The island on the edge of Europe might be small but it's a big hitter when it comes to music, literature, sport and its people's ability to find the craic in every situation.
The Celtic Tiger roared through the Republic in the 1990s and brought unprecedented wealth and immigrants on cheap flights to Ireland seeking work. The Ireland of traditional, small farms and industries went high-tech - at least in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, but it has not forgotten its roots. Traditional music sessions are a weekly event in many country pubs and Irish dancing is a popular pastime.
Buffeted by the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast and the calmer Irish Sea on the east, there is nowhere in Ireland that is more than 50km from the sea. The rolling hills are made for walking, climbing, biking and horse-riding and the many golf courses are lush and, of course, green.
The seas around Ireland give up plentiful and delicious seafood and its still largely family-run farms produce the meat and vegetables for Ireland's hearty cuisine.
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Summers in Ireland are usually dry with average temperatures of 16 C. Temperatures are a bit cooler in the spring and fall, while winters are rainy and with temperatures around 4 C. It’s coldest in January and February and warmest in July and August, but it rarely gets hot. It rains a lot in Ireland, and the weather can change quickly, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers.
When to fly to Ireland
The summer months are peak season. This is when the weather is generally at its best (although rain showers are always a possibility), festivals and cultural events and literary summer schools are in full swing.
Early fall (September and October) and spring (March through May, excluding the peak St. Patrick's Day on March 17) are good times to take cheap flights to Ireland.
Winter is generally off season especially the weeks after Christmas. January and February can be cold and grey.
Getting around Ireland
Ryanair and Aer Arann offer intercity flights, Kerry to Dublin or Dublin to Mayo for example.
In the cities (Dublin, Cork and Limerick) there are good public bus networks. There is a rail line that runs along the coast in Dublin called the DART and a light rail system called the LUAS that has two lines. One run east-west through Dublin's Northside, then crosses the River Liffey and travels south-west to Tallaght, the other in the south side of Dublin.
Iarnród Éireann runs the railroads. Intercity routes cover major cities and towns around the country while Commuter Rail covers commuter routes to Dublin.
The national bus company is Bus Eireann, which connects the cities and towns. There are several private coach companies too.
Renting a car is a great option as the county towns and smaller villages will not have very frequent bus services. All the major car rental companies are represented at the airports.
Ireland insider information
- Ireland may not be able to guarantee the weather of other surfing spots, but it has become a much more popular sport in recent years. Easkey, 42km from Sligo in the West of Ireland, is Ireland's premier surfing spot. County Clare has a number of key surf spots, including Lahinch, Crab Island, Spanish Point, Doughmore, Killard and Ballybunion.
- The country is well clothed in forest. One of the most beautiful is Glenariff Forest Park in County Antrim. The countryside is a patchwork of purples and greens, the falls are sprays of rushing water, pools are calm and there are stretches of fast-flowing dark water that resemble a pint of Guinness - without the creamy head naturally ...
- The World Fleadh that takes place in a different venue each year is Ireland’s biggest Irish and Celtic music festival featuring the world's best Irish traditional, contemporary and celtic musicians. Travellers take cheap flights to Ireland from the four corners of the world to follow the session trail, world title competitions, song, dance and master classes and demonstrations in various performance styles.
- For a taste of how the Irish used to live, visit Great Blasket Island off the Kerry coast. Climb down the steep Dunquin Pier on the Dingle Peninsula and take the short boat trip across to the island. There is a small tourist industry on the island, breathtaking views of the Atlantic and lots and lots of sea birds and wildlife. Or visit the Aran Islands, off the coast of Galway.