• Ireland is 385 kilometres/300 miles at its longest; 304 kilometres/190 miles at its widest. It is divided into four provinces – Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught, which make up 32 counties
• The Republic occupies 26 counties and the capital is Dublin
• The Republic is a constitutional democracy and a member of the European Union
• Northern Ireland is part of the UK and its capital is Belfast
• Approximately five million, north and south. More than one million live in Dublin. The island of Ireland enjoys a rich diversity of ethnic groups and cultures. It also has a young demographic – over half the population is under 30 years old
• English is the everyday language spoken in Ireland
• 240 volts AC
• Small appliances – for overseas visitors (except UK) a plug adaptor will be needed for Irish flat three-pin/round two-pin sockets. Adapters available at airport or local electrical retailers
Currency & Banks
The currency in Ireland is the euro (€). The currency in Northern Ireland is the pound sterling (£). Bank opening times are:
• Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10am-4pm
• Thursdays: 10am-5pm in Dublin (and some other regions)
• Small towns and rural areas – banks may close for lunch from 12.30pm-1.30pm
• Any credit card that bears the Visa, MasterCard or American Express symbol will be widely accepted in Ireland. Visitors with other cards should check in advance if it will be accepted
To qualify for a VAT (value added tax) refund you must be a non-European Union visitor to Ireland. Look for the ‘Tax Free Shopping’ sign in the windows of participating shops. You must complete a valid tax refund document obtained from the retailer and present the tax refund document and goods to Customs on departure from the European Union. A customs officer will check the goods and validate the tax refund document. You can receive your refund on the spot at some airports, otherwise you should mail the validated tax refund document back to the shop and a refund will be issued. VAT is charged on almost everything, but remember, refunds only apply to goods being taken out of the country, not services.
• Monday-Saturday: 9am-6pm
• Thursday and Friday: late-night shopping in most malls/shopping centres
• Sunday: many shops are open 12pm-6pm
• Duty-free shopping is available at all the international airports
• Tax refunds are available for non-EU residents; check in store for further information before purchasing
Smoking is prohibited in public areas within the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – this includes all bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Although hotel bedrooms may be exempt from the ban, it is applied to all other areas within hotels.
Only digital phones with GSM subscriptions and a roaming agreement will work on the island of Ireland. Visitors should consult with their supplier before departure.
Fáilte Ireland and the Irish Hotels Federation have a mandatory hotel classification scheme for hotels and guesthouses in Ireland. This means that every hotel and guesthouse will now display their star rating along with their award for any additional facilities and services.
All two-star, three-star and four-star hotels/guesthouses can score points from a menu of optional extra facilities and services which are not a mandatory requirement at their awarded classification. So what happens to all these points? Well, they’re added together and are represented as an overall percentage to reflect the additional facilities and services that the property offers (and not ones that are mandatory based on the classification system). Note the percentage awarded is IN ADDITION to classification awarded.
This allows visitors to tell the difference between properties that fall into the same grade. Say, for example, you’re looking at a three-star hotel – well, a three-star hotel with a percentage score of 68% shows you instantly that there are more additional facilities and services than a three-star that scores 29%. You can see the percentage awarded beside the classification grade.
However the point scoring opportunities are NOT AVAILABLE for one and five star properties. Five Star: Ireland’s most luxurious hotels, with world-class standards. These are located in elegant and stately castles, prestigious country clubs, and top class city hotels
Four Star: excellent quality contemporary hotels and charming period houses, with excellent cuisine, service and all modern comforts.
Three Star: Ranging from small, family-operated premises to larger, modern hotels. Guest rooms are well decorated with the emphasis on comfort and all have private bathrooms with a bath and/or shower. Table d’hôte and/or a la carte dinner menus are available.