Ireland FAQs - Quick Links
Our friends over on the Vagabond & Driftwood Community Group have been asking for some basic information about Ireland in a blog for a while now.
And who are we to refuse the VagAlumni?!
Read on to find out everything you've ever wanted to know about Ireland... Including maps of Ireland's two countries and 32 counties.
The Wild Atlantic Way stretches 2,750 km (1,700 miles) along the entire western coastline of the Republic of Ireland.
It's a popular scenic coastal touring route for visitors to the island.
But did you know that the Wild Atlantic Way is only one of three touring regions in the Republic of Ireland? The others are Ireland's Ancient East and the Hidden Heartlands.
The Wild Atlantic Way has one end in Cork, in the south, with its other end in Donegal, in the north.
Although the route itself hugs the coast and is signposted all the way, there are endless opportunities to detour off the Wild Atlantic Way to surrounding towns and attractions.
What's the best tour of the Wild Atlantic Way? You'll know this amazing route like the back of your hand after our 8 Day Vagabond Wild Irish Rover Tour
Part of the island of Ireland — Northern Ireland — is part of the UK (United Kingdom). It's located in the north and northeastern corner of Ireland.
This basic fact about Ireland is sometimes misunderstood by visitors, who assume Ireland is either entirely independent or still ruled by the UK.
The larger portion of the island is called the Republic of Ireland (or more normally, Ireland).
You will hardly notice the border crossing between the two countries. There are no passport controls and no customs checks.
The southern part of Ireland has been independent for a long time; first as the Irish Free State and then as the Republic of Ireland. It is no longer a part of the UK.
The Republic of Ireland is part of the EU (European Union trading bloc).
It is — mostly — located in the southern two-thirds of the island. Because of the county of Donegal, Ireland is the only country in the world where its most northerly tip is in the south…
The islands of Ireland and Britain are not connected by land.
While parts of eastern Ireland are not far from parts of western Britain, travellers must use a plane or boat to visit each island.
The closest part of Ireland to Britain is the coast of Antrim in Northern Ireland. The distance from Antrim to the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland is approximately 19km (12 miles) at its narrowest.
The euro (€) is used in the Republic of Ireland.
As part of the UK, Northern Ireland uses the pound sterling (£).
Find out more about money, banking and credit cards in Ireland
Two countries means two capital cities.
Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland. It's also the largest city on the island and the gateway city for our small-group tours.
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland.
The 32 Counties of Ireland
Ireland is divided into thirty-two counties.
There are 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland and 6 in Northern Ireland.
Each county has a principal town, its own crest and county colours. They even have nicknames!
The largest county in Ireland is Cork. It's known as the Rebel County.
The smallest county in Ireland is Louth. It's known as the Wee County.
Much pride and passion is expressed when different counties face each other in sport. As you tour Ireland, watch out for 'county colour' flags flying from gateways, houses and shops.
Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht are the four provinces of Ireland.
But unless you're a sports fan, Ireland's four provinces don't crop up in daily life too often.
Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht are historical divisions. Long ago, they had their own rulers.
The people and accents of each province carry a distinct character. They're useful to gaining a deeper understanding of Ireland.
Connacht has 5 counties:
Leinster has 12 counties:
Munster has 6 counties:
Ulster has 9 counties:
An important distinction lies between Ulster and Northern Ireland. While they cover lots of the same territory, Ulster has 9 counties but Northern Ireland only has 6. Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan are Ulster counties in the Republic of Ireland.
Ready For Your Irish Geography Practical?
We hope you've found these facts about Ireland interesting.
To experience the full glory of Irish geography, of course, you will need to get over here for a practical exam.
Take your pick from our small-group tours that follow the Wild Atlantic Way.
Or wander the wonderful byways of Northern Ireland.
Whichever destination in Ireland you choose, you'll be delighted to taste and discover the island's food renaissance, with amazingly fresh, local produce and fantastic restaurants around every corner.