Ireland, Wales, and England

Travel Tips & Information


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Currency

Republic of Ireland: Euros € EUR
England/Wales: British Pound £ GBP

Language

Republic of Ireland: Irish Gaelic and English
Wales: Welsh and English
England: English

Time Zone

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ireland: Irish Standard Time (IST) from 3/31 to 10/27

Climate

Republic of Ireland: temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time; rains more in winter months; southwest area gets most rain, Dublin the least rain. Far north and west are the windiest.

July and August average: 60.8°F (16°C) A hot summer’s day in Ireland is 72.6 - 86°F (22.6 -30°C).

Expect chilly temperatures in the evening.

Wales: Essentially maritime climate, characterized by weather that is often cloudy, wet and windy but mild. July is normally the warmest month, with mean daily maximum temperatures varying from about 63°F (17°C) in the higher inland locations, to 65°F (19°C) along the west coast.

England: Average minimum temperature July: 69.6°F (20.9°C); temperate; moderated by prevailing southwest winds over the North Atlantic Current; more than one-half of the days are overcast

Culture/Etiquette

The United Kingdom is a land of contrasts - largely due to its rich and complex history, and the individual cultures of its four constituent 'home nations' of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and even then customs tend to differ depending which part of the four home nations you are in. It is important to realize that the UK is a proud country and its people are proud to be proud. However, 'Brits' are very tolerant and not usually offended easily.

The UK is very multi-cultural so you will hear very many different languages, especially in the cities. In London, you can probably find every language in the world spoken at some point.

Given its relatively small size, accents vary a lot across the UK, with different accents spoken by the locals in different areas. Each city has its own accent. To the untrained ear these can sometimes be difficult to understand (even people within the UK can struggle with accents from some areas). If you haven't understood what somebody has said, just ask them to repeat it, but more slowly. In Wales there is a strong movement for use of the Welsh language, to the extent that place names, road signs, etc have both the English and Welsh versions under each other. While Welsh people may use the language among themselves, communication with others will always be in English.

While not strictly taboo, it is best to avoid certain topics of conversation as they can evoke strong and occasionally unpleasant reactions:

  • Politics and religion, especially if in Northern Ireland
  • Fox hunting, in rural and nonrural areas

Generally, people do not talk about their income and are probably not interested in yours.

The English are far more modest than some cultures (eg Americans) and tend not to talk about their achievements, and if they do it is often said quietly.

The terms 'English' and 'British' do not mean the same thing. 'British' denotes someone who is from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. 'English' refers to people from England. People from Scotland are 'Scots', from Wales ‘Welsh’ and from Northern Ireland ‘Irish’. Be sure not to call someone Welsh, Scots, or Northern Irish ‘English’.

As a nation, the Brits tend not to use superlatives and may not appear terribly animated when they speak. This does not mean that they do not have strong emotions; merely that they do not choose to put them on public display. They are generally not very openly demonstrative. You'll see that the British prefer to maintain a few feet of distance between themselves and the person to whom they are speaking. If you have insulted someone, their facial expression may not change.

Republic of Ireland: The Irish have a reputation for their wit and humor – which they call having ‘the craic’ [pronounced crack]. As well as quick tongued with jokes they also make eloquent and witty speakers. They pride themselves on being able to find humor and it is often self-deprecating or ironic. It is common for the Irish to trade insults and tease one another (called “slagging”) with people to whom they are close. If you are teased, it is important to take it well and not see it as personal. They have a rich history in storytelling which was used to pass information down through the generations (poems and songs also served the same purpose).

The basic greeting is a handshake and a hello or salutation appropriate for the time of day. Eye contact denotes trust and is maintained during a greeting.

The Irish have turned speaking into an art form. Their tendency to be lyrical and poetic has resulted in a verbal eloquence. They use stories and anecdotes to relay information and value a well-crafted message. How you speak says a lot about you in Ireland. The Irish appreciate modesty and can be suspicious of people who are loud and tend to brag. Generally speaking they do not like confrontation and prefer to avoid conflict, which they attempt to avoid by being humorous and showing good manners.

"Please" and "Thank you", general manners. No smoking in any indoor/public place.

Local Crafts/Products

Republic of Ireland: Celtic art, Celtic jewelry, Irish whiskey, Guiness, organic sheep wool cable sweaters & clothing, Waterford crystal, Irish Bouzouki guitars, Bagpipes, Bodhrans, Irish harps

Wales: Cheeses, meats; pottery; textiles - intricate woolworks, blankets; Welsh quilts; Celtic jewelry

England: Stilton cheese, Worcestershire sauce, fish & chips, English Tea, Cadbury chocolates, Manchester scarves, tweed jackets and woolen sweaters, traditional straw craft, glass-engraving, Beefeaters Gin, crochet lace, Royal Albert Bone China, Craft Guild bows & fletchers, Sheffield cutlery, Axminster carpets

Places of Interest

Republic of Ireland: Brú na Bóinne – Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Hill of Tara, Trim Castle, Loughcrew ceremonial site, St. Kevin’s Monastery, Browne’s Hill Dolmen portal tomb.

Wales: Castles, Cathedrals, Dolmens, St. David’s Catherdral, Pentre Ifan, Carrig Samson Burial Grounds, Carn Igli, Pembrokeshire National Coast Park, Preseli Hills

England: Castles, Abbeys, Stone Circles, Crop Circles, Glastonbury Tor & Abbey, Avebury, Silbury Hill, Stonehenge, White Horse of Uffington

Tipping

This is entirely voluntary in the UK and people DO NOT expect tips, but like everywhere they are grateful if given one. As a rough guide: Taxi driver - 10% or round up the fare (If it £9.40 give £10); Hotel porter - £1 pound a bag; hotel chambermaid - less common, but some people leave £1.00 a day; Restaurants - if you are happy with the service no more than 10%. If paying cash then it is common to leave any change on the table but no one will bat an eye lid if you chose not to tip. It has become common in many restaurants for them to automatically add 10% or 12.5% to the bill - this is optional and you do not have to pay it. It is therefore worth checking the bill first (you may also want to ask your waiter/waitress whether they get the money). It is sometimes better to leave cash rather than use your Credit Card for a tip as that way you can be sure your server gets the money.

Replubic of Ireland: Taxi: 5-10% of fare; Baggage assistance: €1-2 per bag; Room service: €1-2 per night; Tour guides: 10% of tour cost; Restaurants: 10-15%; Bartenders: No tip expected, a tip of €1-€2 is appreciated if you received exceptional service in a group; Beverage servers/floor staff: €1-€2 for a large round is considered acceptable.

In restaurants and hotels a ‘Service Charge’ (12.5% ) is often already added on to the bill, but please note: tips added to credit cards or room charges often do not make it to the server. Ask in advance.

Voltage

Republic of Ireland: 230 Volt 50 Hz Frequency G plug

Wales: 230 Volt 50 Hz Frequency G plug

England: 230 Volt 50 Hz Frequency G plug

*Outlets typically controlled by adjacent switch.
Though nominal voltage has been officially changed to 230 V, 240 V is within tolerances and commonly found.

Warnings