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Population: 4.5 million
Main Language: English
Minority language: Irish
Main Religion: Catholic, Protestant
Currency: Euro €
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Ireland has become a popular destination for golf, rugby and surfing in recent years. The country shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom on the north-east of the island and is the third-largest island in Europe.
1. Getting to Ireland
Most international students travel to Ireland by plane.
Alternatively you can travel across the Irish Sea from England by ferry.
Trains run regularly across Ireland. Check Irish Rail for journey times and prices. If you are staying with a host family please consider your arrival time-ideally no later than 10.00pm.
2. Weather-What to pack
Temperatures and conditions can differ considerably from county to county so it is advisable to check the weather of your destination before you travel.
Ireland enjoys a temperate maritime climate, due mainly to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the presence of the Gulf Stream. The locals often say that you can expect four seasons in one day! Known as the Emerald Isle, Ireland is so green because it receives a lot of precipitation. Summers in Ireland generally have warm, sunny weather and a sky dotted with gentle fluffy clouds. For this season pack shorts and t-shirts but always have a foldable rain mac for those unexpected showers.
Typically, winter weather in Ireland can be rainy with the occasional sunny spell, averaging around 35°-45°F. Each winter there are a few weeks when the temperature does not rise above freezing point all day, and rivers and lakes can partially freeze over. It is wise during winter to bring thermal underwear and hat, scarf and gloves for going outside. A thick woollen jumper is also always useful.
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. Layering different types of clothing is best. Other items for your packing list: comfortable shoes for walking, all-weather coat or jacket, fold-up umbrella, 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.
4. Visa Requirements
Please note that a Schengen or UK visa or residence permission is NOT currently considered valid for travel to Ireland. However, under the Visa Waiver Programme, from July 1st 2011 you may be able to travel to Ireland on a valid UK General C Visa, subject to certain criteria. For details of this programme, please click here.
What to do
Here are some of the most popular . . .
Dunluce Castle The spectacular castle-crowned crag, on the famous north Antrim coast, was shaped when the sea cut deep into the rock. Originally occupied by the MacQuillan family and later the MacDonnells, Dunluce Castle was besieged by the British in the 16th Century. It’s reputed to be the inspiration for Cair Paravel, the famous castle in CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.
Ennis is the Clare capital and has picturesque streets in a nearly medieval atmosphere. Sights include the well preserved Ennis Friary and the Clare Museum 'The riches of Clare' giving you an insight into Clare now and yesterday. Several traditional pubs offer daily evening entertainment .
The Old Gaol in Sunday's Well has been restored and is one of the many visitor attractions in Cork. It tells the story of the everyday life in the Gaol in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the original cells have been restored and an Audio Visual programme has been provided. A fascinating and surprisingly beautiful building from outside.
Slieve League Cliffs is the highest cliff face in Europe and is spectacular not just for its sheer elevation but also for its colour; at sunset the rock is streaked with changing shades of red, amber and ochre. The 8km (5 mile) drive to the eastern end of Slieve League from Carrick is bumpy but well worth enduring. Beyond Teelin, the road becomes a series of alarming switchbacks before reaching Bunglass Point and Amharc Mor, the 'good view'. From here you can see the whole of Slieve League, its sheer cliffs rising dramatically out of the ocean.
Guinness Brewery provides exhibitions and tells of the Guinness Experience over the years. Said to be Ireland biggest tourist attraction, the tour ends in the Gravity Bar with a pint and a great view of Dublin.
Dunleckney Manor is one of Carlow’s most magnificent country houses and was the ancient seat of the Bagenals of Idrone. Incorporating the original manor dating from 1612, the present manor was erected in 1845 in Tudor Gothic style. Dunleckney Manor was home to the Bagenal family, founder of nearby Bagenalstown for almost three centuries from 1585 onwards.
Aran Islands The three Aran Islands, Inis Mór Island (Big Island), Inis Meáin Island (Middle island) and Inis Oírr Island (East island) are situated at the mouth of Galway Bay. They are famous for their geological formation, historical monuments and their linguistic and cultural heritage. The Irish(Gaelic) language is still spoken here and in the twenty first century all native born islanders are bilingual in both Irish and English. Discover the beaches, landscapes, churches, quaint villages and local crafts along with long list of social events happening throughout year.
Killarney National Park is the oldest national park in Ireland and encompasses approximately 25,000 acres of land. The Lakes of Killarney comprise almost a quarter of the park. The park was established in 1932 when Muckross Estate was donated to the public and since then the park has been attracting visitors for decades and has some of the best unspoiled scenery in all of Ireland. It is also home to Japanese Sika Deer that were introduced to the land in the early 1800’s. These deer may be the last pure herd of its kind in the world.
The Japanese Gardens are located in the grounds of the Irish National Stud and were created between 1906 & 1910. The beautiful layout symbolises the Life of Man and the gardens are acclaimed as the finest Japanese Gardens in Europe.
Black Abbey is a Dominican Church founded in 1225 by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, this Domincan Church has been restored to its original splendour with a spectacular stained glass window.
Emo Court, is a country villa designed by architect James Gandon (1743-1823), best known for his great public buildings. The house is a magnificent example of the neo-Classical style, reflecting the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland which were first laid out in the 18th century and contain formal lawns, a lake and woodland walks with many very fine trees and shrubs.
King John’s Castle is a 13th century Castle on King’s Island in the heart of medieval Limerick. The Castle overlooks the majestic River Shannon offering wonderful views of Limerick City. Discover history at its best, magnificent views and life in Norman times. Explore 800 years of history brought to life in the imaginative historical exhibition, excavated pre-Norman houses, fortifications, siege mines, and the battlement walks.
Newgrange Older than the pyramids, the megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange is a UNESCO World Heritage site and draws over 200,000 visitors a year. Built around 3200BC, this dramatic mound covers around an acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are decorated with megalithic art. The passage and chamber are designed to light up for the summer and winter solstice, but you’ll have to join the queue to nab a place. In 2003, almost 20,000 people applied onsite with only 50 places available.
Wicklow's Historic Gaol Your perspective of historical building changes as you tour the site. At first, it is an entertaining and fascinating look at a jail over three hundred years old . As you continue on and visit the individual jail cells and read the descriptions in the cells, you realise you are being given an intimate look at how people were punished for their crimes in the distant past.