The police force is known as An Garda SÃochÃ¡na or just "Garda", and police officers as Garda singular and GardaÃ plural, pronounced Gar-dee, though informally the English term Guards is usual. The term Police is rarely used, but is of course understood. Regardless of what you call them, they are courteous and approachable. Uniformed members of the Garda SÃochÃ¡na do not, unlike the Police force in Northern Ireland, carry firearms. Firearms are, however, carried by detectives and officers assigned to Regional Support Units and the Emergency Response Unit ERU, a tactical unit similar to SWAT. Police security checks at Shannon Airport can be tough if you are a solo-traveller.
Crime is relatively low by most European standards but not very different. Late night streets in larger towns and cities can be dangerous, as anywhere. If you need GardaÃ, ambulance, fire service, coast guard or mountain rescue dial 999 or 112 as the emergency number; both work from landlines and mobile phones.
Road safety is well maintained, and Ireland has a reputation for having some of the safest roads in Europe. However, most of the roads in the country are very narrow and winding, and there has been a recent increase in traffic density. Drive safely.
Non-geographic numbers are those which are not specific to a geographical region and are technically charged at the same rate regardless of where the caller is located.
|Call type||Description||Dialling Prefix|
|Freephone||Free from all phonelines||1800|
|Shared Cost Fixed||Cost one call unit generally 6.5 cent||1850|
|Shared Cost Timedalso known as Lo-call||Cost the price of a local call||1890|
|Universal Access||Cost the same as a non-local/trunk dialling call||0818|
|Premium Rate||Generally more expensive than other calls||1520 to 1580|
Phone numbers in this guide are given in the form that you would dial them from within Ireland. This form in general is a two- or three-digit area code always begins with a 0, and the local number, which may be from five to seven digits long. When dialling a land line number from another land line within the same area i.e., the same area code the area code can be ignored, and the local number only is required.
There are more mobile phones than people in the Republic of Ireland, and the majority of these are prepaid. Phone credit is available in very many retailers, usually in denominations from â¬5 to â¬40. Be aware, that some retailers charge a small commission on this credit, while many others don't, so it does pay to shop around.
All mobile numbers begin with 087, 086, 085 or 083 this code must be dialled regardless of location or operator of dialler. Mobiles are cheap by European standards to buy, and if staying for more than 2 months, it could be cheaper to buy a phone than phone cards.
A tri- or quad-band GSM phone will work, but you should check that your operator has a roaming agreement. It can be expensive to receive and make phone calls while roaming.
You can also buy a cheap prepay SIM card if you have an unlocked handset. This can be considerably cheaper as it means that you will be assigned an Irish number which you can be called at during your trip and your outgoing calls are charged at normal Irish mobile rates.
If you do not have an unlocked tri- or quad-band GSM phone then is possible to buy a mobile phone in Ireland from any of the cell phone companies. If you need a cell phone number before you travel, you can rent a phone from - Rentaphone Ireland (http://www.rentaphone-ire...).
Phones that have the 1800MHz band but not 900MHz will work but coverage is extremely poor outside urban areas.
Ireland has 4 mobile networks prefix code in brackets. Additional virtual networks such as Tesco mobile exit which piggy-back on the infrastructure of another network
|Vodafone||GSM 900/1800/UMTS 2100||087|
|O2||GSM 900/1800/UMTS 2100||086|
|Meteor||GSM 900/1800/UMTS 2100||085|
|3 Three||UMTS 2100||083|
However, customers who change between networks have the option to retain their full existing number, so it is possible for a Vodafone customer to have an 085 prefixed number, for instance. Digiweb are expected to launch services in the near future, with a prefix code of 088.
English is spoken everywhere but Irish or Irish Gaelic Gaeilge is the first official language. It is part of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family of languages.
Most people have some understanding of Irish but it is used as a first language by only about 30,000 people, most of whom live in rural areas known as the Gaeltachts. About 40% c. 1,500,000 of people in the Republic claim to understand and speak the language, although some people will exaggerate their fluency in Irish when discussing the matter with foreigners.
As the Gaeltachts are generally scenic areas it is likely that visitors will go there. Tourists will not be expected to speak Irish but it will be noticeable on road signs, etc. For instance, a law was recently passed that changes the name of Dingle, County Kerry to An Daingean, the Irish version. This should not confuse visitors, as almost all recent maps carry placenames in both languages in Gaeltacht districts.
In order to enter certain Irish Universities, it is necessary for Irish citizens to have taken Irish to Leaving Certificate Examinations taken on leaving secondary or high school level, and passed. Indeed it is a compulsory language at school in the Republic, although its method of teaching has come under criticism. Nevertheless, although it has come under threat, and some resent being forced to learn the language, others see use of the language as an expression of national pride.
There is some Irish language broadcasting on TV and radio. Irish is related and very similar but not identical to Scots Gaelic. Of the four provinces, only one Leinster does not have its own dialect in the language. The Ulster dialect has most in common with Scots Gaelic. However, some Irish people may take offense if you call Irish "Gaelic" as this is seen as being an incorrect term and refers to the entire family of languages that includes Irish, Manx, and Scots Gaelic. Referring to it simply as "Irish" is a fine alternative. It is not necessary to know any Irish in order to get around in Ireland. See also: Irish phrasebook
Tourist keen to learn a few words of the Irish language often fall for a prank where they are taught swearing in Irish but told they are learning a greeting or other similar phrase. This can cause embarrassment when this is later pointed out to them.
Visitors to Ireland will find the Irish one of the nicest nationalities in the world. It is not uncommon for locals to approach confused looking visitors and offer their help.
Often, in smaller towns and villages and especially on a country road, if you walk past somebody it is customary to say hello. They may also ask you "how are you?", or another similar variation. It is polite to respond to this greeting but it is not expected that you would give any detail on how you really are, if the person is a stranger - a simple hello or "how are you?" or a simple comment on the weather will suffice! In this regard, try something like "Grand day!" - if it isn't raining, of course. To which the response will generally be "It is indeed, thank God".
When driving on rural roads, particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass, it is customary to wave a thanks to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel. This is particularly prevalent in rural areas of the West of Ireland where many drivers will automatically wave at everyone who drives past them. A polite hand wave or even with just the index finger raised from the steering wheel is customary and will be appreciated.
When accepting gifts, a polite refusal such as, "no really you shouldn't" is common after the first offer of the item. Usually, this is followed with an insistence that the gift or offer is accepted, at which point your answer is likely to become more recognized. However, some people can be very persuasive - this isn't meant to be over-bearing, just courteous.
One thing which some visitors may find disconcerting is the response an Irish person may give to a "thank you". Most Irish people will respond with something along the lines of "It was nothing" or "not at all". This does not mean that they didn't try hard to please, but rather it is meant to suggest "I was happy to do it for you, so it was not any great difficulty" even though it may have been!.
The Republic of Ireland and Britain undoubtedly have notable similarities, but Irish people generally take great pride in the cultural differences that also exist between Ireland and Britain. Locals can be quite offended by tourists who do not acknowledge or show respect to these differences. Indeed, it is not uncommon for foreigners both before and after arrival into the country to foolishly assume that Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom like Scotland or Wales. This incorrect assumption will generally cause great offense to locals, who take pride in the Republic of Ireland's status as a state independent of the United Kingdom.
Following from this may lead to curiosity about the differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Public or semi-public discussions about religious differences, political views and 20th century troubles are generally avoided by locals on both sides of the border. This is because opinions between individuals are so vastly divided and unyielding, that most Irish people of moderate views have grown accustomed to simply avoiding the topics in polite conversation. Most Irish are moderate in their view but it is wise to avoid any political or religious discussion unless it is mentioned to you. Tourists who are often fascinated by the history of the division would be advised to show respect and caution if they choose to discuss the differences of opinion that still exist on historical matters.
The Irish are renowned for their upbeat sense of humor, but their humor can sometimes be difficult to understand for more unfamiliar tourists. Joking on almost any topic will be welcomed, although even mild racism is not appreciated by the majority. Most Irish people are quite happy for friendly jibes regarding the Irish love of potatoes and drinking alcohol. However, any jokes regarding the potato famine of the 19th Century in which over a million people died, could in many instances cause a similar amount of offense as joking about the September 11, 2001 attacks would in the United States.
LGBT visitors will find the vast majority of Irish accepting of Same-Sex couples. Ireland has recently enacted civil unions and opinion polls show a large majority of Irish in favor of same sex marriage. Care should be taken outside cities and large towns. Conservative values still hold dear in rural Ireland but most rural people will follow a "if you don't annoy us we won't annoy you" attitude. Ireland has very strong anti-discrimination laws and any breach should be notified to the Equality Authority. Most cities have a strong gay scene but gay people will be welcomed in all clubs and bars. Common sense should prevail in all areas but particular care should be taken in poorer areas. Some gay visitors may find themselves the butt of mild homophobia in more working class areas. However this is normally the Irish sense of humor at its most intolerant. If one feels this is not the case then common sense should prevail and if they feel in danger the Garda should be called.
Pay phones are fairly widely available but becoming less so and most take euro coins, prepaid calling cards and major credit cards. You can also reverse charges/call collect or use your calling card by following the instructions on the display.
for dial internationally: 00 + country code + area code + local number
To dial Northern Ireland from Ireland a special code exists; drop the 028 area code from the local Northern Ireland and replace it with 048. This is then charged at the cheaper National Irish rate, instead of an international rate.
To dial an Irish number from within Ireland: Simply dial all of the digits including the area code. You can, optionally, drop the area code if you're calling from within that area, but it makes no difference to the cost or routing.
Fixed line numbers have the following area codes:
01 Dublin and parts of surrounding counties
02x Cork area
04xx parts of Wicklow and North-East midlands and Northern Ireland (048)
05x Midlands and South-East
06x South-West and Mid-West)
08x Mobile phones
09xx Midlands and West
Operator service is unavailable from pay phones or mobile phones.
Emergency Service dial 999 or 112 Pan European code that runs in parallel. This is the equivilant of 911 in the US/Canada and is free from any phone.
Directory information is provided by competing operators through the following codes call charges vary depending on what they're offering and you'll see 118 codes advertised heavily:
118 11 eircom
118 50 conduit
These companies will usually offer call completion, but at a very high price, and all of them will send the number by SMS to your mobile if you're calling from it.
Since March 2004 almost all enclosed places of work, including bars, restaurants, cafÃ©s, etc., in Ireland have been designated as smoke-free. Rooms in Hotels and Bed & Breakfast establishments are not required by law to be smoke-free. Even though they are not obliged to enforce the ban, owners of these establishments are, however, free to do so if they wish. Most hotels have designated some bedrooms or floors as smoking and some as non-smoking, so you should specify at the time of booking if you have a preference either way. The smoking ban also applies to common areas within buildings. This means for example that corridors, lobby areas and reception areas of buildings such as apartment blocks and hotels are also covered under the law.
Most larger bars and cafÃ©s will have a covered outdoor smoking area, often with heating. If one does not exist be aware that it is illegal to consume alcohol on the street so you may have to leave your drink at the bar.
Any person found guilty of breaching the ban on smoking in the workplace may be subject to a fine of up to â¬3,000.