, consider buying cheap Irish appliances such as hair curlers once you arrive.
For laptop computers, many Irish hotels now offer wireless internet in guest rooms or public areas (for free or a small fee), or have data ports for online connections, but you will still need to charge your laptop. Most laptops have a dual voltage charger, so all you usually need is a three-prong plug. The same applies to digital cameras - most chargers operate on dual voltage, so all you need is a three-prong plug. Older cameras may need an adaptor if the charger is not capable dual voltage. Check your owners manuals for specifications before you travel, so you can plan accordingly.
For a large majority of travelers, the best way to see Ireland for the first time is on an escorted motorcoach tour sitting high over the hedgerows in comfortable seats with panoramic windows overlooking the countryside. You get the best views while leaving the hassle and worry of driving "on the left" to a professional who knows Ireland well. You don't have to worry about following maps or getting lost, and you'll learn a bit of history and folklore, hear the music, and enjoy the local humor.
Best of all, all of your accommodations, meals, entertainment, and sightseeing are organized for you. You'll get a good overview of Ireland and then you can return at another time and rent a car to go to specific places that especially appeal to you.
If, however, you are an adventuresome soul, undaunted about driving on the left side of narrow country roads, and prefer to set your own pace and linger as long as you like in a place, then renting a car is your best option.
In the past 30 years, Irish chefs have gained recognition around the world for the creativity of their recipes, freshness of their ingredients, and artistry of presentation. A new "Irish fusion" style of cooking permeates most menus blending Irish culinary traditions with other European cuisines, plus colorful Asian, Mediterranean, and California influences.
You'll be hard pressed to find corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew on most menus. Look instead for fresh wild salmon and trout, succulent prawns and oysters, or farm-raised beef, free-range poultry, and locally grazed lamb. Aromatic sauces, fresh seasonal vegetables and fruit, farmhouse cheeses, and just-baked breads and scones accompany most meals. For lunch or snacks, indulge in homemade soups and seafood chowders, platters of smoked salmon, mussels, and oysters, or made-to-order sandwiches and salads.
Regional dishes such as boxty (potato pancakes with meat or vegetable fillings), colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage), carrigin moss (seaweed pudding), and potato bread are also tasty treats. Wash it all down with the local beverages Irish whiskey, Guinness stout, Harp lager, or Smithwick's ale, and more.
Ireland is very busy in the summer months, with tourists from Britain and all over Europe as well as the US and Canada. You can certainly wander around without reservations and find places to stay. The Irish Tourist Board provides a room reservation service at all of its offices throughout the country. However, in the summer months, these offices are jammed with people seeking lodgings and you could find yourself spending several hours on line for accommodations.
In my opinion, this is not the ideal way to spend part of every day as you move from place to place. It is much wiser to map out a plan and then make at least some reservations reserve your first and last nights, and also if a town is having a festival or big event during the time you plan to visit (e.g. during the Rose of Tralee Festival, rooms are booked for miles in every direction). If you leave some nights un-booked, then you can always ask for a local recommendation many B&B owners will refer you to a friend who operates under similar standards up the road, or in another town or county and even call ahead to make a booking for you.
Above all, try to reach a new town by mid-afternoon, to give yourself time to look around and choose a place to stay. One final word of advice: it is always wise to base yourself two or three nights in each area in that way, you don't have to begin a new lodging search every day, and nothing is nicer than relaxing and settling into a place you really like, making daytrips, and returning each evening to "home" base.
Ireland has long been known as the "land of youth" and for good reasons. Ireland has many activities and attractions that fascinate kids. For starters, step off the plane at Shannon Airport and you are just five minutes away from Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, a large-as-life theme park with a 19th century layout, including a complete Irish village with craft workers and farm animals, plus a genuine 15th century castle on the grounds.
Speaking of farms, all over Ireland there are "open farms" that invite children of all ages to sample agrarian life and see farm animals up-close. Individual attractions also offer special allure. Tralee in County Kerry is the home of four unique "hands-on" sites "Geraldine Tralee" (a time-car ride back into medieval times), the Blennerville Windmill; "Tralee & Dingle Steam Railway", and "A Day on the Bog," on the Tralee-Listowel road.
Nearby in Killarney you can visit the Muckross Traditional Farms or take a horse-drawn jaunting car ride around the lakes. Other fun-filled and educational attractions include the Oceanworld Aquarium at Dingle; "Mizen Vision" in West Cork; the Bog Railway and Birr Castle Science Centre in Co. Offaly; the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in Co. Down; the Ulster American Folk Park at Omagh; the "Land of Lilliput" in Armagh; "Knight Ride" at Carrickfergus Castle in Co. Antrim; the Lakeside Centre at Dunlewy, Co. Donegal; and the Glencolumbkille Folk Museum, Co. Donegal.
Note: If you are bringing kids to Ireland, be advised that Irish law now prohibits anyone under 18 years of age in bars after 9 p.m. (except for May 1st until September 30th when the curfew is 10 p.m.). In addition, older teens (between 18 and 20) must have photographic identification (e.g. passport) to enter a pub after 9 p.m. However, "under 18-year-olds" are allowed into a pub if they are attending a private function where a substantial meal is being served.
As an island, surrounded by water, rimmed by palm trees and wild fuchsia, Ireland is one of the most romantic destinations on earth. Where else can you find such a stunning array of quiet country roads, glistening rivers and lakes, uncrowded dune-filled beaches, meandering gardens, and charming little towns with cozy pubs and manor houses.
Ride in a horse-drawn jaunting car, cruise around the Lakes of Killarney, climb the hills of Donegal, kiss the Blarney Stone (or each other) and get lost for a day biking on the Aran Islands. Or just take it easy, and let Ireland do the rest.
Best of all, Ireland offers a varied selection of coastal or riverside inns and resorts, restaurants overlooking bays and rivers, and dozens of castles genuine medieval castles where you can feast on a medieval banquet or pamper yourself with overnight lodgings. And the castle lodgings come in all price ranges from the posh Dromoland, Ashford, or Waterford Castles to the more moderately priced castles of Clontarf, Kilronan, Lough Rynn, Lough Eske, Markree, Ballynahinch, Abbeyglen, Fitzpatrick's, and more. Sleep in four-poster or canopy beds, dine by candlelight, relax beside the warming glow of the fireplace, or walk hand-in-hand through the grounds by moonlight.
This is one question that has come up often on my "Ask Pat" Forum and I'm happy to report that the "honeymooners" usually return to my Forum and post glowing reports of their Irish honeymoon!
With over 60 million people worldwide claiming some Irish ancestry, it's no wonder that many visitors plan a trip to Ireland to track down their long-lost cousins or search for Irish roots. But don't just arrive at Shannon or Dublin, and expect to start from there.
The key to success in tracking down Irish ancestry is the work you do in advance of your trip. Check with family members or sift through old family records to determine when and where your Irish ancestor was born, and then you can write ahead to the appropriate county in Ireland to track down the exact record. If you can't find the basics, then you can always work from the date and place of emigration. Do as much of this "homework" as you can before you travel, and then you can find exact townlands or parishes once you are in Ireland.
There are many good sources of help in Ireland check on my links page for a collection of helpful web sites to get you started. In addition, almost every county has one or two regional genealogical centers.
Even if you don't have sufficient information to pinpoint an exact name and place, very often you will be able to find out where in Ireland your surname is the most prevalent, and what county you are likely to have connections. It's always a joy to go to Cork or Clare, or any of the other counties, and see your own family name over many of the shopfronts and pubs. At least you know you are in "home" territory and you may even find a cousin or two!
Here are 10 of the most popular Irish surnames and the counties where the names are the most numerous: Murphy (Armagh, Carlow & Wexford); O'Sullivan (Cork & Kerry); Gallagher (Donegal); Byrne (Dublin, Louth & Wicklow); Kelly (Galway, Kildare, Leitrim & Roscommon); Brennan (Kilkenny & Sligo); O'Brien (Limerick); Ryan (Tipperary); Walsh (Mayo); and O'Reilly (Meath & Cavan).
One very helpful web site that recently went online is the 1911 Census Data which allows you to search many useful records: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie. Also, see my Links Page under Ancestor Tracing & Geneology - for other useful web sites.