Lonely Planet guide to Ireland

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It's said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten, and for once the blarney rings true. The Irish landscape has a mythic resonance, the country's history is almost tangible, and its people seem put on earth expressly to restore faith in humanity.

The weather may sometimes give you the impression that you're swimming through an airborne ocean, but the truly luminous greens, luxuriant wildflowers, and afternoons spent holed up in riotous pubs will more than console you for the webbed feet you'll need to grow.

When To Go
If you go to Ireland in July or August, you can expect reasonably warm weather, longer days and a lively menu of festivals. However, this is peak season, which presents some challenges if you're wanting a bit of solitude.

Spring and autumn can also be delightful seasons, with smaller crowds of tourists. Winter weather can be downright inhospitable, but Ireland (the west coast in particular) does look beautiful in the rain, and there's nearly always a pub nearby to duck into. However, in many Irish towns restaurants and B&Bs close down around October and don't reopen until Easter. With a few advance phone calls you can avoid getting stranded somewhere with no place to sleep or eat.

Fast facts

  • Full Name: Éire (Republic of Ireland)
  • Capital City: Dublin
  • Area 70,300 sq km, 27,143 sq miles
  • Population: 3,969,000
  • Time Zone: GMT/UTC 0 ()
  • Daylight Saving Start : last Sunday in March
  • Daylight Saving End :last Sunday in October
  • Languages English (official)
  • Although English is the main language of Ireland, it's spoken with a mellifluous lilt and a peculiar way of structuring sentences, to be sure.
  • Gaelic (official)
    There remain areas of western and southern Ireland, known as the Gaeltacht, where Irish (Gaelic) is the native language - they include parts of Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Donegal and the Aran Islands. There are around 83,000 native speakers. Since Independence in 1921, the Republic of Ireland has declared itself to be bilingual, and many documents and road signs are printed in both Gaelic and English.
  • Religion: 90% Roman Catholic, 3% Protestant
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • Electricity: 230V 50HzHz
  • Electric Plug Details: British-style plug with two flat blades and one flat grounding blade 
  • Country Dialing Code: 353

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