The island of Ireland is 300 miles/450 km long and 190 miles/300 km wide and covers approximately 32,600 sq. miles/84,500 sq. km. Ireland is divided into four provinces – Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught, and into 32 counties. The Republic of Ireland consists of 26 counties and Northern Ireland consists of 6 counties.
Ireland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and in accordance with daylight saving, clocks are put forward one hour mid-March and back one hour at the end of October. During summer it stays light until as late as 11.00pm but by mid-December it can be dark by 4.00pm.
Irish (Gaelic) and English are the two official languages of the Republic of Ireland and street and road signs are all bilingual. In Gaeltacht areas Irish is spoken daily; however, everyone speaks English. In Northern Ireland , English is the official language.
The dominant influence on Ireland’s climate is the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, Ireland does not suffer from the extremes of temperature experienced by many other countries at a similar latitude. Average annual temperature is about 9 °C. In the middle and east of the country temperatures tend to be somewhat more extreme than in other parts of the country. Summer mean daily maximum is about 19 °C and winter mean daily minimum is about 2.5 °C in these areas. Sunshine duration is highest in the southeast of the country. Average rainfall varies between about 800 and 2,800mm.
The currency in Ireland is the euro (€). The currency in Northern Ireland is the pound sterling (£).
VAT and Tax Refunds
To be able to claim a tax refund you must be a non-European Union visitor to Ireland . Look for the ‘Tax Free Shopping’ sign in the windows of participating shops. You must complete a valid tax refund document obtained from the retailer and present the tax refund document and goods to Customs on departure from the European Union. A customs officer will check the goods and validate the tax refund document. You can receive your refund on the spot at some airports, otherwise you should mail the validated tax refund document back to the shop and a refund will be issued.
VAT is charged on almost everything, but remember that refunds only apply to goods being taken out of the country, not services.
Shops are generally open Monday to Saturday 9.00am to 6.00pm, with late-night shopping until 8.00pm or 9.00pm on Thursday at many of the larger shopping stores. On Sunday main shopping centers and some of the larger department stores open from 12.00 noon until 5.00pm or 6.00pm. Many smaller supermarkets in towns and villages also open on Sundays.
The standard electricity supply is 220 volts AC in the Republic of Ireland and 240 volts AC in Northern Ireland?d (50 cycles). Visitors may require a transformer and a plug adaptor.
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.