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Daily Life and Basic Practicalities


Note: This information has been compiled specifically for the Republic of Ireland, which covers 26 of the 32 counties on the island of Ireland. The remaining 6 counties comprise Northern Ireland and are administed separately but with co-operation and co-ordination between the two.

Languages

While Irish is the first official language of the Republic, English is the first language of the majority of the population outside the Gaeltachtaí.

Weather

Ireland has a mild, temperate climate with summer temperatures ranging from 16-20 degrees Celsius. In winter temperatures rarely drop below freezing point, but it can feel quite cold because of frequent rain and wind. » More

Time

Ireland observes Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in the winter. However, Irish summer time is GMT plus 1 hour. The dates of change are the last Sunday of March and October. The clock goes forward by an hour in March and back by an hour in October.

Public Holidays

There are 9 public holidays (called Bank Holidays) in the year. These are composed of the first Mondays in May, June and August and the last Monday in October, plus New Year's Day, St. Patrick's Day (17th March), Easter Monday, Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day (26th December). Any dates which fall on a weekend will carry over to the Monday following.

Transport

Ireland has five international airports (Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Belfast and Knock). It also has a low-cost network of bus and train routes linking cities and towns across the island. » More

Electrical Current

The electrical current in Ireland is 220-240 volts AC. Standard plug sockets are are 3-pin flat type.

Shopping

Shops are generally open Monday-Saturday from 9am/10am until 5.30/6pm. Some also open for more limited hours on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Smaller grocery stores and newsagents will normally open at 8am and remain open until 9 or 10pm each day, though these shops tend to be more expensive than the big supermarkets. Bigger cities will have a late opening night on Thursdays where many shops stay open until 9pm.

There is a levy (tax) on plastic shopping bags to encourage people to reuse their old bags and cut down on litter in the countryside and cities. If you require plastic bags you will be charged 22c each for them, so it is advisable to bring your own bags when you go shopping.

Post Offices

Services include stamps, registered post, express mail, parcel post, money orders, postal orders, international reply coupons, TV licences and savings accounts as well as bill payments. Local post offices are open (Monday to Friday) between 9am and 5.30pm approximately and close for lunch between 1pm and 2pm. Most post offices in towns and cities are open on Saturday mornings between 9am and 1pm.

Wi-Fi / Internet Cafes

Portable devices and Wi-Fi internet access have become widespread in Ireland over recent years. Dedicated Internet cafes, where you can hire a computer to go online, have declined in number with the rise of portable devices but continue to operate, often in conjunction with international calling services.

Telephone Services

Mobile phones are widely used in Ireland and phone companies offer both pay-as-you go and monthly contract plans. It is important to shop around and to understand exactly what the costs will be. Mobile phones can be expensive for international calls so call centres and phone cards may offer alternatives:

Call Centres: some Internet cafes now have phone booths where you can make cheap long distance phone calls. Normally you are given a rate per minute and you pay when you have completed your call.

International Phone cards: these come in different values and are sold widely in newsagents. Call prices per minute can seem very low but it is important to check the small print for connection charges. Cards are best used from a landline phone as they are usually more expensive when used from a public telephone box.

Public telephone boxes have become less common and more expensive. Operator assisted calls are more costly than directly dialling the number yourself.

Banks and Foreign Exchange

Banks are open between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday (some smaller branches may close for lunch, check locally). On Thursdays, many bank branches stay open until 5pm in the Dublin area (other late opening days apply to other parts of the country). Most banks provide Bureau de Change and Travellers' Cheque facilities. On-campus bank branches will usually waive commission if you are a registered student with an account at that bank. ATM machines are widespread.

It is possible to change most foreign bank notes in USIT Now (19 Aston Quay, Dublin 2) free of commission with an international student card (ISIC).

Credit Cards

Major Credit Cards can all be used in Ireland (e.g. Visa, Access, American Express, Diner’s Club etc.) Credit cards are often not accepted in small shops, pubs and guest houses.

Cinemas

Cinemas in Ireland are very popular and large multi-screen complexes have opened all over the country. It is cheaper to go to the afternoon shows. Evening shows cost up to €10.00. There is a student discount available on production of a valid student identity card for certain shows. The Irish Film Institute (Eustace Street, Dublin 2) and The Lighthouse (Smithfield, Dublin 7) show a range of international films that will not usually be shown elsewhere.

Pubs

The pub is the social meeting place for many Irish people. They serve alcohol, soft drinks, tea and coffee. Many pubs now serve meals (usually soup, sandwiches, main dish, etc.) during the day, with some serving until 9-9.30pm. Pubs are licensed to open between 10.30am and 11.30pm Sunday to Wednesday. From Thursday to Saturday the closing hours are extended to 12.30am.

Smoking Regulations

Smoking is forbidden in enclosed places of work in Ireland. This includes office blocks, various buildings (including cinemas, theatres etc), public houses/bars, restaurants and company vehicles (cars and vans). Smoking is also prohibited on public transport e.g. buses, trains etc.

Public Toilets

The male / female designation is sometimes in the Irish language. You should go through the door marked FIR if you are a man and MNÁ if you are a woman.

Security

As in most countries, you will need to be aware of petty crime in larger cities. Don't carry valuables, unless it is necessary. Don't walk down dark streets on your own or late at night. Keep your wallet, purse, etc. out of sight. Generally, be aware of your surroundings, appear confident and keep your wits about you. Do not leave valuables in a parked car where they can be seen.

It is not necessary to carry your passport for identification purposes, however some photo ID may prove useful.

Emergencies

Dial 999 or 112 from any phone for police, ambulance, fire, sea and mountain rescue services. Other emergency telephone numbers (e.g. gas leaks, personal emergencies, etc.) can be found in the first few pages of telephone directories.

Police

The police in Ireland are called Garda Síochána. Full details of national and local garda stations can be found at the beginning of telephone directories.

Hospitals

In a medical emergency, go to the Accident and Emergency department at the hospital closest to your home. The Accident and Emergency (A&E) charge is €100 if you attend without a letter from your GP. » More

 

Last updated: January 2016