There are many car hire companies in Ireland and you can pick up in the cities or at the airports, though it may cost more to pick up at an airport. Most Irish car hire agencies will not accept third party collision damage insurance coverage (for example with a credit card) when you rent a car.
There are a large number of roundabouts in Ireland. Traffic already on the roundabout has right of way over traffic entering it, in contrast to ‘traffic circles’ sometimes employed in the US.
Taxis in Ireland will have green and blue decals on both the driver and passenger doors containing the word “TAXI”, the taxi license number and the transport for Ireland logo. These decals are being phased in since January 2013 and not all taxis will have them yet.
It is highly recommended that you call ahead to book a taxi. The hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast you are staying in will usually call the cab company they work closely with for your convenience. Taxis should be reasonably easy to pick up on the streets in Dublin, Belfast and Cork but may be harder to find cruising the streets in smaller cities and towns so it is often best to telephone for one. It is recommended to call the cab company in advance if possible and give them a time to be picked up, no matter if it’s 4 hours in advance or 30 minutes in advance. Work with the same cab company your hotel does and let them know your final destination if there is more than one stop. You will also need to give them a contact phone number over the phone, so if calling from a pay phone, be prepared for them to deny your claim for a taxi cab. The average waiting time may be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on demand and time of day. All taxis in the Republic of Ireland operate on a National Fare basis, so the price should be relatively easy to calculate. For more information, see the Commission of Taxi Regulation website. Always ensure that the taxi you use has a meter, and that it is used for the duration of your journey.
Car rental companies:
Car hire companies are plentiful, with all major airports and cities well catered for. The ports of Rosslare and Dún Laoghaire are served by Hertz and Dan Dooley respectively. As elsewhere, the main driver needs a credit card in their own name and a full driver’s licence for a minimum of two years without endorsement. Most rental companies apply a minimum age of 25; many require you be 28 to rent a full-size car. Rentals include minimum insurance which covers the car, leaving a deductible owed in the case of an accident. At additional cost, Super Damage Waiver (SDW) can reduce this deductible to zero.
If renting a vehicle registered before 2008, the car may have a speedometer in miles per hour, as kilometres per hour were only introduced in Ireland in 2008.
Quite a number of companies offer campervans for hire.
With improvements to the motorway network, domestic flights in Ireland have been reduced drastically, and are now only from Dublin to Kerry and Donegal.
With the exception of the Enterprise service to Belfast, all trains in Ireland are operated by the state-run Irish Rail, usually known by its Irish name, Iarnród Éireann. Most trains run to and from Dublin. Enormous expenditure on modernising the state-owned Irish Rail system is ongoing, including the introduction of many new trains. The frequency and speed of services is being considerably increased, especially on the Dublin-Cork line. If you book on-line for Intercity travel, be aware that there may be a cheaper fare option available to you at the office in the station itself. Not all special rates, e.g. for families, are available on line. The Irish network is less dense than elsewhere in Europe, and speeds are slower, with few lines being electrified, but where trains do go, they are a good option.
Advance booking can result in big savings and booking can be made a month in advance, e.g. an adult return between Kerry and Dublin can cost €75 if booked for the next day but can cost as little as €20 – 30 if booked well in advance. Trains nearly always book out for major sporting events in Dublin such as the GAA Semi-finals and Finals and major rugby and football Internationals. Pay notice to this if planning to travel on weekends during August and September. The 1st and 3rd Sunday of September see both All-Ireland finals held and buses and trains see a massive upsurge in travel as well as the main roads to the counties participating.
There are two main stations in Dublin – Connolly Station (for trains to Belfast, Sligo and Rosslare) and Heuston Station (for trains to Cork, Limerick, Ennis, Tralee, Killarney, Galway, Westport, Kilkenny and Waterford.)
In Northern Ireland, almost all services are operated by (Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) the only mainline railway in the United Kingdom not privatized in the 1990s.
In the Dublin city area the electrified DART (acronym for Dublin Area Rapid Transit) coastal railway travels from Malahide and the Howth peninsula in the North to Bray and Greystones in Co. Wicklow via Dún Laoghaire and Dublin city centre. An interchange with main line services and the Luas Red line is available at Dublin Connolly.
Dublin has a tram system known as the Luas (the Irish word for ‘speed’). There are two main lines with 54 stations between them. The red-line operates from Dublin’s Docklands starting at The Point (beside the O2 Arena) and the city centre (Connolly Station) to a large suburb south-west of the City (Tallaght). The green line runs south-north, via the city centre, from Bride’s Glen to Broombridge (where it connects with the Maynooth suburban railway line).
- Monday to Friday — 05:30 to 00:30
- Saturday — 06:15 (Green Line), 06:30 (Red Line) to 00:30
- Sunday — 06:45 to 23:30 (Green Line), 07:00 to 23:30 (Red Line)
- Bank holidays — same as Sundays, except trams run until 00:30
Tickets must be purchased from machines before boarding the tram. Tickets are checked in the Luas at random by inspectors but generally ticketing works on a trust system. Thus free rides are possible, although not advisable, as the fines for fare-dodging can be quite high. The Luas tram provides a very useful link between Dublin’s Connolly and Heuston railway stations.
Bus is the predominant form of public transport across Ireland. Urban bus networks operate within the five cities and ten of the larger towns, while a comprehensive network of regional, commuter and rural services provide service to most parts of the country. Express intercity services connect the main cities and towns with each other, while tour operators run buses from the cities to most large tourist attractions away from the cities.
Cities and towns
Urban bus networks operate in the following cities:
- Dublin – An extensive urban bus network with over 100 routes operates across the city and its surrounding suburbs. All cross-city and city centre-bound routes are operated by Dublin Bus, while local routes in suburban areas are operated by Go-Ahead Ireland, although both operators share a common fare structure and ticketing system. Buses run every 10 to 15 minutes along all main routes, and less frequently on other routes. Two routes (15 and 41) operate a 24 hour service, while a number of late night routes also run at the weekends.
- Cork – Bus Éireann operate a city network with over 20 routes. The busiest cross-city routes run every 10 to 15 minutes, while one cross-city route (220) operates a 24 hour service.
- Galway – Bus Éireann operate a city network of six routes, with the busiest running every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day.
- Limerick – Bus Éireann operate a city network of nine routes, with the busiest running every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day.
- Waterford – Bus Éireann operate a city network of five routes (W1 to W5), as well as route 360 to Tramore. All routes run every 20 or 30 minutes throughout the day.
Town bus services operate in the following towns:
- Athlone – Bus Éireann operate two cross-town routes, A1 and A2, every 30 minutes.
- Balbriggan – Bus Éireann operate the town service route B1 every 20 minutes.
- Cavan – Local Link operate three cross-town routes, C1, C2 and C3.
- Drogheda – Bus Éireann operate three town service routes. Routes D1 and D2 operate every 15 minutes between Drogheda, Bettystown and Laytown, while route 173 operates every hour around the northside and southside of the town.
- Dundalk – Bus Éireann operate town service route 174, every 30 minutes.
- Monaghan – Local Link operate two cross-town routes, M1 and M2.
- Kilkenny – City Direct operate two cross town routes, KK1 and KK2, every 30 minutes.
- Navan – Bus Éireann operate three town service routes, 110A, 110B and 110C.
- Sligo – Bus Éireann operate two town service routes. Route S1 runs north-south across the town every 30 minutes, while route S2 runs to Strandhill and Rosses Point every hour.
- Wexford – Wexford Bus operate two town loop routes, WX1 and WX2, every 30-40 minutes.
Regional, commuter and rural:
An extensive network of regional bus services operate across Ireland, serving nearly all corners of the island. However, the frequency of routes can vary significantly, from high frequency routes between nearby towns, to rural services running only once a week. The majority of services are public funded and operated by Bus Èireann, Go-Ahead Ireland and Local Link, although in some areas commercial services also play a large role in providing transport.
The main regional bus networks are:
- Bus Éireann operate an extensive network of regional bus services across Ireland. Commuter services are provided along routes into the main cities and towns, while in rural areas there are routes connecting many villages and small towns into their nearest large town or city. Most routes are shown on the Bus Éireann network map. Routes are numbered by region, with the 100’s in the east, 200’s in the south, 300’s in the midwest and southeast, and 400’s in the west and northwest.
- Go-Ahead Ireland operate commuter routes between towns in Kildare and Dublin City. These are numbered routes 120 to 130, and use the same fare structure and ticketing system as the Bus Éireann Dublin commuter services.
- Local Link is the brand name for all services funded under the rural transport programme. There are over 1,000 rural bus routes serving nearly all corners of the country. These range from regular scheduled routes running several times a day between nearby towns, to door to door routes running only one day per week. The regular scheduled routes operate like normal bus routes, with fixed routes and timetables, however the door to door routes can vary and may require advance booking, so it’s best to inquire with your nearest Local Link office the day beforehand.
Other standalone public funded routes include:
- JJ Kavanagh operate route 139 from Naas to Blanchardstown
- Go-Ahead Ireland operate route 197 from Swords to Ashbourne
- Bernard Kavanagh operate route 817 from Kilkenny to Dublin
- M&A Coaches operate route 828 from Cashel to Portlaoise
- Andrew Wharton operate route 975 from Cavan to Longford
A good network of intercity routes operates between the main cities and towns in Ireland. Most intercity routes are fast with very few stops, and take advantage of Ireland’s extensive motorway network. Intercity routes are all operated commercially, and many routes have competition along them, with more than one operator serving them, so fares are often good value. Bus Éireann Expressway are the largest operator, with over 20 intercity routes. Other operators include Dublin Coach, Aircoach, GoBus, Citylink, JJ Kavanagh and Wexford Bus.
The main intercity routes from Dublin (listed anti-clockwise) are:
- Dublin – Newry – Belfast: Bus Éireann Expressway routes X1/X2a/X5, Aircoach route 705X, Dublin Coach route 400
- Dublin – Omagh – Derry/Letterkenny: Bus Éireann Expressway route 32, Goldline Express routes X3/X4, John McGinley Coaches routes 932/933
- Dublin – Cavan – Donegal: Bus Éireann Expressway route 30
- Dublin – Longford – Sligo: Bus Éireann Expressway route 23
- Dublin – Longford – Ballina: Bus Éireann Expressway route 22
- Dublin – Athlone – Galway: Bus Éireann Expressway routes 20/X20, GoBus route 720, Citylink routes 760/761/763
- Dublin – Limerick: Bus Éireann Expressway route X12, Dublin Coach route 300, JJ Kavanagh route 735, Eireagle route 
- Dublin – Cork: Bus Éireann Expressway route X8, Aircoach route 704X, GoBus route 707
- Dublin – Kilkenny – Clonmel: JJ Kavanagh route 717
- Dublin – Carlow – Waterford: Bus Éireann Expressway route 4/X4, Dublin Coach route 600, JJ Kavanagh route 736
- Dublin – Wexford: Bus Éireann Expressway routes 2/X2, Wexford Bus route 740
Other intercity routes include:
- Derry/Letterkenny – Sligo – Galway: Bus Éireann Expressway route 64, Bus Feda route 964
- Ballina – Castlebar – Galway: Bus Éireann Expressway route 52
- Galway – Limerick – Cork: Bus Éireann Expressway routes 51/X51, Citylink route 251
- Limerick – Tralee/Killarney: Bus Éireann Expressway routes 13 & 14, Dublin Coach route 300
- Limerick – Waterford: Bus Éireann Expressway route 55
- Tralee – Cork – Waterford – Rosslare: Bus Éireann Expressway route 40
- Shannon cruises are a leisurely way of travelling from one town to another. Dromineer and Carrick on Shannon are good bases.
- There are many canals in Ireland, and it is possible to travel by barge on some of them. The Grand and Royal canals are fully navigable from Dublin to the River Shannon, leading to the cities of Limerick and Waterford. Information can be obtained from Waterways Ireland, the managing body for inland waterways.
Ireland is beautiful for biking, but use a good touring bike with solid tyres as road conditions are not always excellent. Biking along the south and west coasts you should be prepared for variable terrain, lots of hills and frequent strong headwinds. There are plenty of camp grounds along the way for long distance cyclists.
The planned Eurovelo cycle route in Ireland will connect Belfast to Dublin via Galway, and Dublin to Rosslare via Galway and Cork. Visit their website for updates on the status of the path.
Dublin has some marked bicycle lanes and a few non-road cycle tracks. Traffic is fairly busy, but a cyclist confident with road cycling in other countries should have no special difficulties (except maybe for getting used to riding on the left). Cyclists have no special right of way over cars, particularly when using shared use paths by the side of a road, but share and get equal priority when in traffic lanes. Helmets are not legally required, but widely available for those who wish to use them. Dublin Bikes has 400 bikes available to the public in around 40 stations across the city centre. The bikes are free to take for the first half hour, although a payment of €150 is required in case of the bike being stolen or damaged. When finished, return the bike back to any station and get your payment refunded.