Traveling Ireland by Rail
I was set on going to Ireland — but being a subway-riding, taxi-hailing New Yorker — had no desire to drive a car through winding country lanes on the left side of the road. So when an Ireland by Rail package popped up, I booked it the very next day.
Although I was initially concerned that I would miss the charm of the Irish landscape by traveling via trains rather than car, my fear abated shortly into the first train journey from Dublin to Cork when we sped past pastures of grazing cows and rolling green hills dotted with white sheep.
An added perk of the train that I hadn’t anticipated was conversation with (the famously friendly) Irishmen and women. After spending the two-and-a-half hour train ride to Cork chatting with two women on their way to Ireland’s second city for the weekend, I knew where to get a cab at the train station, how to get to Blarney Castle the next day, and a little bit about the revitalization of the Irish language.
I also picked up a few tips about the Irish Rail system:
- If you book your tickets online (irishrail.ie), then you can reserve your seats ahead of time. Otherwise, you just have to find an open seat once you get on the train
- Trains between major cities (Dublin, Cork, Galway) run almost hourly
- Open return tickets allow for lots of flexibility: check out any final sights in the morning then head to the train station whenever you’re done without worrying about making a specific departure time.