Irish Tourist Board
Baggot Street Bridge, POB 273 Dublin 8
Tel: 01 6024 000, Fax: 01 602 4378


Physical geography

Ireland, an island of 32,595 sq. miles, lies to the west of Great Britain on the fringe of the European Continental shelf a natural crossroads between the Old World and the New.

It is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and its magnificent 3,498-mile coastline is so winding that no part of the country is more than 70 miles from the sea. Its greatest length is 302 miles and its greatest width 171 miles. Ireland's chief characteristic is its wonderful variety of unspoilt scenery - rugged mountains and 800 lakes and rivers. The mountainous areas lie mainly along the coast - Carrantuohill of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks in the southwest is the highest (3,414 feet), inland is a rich undulating plain famous for the breeding of cattle and horses.


Ireland has a more temperate climate than any country in Europe of the same latitude: winters are mild, and there is no excessive heat in summer. February is the coldest month when temperatures average between 40°F and 45°F. July and August are the warmest with temperatures averaging about 60°F. May and June are generally the sunniest months.

Economic geography

Ireland's economy is largely based on agriculture. Tourism is the second industry. There has been, however, major industrial expansion - the principal industrial groups being food and drink, metals and engineering, textiles and tobacco. A free port zone at Shannon Airport offers very attractive incentives for the establishment of manufacturing industries. Ireland's fisheries are an important economical factor. The main exports are beef, chemicals, machinery, dairy products, textiles and live cattle. Europe's largest zinc mines were opened at Navan in 1977; offshore oil and natural gas resources are being investigated.


The population: 32 counties: five million.

Population of Dublin, the capital, is 915,115; Cork 149,792; Limerick 75,520; Galway 41,861.

A brief history

The earliest inhabitants of Ireland were Mesolithic -Middle Stone Age - hunters who made their first settlements about 6,000 BC. Traces of these early settlers are to be found in the megalithic tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, all some 30 miles from Dublin. By about 300 BC, however, migrants from the provinces of Gaul (modern-day France), had come to predominate sufficiently to render Ireland a Celtic country.

The Christianisation of Ireland was begun in the 5th century and this civilisation survived the ensuing Viking (c. 795) and Norman (1169) invasions, absorbing these foreign influences. Between the eighth and the tenth centuries, Ireland was famed for its Latin manuscripts and monastic-based education. Some of these unique manuscripts are on view in Dublin's Royal Irish Academy, while the famous Book of Kells can be seen in Trinity College. More evidence of this rich period is to be found in the remains of the monastic settlements of Clonmacnoise and Glendalough.

In 1541, King Henry VIII proclaimed himself 'King of Ireland' and it was during the reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I, that a policy of 'Plantation' was initiated - the most successful one being 'The Ulster Plantation' in the northeast.

The 18th century was a period of intense parliamentary activity ending with the 1798 rebellion spearheaded by Wolfe Tone. In 1800 the Act of Union was passed by which Ireland lost its own Parliament and, for the future, was to send elected delegates to the British Parliament at Westminster.

The early 19th century saw the emergence of one of the great figures of Irish history - Daniel O'Connell, who championed the successful campaign for Catholic Emancipation (1829).

In 1845 the Great Famine struck at the heart of the Irish countryside resulting in some one million people dying of starvation or fever and another one million emigrating, mainly to Britain and the USA, beginning a migratory pattern which persisted well into the 20th century.

In 1916 the 'Rising' occurred which set in motion the key movement for Irish independence in the 20th century. In 1921 an Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed which established 26 counties of Ireland as a Free State but not a republic. Six of the nine Counties in Ulster remained affiliated to the British Commonwealth. In 1949 the 26 counties of Ireland were officially declared a republic.

Since then Ireland has become a member of the UN, has joined the EU and has taken its place successfully among the independent nations of Europe.


Ireland is a predominantly Catholic country, but there are also Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist, Jewish and other congregations.

Languages spoken by nationals

Gaelic and English are the official languages. English is spoken generally and understood everywhere; Gaelic is spoken mainly in some western districts.


GMT (Summer Time 29 Mar-Oct 25, one hour ahead of GMT).


The Irish pound, or punt (IR£), is divided into 100 pence. Bank notes are 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. There are cupro-nickel coins with a value of 50p, 10p and 5p; bronze coins valued at 2p and 1p.

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

1 January, New Year - March 17, St Patrick's Day, 28 March, Easter Friday - 31 March, Easter Monday - 16 June, June Holiday - 1 August, August Holiday - October 27 October Holiday - December 25, Christmas - December 26, St Stephens Day.

What one should not fail to see

Dublin: Abbey Theatre, Christ Church Cathedral, Custom House, Dublin Castle, Four Courts, General Post Office (GPO), Leinster House, Mansion House, National Gallery, National Museum, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Old Parliament House (now Bank of Ireland), Royal Irish Academy Library, St Patrick's Cathedral, St Werburgh's Church, St Michan's Church, St Audeon's Church, St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Trinity College (the Book of Kells is the library's greatest treasure), Malahide Castle, Guinness Brewery, The Irish Whiskey Corner, The Royal Hospital, Killainham, Phoenix Park, Georgian Merrion Square and James Joyce's Tower at Sandycove.

The Boyne Valley - the world-famous prehistoric tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Clonmacnoise - Ireland's most famous monastic city. Glendalough - the valley of the two lakes, famous for its wild beauty and its outstanding historical and archaeological interest. Galway - Connemara - Aran Islands Kildare - National Stud, Irish Horse Museum, Japanese Gardens. Cashel - Rock of Cashel. Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Cork and Kerry - scenic drives. Killarney - Gap of Dunloe, Muckross House, Ring of Kerry. Limerick - King John's Castle the O'Connell Monument. The Treaty Stone. Donegal - scenic drives and the Donegal National Park. Sligo - Lough Gill, William Butler Yeats country. Gort - Coole House National Forest and Wild Life Park including the 'Autograph Tree', Thoor Ballylee. Cliffoney - Creevykeel Court Cairn (Megalithic remains). Waterford - Waterford Glass.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

March to October. May and June are the sunniest months, but whatever the time of the year and weather, visitors will find plenty to see plenty to do and plenty to interest them.

How to dress

Casual wear is the most useful for women; lightweight wool dresses, suits, sweaters, slacks and comfortable shoes are appropriate and perhaps a long skirt for evening. Men will be most comfortable in slacks, sports shirts and sweaters or a sports coat. Evening wear is usually a jacket and tie or suit.

Main holiday resorts

Main centres of interest - Dublin, a mainly 18th-century city - is one of the most beautifully situated capitals in the world. Principal scenic areas lie along the coast: the Wicklow Hills; the southwestern Counties of Cork and Kerry which include the Killarney region; Connemara in the west; and the Donegal Highlands. The Boyne Valley for antiquities; the midlands for sport - angling, fox-hunting, horse-racing.

Main holiday sports

Golf, fishing, hunting, tennis, swimming, polo, pitch and putt (this novel form of golf is a strictly Irish invention and is very popular with visitors - there are courses in almost every town), sailing and pony-trekking. Spectator sports include horse-racing, dog racing, rugby, soccer, cricket and Ireland's national games - hurling, Gaelic football and handball.

What to eat and drink

Ireland's rich pasturelands and the seas which surround it ensure that food is of a consistently high quality. Specialities include such delicacies as smoked salmon, oysters; prawns and lobsters, ham and steak. International cuisine is provided in all the larger towns and better hotels.

'Irish Whiskey' and 'Guinness Stout' are world famous, as is 'Irish Coffee' considered to be one of the most pleasant beverages possible to sample. For an after-dinner liqueur there is 'Irish Mist', interesting and different, and the delicious 'Baileys Irish Cream', a delightful blend of Irish whiskey and cream - two more brands of Irish Cream Liqueur are Carolans and Waterford Cream.

What to buy

Handwoven tweed, hand-knit sweaters, cut-glass, lace, linen: all of exceptionally high quality at modest prices. Antiques, Irish whiskey.

Frontier formalities

All nationals with the exception of people born in Great Britain and Northern Ireland require passports.

Among the countries whose nationals do not require visas are: Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Gambia, German Federal Republic, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras Rep., Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA, Vatican City.

Health regulations

A smallpox vaccination certificate is only required from travellers arriving in Ireland who, within the preceding 14 days, have been in a country any part of which is infected.


Duty-free allowances are as follows:

From all European countries: 1. Tobacco Products 300 cigarettes, or 150 cigarillos (cigars of a maximum weight of three grammes each), or 75 cigars, or 400 grammes (approximately 14 ounces) of smoking tobacco. 2. Alcoholic beverages: One-and-a-half litre of distilled beverages and spirits of an alcoholic strength exceeding 22 per cent vol. eg, whiskey, brandy, gin, rum, vodka; undenatured ethyl alcohol of 80 per cent vol. and over, or a total of three litres of other distilled beverages and spirits and aperitifs with a wine or alcohol base of an alcoholic strength not exceeding 22 per cent vol. or sparkling wines or fortified wines, and five litres of other wine. 3. Perfumes 75 grammes. 4. Toilet Waters: 3/8ths litre.

From Non-European countries: 400 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 500gr. tobacco (18 ozs.). One and a quarter bottles spirits (one litre) and two and a half bottles wine (two litres). 50gr. perfume (two fluid ozs.) and quarter litre toilet water (half a pint). Other goods to the value of IR £31 (under 15 years).

Prohibited or restricted goods include: birds of the parrot species, dogs and cats from places other than Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; arms, ammunition and explosives; fireworks, pornographic material or books on the Government's censorship list; meat and animal products, plants and poultry.

Currency regulations

There is no restriction on the import of currency. On leaving Ireland, visitors may not take out more than IR£ in Irish notes.

Main travel routes

The principal cities, towns and resorts are linked by rail. A network of bus services also covers the country and buses go to more remote areas not served by train. There are express trains from Dublin to Cork (three hours), Galway (three hours), Limerick (two and a half hours), Waterford (two and a half hours), Rosslare Harbour (three hours) Killarney (three and a half hours).

Air: Dublin-Shannon, Dublin-Cork.

A road network of 55,000 miles with a car density of only eight cars per kilometre makes motoring a joy.


Some special events

St. Patrick's Week (March) with parades and many other events. Cork International Choral and Folk Dance Festival (May). Killarney Pan Celtic Week (April). Dundalk Maritime Festival (May). Festival of Music in Great Irish Houses (June), concerts by major international celebrities in some of Ireland's most beautiful Georgian Mansions. Cobh International Folk Dance Festival (July). Festival of Kerry in Tralee (late August) - Waterford International Festival of Light Opera (September) Dublin Theatre Festival (October), featuring new plays by Irish authors in a series of exciting first nights. Wexford Opera Festival (October).

Bord Failte - Irish Tourist Board Offices 1996


Belgium, Avenue de Beaulieu 25, 1160 Brussels, Tel: (2) 673 9940, Fax: (2) 6721066
Britain: 150 New Bond Street, London WlY OAQ, Tel: (171) 518 0800, Fax: (171) 493 9065 All Ireland Tourism British Travel Centre, 12 Regent Street Piccadilly Circus, London SW1Y 4PQ, Tel: (171) 839 8416
Denmark: Den Irske Turistkontor 'Klostergarden,' Amagertorv 29, 3, 1160 Copenhagen K, Tel: (33) 158 045, Fax: (33) 936 390
Finland: Irish Tourist Board, Embassy of Ireland, Erottajankatu 7A, 00130 Helsinki, Tel: (0) 608 966, Fax: (0) 646 022
France: 33 rue de Miromesnil, 75008 Paris, Tel: (1) 4742 0336, Fax: (1) 4742 0164
Germany: Untermainanlage, 7, D-60329 Frankfurt/Main, Tel: (69) 236 492 Fax: (69) 234 626
Italy: via S. Maria Segreta 6, 20123 Milano, Tel: (2) 869 0541, Fax: (2) 869 0396
The Netherlands: Spuistraat 104, 1012 VA, Amsterdam, Tel: (20) 622 3101 Fax: (20) 620 8089
Norway: Irlands Turistkontor Holmenkollveien, 120B P.O. Box 65 Holmenkollen 0324 Oslo, Tel: (22) 920 080, Fax: (22) 920 030
Spain: Oficina de Turismo de Irlanda, Embajada de Irlanda, Claudio Coello 73, 28001 Madrid, Tel: (1) 5771787, Fax: (1) 577 6934
Sweden: Irlandska Turistbyran, Sibyllegatan 5, 114 42 Stockholm Tel: (8) 662 8510, Fax: (8) 661 7595

North America

U.S.A. 345 Park Avenue, New York NY 10154, Tel: (212) 418 0800, Fax: (212) 371 9052
Canada: Suite 1150 160 Bloor St., East Toronto, Ontario M4W 1B9, Tel: (416) 929 2777, Fax: (416) 929 6783
Australia: 5th Level, 36 Carrington Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Tel: (02) 299 6177, Fax: (02) 299 6323
Japan: Irish Tourist Board, Ireland House 4F, 2-10-7 Kojimachi Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102, Tel: (03) 52751611, Fax: (03) 52751623

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Ireland thanks to the co-operation of the Irish Tourist Board in Dublin.