Royal Standard Flag Official flag Northern Ireland

  • The Royal Standard Flag is the only other British flag that can be flown in government buildings or on official occasions, apart from the Union Jack.
  • You will see it flown in buildings when the Queen is visiting, in her car when she is traveling, or in the royal residences when the Queen is there.
  • The standard below is used only for the Queen. Other members of the Royal family use different standards.
  • royal-standard-2

    Symbols of the Queen’s Standard

    • It is made of four quadrants. The top left and bottom right are identical.
  • Three gold lions in passant gardant (striding to left, head turned towards viewer) on a red field. This represents the ancient kingdom of England.
  • The top right quadrant depicts a red lion rampant (standing on rear legs) on a gold field symbolizes ancient Scotland.
  • The bottom left quadrant represents the ancient kingdom of Ireland with the harp taken from its coat of arms and set on a blue field.
  • So there… Since Northern Ireland belongs to the United Kingdom, the Queen’s Standard and the Union Jack are the official flags.

    The Ulster Flag was the official flag until 1972… but it is still popular and used unofficially.

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Driving in Ireland and Northern Ireland,rules and regulations


Northern Ireland Travel – Driving in Ireland and Northern Ireland

This page is specifically for driving in Ireland and across the border to Northern Ireland.

Adjustments you have to make

  • British drivers are best placed to drive in Northern Ireland, because they also drive on the left side. However, some laws are different so even if you are British, read on.
  • Drivers from continental Europe will have to adjust to driving on the left side as well as using miles instead of kilometers.
  • American drivers will have to adjust to driving on the left side, and driving in (sometimes) very small roads. I have met many an American driver who found it a challenge to drive in Ireland and Northern Ireland. They quickly get used to it, though, and thoroughly enjoy it.
  • Remember, in Northern Ireland it is prohibited to talk to your mobile/cell phone while driving. You will get a hefty penalty and 3 points on your driving license.
  • So, wherever you come from, read on!


    Road System

    • Motorways are limited to the immediate vicinity of Belfast, in Northern Ireland and while driving in Ireland, you will meet motorways around Dublin. They are marked by the letter M followed by a numeral. E.g. M2.
  • “A” roads are next in size and connect most of the main cities. Some A roads like the A1 going south from Belfast to Banbridge, Newry and joining the M1 in the Republic, or the A8 going from Belfast to Larne are mostly dual carriageways and fairly efficient. Other A roads are smaller and more given to congestion. If you are planning trips to/from Enniskillen or Londonderry, be prepared for slow progress at times.
  • Beyond the M and A roads there is a multitude of smaller roads that connect everything to everywhere. Often very scenic, they are also very narrow and not always well signposted.
  • Farm traffic is common and can slow things substantially. If you live a fast paced life you might find it frustrating. But chill out! You are on holiday and when in Northern Ireland do as the Northern Irish do! Do not honk, do not get upset, wait patiently and wave politely when the road clears. This way you will make good friends quickly.
  • Maps and Navigation

    If you are tech savvy, ensure you have a good satellite navigation system. Emphasis on the word “good” because until recently Northern Ireland was not well mapped out in satellite navigation systems, sometimes leading to confusing directions. I understand things have rapidly improved.

    If you get lost, don’t be embarrassed to ask for directions. The people are very friendly and they will happily help you out. In fact, while asking for directions we met a gentleman who got into his car and led us all the way to the place we wanted to go!

    With or without a satellite navigation system, it is wise to have a good old-fashioned road map. It is inexpensive and widely available. You can buy it from any Gas Station/Garage/Petrol station, any big supermarket or Newsagent and even online.


    Occasionally you will see armed police or even the army on the road stopping cars and checking people. Don’t panic (unless you have reason to!!).

    This was normal during the Troubles, less so. In the five years we came across maybe ten or so roadblocks. Just stop when they ask you to and show some ID. They are usually very polite and might even give you directions to avoid traffic if there is any bottleneck.

    Petrol (Gas) Stations

    In Northern Ireland there are usually two types of fuel: diesel and petrol. Petrol is what Americans would call Gas. Both are quite expensive (in comparison to America) so many Northern Irish opt for diesel-engined cars which usually get better mileage per gallon. If you rent a car ensure you use the right fuel. Wrong fuel can damage the engine.

    Petrol stations are self-service which means you have to fill your own vehicle up. In most cases you first fill up and then pay in the shop. Ensure you have the means to pay before you fill up. Most stations have cameras so don’t think of filling and driving away without paying. In few stations or late at night, you might have to pay in advance. In the Republic in most petrol stations someone will fuel your vehicle for you.

    Most petrol stations have a store attached so you can buy most necessary things including food and some over the counter medicine if supermarkets are closed. If you have babies this might be a great help if suddenly you discover you are out of nappies (diapers) or have lost that precious last dummy (pacifier) for the baby.

    Save money on Fuel while driving in Ireland and Northern Ireland

    Money saving tip 1

    Fuel in the the Republic of Ireland has traditionally been cheaper. Northerners who live close to the border will regularly travel across the border to buy cheaper fuel. If you are travelling from the Republic towards Northern Ireland, it might be worthy to stop and fill the tank of the car before you cross the border.

    Money saving tip 2

    Beware of cowboys! Fuel (especially diesel) can be adulterated. If you plan to go to be driving in Ireland for fuel, ask a Northerner who does the trip regularly where best to buy. If you don’t know anyone, ask at the hotel reception or the B&B or Cottage owner where you are staying.

    Money saving tip 3

    If you plan to pay by credit or debit card, beware! The petrol station salesperson might ask you what currency you want to pay in, Euro or Sterling. Most don’t offer the option of US dollars.

    My advice is, always choose Euros even if your card is in Sterling. The reason is that petrol stations will offer there own exchange rate which is usually much worse than the bank’s. There will be a statement to that effect on your receipt, but by the time you see it is too late, you have already paid. In which case you might end up paying as much (or more?) than if you had bought your fuel in Northern Ireland.

    Driving in Ireland and Northern Ireland: Across the Border

    Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland) are two distinct national entities. While membership in the European Union has done away with elaborate border crossings, by driving from one into the other you are going from one country to another. Most times you won’t notice. If, for example, you are driving in Ireland from Cavan to Armagh in Northern Ireland via Rosslea, you will cross the border no less than seven times in the space of 50 miles!

    The easiest way to tell when you have crossed is to look at the color of the lines on the road. If on the side of the road you see yellow lines you are in the Republic. If you see white lines, most likely you are in the North.

    While there are no border posts, there might be occasional police checks so ensure you have your passport or other ID and that your visa (if you need one)is valid for both parts.


    Northern Ireland does not have tolls on the road. When driving in Ireland you will meet toll booths in major Motorways. If you are planning a trip to the South ensure you have some change in Euros. While they might accept Sterling on certain cases, they will charge more.

    Road and Traffic

    The direction of driving in Ireland is left, just like in Northern Ireland (thankfully!). However, be aware distances and speed limits in the South are in kilometers, while in the North in miles. The police in the South is called Garda.

    Roads and traffic in the South are worse than in the North. I recall setting out on a trip to Ennis thinking that the 190 miles might take four hours. Six hours later I was still negotiating my way through traffic. The signposting on secondary roads can be very incomplete, though, overall, the government is trying hard to improve the infrastructure. So, if you are travelling South, for example following our Across the Border tour suggestions, ensure you have a good map and plenty of patience.

    Driving direction in UK and Northern Ireland.

    We drive on the left side of the road! For more information on how to keep to the left, and to find out who has priority on a roundabout, which is the fast lane, what are the speed limits, check out the Driving direction in UK page here.

    Seatbelt safety while driving in Ireland and Northern Ireland

    The law in Northern Ireland is very strict about seatbelt safety. Please read our Seatbelt laws article.

    Drunk driving

    It is a serious offense in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to drive under the influence of alcohol. Do read about drink driving in Northern Ireland here.

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    Northern Ireland Travel

    Northern Ireland travel: we will show you around. Discover My Secret Northern Ireland

    Northern Ireland travel? What does a Mediterranean girl (me!) know about it? Why would she call that corner of the world home and even built a website about it? You can read about that in the About Me page, but let me tell you something:

    This is not your standard Travel guide to Northern Ireland. It is local knowledge, personal experiences and photos, inside information, tips and lots and lots of background history.


    Why? because I lived in Northern Ireland long enough to get to know and appreciate the wonderful countryside and its friendly people. Enough to realise that Northern Ireland Tourism is a well hidden gem and it deserves more well-informed, respectful visitors.

    So I prepared this website for you! If you are a visitor that likes to delve into a place and not just touch the surface, if you like to ask questions, you will find the answers here.


    What you will find here:

    Northern Ireland travel – confused by the flags?

    During your visit, chances are you will see many flags flapping in the crisp air. Or you have probably seen them in the News. Why does Northern Ireland have so many flags? Can a place have too many flags? Do they carry a different meaning and what is that? What about Northern Ireland’s counties? Do they have their own flag? Does Northern Ireland have more than one official flag? Which one is the official flag?

    Northern Ireland travel – Driving in Northern Ireland

    Are you coming from abroad and you are concerned about the driving direction in UK? Yes, we drive on the left side of the road. But don’t worry. A clever tourist like you visiting Northern Ireland and travelling about has nothing to fear. Read our tips on the driving in Ireland and Northern Ireland

    Northern Ireland travel – confused by the geographical jargon?

    So, what exactly is Northern Ireland? If I send a letter from Wales, will it need extra posting as if it goes abroad? So what exactly is the relationship between Ireland, Northern Ireland, UK, British Isles, Great Britain? Ulster? oh so many names… what do they mean? Did I mention the UK? Yes, I did. What are the Basic Facts of Northern Ireland and how do they affect the traveller? Northern Ireland travel to the rescue!

    How do you travel to Northern Ireland? Hey, that’s easy! Whether you take a budget airline or the boat, Northern Ireland is just a stone’s throw away from Scotland and half an hour trip by plane to any major UK airport. And what do you do once there? Plenty!

  • Visit the Giants Causeway and find out about the Shipwrecks that dot the North Antrim Coast.
  • Northern Ireland travel Museums for old and young – and the very very young!

  • Enjoy the child-friendly and very, very! informative Museums. (Can you tell I love museums?)
  • Northern Ireland travel mountains

  • Go hiking up the Mourne Mountains! Or do you prefer Golf in the famous greens of Northern Ireland? Perhaps Fly Fishing is your outdoor activity of preference?
  • Northern Ireland travel Castles

  • back in history when you set foot in the castles. You can even have a Castle Wedding!
  • Northern Ireland travel Trips

  • Since you are in Northern Ireland, it is a pity not to visit great destinations across the border to the Republic of Ireland. After all, natural beauty does transcend political borders.
  • Northern Ireland travel History
    Find out about its history, red hair, potato recipes and all those things that make Northern Ireland a remarkable place and a-not-to-be-missed destination.

    This is my tribute to that corner of the emerald Isle that remains hidden, awaiting discovery. I am ready to show you around my secret Northern Ireland.

    Come, follow me! ——————————————————————–

    I would like to invite you to share your favourite photos of Northern Ireland. What is the Allure of Northern Ireland? Share your Northern Ireland Photos

    What is your favourite Northern Irish recipe? People are looking for inspirational recipes in every mealtime. Share the goodness of an hearty Northern Irish dish here!


    Northern Ireland Travel Secrets Blog The Northern Ireland Secrets Blog keeps you up-to-date with all additions and changes to the Web site. Subscribe here.Northern Ireland Information – the Basic Facts Northern Ireland Information – get a bird’s eye view of this marvelous country and its people!Northern Ireland History A brief account of Northern Ireland history, from the megalithic age to the troubles.List of famous shipwrecks in Ireland List of famous shipwrecks in Northern Ireland and Ireland, from The Girona of the Spanish armada, to Exmouth, Lousitania, Drake, and ofcourse, the Titanic.Northern Ireland Travel Attractions – The Best Places to Visit Northern Ireland Travel Attractions – Read about the best places to visit in this fascinating country!Northern Irish Cities – history in an urban context Northern Irish Cities – all you need to know about these quaint gems.Medieval Castles in Ireland – An authoritative Guide Medieval Castles in Ireland – Your guide to discover N. Ireland’s castle heritageNorthern Ireland Photos Northern Ireland Photos – The nature seems to pose for the photograper.The best of Northern Ireland’s picturesNorthern Ireland Religion: Churches Northern Ireland Religion – Churches: this webpage will give information on the local churches in Northern Ireland.Irish recipes, tried and tested recipes for your weekly menu Irish recipes are quick, easy and cost effective and can enhance your meals every week!Northern Ireland travel Contact us Contact us with your suggestions, we would love to know what you thinkFishing in Northern Ireland is a popular pastime Fishing in Northern Ireland: The best places for anglers to enjoy fly fishing and more. Northern Ireland Golf, famous courses prefered by the professionals Northern Ireland Golf ;famous courses and ideal golfing vacation opportuntiesNorthern Ireland Art Page – Meet the Future Celebrities! Northern Ireland Art Page – the country has produced many famous, but it is time to meet the up and coming ones.Northern Ireland Flag: Not one, but many! Northern Ireland flag. Yes, but which one? Some are controversial, othes suggested, others stir up stong political emotions. Read their description and their symbolism here.Northern Irish Artists: Undiscovered Talend Northern Irish Artists are capturing nature with every stroke of the brush or pencil. What’s so special about them?Northern Irish Recipes: What’s your favourite? Northern Irish Recipes: Show them the way to eat with your tried and true recipesOfficial Flag Northern Ireland Describes the official flag Northern Ireland, their origin, uses, and’s Privacy Policy We take your privacy seriously! This is’s privacy policyMust-do Tours Northern Ireland and top places to see Choose your best Tours Northern Ireland, with a little help from those who have been thereAbout me A meditteranean girl in Northern Ireland About me : I am not a local, yet I am passionate about Northern Ireland. I have set to sing its praises as a travel destination. Why? And who am I, anyway?Your Northern Ireland Photos Your Northern Ireland Photos: Have you captured the allure of Northern Ireland? Share it with our visitorsNorthern Ireland day trips to the Republic of Ireland Discover the rest of the emerald island with our family’s tried and tested Northern Ireland day trips across the Border to the Republic of IrelandCamping Sites UK – Northern Ireland Camping Sites UK – Northern Ireland: camping and caravan holidays are very popular and this page will help you plan one.Northern Ireland Hotels Northern Ireland Hotels – they come in many shapes and forms, from the standard business hotels in the cities to quaint, family owned by the coast or in the green hills.Northern Ireland Bed and Breakfast Northern Ireland Bed and Breakfast – bed and breakfast accommmodation provides a cozier way to explore beautiful Northern Ireland 2008-2014. All rights reserved.



    Northern Ireland Flag: Not one, but many!


    Northern Ireland Flag (s)!

    The one official flag of Northern Ireland is the Union Jack Flag.

    The other one that can be used in official situations is the Royal Standard Flag.

    There is of course, the Ulster Flag (or Ulster 6 Counties flag or Red Hand Ulster Flag), an unofficial flag that was once official.

    Apart from these, there are a host of others, some rather controversial. Here are a few of the prominent ones.

    Saint Patrick’s Saltire

    Flag of Ireland

    Independent Ulster Flag

    Saint Andrew’s Cross

    Province of Ulster

    Four Provinces of Ireland

    Orange Order Flags

    As is evident from the above Northern Ireland has a rich flag culture.

    Sadly, some flags have been associated with the Troubles and have become symbols of conflict.

    If you are travelling through a town or neighborhood and see a host of flags flying, chances are that it is an area with strong political views.

    Despite their strong association with the troubles, flags have their own beauty and hopefully now that things have quieted and as the sectarian strife moves into the realm of history, the tension associated with the flying of some of the flags will dissipate and they will become symbols of friendship.

    Photo credits: Photo no.1 David Boyle at Flickr

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    The Exmouth shipwreck in Northern Ireland

    The Exmouth

    Apart from the The Girona, the waters of the North Antrim coast were the scene of another maritime disaster with great loss of life.

    The ship was a passenger one that sailed from Londonderry to Quebec on April 25, 1847. Aboard where 11 crewmen, 244 Irish immigrants. The ship was only registered for 165 passengers, but a large number of the passengers were children and two children were counted as one adult passenger hence the 244.

    By the end of the first day the gentle breeze that blew at the beginning of the trip had grown to a gale. It blew the ship westerly and then west-northerly for a day a few miles off the North Antrim Coast. Before 1:00 in the morning on October 28 she struck rocks on the coast of Islay and sunk. Only 3 crew members survived.

    108 bodies were found ashore on the island of Islay and were buried in a common tomb in Tràigh Bhàn, where a memorial also stands.

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    Flag of Ireland: the tricolour

    Flag of Ireland

    This is the flag of the Republic of Ireland.

    Officially it has no relation to Northern Ireland.

    However, a large segment of the Catholic population of Northern Ireland feels a strong affinity to the Republic and some would like to one day see the whole island governed from Dublin.

    In areas where such sentiments predominate, you are likely to see the Tricolor flying.


    The flag was first introduced by Thomas Meagher in 1848. Meagher was an Irish nationalist. He later moved to America where he served as a general in the Civil War and eventually as a politician.

    He brought the design of the Irish flag back from France where he had gone to study revolutionary movements. The original design had the orange next to the flag staff and also had the red hand of Ulster in the white column.

    The flag was officially adopted in 1919.

    Symbolism of the Irish Flag

    The flag consists of a green, a white and an orange vertical columns.

    • The green symbolizes the Catholic majority;
    • the orange symbolizes the Protestants.
    • The white in between represents a lasting peace that has often eluded the two communities.
    • Now that you know all about this flag, why don’t you read about the other unofficial flags of Northern Ireland?

      Unofficial Flags flown in Northern Ireland:

      Saint Patrick’s Saltire

      Independent Ulster flag

      Saint Andrew’s Cross

      The Province of Ulster Flag or Ulster Flag (Nine Counties).

      The Four Provinces of Ireland.

      Orange Order Flags.

      Are you sure you know which is the Official flag of Northern Ireland?

      Read about:

      The Union Jack Flag

      The Royal Standard Flag

      The Ulster Flag (or Ulster 6 Counties flag or Red Hand Ulster Flag)

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