Getting to Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is served by 4 international airports, Dublin, Shannon in County Clare , Cork ( IATA : ORK ) and Ireland West, Knock in County Mayo. Dublin, the 8th largest airport in Europe, is by far the largest and most connected airport, with flights to many cities in the US, Canada, the UK, continental Europe and the Middle East. Shannon, close to the city of Limerick, also has flights to the US, Canada, Middle East, the UK and Europe. Cork has flights to most UK destinations and a wide variety of European cities. It is easily accessed from any of the major European hubs, including all of the London airports. Knock Airport has daily scheduled flights to several UK cities as well as to Boston and New York in USA, as well as various chartered flights to (mostly) holiday destinations in Europe.
The City of Derry Airport, and both Belfast airports (both the City and International) are within a relatively short distance from the North/South border, especially the former. (These three airports being located within Northern Ireland).
Ireland's two major airlines Aer Lingus and Ryanair are low cost carriers. This means that passengers will be charged for every extra including airport check-in (Ryanair only), checking in baggage, food onboard, etc. Ryanair also charge for the privilege of being one of the first to board the plane. Comprehensive listings of airlines flying directly into Ireland, along with destinations and timetables, can be found on the Dublin, Shannon, Cork and Knock airport websites. A regional service is also provided by Aer Arann which provides domestic flights within Ireland and international flights mainly to and from the United Kingdom.
The only cross-border train is the Enterprise service jointly run by Irish Rail and Northern Ireland Railways from Belfast Central to Dublin Connolly.
A Rail-Sail Scheme is also available, linking Stena Line or Irish Ferries Ferry companies with Train Companies in Great Britain and Ireland. They mainly operate from UK cities across the various Irish and British Rail Network via the Dublin-Holyhead, Rosslare-Fishguard and Rosslare-Pembroke sailing routes.
Cross border services are operated by Ulsterbus and Bus Eireann , and various privately-owned companies servicing County Donegal.
Eurolines operate services to Great Britain and beyond in conjunction with Bus Eireann and National Express . Bus Eireann also operates frequent services to and from Eastern Europe, in particular Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Ireland is served by numerous services from Great Britain and France:
- Norfolkline - operate freight and passenger services from Liverpool to Dublin.
- Irish Ferries travel from Holyhead, North Wales, to Dublin, and from Pembroke, South Wales, to Rosslare.
- Stena Line connects Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire (Co. Dublin) (about 8 km south of Dublin city centre), and Fishguard, South Wales, to Rosslare.
- Irish Ferries and Brittany Ferries provide services from France (e.g. Roscoff) to Rosslare and Cork. Irish Ferries is sometimes significantly cheaper than Brittany Ferries, so compare prices.
- Irish Sea Express - Liverpool to Dublin
- P&O Irish Sea - north-west England to Dublin
- Steam Packet Sea Cat - Operate services between north-west England (mainly Liverpool) to Dublin
- Fastnet Line provide a daily service from Swansea in South Wales to Cork. Currently suspended, this service will resume in March 2010. The service ran previously as Swansea Cork Ferries which no longer operates.
From Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Due to ROI's long relationship with the UK, there are no passport controls at land border crossing points. In fact, the border is rarely signposted and it is often difficult to tell when you have crossed from the Republic into the Northern Ireland and vice-versa. The most obvious signal is that the roadsigns on the Republic side are mostly bilingual, in Irish and English, and speed limits and distances are shown in kilometres. You may also notice changes in lines in the road; yellow thick lines in the south and white thin lines in Northern Ireland. When arriving at an Irish airport from Great Britain, you will be required to produce photo ID (driver's licence or passport) to prove that you are a British or Irish citizen. EU/EEA nationals do not need passports for travel between the two, but all other foreign nationals need a passport.
However, despite the lack of border controls, be keenly aware that you must possess a valid Irish visa if required by your nationality, or you risk being deported for illegal presence in Ireland.