Crosstown Cottage, Killarney – The featured photograph above is a view of Crosstown Cottage located in near Killarney town, County Kerry, Ireland. Learn more about this cottage at Airbnb. Find out more about the forthcoming nonfiction book Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota.
Pack, plan for adventure smarter
Jannet L. Walsh
July 27, 2022
Dublin Township, Swift County
Do as I say about packing and planning trips to Ireland, and not what I do.
Packing and planning for international travel is especially difficult with news headlines include lost luggage, delayed, or cancelled flights, stranded passengers, all adding stress to international travel, including travel to the island of Ireland.
Now with five trips during my life to Ireland, and about four years living and working in Europe, I wish I could say I learned to minimize my luggage, but it’s challenging.
I’ve put together a list from official tourism travel websites from both countries in Ireland, Ireland.com, and other resources to lessen the stress of air travel. Northern Ireland has an official tourism website, Discover Northern Ireland. View and download a map of Ireland from Tourism Ireland, and more publications for inspiration and trip planning.
Geography of Ireland, political borders
Island of Ireland, two countries: Ireland and Northern Ireland
There are two countries on the island of Ireland. The country of Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom (UK), is in the northeast corner of the island. The country of Ireland, independent from British rule since 1922, occupies most of the island of Ireland, with a shared border with Northern Island. It would be wise to avoid referencing the country of Ireland as Southern Ireland as there is no country by that name, and might not sit well with local Irish folks. The European Union lists Ireland as part of the 27 member countries. Northern Ireland, part of UK, is no longer part of the European Union, after departure on January 31, 2020, according to official Northern Ireland website.
Constitutional name is Éire, Ireland
Take a glimpse at the Constitution of Ireland, Article 4, enacted by the Irish people, 1937, stating, “The name of the State is Éire, sound like EH-R-ah, or, in the English language, Ireland.” National Geographic for Kids, also great for adults, offers quick profiles of Ireland and Northern Ireland (UK), including, facts, history, culture, maps and more. Read more about Irish Constitution at Citizens Information.
Article 5 of the Irish Constitution states, “Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state.” If you are wondering if you should say Republic of Ireland, or Ireland, the official website of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, head of state, says on the home page, President of Ireland. Additionally, passports from Ireland read Éire and Ireland, on their cover, with no mention of Republic of Ireland. If you are ever asked to name the counties of Ireland, you can now reply: Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Official Travel Advisories
Citizens of the United States should check with official sources if you have any travel concerns, see U.S. Department of State for the latest Ireland Travel Advisory for updates, long with quick facts about vaccinations and more. Northern Ireland is listed as United Kingdom.
- U.S. Department of State: Learn before you go, view check lists
How to say Taoiseach, languages of Ireland
The government of Ireland, a constitutional democracy, with the head of government, Taoiseach Michéal Martin. Taoiseach, sounds like tay-shuh, the Prime Minister of Ireland. Your ability to pronounce Taoiseach with ease will certainly gain brownie points with local Irish folks as it’s apparently a difficult word to say for people outside of Ireland.
The Belfast Telegraph shares how United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Liz Truss missed the pronunciation of Taoiseach, instead saying tea sock. A tea sock is a filter used to strain tea leaves while serving and pouring tea. Learn about how the Irish speak, and their languages, ranging from English and Irish (Gaeilge) in Ireland, Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland, and the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas on the west coast.
Irish government, Gardaí and Leinster House
While walking on Kildare Street in Dublin in early January 2019, I asked a smiling Irish police officer, Garda Síochána, the national police force of Ireland, or Gardaí, what was the name of the large house behind him. He replied, “It’s the Irish White House.” The answer might be better stated it’s the Irish capitol building, but he was close enough as I didn’t know it was Leinster House, home to the Irish parliament. Garda Síochána means guardians of the peace in English, pronounced Gar-dah Shee-oh-Cahn-nah.
Oireachtas, sounds like ee-ruhk- tuhz, is the national parliament of Ireland which consists of the President (Head of Irish State), Dáil Éireann (Lower House of Oireachtas, Dáil for short), and Seanad Éireann (Upper House of The Oireachtas), or simply the Senate. Learn more about the Irish Houses of the Oireachtas, including a virtual tour of the Oireachtas online. Leinster House is located on Kildare Street in Dublin, near the National Museum of Archaeology, with limited visits by the public on official business.
Regions of travel, Ireland
Where to go, island of Ireland: Six regions defined by Ireland.com
- Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland adventures, official tourism website for entire island of Ireland
Discover Northern Ireland, official tourism website of Northern Ireland
- Belfast, Northern Ireland, Capital City
Home of Titanic
The Green Light and Titanic Walkway
- Dublin, Ireland, Capital City
UNESCO City of Literature, history
- Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands
Riverside towns and villages, forests, waterways
- Ireland’s Ancient East
5,000 years of hidden history, landscapes
- Wild Atlantic Way
Soaring cliffs, small towns, coastal touring route
Getting to Ireland, getting around
Ireland open all year
Start thinking about when you plan to travel to travel to Ireland. Travel to Ireland is not limited to summer months, and you might consider travel in fall, winter, or spring.
Getting to Ireland: Flights and ferries
You can travel direct by plane or ferry to Ireland, depending on where you originate your travels. Shannon Airport and Dublin Airport are the two main airports. Explore options for travel to regional airports in Ireland.
Getting around Ireland
After arriving in Ireland, there’s many options for getting around. Car, bus, train, taxi, ferry, cycle, and airplane are a few ways to get around Ireland after you arrive. Learn more about options for transportation in Ireland.
You might consider renting a car, or as called in Ireland, hire a car. Cars travel on the left side of the road, with driver seated in the right front seat nearest the center of the road if the road is divided. If you travel in rural area, you might be on a one lane or one-track road and will need to negotiate the road with oncoming traffic, or sheep, like in the Black Valley, County Kerry, or other locations. Traveling in Northern Ireland, speed limits are posted in miles, and kilometers in Ireland. Seat belts are required for the entire island of Ireland. Learn more about driving laws in Ireland, and what’s possible at Ireland.com. Learn about bus, train, taxi, ferry, and more options for transportation during your visit to Ireland.
Remote Ireland: mountains and lakes in Killarney
Spending Christmas in Killarney, or another location in Ireland, with all the folks at home is one of my most memorial trips to Ireland. I spent Christmas in rural Killarney December 2018 at Shamrock Cottage, located on the walking path of the Kerry Way. This area is in the remote Black Valley, home to the Gap of Dunloe and the famous horse and traps, while discovering for my Irish roots in County Kerry. Here is a detailed Google map of the Kerry Way with locations for accommodations.
I enlisted the help of local Kerry residents to help me find my family roots, acting as detective and tourist. You can start learning the words to Christmas in Killarney made famous by singer Bing Crosby, the Irish Rovers and more. View a modern version of the song along with lyrics at YouTube. The best time to travel depends on your schedule, and your plans.
Walking around Ireland
Getting around by foot in Ireland is an incredible way to meet nature in Ireland and travel along the Dingle Way, Kerry Way, Wicklow Way, Burren Way, and other established walking paths. Ireland.com lists walks, maps, along with hiking shoes and other gear. There are resources, travel agencies, tour books and more you can explore. Tripadvisor lists both city walks and grand nature walks. Consider getting your own books and maps for planning your walks in Ireland.
Here is a list of walking guides in Ireland, The Ireland Walking Guide. I’ve walked parts of the Kerry Way, and highly recommend day walks. The Ordnance Survey Maps for Ireland are excellent and are very detailed. Ordnance maps are also very helpful if you are driving back country roads seeking farms and townlands of your ancestors or remote locations as many rural roads do not have names posted. Your smartphone GPS might not be as helpful as having a map in your hands when you are lost. Consider bringing a small pocket compass for orientation.
Travel documents, emergencies
Travel documents: Make copies of important travel papers
Tour guide Luke of Galway City, Ireland, Qualified Irish National Tour Guide with Destination Ireland Tours, specializes in tours related movie The Quiet Man, along with other tours, is headquartered in Galway, Ireland. He sent me an email in late June 2022, stating he knew the location of a 1953 Kodachrome image taken by my late father, Martin J. Walsh Jr. of Murdock, Minnesota. My dad’s vintage tour bus photo is the main feature photo of my story Seeing Ireland through my father’s vintage Kodachrome images.
Sure enough, Luke suggests the location of my dad’s 1953 photos is approximately 144 Bohermore, Galway, in County Galway, Ireland, the present-day location of Tonery’s Bar. Bohermore is an area of Galway, and it was the main road into the city from the east in medieval times. View map below, or view at Google Maps.
He mentions travelers need to be prepared for the unexpected, as emergencies are sure to happen. He shared on social media recently, “It’s a good idea to take photocopies of important documents and bring a copy with you, and maybe leave a copy at home with someone you trust.”
Important travel documents include:
- Driver’s license
- Bank and credit cards
- Travel insurance policy
- Travel documents
“This means if your luggage goes missing or a bag is stolen containing these important documents, you will have a copy with you, including information on what to do if something goes wrong, for example contact details for your bank or travel insurance company,” said Luke.
How to carry passport, smartphone
Here’s what I do: Carry your passport, cash, credit cards, travel documents in a secure hidden travel pouch always attached to you. It’s best if hidden under coat or other garments. Consider wearing a coat or outerwear that’s a size larger than usual to accommodate for hiding your values. Secure your smartphone in a zippered, closed pocket, not an open pocket. If your important items are hidden and secured, then you have a better change of surviving the actions of thieves when your valuable documents are in your backpack or other bags. Learn more tricks to outsmart pickpockets and thieves by travel professional Rick Steve.
Customs, visas and passports, documents, duty and tax-free allowances, sales tax (VAT) and more
Emergencies, health, and money
- PRIORITY – Contact your banks, credit cards: Make sure contact all your credit card companies before heading out on any international travel. It might appear as fraud, and you could be stranded with no access to your money.
- Emergencies: Who to call, vehicle breakdowns, tourist support services
- Traveler Health: Medical and travel insurance, pharmacies, opticians
Eyeglasses: Carry extra pair of prescription glasses and prescription card for eye glasses
- Money: Euros, pound sterling
Packing for Ireland
One bag travel, if possible
The less you must manage or haul around in your luggage, the less there is to go missing. Check directly with your airlines about carry-on luggage and other baggage limits and requirements.
Wear your bulkiest items day of travel, if possible
What I try to do: One packing hack is to wear your bulkiest items, sweaters and boots, on the day of travel allowing for more space in your luggage. This also means you will be prepared if there’s delayed flights, airline strikes, or other emergencies. Your wardrobe might need to cover four seasons in one day in Ireland. Prepare to have a small packable umbrella, rain coat, waterproof boots, sweater, hat, gloves and more.
Four-step packing list for travel clothing
This is what I try to do, but does not always work.
Wear: Plan one outfit to wear for day of travel to Ireland with bulkiest items, like hiking boots, and outerwear (jackets or coats).
Spare: Pack one spare outfit in your bags.
Double duty: Pack one outfit for sleeping that can double for daytime outfit, such as comfortable workout outfit or other.
Ireland sells clothing: Buy what you need in Ireland if necessary.
Where to sleep in Ireland
Where to stay in Ireland: hotels, hostels, cottages, self-catering
There’s many options to stay in Ireland ranging from self-catering, bed and breakfast, hotels, hostels and more. Here’s an overview of places to call home in Ireland found at Ireland.com.
- Ask friends and family where they stayed in Ireland
- Before booking a room, understand what happens if you need to change or cancel reservation.
- Look beyond hotels, consider self-catering locations like cottages.
- My favorite places to stay are Irish cottages as it’s wonderful to meet local Irish families, and have an inside connection to Ireland.
A few places I’ve stayed in Ireland, not a complete list as I can recommend all places I’ve stayed! I’ve not included the Dublin hotel that failed to mention the night located directly under my room.
- Stauntons on the Green, next to St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin
- The Shelbourne, next to St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin
- The Arbutus Hotel, Buckley’s Bar attached with Irish music, Killarney, County Kerry
- Killarney Royal, Killarney
- Shamrock Cottage, Black Valley and Gap of Dunloe, rural Killarney
- Crosstown Cottage, rural Killarney
- WatersEdge, Cobh, County Cork
Killarney tours, horse and carts
Day trips out of Killarney, County Kerry – I on several tours by bus out of Killarney and was able to see more than if I was driving. I booked trips a few days before, but you can also book in advance. I’ve had great experiences with Deros Tours located in Killarney. A few of the their tours include: Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Ring of Kerry and Dingle, private tours, Gap of Dunloe, trail tours and more.
Horse and cart tours in Killarney – You can just show up at the Killarney jarvey stand to take a horse and cart tour around Killarney or the Killarney National Park located near St. Mary’s Church of Ireland on Kenmare Place and Muckross Road. See map below for the jarvey stand, with reference as the Haha, an enclosure for horse can cart drivers. If you see a driver with with a cowboy hat by the name of Martin McCarthy featured in my video, you are sure to have a great ride and storyteller.
Gadgets, electricity, postage and tipping
Gadgets, cameras, and more
Electrical plugs in Ireland are three-pronged, and the electricity supply is 230v/50hz. Bring an adapter so you can keep your devices charged up. Check with what’s possible with requirements for your device and the manufacturer of your gadgets or laptops. Consider a portable power bank to avoid the dreaded dead battery for cameras and smartphones. Learn more about gadgets and requirements for power in Ireland.
Postcards and Irish postage stamp
You can’t use US postage stamps to send mail from Ireland. I can still remember my late aunt Agnes tell me this fact when I visited Ireland for the first time in the 1980s. There are several locations to buy postage stamps in Ireland for postcards to send back home. Ask local Irish folks to direct you to a post office about buying stamps. If you are in Dublin, consider visiting the historic General Post Office, GPO, located on O’Connell Street, headquarters to the An Post, the Irish Postal Service. You can buy postage stamps and visit the GPO Museum Witness History, and see the location know as a strong hold for Irish independence during the 1916 Rising against British rule.
Shipping souvenirs, send through post, carry in luggage
My last trip in Ireland in January 2019, I shipped a box of personal items home to avoid carrying them in my luggage. The hotel I stayed at in Dublin had An Post shipping boxes ready, and help me send off my box. You can inquire at any Irish post office when you are in Ireland or enlist help. When you are buying souvenirs, especially bulky wool items like Aran sweater, ask before your buy if the store will ship your purchase. If you want to avoid carrying luggage to Ireland, an option is to send your luggage from US to Ireland. I almost did this during my last trip, instead reduced the contents of my luggage.
Tipping in Ireland
If want to know what is appropriate for tipping in Ireland, learn about suggestions specific to restaurants, pubs, taxi drivers, tour guides and more with guidelines by Vagabond Tours of Ireland.
Plan wisely for your trip to Ireland, and enjoy your adventures!
View additional details for Irish travel online at, Travel to Ireland Guide complied by Jannet L. Walsh.
About the writer – Jannet L. Walsh, of Murdock, Minnesota, is a photographer, writer, and educator. She is the author of the forthcoming creative nonfiction quest narrative “Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota,” scheduled for publication in 2022 by Shanti Arts Publishing. You can follow Walsh on Facebook and Twitter, and her other social media channels, with hashtag #IrishFamilyHistoryDetective.