General Information about Ireland

Currency

The currency used in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro. The currency used in Northern Ireland is the Pound Sterling. Retailers in areas close to the border may be willing to accept both currencies. In general, ATMs are easily found in all Irish cities and towns. In the villages, ATMs are generally located at filling station forecourts and in certain shops like supermarkets. It is advisable to withdraw cash in town before taking an excursion into the more remote areas – it may be difficult to find an ATM in service in some of the outlying villages. Credit cards are widely accepted across Ireland.

Accommodation

Ireland offers a full range of accommodation, from campsites and hostels to five-star hotel and spa complexes. Family-run B&Bs and guesthouses generally offer a good standard of accommodation all over Ireland, and at competitive prices. Some hostels are conveniently located close to where bus routes pass through popular walking areas, making this an option for the independent traveller.

Climate

Ireland’s summer falls during the months of June, July and August when maximum daytime temperatures can reach about 25°C. Despite sharing the same latitudes as parts of Canada and Russia, Ireland only occasionally experiences severe wintry conditions. This is due to the Gulf Stream – a warm water current originating near Florida – which travels in a general northwest direction across the Atlantic. An extension of the Gulf Stream – the North Atlantic Drift – passes Western Europe, thereby maintaining Ireland’s temperate climate. The Irish winter falls during the months of December, January and February. On average, there might only be two or three days of significant snowfall during the year in low-lying areas. On higher ground, however, snow may remain for a few weeks. Ireland is one of the first European landmasses to receive weather systems from the Atlantic. These generally bring intermittent spells of rain at any time of year, and the majority of rainfall occurs where weather systems meet the mountain ranges along the west coast. There is no defined wet or dry seasons in Ireland, although the summer and winter months generally receive slightly less rain than the spring and autumn months.

Time Zone

Ireland is located in the Greenwich Mean Time zone, sharing the same time as Great Britain, Iceland, Portugal, and some countries in northwest Africa. In either March or April each year (this varies), the clocks are put forward one hour for the purposes of daylight saving. In October, the clocks are put back one hour.

Daylight Hours

Located between the northern latitudes of 51° and 56°, Ireland experiences a wide range of daylight hours throughout the year. The amount of daylight available needs to be taken into account before planning a long walk, otherwise there is an increased risk of finishing in darkness during winter months.

The winter solstice occurs every year on or near 21 December. In the northern hemisphere, this is referred to as ‘the shortest day’ because it is the day on which the sun spends the shortest time above the horizon. In Ireland, on the shortest day, the sun rises at about 8:40 a.m. and sets at about 4:10 p.m. providing approximately seven-and-a-half hours of daylight.

The summer solstice occurs every year on or near 21 June. In the northern hemisphere, this is referred to as ‘the longest day’ because it is the day on which the sun spends the longest time above the horizon. In Ireland, on the longest day, the sun rises at about 5:00 a.m. and sets at about 10:00 p.m. providing approximately seventeen hours of daylight.

Topography

Ireland is relatively low-lying for an island of its size, only reaching a maximum height of 1,039m above sea level. In comparison, the similar-sized islands of Cuba, Iceland, Mindanao, Hokkaidō, and Hispaniola reach elevations within the range of 1,970m to 3,100m above sea level – although these islands are all located in more geologically active regions of the planet. Evidence tells us that Ireland once had mountains comparable in height to the present-day Himalayas.

Today, Ireland’s tallest mountains are generally located in a ring of compact ranges throughout its coastal counties, while the inner landlocked counties typically contain shallow hills, lakes, and peat bogs. Due to its location close to the north Atlantic, Ireland’s higher-than-average rainfall keeps the landscape green. Much of this rain finds its way into the vast peat bogs which cover much of the central lowlands and uplands, and can make walking in these areas quite difficult. Ireland has been largely deforested in the past, and most of its indigenous woodland has disappeared. Much of the non-native woodland we see in Ireland today has been planted for the purposes of commercial timber farming.