Resources for travelers to Ireland

Connemara, Ireland

Customer Comments
“The holiday was fantastic – and far exceeded our expectations. The routes were wonderful, the directions fantastically clear – we didn’t get lost once and your team in France was outstanding. !”
– Jackie W.
“I wanted to tell you what a fantastic time my sister and I had in Ireland. The hotels were great and the people very friendly. We especially enjoyed the beautiful scenery.”
– Abracen M.

Lovely, green and enchanting Ireland! A perfect place for a bicycle tour vacation, this small country is big on charm and hospitality. Bike touring in Irleand and especially the countryside of Connemara is a must among the great places for cycling tours. Enchanting villages, warm and quaint family run inns, quiet country roads, and simply spectacular scenery await you; our tours can go any time and give all the support and freedom for a wonderful Irish bike tour!

Telephone:
When calling the Republic of Ireland from abroad, all telephone numbers must be prefixed with +353 (drop the first 0). For pay phones, pre-paid phone cards are widely available, convenient and cost effective to use. Phone cards are sold in denominations of €6.35 or €12.70.

Cell Phones:
For mobile phones, only digital phones with GSM subscriptions and a roaming agreement will work in the island of Ireland. You should contact your cell phone supplier before departure.
If your phone isn’t equipped to work in Europe, you might want to rent a phone. We recommend Cell Hire, who makes it convenient since they deliver the phone to your home before your departure: www.cellhire.com

Emergency telephone numbers:
Emergency Police, Fire & Ambulance: 999 or 112
This number is free of charge but should only be used in cases in genuine emergency. On answer, state which server you require, wait to be connected to that service, then clearly state the location of where the assistance is required.Personal Safety: 01 478 5295
Should you be unfortunate enough to be a victim of crime in the Republic of Ireland, contact the Tourist Victim support.

Public Holidays in the Republic of Ireland
New Year’s Day January 1st
St Patrick’s Day March 17th
Easter Monday April 21st
May Bank Holiday May 5th
June Bank Holiday June 2nd
August Bank Holiday August 4th
October Bank Holiday October 27th
Christmas Day December 25th
St Stephen’s Day December 26th
Good Friday, although not officially a public holiday is observed as such in parts of the Republic of Ireland.

Electric current:
The standard electricity supply is 220 volts AC in the Republic of Ireland and 240 volts AC in Northern Ireland. You may require a transformer and a plug adaptor if bringing your razor, cell phone chargers or other electric device.
A plug adaptor is necessary to convert 2-pin plugs to the standard 3-pin plugs and these can be bought at any airport or electrical supplier.

Dublin: the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, is a cosmopolitan, bustling city, which literally buzzes with energy and excitement. However the great thing about Dublin is that if you fancy something quieter, half and hours drive outside the city center will take you to mountain walks, stately homes and gardens and fishing villages.
The city is a great center for culture and you’ll be spoilt for choice with fine museums, art galleries and theatres. Dublin is also home to a great literary tradition; its native sons include Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Wilde and Beckett. You can’t talk about Dublin without mentioning the architecture; walking around the city you’ll see everything from medieval and Georgian architecture to more modern buildings.
Dublin is a shoppers delight; you can buy anything from the latest fashion arts and crafts. If you are looking for a gastronomic experience, Dublin boats a vast array if restaurants serving haute cuisine to traditional pub grub menus.
If you are spending a few days in the City, here are a few places you may wish to visit:
– Trinity College: the oldest university in Ireland founded in 1592. The college is also famed for its exhibit of the Book of Kells (most richly decorated of Ireland’s medieval manuscripts and contains four gospels of Latin).
– Phoenix Park: spanning 1,752 acres, the park is the largest urban park in Europe.
– Dublin Zoo: set in the grounds of Phoenix Park where over 700 animals and tropical birds from around the world can be seen.
– The Irish Museum of Modern Art: The museum offers an exciting and innovative range of international and Irish art of the 20th century.
– Old Jameson Distillery: follow the fascinating craft of whiskey making at the Old Jameson Distillery.
– Dublin Castle: at the heart of historic Dublin.
– James Joyce Tower and Museum: museum devoted to the life and works of James Joyce.
– The Guinness Storehouse: discover how Guinness is made and sample some while enjoying spectacular views of Dublin from the gravity bar.
– The GAA Museum: biggest sports museum in Ireland
– Christchurch Cathedral: dating back to the 11th century it reflects 1,000 years of worship in Ireland.

Connemara/Galway: The unspoiled beauty of the land as well as, the warmth and humor of the people are what make Connemara, the jewel of western Ireland, the true emerald of the Isle. It has retained its natural beauty, as well as the traditional culture and language. From the rugged mountains in the north through the lakes and bogs of the countryside to the windswept beaches of the coast Connemara is the true treasure at the end of the rainbow.

Ancient History
There is much archaeological evidence of Ireland’s first inhabitants dating back to the Mesolithic era, 7,000-6,000 BC. Crossing by land bridge from Scandinavia via Scotland, the Firbolg and the Tuatha De Dannan tribes were the first to settle on the island. Today we can see the fragments of their life especially along the coast of Connemara. Although, Stone Age megaliths are found throughout Europe, Ireland has the highest concentration of sites. Evidence of their farming culture can be seen today in the ancient remnants of farmsteads, cooking places, and megalithic tombs scattered throughout this land of hills and bogs.
With the 5th century came Christianity and the rise of Catholicism followed by the decline of paganism. The British monarchy began its incursion in the latter half of the 12th century, building abbey-churches and castles. The redistribution of wealth and the push to suppress Catholicism was fully implemented in the mid 16th century with the British “Plantation Policy.” In 1800 the Act of Union abolished the Irish parliament, however in 1921 the Republic of Ireland was established as a parliamentary democracy, leaving only the region of Northern Ireland to rule by Great Britain. In 1998, after many years of conflict, a peaceful resolution was reached making Northern Ireland a safe place to visit.

Geography/Terrain
Connemara is the name given to the western part of County Galway that lies between Lough Corrib and the Atlantic Ocean. This is land formed through the glaciations of the ice ages, the rise of flora and fauna during the ensuing thaw, and by the people who have inhabited it for nearly 10,000 years. Western Ireland is breathtaking and solitary. Dominated by brooding granite peaks and rugged hills surrounding the uncultivated wilderness of a gently rolling interior plain covered by blanket bog and wet heath vegetation. Stream-fed lakes reflect the mysterious and beautiful light of an enormous sky. All along the intricately carved coastline tiny villages cling to a wildly beautiful shoreline of rocky inlets and sandy bays.

Climate
Though having a temperate maritime climate Ireland is famous for its unpredictable and wet weather. Changeable and very localized, it can be sunny one minute and raining the next. Prevailing southwesterly winds create temperate summers and mild winters. Also, the Gulf Stream, a current of warm water and air that flows from the Gulf of Mexico towards Europe is what allows the people of Europe to live more easily in the northern latitudes. This latitude also means that in December daylight may last only 7 hours, while a typical June day could be 18 hours long. During some summer nights the level of light never falls below twilight.
· Summer low 50-60F (10-15C)
· Summer high 70-80F (21-27C)

Food/Beverage
The life of the medieval Irish determined what food they ate and this has carried over to present day Irish cuisine. Wealth was determined by how many head of cattle a person had so their cattle were raised for dairy not meat. However, pigs and sheep were raised for their meat and venison and wild boar were hunted. Being surrounded by ocean and inundated with [hundreds] of lakes and rivers fish have had a significant role in the Irish diet. Many types of vegetables were grown and root crops were always popular but it wasn’t until the end of the 16th century that the potato was introduced and Ireland’s holy trinity of food was born Meat-Vegetable-Potato. The national dish of Ireland is Lamb Stew. Of course traditional favorites also include: Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shepard’s Pie, Gaelic Steak (beef fillet cooked in Irish whiskey,) and Soda Bread.
In recent years there has been a renewed interest cheese making with several dairies producing specialty cheeses: Blarney, St. Killian (Camembert-style with mushrooms,) cheddary Bandon Vale, blue-veined Cashel and Millens, a soft raw cow’s milk cheese.