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Should I bring cash/How do I pay for things in Ireland?

Nearly everything you want to buy in Ireland can be purchased by card. There are some instances where you may run into a cash-only scenario, especially out in the countryside or at small venues like a market.

 

To avoid your bank charging you for conversion and withdraw fees, I would recommend downloading Revolut (an online banking system specifically for transferring between currencies). Be sure to order a physical card (it’s free), and then in your Revolut account you can top up as many Euros as you need during your trip. When you return home, you can convert whatever you didn’t use back to USD.

 

Apple app store - Revolut:

https://apps.apple.com/ie/app/revolut-mobile-finance/id932493382

Google Play - Revolut:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.revolut.revolut&hl=en&gl=US

 

You can link your bank account or a debit card (faster) to your Revolut account, and add money by clicking the “Add Money” function. 

To add a euro account, click on “Accounts” and select Euro. You can add any currency your heart desires, for any trip you may go on.

Exchange USD to Euro by clicking “Exchange.” Select the accounts you want to transfer between, enter the amount of Euro you want, and then click “Buy EUR with USD”.

   

To order your physical card, click the little card icon in the upper right-hand corner and follow the steps.

 

As for how much cash you should carry, I would keep €20-40 cash in your wallet on the off-chance that you find yourself in a situation where you need to pay cash, but ATMs are abundant in Ireland and you can even pay for your taxi by card these days, so you shouldn't be in need of cash too often! It can also be helpful to keep a few coins in your pocket, as you may need to pay for the bus, or to use a public toilet.

Do I tip waiters/bartenders in Ireland?

Waiters and bartenders are paid at least minimum wage in Ireland, so you are not obligated to tip after every meal and drink. They will be delighted if you do, but it really is just an extra little tip if you feel you have had great service.

Will my phone work in Ireland/Can I get an Irish SIM card?

Many American phone providers offer some sort of International data plan, but in my experience they have never really worked properly. The good news is that you can buy an Irish SIM card for about €30, and it will give you all the data you could possibly need. Plus, you can use it anywhere in the EU, if you decide to go travelling after the wedding! 

These SIM cards can be purchased in nearly any corner store--if it looks kind of shady, you've found the right place. But the service is not shady! They are legitimate SIM cards and all you have to do is pop it in your phone and voila, you now can use your phone like normal in Ireland.

**Go to Patrick's street and write down the names of the shops that sell SIM cards**

Some Irish customs, etiquette, and other cultural bits to know in advance!

So you're coming to Ireland for the first time. Here are some observations I've made as a foreigner living on Emerald Isle that will make your time here more comfortable and easy! 

  • Irish people are super friendly. You will feel more welcome and at home than you thought possible, because all it takes is a single conversation at the pub to make a friend for life.

  • Friends order drinks in rounds. It is typical for an Irish person to ask everyone's drink order in a group and pay for the first "round." Everyone is generally expected to pay for one round throughout the night (and thus, you will pay for roughly the same amount as you would if you were just paying for your own drinks). Of course you are not obligated to go in on a round, and you can just politely decline the first offer or order on your own to keep out of the round. You're foreign, they won't care.

  • Thank the bus driver when you get off at your stop. It is customary and polite. 

  • That being said, the buses are often never on time. It will frustrate you as it frustrates me! 

  • Sssshhh...Americans have the repuation abroad for being overly loud. Pay attention around you and you'll notice that Europeans generally talk a little softer, so try to emulate this yourself when in public--especially on transportation! They will be too polite to say anything, but you will get some hard, disapproving looks. 

  • Expect to do a lot of walking. Cork is very walkable, and all of Europe relies much more on foot traffic than in the US. You may find that you're walking more than you have since your college days! Perhaps pack some painkillers to ease the ache.

  • That being said, painkillers are sold in little packs of 12 or so here, not the big containers like we're used to. You can get them at any pharmacy, or usually near the checkout line of supermarkets. They don't really have Ibruprophen here; ask for Paracetamol.

  • Cork has several local breweries, as well as local gin and whiskey distilleries. Rising Sons is one of the most popular breweries in Cork so I highly recommend looking out for their beers to try. If you're a fan of stout (such as Guinness), try Beamish--it's Cork's version of Guinness and you will truly impress the locals by ordering it! 

  • In the summer, the sun doesn't set until nearly 11pm. Enjoy those long days!

  • Remember that they drive on the left here--look both ways in the opposite direction than you're used to! 

  • The weather can go from hail one minute to brilliant sunshine the next, and July is especially unpredictable so dress in layers and be ready for all weather possibilities! 

How do I rent a car here?/Driving etiquette in general.

There are car rental companies operating out of Cork and Dublin, including straight from the airports. There are always fewer automatics available than stick-shifts, so I would recommend booking in advance!

 

Car rental companies operating out of Cork airport:

https://www.corkairport.com/to-from-the-airport/by-rental-car 

Of course you can also rent a car from Dublin airport, too: https://www.dublinairport.com/to-from-the-airport/car-rental

If you plan on renting a car from the city of Cork, these are some of your options: 

Great Island Car Rentals

Hertz Car Rental

Thrifty Car Rental

Car Rental Cork - Train Station

CARHIRE.ie Cork City

Roads and streets in Ireland are much more narrow than in the States, and driving is a bit of a negotiating game. Sometimes you will come to roads that really shouldn't be two-way, and yet they are! There are points along the way where the road has been opened up on both sides to be a little wider, and this is where people pull in to let each other pass. This will really only happen when you're further out in the country--like getting to the farm--but don't be intimidated! Be sure to give a little wave to your fellow drivers when you pass through a tricky bit as it is customary and polite here to do so. 

If you get to a two-way street where there are cars parked on one side but not the other, then the direction of traffic without stopped cars gets the right-of-way.

Oh, and do watch out for sheep on the roads.

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