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Summary: Located in western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, and to the west of Great Britain, Ireland is mostly level to rolling interior plains surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains, with sea cliffs on the west coast. It remains an interesting destination, partly because of the Celtic tribes that settled on the island more than 2,500 years ago and legends of leprechauns, and partly because it has a very strong, modern economy where agriculture has been partially displaced by services and industry.

Capital: Dublin
Time Zone: DST +0100 UTC
Population: 3,969,558
Languages: English, Irish
Power: 230 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Euro - Currently 1 EUR € = 1.4607 USD $
Climate: Ireland has a temperate maritime climate modified by the North Atlantic Current, giving mild winters and cool summers. It is consistently humid and overcast about half the time.

Dublin: Dublin, and in fact much of Ireland, can't hide its very ancient roots of pre-Christian and pre-Celtic history. Some interesting sites for the visitor will still keep the modern traveller busy, including the Temple Bar district, a miniature of Paris' Left Bank, the Whitefriar Street Carmelites, near the city center and home to St. Valentine, and St. Isolde's Tower and the Old City Walls made with perfect masonry technique.

Cork: The second largest city in Ireland, Cork, is located in the south of the country. With the center of town sitting in the middle of the Lee River, with the Shandon Bells at Saint Anne's Church which dates from 1722, Blackrock Castle which juts out into Cork River and has been modernized as a robotic astronomical center, and the peaceful Cork Harbour are all places visitors tend to enjoy. A 30 minute bus ride away from the city is the Blarney Castle, where legend holds that whoever kisses the stone near the top of the castle gains the gift of eloquent speech.

Limerick: Limerick was founded by Vikings in the 9th century, and is situated at the mouth of the Shannon River. The area not only has a rich history and the largest concentration of castles in Ireland, but is also renowned for adding the namesake five-line rhyming verse to English literature. Among the best sights are King John's Castle, near the city center and dating back to the 13th century, and the archaeological displays at Lough Gur to the east which detail 5000 years of Ireland's history.


Music: Music is a big part of Irish culture - many street corners feature local musicians, and live music is common in most pubs. The calibre of musicianship will surprise you.

Off-Season: In many towns and villages, some of the restaurants and places to stay close down as winter approaches and don't open up again until April. To be safe, call ahead if you're going anywhere outside of a main city.

Differing Names: Beware that most places in Ireland have several names, with original versions, to English, to Irish, and even a modern. For example, Kingsbridge railway station in Dublin is also called Heuston. The village of Roosky is also known as Rooskie, Rusky, and Ruscai.

Stones: With a history in Druidic lore, the countryside has many ancient sites with stone circles, rock menhirs or pillars, and obelisks. They can be found all over the island, so ask what sites are nearby as you journey through.

When To Visit: July and August, the high summer months, are the best times to visit - the weather is nice and there are many festivals, although it makes booking a room a little more of a challenge. May, June and September are good compromises.

Food: Local foods and drinks range from the famous pint of Guinness, to pig's trotters or corned beef with cabbage.

Phrases: Hello: dia duit.

Tipping: Check your bill, as service charges are not always included. A standard tip of 10-12% is fine for waiters, taxi drivers and barbers.

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