Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thinking of Visiting Ireland? Now's the Time!

I just read an article about visiting Ireland. The headline, 'The Emerald Isle - Ireland - is calling to You,' written by one Joy Crutchfield, was published in the McAlester News-Capital, apparently one of the only US newspapers still being published (they must still do their reading in Southeast Oklahoma - for a complete copy of the article, click here).

Joan makes a great case for the ever-increasing value of visiting Ireland right now. Hotels, restaurants, and almost everything else that's tourist related are tripping over themselves to do some deals. And that means that prices are falling like a brick.

For instance, Joan quotes a self-drive package that seems to include hotel stays in Waterford, Killarney, Limerick, Galway and Dublin for a mere $789. Mind you, and because it's a self-drive package, and if you're from the States, you'll have to get used to driving on the other side of the road. But that's another matter.

However, play it really smart and you could enjoy a few days in Ireland for a very few bucks. With any luck, the summer sun will decide to show its head, which means that you'll avoid being rained on.

Getting Here
Depending on where you live, you might first check with your local travel agent in that 'packaged' holidays are becoming less and less expensive. Which means, of course, that travel to and from Ireland is thrown in as part of the total cost. The downside, of course, is that your idea of what you'd like to see must exactly match someone else's itinerary. If you're more adventurous, however, you might decide on a DIY holiday strategy. So check out a couple of airlines for direct (or almost direct) flights into Ireland from the United States and much of the rest of Europe. These include, but are not limited to, Aer Lingus, Swiss Air, American Airlines, US Airways, Continental, Delta, and many many more. (For a complete list of airlines that fly to/from Ireland, and various accommodation strategies, see A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland).

Then Stay Here Inexpensively
Want to sample some real Irish living? This country has thousands of inexpensive - yet delightful - bed & breakfasts. They're dotted all over the country, and many proprietors will even provide you with a welcoming cup of tea. For a comprehsnvie list of B&Bs, check out the following websites:

Prices run from about €35 per person sharing (much less expensive than even a year ago), but those prices are influenced by season, location, and B&B quality. As the name says, breakfast is included in the price, however. And Irish breakfasts are something that you'll never forget: Irish sausages, back rasher, mushrooms, beans, an egg, toast, brown bread, and the scrumptious pot of tea. Enough to keep you going for most of the day, and just yummy!

Renting a Car
While Ireland has a fairly decent (if expensive) bus and rail service, you'll want to rent a car to travel to places off the beaten path. If you're of a mind, try your hand at driving on the left hand side of the road by renting your own powered transport. Most international car rental companies are located in Ireland (Avis, Hertz, Budget and similar), but just Google 'Car Rental Ireland' for comprehensive lists. Car rental costs have plummeted in Ireland. For instance, Budget Rent a Car is advertising an economy 2 door for 1 week at €79, not including insurance. Petrol (or diesel, depending on your car) is expensive here: about 3 to 4 times the cost of a gallon of US gasoline. But Ireland is a small country, so you're not going to break the bank.

Where to Go
Now that completely depends on your sense of adventure, and what turns you on. I'm a nature and seaside freak, so my favourite ports of call include Counties Cork, Galway, Sligo, Mayo, and Donegal. Each of these counties has something special to offer: exceptional vistas, wonderful towns, great people, and some extraordinary memories when you get home from it all.

I particularly enjoy the Aran Islands. Located off the coast of County Galway, these three islands (Inis Mor, Inis Meain, Inis Oirr) are simply heavenly: cliffs, landscapes of rock, and a hale and hearty people that are simply delightful. While you're there, you'll perhaps pick up a few words of Gaelic (spoken by the locals). Mind you, it's a tough language - after 27 years living here, I think I can say 'Teacher, milk, water, and sugar' in the Irish. And that's about it.

To get to the Aran Islands, go to Galway City and keep heading west. Drive on to Rossaveal (still in County Galway, and not quite yet to Connemara), and look for the ferry signs. For more information on the Aran Islands go to And for more information on visiting Ireland, try the Bord Failte website:



  1. Hello Tom!

    I'm so thrilled to have stumbled across your blog. I am planning to come to Ireland to live and work for a couple of years (maybe longer) with my husband and our two girls. We don't know how we'll get there or where we'll live or anything, but we're up for a big adventure and we can't wait.

    Looking forward to reading many more of your wonderful, inspiring posts!


    1. Ireland is a very beautiful place to live and visit. There are so many good places in Ireland which are very adventurous and unique. There are so many things, which make Ireland a perfect country to live.
      Family holidays in Ireland