About Ireland

What simple pleasures will you treasure most?

Ireland’s Simple Touring Pleasures

  • Rainbow chasing on a showery evening with your enthusiastic chauffeur guide
  • Enjoying friendly pub banter with locals at a traditional Irish music session
  • Savouring a delicious meal at an Irish restaurant recommended by your chauffeur/guide
  • Gazing in wonder at the forty shades of green of the Irish countryside
  • Taking a huge breath of fresh Atlantic air into your lungs on a quiet Irish beach
  • Wearing off the busy tourist path and enjoying a local experience
  • Driving into spectacular summer sunsets on the Wild Atlantic Way
  • Watching sheep in Connemara take up half the road and ignoring traffic!
  • Requesting a quick pull over to snap a picturesque scene on your camera
  • Feeling the soft touch of a gentle Irish mist upon your face
  • Enjoying the magical glow of a real turf fire
  • Taking a guided stroll along a quiet county lane in the heart of old Ireland

Best Time to Visit Ireland

This is one of the most common questions I get asked, and before I reveal my best attempt at an answer, a short overview of Ireland’s climate might be helpful.

Ireland’s Soft Climate

Ireland has a moderate climate that is dominated by the Atlantic weather systems and a mild oceanic current called the Gulf Stream. This means that our summers are pleasantly mild, and our winters are also relatively mild, with only occasional wintry cold snaps. This is fortunate considering Ireland lies on the same latitude as the city of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. In fact, daily averages through the year typically range between 42F and 70F. The moderating impact of the Atlantic Gulf Stream means Ireland rarely experiences hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, heatwaves or blizzards. As yet the only noticeable impacts of climate change on our weather is that days when snow falls in winter have become even rarer and flooding events in winter are becoming more frequent.

Rainy Reputation Revised

The general impression is that it rains quite a lot of the time in Ireland, but two out of three hourly observations will not report any measurable rainfall. This gives credence to the wise saying, “if you don’t like the weather in Ireland, just wait a few minutes!” The weather in Ireland is often changeable, which makes for breathtaking cloudscapes, while the fresh Atlantic air is invigorating. Even on a typically rainy day, rain fronts tend to pass overland in a few hours. When the rain does clear from the Atlantic on a summer’s evening, sunsets can be truly spectacular to behold.

Preparation is Always Key

Ireland doesn’t have a reliable dry season, so it’s best to expect rainy spells during your trip, even though you might cash in on some Irish luck and see more blue skies than grey clouds! It’s a good idea to pack a light, breathable waterproof jacket and light fold-up waterproof trousers. Don’t worry about an umbrella, for your chauffeur guide never leaves home without several sturdy ones!

And Finally…

Personally and from years of observation, the months of May and September are my favourite months for national touring through the Emerald Isle. These months are either end of the high season, and it’s usually easier to book you into my favourite hotels, restaurants, and shows. The light is also very nice for taking photos, and you can get extended dry spells of weather. Peak season runs from early June to the end of August, and the big advantage of travelling during these months as that the evenings are bright until after 10pm at night. It’s also worth remembering that Ireland is one of the least hectic tourism destination to visit in Europe, even during peak season, for exactly the same reason that my next Ireland travel revelation is about to reveal to you. Ireland’s weather is a complete lottery, even in the height of the summer. The only win-win is the soft Irish rain is good for your complexion and guaranteed to feel a lot milder from May to October!

Facts About Ireland

  • The Republic of Ireland is the only independent Celtic nation state in the world
  • Ireland and Erin are anglicised versions of the countries official name Éire which in turn is derived from the Celtic goddess Éiru
  • The three most famous symbols of Ireland are the Harp, the Shamrock, and the Celtic Cross
  • Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom
  • Since the Good Friday Agreement, citizens of Northern Ireland can choose to apply for a British, Irish or dual passport.
  • Irish is the official language of Ireland but English is the main spoken language
  • Eskimos are said to have to 49 ways to describe snow, the Irish have at least 35 ways of desribing rain in the Irish language
  • Over 40% of Irish people claim to have a tin whistle in their home
  • St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the 17th March and is a public holiday
  • Belief in the fairy folk still persists in Ireland and most people would not dare cut down a fairy thorn tree
  • Ireland is also known as the Emerald Isle, due to its lush green grasslands
  • The ancient field game of Hurling is one of Ireland’s most popular sports and has been played for over 1,000 years on the island
  • Ireland’s moderate climate is due to the Gulf Stream and the island rarely experiences extreme heatwaves or heavy snowfalls
  • The highest mountain in Ireland is Carrauntoohil in County Kerry at 1,038 metres or 3,407 feet
  • There are more sheep than people in the Republic of Ireland, numbering approximately 5.2 million
  • The county with the most sheep is Donegal with a staggering 0.5 million
  • The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia
  • There are over 50,000 Iron Age earthen ringorts in the Irish landscape – many of which were preserved as they were believed to be inhabited by the fairy folk
  • The population of the Republic of Ireland is approx 4.904 million
  • Ireland is only one of two island countries in the world, with a lower population now than it had in the the mid 19th century
  • The population of the nation’s capital, Dublin, is over 1.8 million in the metropolitan area
  • The Titanic ship was built in Belfast
  • The Céide Fields in County Mayo is the contains the oldest known field system in the world (6,000 years old)
  • There are 1.4 million dairy cows in the Republic of Ireland. The majority are grass fed and free range
  • 3 million pints of Guinness are produced each day in the St. Jame’s Gate Brewery in Dublin City
  • Guinness is the biggest selling stout in the world with 10 million glasses being sold every day in 150 countries
  • The longest river in Ireland and Britain is the mighty Shannon at 360.5 km
  • Almost 7,500 million litres of milk were produced on dairy farms in the Republic of Ireland last year
  • The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Zoo, the Cliffs of Moher, and Book of Kells in Trinity College are among the current top 5 visitor attractions
  • Today, Irish people consume on average 85kg of potatoes per year, 2.5 times the world average
  • Newgrange, Co. Meath (3,200 BC) is the best preserved Neolithic passage grave in Europe. It is also the oldest known solar observatory in the world

Insights into Irish Culture

Customary Greetings

Most travellers would agree that the Irish in general are a jovial and friendly bunch, especially in rural areas. Someone in the Northwest of Ireland may greet you with a “how are you doing?” or “how you getting on!”. It is customary to simply say “I’m grand, thanks”, or you can follow up with “and yourself?!”

Let’s Talk About the Weather

The weather is an endless source of conversation for Irish people and is also a neutral subject to start up a conversation with. Someone may say to you, “isn’t the weather wet at the moment?” You can simply reply, “it is indeed”, or “hopefully it will improve soon”, which will be a genuine reply if you are on a short holiday break!

Dealing with Frustrations

Irish people, in general, are quite sensitive in character. People rarely lose their temper in public. The weather is mild and so are peoples manners. Visitors should always try and voice their complaints or frustrations in a similar fashion. Indeed beeping your car horn in frustration to hurry another vehicle in rural Ireland, is akin to an insult, as is raising your voice in anger to someone in public you don’t know.

Pub Culture Do’s and Donts

Pubs are still a great place to experience the very essence of Irish social culture. There are still many traditional style pubs in Ireland where you can enjoy good company and the craic, (which is an Irish slang word for chatting and having fun).

Religious and Political Sensitivities

It’s best not to ask questions about either religion or politics when visiting Ulster or Northern Ireland, (especially the recent conflict in Northern Ireland). Even local people tend to avoid these topics in pubs, as there are often subtle cultural and religious sensitivities to take into account. Besides the authentic pub is more for light hearted conversation and banter than serious discussions.

The Rounds System

This simple custom, while not as strong as previous times, is still an important aspect of Irish pub culture. If someone buys you a drink, it is customary to buy them one back. That’s why it’s almost impossible in Ireland to go to the pub for just one beer! The next round starts when the first person is about to finish their drink, even if you are only half way through your pint.

Pub Etiquette

Someone might also ask you in Ulster, “will you take a wee one”, or “would you take a wee drink from the top shelf?”This means would you like a whiskey, or some other alcoholic spirits of your choice. ‘Wee’ means small while ‘dram’ means a measure or small glass of whiskey. These words are also used in Scotland. You can decline this offer by simply saying, “no thanks, I think I will stick to beer!”

Pub Performances

If someone in the pub is asked to sing a song or perform a funny recitation, then it is customary to immediately pause your conversation and listen respectfully until they are finished. One sure way of impressing local company in the pub is to follow up by offering to sing a song yourself!

The Drink for the Road!

At the end of a good night out in the pub, you might be asked, “sure you’ll have a drink for the road.” This doesn’t mean that your drinking partner is giving you a drink to take home with you! This is an old Irish custom ‘deoch an dorais’ whereby you have one more farewell drink for the journey home. If you have had enough to drink politely decline as you don’t want to end up literally on the road, or in a ditch!

Helpful Travel Info and Tips

Public Holidays

As in most modern countries, public holidays can mean heavier traffic on the roads, while popular restaurants and accommodation can be more difficult to book

The Republic Ireland and Northern Ireland share the following public holidays:

New Years Day 1st January
St. Patrick’s Day 17th March
Easter Good Friday to Easter Monday (Dates vary)
May Holiday First Monday in May

Christmas Day 25th December

St. Stephens Day 26th December
National/Bank Holidays in The Republic of Ireland

First Monday in June
First Monday in August
Last Monday in October

Please Don’t Try and Do all of Ireland in 7 days!

This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a private chauffeur guided vacation in Ireland. Any tour operator worth their salt will advise you against it. Ireland may look like a medium sized island to see in one week but this is forgetting that the Emerald Isle does not have an integrated highway system and most visitor attractions are not located conveniently to motorways. You risk spoiling your own Ireland vacation by trying to cram too much in.

Left-Hand Driving

The Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom both share a left-hand driving traffic system. This means that there is no change-over to worry about when driving across the border from the Republic into Northern Ireland.

Narrow Roads

Ireland has a modern network of primary roads but secondary roads can still be quite winding and narrow. Tractors are common and sheep sometimes stray onto more remote roads. Always drive with caution on back roads to reduce the chance of causing or being involved in an accident.


It is important to remember that the currency used in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro while the currency for Northern Ireland is Pound Sterling. The correct currency is required when travelling between the Republic and Northern Ireland. You can also use your credit card You can exchange your current money for Euro or Pounds at a Bureau De Change or a bank. Another option is to use your bank or credit cards at a local ATM machine. Most reasonably size towns have them.

Using Visa and MasterCard

Acceptance of Visa and MasterCard is almost universal for retailing and most services, including supermarkets, accommodation, restaurants, service stations and and department stores, airport parking charges, etc.


The electrical supply in Ireland is 220 volts AC. Ireland uses the same triple flat-pin plugs as the United Kingdom. If your appliances operate on a different current, you will need a universal AC adaptor.

Travel Insurance

It is compulsory for guests on any of my tours to purchase travel insurance: it covers you for everything from medical expenses and luggage loss to cancellations or delays in your travel arrangements, depending on what type of policy you decide upon.

Check if you can use your Smartphone abroad

It is always best to check with your smartphone provider as to what your price plan will be in Ireland and what phone network you can use.

Wi-Fi Availability

Most hotels, B&B guesthouses, and restaurants provide Wi-Fi access for their guests as do all my luxury touring vehicles

When to Tip

As the cost of living in Ireland has risen substantially in recent years, it has become customary to tip certain working groups employed in the service industry. This includes restaurant staff, private driver guides, coach tour drivers and guides. Many of these are seasonal workers. If you are happy with the standard of service they provide then 10% to 15% is the average tip. If a hotel porter or concierge takes your luggage directly to your room from the lobby, then a few euro may be given at your discretion.

When Not to Tip

It is not customary in Ireland to tip bar staff working in a pub, hairdressers, barbers, taxi drivers or staff working in a heritage centre or visitor attraction

Temperatures in Ireland

From May to the middle of October, temperatures in Ireland rarely drop below fifty degrees Fahrenheit and all guesthouses and hotels have central heating.

Packing for Your Ireland Vacation

As the climate is mild, moist and changeable, the most important items of clothing are a breathable waterproof rain coat and light waterproof leggings for very wet days. Waterproof shoes or boots are a good idea but also pack a comfortable pair of sneakers or sandals, just in case! Otherwise pack light layers and leave space in your suitcase for all the lovely gifts you can buy!

The Irish are a friendly people

You will often see people sign and wave to one another across a town or village street and motorists who meet neighbours on local roads will also sometimes flash their lights or raise a hand, fingers or thumbs in a friendly greeting. It is not uncommon on back roads, to come across two motorists stopped side by side, having an impromptu chat!


Ireland has a moderate climate that is dominated by Atlantic weather systems and the Gulf Stream. This means that our summers are pleasantly mild and our winters are relatively mild with only occasional wintry cold snaps. The general impression is that it rains quite a lot of the time in Ireland, but two out of three hourly observations will not report any measurable rainfall. The weather in Ireland is ever changing which often makes for breathtaking skies while the fresh Atlantic air is simply invigorating.