6 Things You Need To Know Before Coming To Ireland. Guest post by Susan

Here is a wonderful post written by Susan from vibrantireland.com who kindly shared her observations on Ireland. Read her story and visit her website! Enjoy!

My Ireland

When I visited Ireland, it changed my life. Really. It touched a part of me, and then I think it kept a part of me, because when I returned home to The States I felt bereft and miserable for a long time. So I took a huge leap. I sold my car, gave away my things, and moved to Ireland on a wing and a prayer. Nearly 20 years later I’m still here and I’ve never regretted it.

This post isn’t about my story, but it is about some of the reasons I was able to have such a wonderful experience in Ireland, & what I’ve discovered is useful to visitors through my years living here— I’ve translated it all into some tips for your visit.

Open Your Mouth

It is true-Ireland is full of friendly people who are happy to suggest things to do, or offer up interesting info about their area. Don’t be afraid to ask people if you are lost, want a suggestion on where to eat, what to see, etc. Most people are pleased to share their favourites & their local knowledge. On my first visit, my 2 girlfriends & I got off the train in Derry and stood around with our giant backpacks, looking unsure. Some young men came up to us & asked if we were lost. We told them we were thinking of going to Donegal, but weren’t sure exactly where yet. They excitedly suggested we go to Buncrana, as the festival was on that weekend, and that we’d have a brilliant time there along beautiful Lough Swilly. We thanked them, and they went on their way– no hassle, just friendly advice about a place they loved. (Whew! We took their advice & had a fantastic time!).

There May Be A Bit Of ‘Rudeness’

As an expat American, I must add this: most North Americans are accustomed to a level of immediate customer service that is not overly common in much of Ireland. You could have the same expectations where you are from, too. North Americans are used to being acknowledged when entering a cafe or such, especially when it is not always apparent if you seat yourself, order at the counter, or wait to be seated. (Also in regards to staff being on the phone; in The States we are used to the customer physically present being acknowledged, & then they may also take precedent over someone/customer on the phone. I find this doesn’t often happen in Ireland.) BUT don’t be put off– it doesn’t mean that the employee is actually unfriendly—I find that usually if you say a cheery Hello/ ask a question people are friendly & helpful. (Same for once they are off the phone. Not that I enjoy those differences in customer service, but it is good for you to be aware of them. I know many tourist businesses are trying to improve on this aspect of customer service).

Don’t Just Dub

This may be controversial, but don’t spend lots of your time in Dublin. I know it gets most of the hype, but unless you just want a quick city break, or have a specific interest in Dublin, in my opinion there’s no need for more than a day or two. (But those days can be great! I lived in Dublin for years & still visit frequently for events- there’s lots on in the city all the time.) For your Ireland trip I’d advise you to strongly consider picking an area or two outside of the Pale and really experiencing those rather than trying to do the whole country. I know Ireland seems small, but it takes a good while to travel it- especially if you are not going to places simply on the main motorways—which means loads of great places!

Go Your Own Way!

Investigate lesser known areas, like the Northwest. County Donegal is one of my favourite places on earth, and the people there are extra friendly, I think. Donegal is not full of big tourist buses like Kerry, but it does have the spectacular scenery, fantastic traditional music culture, and strong Irish-speaking areas that tempt many people to Kerry. I’m also a huge fan of the sunny southeast of Ireland, where I live now. Truthfully, most areas of Ireland will give you a great time if you do your homework online, and also ask people in the know for advice. Think about your interests– do you enjoy music, craft, outdoor activities, artisan food, history, festivals, gazing at scenery, art, visiting prehistoric monuments, having pints/craft beer? Investigate building your Irish holiday around a couple of these interests, particularly trying to include some non ‘top-touristy’ places connected with those interests. You may have a much more enjoyable time having a great pint of Guinness somewhere like the atmospheric & friendly Cleeres Pub & Theatre Kilkenny and then going next door to The Brewery Corner for an array of Irish & other craft beer than you would doing that big Guinness brewery tour

Don’t Get Caught Out

Plan in advance for Sundays. Lots of places to eat, shop, and some attractions may not open until around 2pm on Sundays, and some do not open at all. Checking into opening times in advance is always good advice, but especially for Sundays, Bank Holiday Mondays, and during the (long) Christmas holidays. Also at Easter holidays, too, and be aware some places close the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday Monday. Additionally, some museums are closed Mondays. LOL- it sounds off putting, but just confirm opening times when you plan or have a back-up just in case. If you find you’ll be surrounded by closed premises Sunday morning can be a nice time to just sleep in or enjoy the scenery.

If Not Now, When? (Or, Don’t Blame The Rain!)

Just do it! So many people dream about visiting Ireland, but the time drifts by and they never do—not having travelled more is often one of the top regrets at the end of life. Don’t be nervous if you’ve not travelled to another country before, Ireland is very safe, friendly, and the weather is gentle. Really! We don’t have extremes of temperature or severe weather events, and though there is a reputation for rain, it rarely rains all day, or even every day! In fact, Ireland is only #50 in the world rainfall rank. The US is #25! Just bring your rain jacket in case, and plan to dress in layers to remove as needed. Every time of year has its charm, though if you’re wanting to go ‘do’ loads, be aware in Winter places may be closed for the season, especially outside of the cities. Do your research, read relevant blogs, and ask questions before as well as during your visit. Enjoy your planning, and your visit! Have a plan, but also have leeway to be spontaneous.

See you soon!

Blog: vibrantireland.com FB: /VibrantIreland Twitter: /vibrantireland G+: /vibrantireland I: instagram

About the author

I get easily fascinated with people and places. I am passionately curious. I get often seduced with the beauty of nature. Blue sky, pure water, white snow and endless horizon seams to be enough to make me happy.

View all articles by Agata Mleczko

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  • Caroline Heffernan

    Great post Susan with lots of helpful, practical advice. As I Dub I have to say I smiled along the way! But you’re right…there’s so much to see in Ireland it’s a waste to spend too much time in Dublin. I also liked your recommendation to visitors not to try and travel the country from top to toe in one trip. Sometimes when I hear the journeys tourists are taking on I want to wail in horror! On another note I spent two months in Santa Clara two years ago and loved the standard of customer service. I think we’re improving here in Ireland…and engagement from the visitor definitely helps.

    • Susan @vibrantireland

      Thanks Caroline! I so agree with you- when I hear fthe crammed itineraries some of visitors have I wince. I suppose it is the same in many places- I find that is where blogs and social media can really help; locals or seasoned visitors to a place can help you make plans that are more realistic and enjoyable. :-) Susan

    • Laurel Romaguera

      Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  • Jane Roxbury

    Great advice, Susan! We spent three glorious weeks there in 2008. While we did start in Dublin, we progressed to Fota Island, Kenmare, Newmarket on Fergus, Galway and then back to Kilinney. We probably could have done even more, but we stopped for a few nights in my old home in DC on the way in and out of the U.S. If I ever return, I’ll be sure to stop in Kilkenny!

    • Susan FitzGerald

      You won’t regret it, Jane! Kilkenny was just voted the 9th friendliest city in the World by Conde Nast Travel :-) Susan

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  • Christa Thompson

    Love it! Watch out Ireland!! xoxox

    • Thanks for this comment. I’m coming to Ireland this autumn and can’t wait!

  • Thanks for sharing these terrific tips for visiting Ireland. We’re also heading there for TBEX next week. I hope we haven’t over-planned but we love seeing as much as we can especially on a first-time visit. So much to do and eat – can’t wait!

    • You’re very welcome! I’m leaving tomorrow and it looks like we meet really soon! Have a safe trip!

  • Vanessa

    Not sure if anyone can help me however I am staying in the Temple Bar area and have a full day on Sunday to sightsee. I would really like to see some great nature sites ect what are areas that you can travel in one day using bus or taxi that would be worth while?

  • Karen Caprio Flynn

    Hi Susan…my daughter is a grad student at Dublin Institute of Technology. Like you, she fell in love with the country while she was visiting in 2011. Now she is back living in Dublin for the past year plus and hopes to stay. My question to you, is how did you manage to stay in the country as an American? What course of action did you need to pursue?

    • Susan FitzGerald

      Hi Karen, it wasn’t easy; I had to leave every so often – a visit over to Britain or such being easiest- in order to get my passport stamped and be out of Ireland for a while. I had an awfully hard time trying to get a work permit, so I had to go back to the US a few times, work for a couple of months while crashing at family’s & save money to live on in Ireland. I was really poor here for years; a cup of coffee & a scone out was a luxury.
      If you have certain job skills it is much easier to get a work permit, and I think the fact that she is a student here already can help her, and continuing her studies here may be her best option. Current permit info here. http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/migrant_workers/employment_permits/work_permits.html The Citizens Information site can be very helpful, she can find all sorts of info there. Once you’ve actually lived in Ireland for 5 yrs you can apply for citizenship (3 if married) – I don’t think those time frames have changed, but she should check. I think she will have a much easier time than me, as IT skills are in demand & she’s already here as a student. She may be even able to work online ‘remotely’ so she can earn without physically returning to the US like I had to. I wish her the best of luck!!! Susan

  • Karen caprio flynn

    Hi again Susan! Was wondering if you can tell me if you have had to purchase your own Irish health insurance? Katie is now looking into that as she no longer will be provided with the student insurance. Can you advise as to what plan would be good? Thanks for your time Susan!

  • CyberPunk

    Thanks for the info. I’ve always feared being the annoying American when I finally made it to Ireland. I’m going in APRIL 2015 and I absolutely cannot wait. My list of “stuff to see” is huge … again, thanks for the etiquette guidelines. :)

  • MTurnquist

    Hello im leaving for Ireland in 7 days… with no real plans what do you suggest.

  • Dronerg

    Hi there, What an interesting article. Thanks for sharing it. I am currently in limbo, selling my house in France and wanting to move on with a limited budget. I have seen various houses that interest me in Ireland but I have no idea what areas may be good or bad. There is a house I have a particular interest in at Athleague, Roscommon, Co. Roscommon. Does anyone have any info on the area or the cost of living there please? I am female aged 59 and living alone, except for my dog, so any help would be gratefully received. Thanks in advance.

  • Sydney Vance

    I am in the planning stage of a long time dream to visit Ireland. I will more then likely be going alone. Any tips?

  • This was a great article! I’m visiting in 2017, and I’m really excited! I’ll have to start looking up the length of time and what will be needed and such, but this is a good start!

  • Autumn Dawn

    Great article! I just read it aloud to a room of people who plan to visit. You should write an article on tips about moving to Ireland, top career choices, major laws that differ from The States, etc.

  • Joe Cochenour

    Great read! I will be in Ireland with my fiancée in just a couple weeks. She will be going for work and while she is working I will be spending my time on some of the beautiful golf courses. I will also be staying at the Cork International hotel. Does anyone have any recommendations on transportation to and from the golf courses? It looks like Bus Eireann is my best bet.
    Thank you in advance!

  • Rebecca O’Brien Sexton

    We will be in Ireland in 2 weeks and can hardly wait! thanks for the info, much apprecaited:)

  • Fatin

    Ive been to Ireland once in 2014 and I agree with you that it kept a part of me there! I am planning on visiting again this year and as I am taking a sabbatical from my advertising job, I was wondering if it is legal to sell a few trinkets if I bring them along, such as hand-made bookmarks, journals etc all items of notably lower value, just to support a few coffees, meals, books I may want to purchase in Ireland? I have done a google search but nothing came up!

  • Icy_Wolf_YT

    haven’t been to irland yet but looking forward to see it in the near furtre. even when it is 5 years away.