Ulster directs to here. For other places with this name, see Ulster (disambiguation)
Ireland is an island in north-western Europe which has been divided politically since 1920. Most of the island is made up of Ireland (Irish: Éire, also known as Poblacht na hÉireann = the Republic of Ireland). The remainder is Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Understand [ edit ]
The island of Ireland historically consists of 32 counties, of which six, collectively known as Northern Ireland, have remained as part of the United Kingdom since the rest of Ireland gained self government in 1922. The name “Ireland” applies to the island as a whole, but in English is also the official name of the independent state (ie the 26 counties which are not part of the United Kingdom), since 1921.
Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century BC. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian Boru defeated the Danes in 1014. Norman invasions began in the early 12th century and set in place Ireland’s uneasy position within England’s sphere of influence. The Act of Union of 1800 – in which Catholics, 90% of the Irish population, were excluded from Parliament – saw Ireland joining the United Kingdom. In the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century the subject of Irish home rule was a major debate within the British parliament. After several failed attempts, a Home Rule bill finally passed through parliament in 1914 though the start of the first world war saw its indefinite postponement due to heavily armed unionist opposition. A failed rebellion on Easter Monday in 1916, (after which 15 of the surrendered leaders were shot by firing squad and 1 hanged) showed a hint of things to come with years of war to follow, beginning with the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and continuing with the Irish Civil War (1922-1923).
Eventually a somewhat stable situation emerged with the self government of 26 of Ireland’s southern counties known as the Irish Free State; the remaining six, located in the north-east of the country comprising two-thirds of the ancient province of Ulster, remained part of the United Kingdom — a status that has continued to the present day. In 1949 the Irish Free State became “Ireland” (a.k.a. the Republic of Ireland) and withdrew from the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Northern Ireland’s history post-partition has been marked with violence, a period known as “The Troubles”, generally regarded as beginning in the late 1960s, which saw large scale confrontation between opposing paramilitary groups seeking to either keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom or bring it into Ireland as well as with the security forces. The Troubles saw many ups and downs in intensity of fighting and on many occasions they even spread to terrorist attacks in the Republic of Ireland, Britain and continental Europe. Both the government of the UK and the government of Ireland were opposed to all terrorist groups. A peace settlement known as the Good Friday Agreement was finally approved in 1998 and is currently being implemented, providing the option of either or dual citizenship to Northern Ireland residents, self-government, guarantees of civil rights and a democratic mechanism for re-unification if desired by the populace. All signs point to this agreement holding steady.
Though a relatively poor country for much of the 20th century, Ireland joined the European Community in 1973 (at the same time as the United Kingdom). Between the mid 1990s and late 2000s, Ireland saw massive economic boom (called ‘The Celtic Tiger’), becoming one of the richest countries in Europe. The global banking crisis and subsequent recession hit Ireland hard, and high levels of unemployment proliferated for the period 2009 – 2013, before a gradual economic recovery returned Ireland to being one of the strongest performing economies in Europe.
Regions [ edit ]
Historically, Ireland was divided into four ancient provinces, namely Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster, however these have no administrative significance today. Internationally, the best known of these of course is Ulster, since it is used as an umbrella term to describe Northern Ireland, although three of its nine counties are within Ireland. Today, you will often still see the other province names come up in sports teams for example, but for the most part the regions of Ireland are described as follows:
Cities [ edit ]
For cities in Northern Ireland, see the separate article.
- Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath) — the capital and the country’s largest city. With excellent pubs, fine architecture and good shopping, Dublin is a very popular tourist destination and is the fourth most visited European capital. Referenced by Ptolemy in c.140 as Eblana, the original Irish settlement and a later viking settlement c.900 formed the early city.
- Cork (Corcaigh) — second largest city in the Republic of Ireland – located on the banks of the River Lee. Founded c.600 as a monastic settlement and c.900 by Viking Settlers and known for good food, pubs, shopping and festivals.
- Galway (Gaillimh) — a city on the river Corrib on the west coast of Ireland. Famous for its festivals and its location on Galway Bay. Known as the City of Tribes, Galway’s summer is filled with festivals of music, food, Irish language and culture. Galway hosts over fifty festivals a year, including the Galway Oyster Festival. The locals seem to give off a positive Bohemian vibe. Galway is split between two types of beautiful landscape: the gorgeous mountains to the west, and the east’s farming valleys.
- Killarney — Possibly (at least until recently) the most popular tourist destination in Ireland. A pleasant town in its own right, it is also the start of most Ring of Kerry trips.
- Kilkenny (Cill Chainnigh) — attractive medieval city, known as the Marble City – home to the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, held annually in early June.
- Letterkenny — Main town in County Donegal, designated gateway status and reputed to be the fastest growing town in Europe. Good base for traveling in Donegal. Common entry point for those crossing the border at Derry.
- Limerick (Luimneach) — a city on the river Shannon in the south-west of the country. Referenced by Ptolemy in c.140 as Regia and redesigned by both Vikings and Normans in the 9th and 12th centuries.
- Sligo (Sligeach)- Home to W.B. Yeats, internationally renowned poet. Mountains and beaches, scenery in general are the best points of Sligo. The city is also a popular shopping destination.
- Waterford (Port Láirge) — Often called Ireland’s oldest city. Founded as a large Viking port. In the south-east and close to the ferry port at Rosslare. Waterford is good for those who want to learn more about the most ancient history of Ireland. Many festivals take place throughout the year including ((Spraoi)). Don’t forget to try a blaa before you leave. (A floury bread bun peculiar to this area of Ireland).
Other destinations [ edit ]
- Aran Islands (Na hOileáin Árann) — located in Galway Bay
- Brú Na Bóinne — some of the finest neolithic monuments in the world, situated in Co. Meath
- Burren and the Cliffs of Moher — both located in the County Clare
- Connemara (Conamara) — in Western County Galway
- County Donegal — the coastal regions of this county have spectacular scenery and excellent beaches
- Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhne) — a Gaeltacht region (Irish-speaking district) in the very SW corner of the country
- Glendalough — fine ruins and hiking trails in Co Wicklow
- Kinsale — gastronomic excellence in Ireland’s oldest town
- Ring of Kerry and Skellig Michael — in County Kerry
- West Cork — mountains, coves, islands and beaches at the very south of the country
Get in [ edit ]
Visa requirements [ edit ]
Ireland is a member of the European Union, but not a member of the Schengen Area. Therefore, separate immigration controls are maintained. The following rules generally apply:
- Citizens of EU and EEA countries (and Switzerland) only require a valid national identity card or passport and do not require a visa for entry or employment; in many cases, they hold unlimited rights to employment and residence in Ireland.
- Citizens of Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Macao SAR, Malawi, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, the Seychelles, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, the Vatican City and Venezuela, plus British Nationals (Overseas), require valid passports for entry, but they do not need visas for stays not exceeding three months in length. The period of admission is determined by the Immigration Officer at the port of entry but can be extended up to the full 90 days if required. Foreigners who enter without a visa can also extend this stay after entry, but within the initial period of admission and with a valid purpose. Longer stays, employment, and citizens of other countries normally require advance visas. *** NOTE that a work visa is also required to be an au-pair, as is unpaid work such as volunteering for bed & board. Your phone may be searched for evidence (such as SMS, emails etc) that you intend to work in Ireland without permission and, where evidence is found, will result in your being immediately removed from the country. Persons wishing to work in Ireland for short duration should (if from an eligible country) first obtain a Working Holiday Visa through their local Irish Embassy or Consulate.
- Passengers from non-visa required countries will NOT automatically receive 90-day tourist stamp on arrival. Entry will depend on evidence of return flights, accommodation, and also adequate funds (you must show cash or online bank account) for the duration of the stay. Passengers may also be questioned on the tourist attractions they intend to visit. Failure to satisfactorily answer these questions may result in your being refused entry and sent back on the return flight.
- Citizens of other countries should check the visas lists  at the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs . The visa application process for tourist visas is reasonably straightforward and is detailed on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website . Stays based on tourist visas cannot be extended past 90 days under any circumstances.
- Because of an informal agreement between the United Kingdom and Ireland, known as The Common Travel Area, there are no passport controls in effect for UK citizens travelling to Ireland. On arriving at an Irish airport from the UK, however, you will be asked for valid official photo identification such as a passport or driving licence which shows your nationality. This is to prove you are an Irish or UK citizen who is entitled to avail of the Common Travel Area arrangements (only a full driving license is acceptable, and then only when the holder was born in the UK or Ireland). Immigration controls are mandatory on all inbound flights, selective on ferries, and occasional at the land border crossings.
- Citizens of China and India who have a valid UK visit visa and endorsed with “BIVS” and who have cleared immigration in the United Kingdom can visit Ireland visa-free for up to 90 days (or until their current permission to enter/remain in the UK, whichever is shorter).
- Citizens of Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Montenegro, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan who have a valid UK ‘C’ visit visa for any purpose (except “Visitor in Transit” and “Visitor seeking to enter for the purpose of marriage or to enter a civil partnership”) and who have cleared immigration in the United Kingdom can visit Ireland visa-free for up to 90 days (or until their current permission to enter/remain in the UK, whichever is shorter). This exemption also applies to nationals of Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar who have entered the United Kingdom on foot of a C-visit Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW).
The Common Travel Area and You
If you cross into Ireland by land after arriving in the United Kingdom and being stamped to enter the UK, you will go through passport control at your port of entry into the UK, but you likely will not be required to clear Irish immigration controls, and your authorized stay will generally be under the conditions of your admission to the UK. If you are transiting to Ireland through the UK, however, you will be required to clear passport control in the UK, even if travelling by air. Even if you clear immigration in Ireland, however, after arriving from the UK, this does not count as interrupting your stay in the UK and, accordingly, time spend in Ireland will count against the time you were admitted to the UK.
If you intend to travel to the UK from Ireland, even in transit, you will clear passport control in Ireland, but you will not go through Immigration on arrival in the UK. However, your stay will be limited to a maximum of three months, not six. If you intend to stay in the UK for longer than three months, especially as a Student Visitor in the UK, you must apply to extend your stay in the UK (approximately GB£500), obtain a visa for the UK in advance, go to mainland Europe and re-enter the UK, or avoid a transit through Ireland.
However, if you require a visa for either Ireland or the UK, however, you must possess a visa from each country that requires you to have one if you intend to visit both of them. Not passing through passport control does not exempt one from having a visa if needed, and you can be fined and deported for not having a visa if discovered.
By plane [ edit ]
The Republic of Ireland is served by 4 international airports, Dublin (IATA: DUB), Shannon (IATA: SNN) in County Clare, Cork (IATA: ORK) and Ireland West, Knock (IATA: NOC) in County Mayo. Dublin, the 8th largest airport in Europe, is by far the largest and most connected airport, with flights to many cities in the US, Canada, the UK, continental Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Shannon, close to the city of Limerick, also has flights to the US, Canada, Middle East, the UK and Europe. Cork has flights to most UK destinations, a wide variety of European cities as well as a limited number of US cities. It is easily accessed from any of the major European hubs, including all of the London airports. Knock Airport has daily scheduled flights to several UK cities, as well as various chartered flights to (mostly) holiday destinations in Europe.
Smaller regional airports that operate domestic and UK services include Donegal (IATA: CFN), Galway (IATA: GWY), Kerry (IATA: KIR), Sligo (IATA: SXL).
The City of Derry Airport, and both Belfast airports (both the City and International) are within a relatively short distance from the North/South border, especially the former. (These three airports being located within Northern Ireland).
Ireland’s two major airlines Aer Lingus  and Ryanair  are low cost carriers. This means that passengers will be charged for every extra including airport check-in (Ryanair only), checking in baggage, food onboard, etc. Ryanair also charges for the privilege of being one of the first to board the plane. Comprehensive listings of airlines flying directly into Ireland, along with destinations and timetables, can be found on the Dublin, Shannon, Cork and Knock airport websites. A regional service is also provided by Aer Arann  which provides domestic flights within Ireland and international flights mainly to and from the United Kingdom.
By train [ edit ]
The only cross-border train is the Enterprise service jointly run by Irish Rail and Northern Ireland Railways from Belfast Central to Dublin Connolly.
A Rail-Sail Scheme is also available, linking Stena Line  or Irish Ferries  Ferry companies with Train Companies in Great Britain and Ireland. They mainly operate from UK cities across the various Irish and British Rail Network via the Dublin-Holyhead, Rosslare-Fishguard and Rosslare-Pembroke sailing routes.
By bus [ edit ]
Cross border services are operated by Ulsterbus  and Bus Éireann , and various privately-owned companies servicing County Donegal.
Eurolines  operate services to Great Britain and beyond in conjunction with Bus Eireann and National Express (Great Britain). Bus Éireann also operates frequent services to and from Eastern Europe, in particular Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Additional private travel options are available from Eirebus  who offer car and coach travel for individuals and group transfers.
By boat [ edit ]
Ireland is served by numerous services from Great Britain, France and Spain:
- Norfolkline  – operate freight and passenger services from Liverpool to Dublin.
- Irish Ferries  travel from Holyhead, North Wales, to Dublin, and from Pembroke, South Wales, to Rosslare.
- Stena Line  connects Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire (Co. Dublin) (about 8 km south of Dublin city centre), and Fishguard, South Wales, to Rosslare.
- Irish Ferries and Brittany Ferries  provide services from France (e.g. Roscoff) to Rosslare and Cork. Irish Ferries is sometimes significantly cheaper than Brittany Ferries, so compare prices.
- Brittany Ferries  run a service twice a week between Cork and Santander in northern Spain.
- Irish Sea Express – Liverpool to Dublin
- P&O Irish Sea – north-west England to Dublin
- Steam Packet Company – Operate services between north-west England (mainly Liverpool) to Dublin, and Isle of Man to Dublin.
- Fastnet Line  provide a daily service from Swansea in South Wales to Cork. Currently suspended, this service will resume in March 2010. The service ran previously as Swansea Cork Ferries  which no longer operates.
- Celtic Link  Ferries operate the route from Rosslare to Cherbourg which was previously run by P&O Irish Sea.
Numerous companies now act as agents for the various ferry companies much like Expedia and Travelocity act as agents for airlines allowing the comparison of various companies and routes. Three well known brands are Ferryonline , AFerry  and FerrySavers .