Travel tips for Ireland

This guest post was written by our favorite French expatriate, Julie Duran-Gelleri. Julie has lived in several different countries around Western Europe, so we asked her for some travel tips in some of her previous homes. She currently resides in Ireland, although her travels and life may take her elsewhere in the coming years.
Ireland might be the European country that is closest to the US in terms of culture. Not only do they speak English, but customs and habits won’t feel as foreign as elsewhere in Europe.
Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr
If renting a car, be aware that you have to drive on the left side of the road, as in England. Main roads and motorways are in a very good state, but smaller roads in the countryside will be narrow and bumpy, so drive carefully.
Bring a heavy-duty rain jacket. Ireland’s national color is green for a reason: the landscape is so verdant because it rains a lot, often, sometimes heavily. An umbrella might not be very useful, as the wind, especially on the Atlantic coast, can be very strong.
In restaurants, try Irish salmon or roast lamb, or the traditional Irish stew. Irish breakfast consists of eggs and bacon, baked beans, potato patties and blood sausage. Most B&Bs will also offer continental breakfast: yogurt, cereals, ham and cheese.
You will, of course, visit several pubs during your stay. The Irish are famous for drinking a lot, so if you don’t drink at all that might take a little bit of explaining… If going to the pub with Irish friends, you will be asked “What are you drinking?” and each participant is expected to pay for a round of drinks.
The pub is often the hub of social life. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger, people are very open and friendly, and love a good story or joke. But if there is live Irish music, absolute silence is in order as a mark of respect to the musicians, especially the singers!
If you run into any kind of trouble, just ask for help. Irish people are deservedly famous for their hospitality. Customer service might be less spectacular than in the States, but share your problem with a member of staff and you will be told “I’ll see what I can do.” Usually your problem will be solved in a matter of minutes.
Ireland is very welcoming to visitors, so don’t worry – “Ah, you’ll be grand!”
Ireland boasts quite a few famous writers: James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw were all native to the Emerald Isle.
You could try Memoir, by John McGahern, and The Field, by J.B. Keane, for a grim naturalistic account of life in rural Ireland in the forties and fifties.
To cheer you up and show you the brighter side of Ireland, read Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes for some brilliant Irish humour.
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