Twenty-six counties form the Republic of Ireland, with the remaining six belonging to Northern Ireland and part of the United Kingdom. In 1937, the constitution of Ireland formerly came into effect with the British representative, the Governor-General, being replaced with a President. Ireland’s Government sit in the capital, Dublin. In the ultimate gesture of reconciliation, Queen Elizabeth became the first British monarch in a century to step foot on Irish soil in May 2011. Today, the Irish welcome visitors with generously warm hospitality.
While the weather doesn’t particularly deter year round travel, Ireland is generally considered a summer destination. In July the temperature rises to around 19 degrees. While in winter the mercury manages to reach around five degrees. If you’re hiking through the countryside, the weather is always unpredictable, so pack appropriately.
Ireland hosts many annual events and festivals including the internationally-renowned Wexford Opera Festival, Cork Jazz Festival and the Smithwick’s Cat Laughs Festival. St Patrick’s Day is a big celebration, with a parade in the capital, Dublin.
There are no direct flights from Australia to Dublin, Ireland’s capital. Qantas and British Airways fly to Dublin via London. The flight to London takes 23 hours, with London to Dublin taking just over an hour. Etihad Airways flies to Dublin via Abu Dhabi.
Dublin boasts unsurpassed elegance when it comes to luxury accommodation options including the historic Shelbourne Hotel, the Westin Hotel and The Merrion. Scattered throughout the country are dozens of quaint luxury B&Bs with owners just waiting to welcome you to their part of the world.
To find out more about the range of holiday accommodation available with Travel Associates call 1800 017 849 or enquire online.
Sights to See
In the Republic’s capital Dublin, check out the fascinating Dublin Castle, the beautiful city parks including St Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square Park and the historic Trinity College, which houses the Book of Kells. Beer lovers will enjoy the Guinness Storehouse, while literature enthusiasts will appreciate the Dublin Writers Museum. The city is famed for its theatre, so book ahead for a performance at the Abbey or Gaiety Theatre. The main entertainment strip, Temple Bar is always good for a bit of craic.
However, the true beauty of Ireland is the striking countryside. For untamed wilderness venture into County Donegal and experience nature at its most rugged. For sheer splendour, drive through the Connemara on the west coast or appreciate the windswept appeal of the Burren. Wandering through the Aran Islands is extremely rewarding and the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are a big drawcard.
Historic and legendary attractions abound throughout the country. Consider kissing the blarney stone in Blarney Castle, summoning ancient spirits at the scared Hill of Tara, exploring Trim Castle, the largest Norman Castle in the country or hunt for the elusive four leaf clover rumoured to bring eternal luck.
Don't leave home without...
Temperatures are mild year round, so bring an additional sweater or jumper to keep you warm at night. Dublin is a modern, cosmopolitan city so if you happen to forget your favourite toiletries, chances are they can be easily replaced in a local supermarket. Once you venture outside the main cities, it may be more difficult to replace items.
The Irish language and traditional culture has undergone a revival in recent years. There are areas on the west coast where people speak Irish as their first language. Performance of Irish music is common in many bars and Irish dancing has become an international phenomenon thanks to River Dance. To raise your pint of Guinness as a toast, you’ll commonly hear even in the most chic night club locals saying, Sláinte.
Things to be careful of…
Smoking is illegal inside bars, restaurants and other public places. Regardless of the law, most locals would appreciate visitors refraining from lighting up in restricted areas.
Hiring a car and driving through the beautiful countryside is a great way to appreciate the country. However, the roads can be quite narrow, so drive with care.