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Flights to Ireland and Northern Ireland to suit your budget

Flights to Ireland or Northern Ireland

If you are planning to visit our beautiful corner of the world, you have to shop around for your airfare.

Have a look at the prices below to give you an idea of how much your flight is going to cost.

(Coming soon)

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You might be looking for insurance too..

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Ways to Travel to Northern Ireland

Travel to Northern Ireland by Air, Sea and Land

Travelling to Northern Ireland is now easier than ever before. Whether you are flying in from the other side of the globe, or driving up from the Republic, Northern Ireland is accessible via land, sea and air.

Travel to Northern Ireland By Air

Northern Ireland has three airports:

  • Belfast International
  • Belfast City also known as George Best Airport
  • Londonderry.

You might also want to consider Dublin airport. Though 100 miles from Belfast, the good road system and good transport services means you can be there quickly.

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Travelling to Northern Ireland from America, or further afield?

Dublin is probably your best option. Most major airlines fly to Dublin rather than Belfast so you will have more options.

If you do fly to Dublin, the easiest way to travel to Northern Ireland is to take the bus. There are three bus companies that service this route: Ulsterbus, Bus Eireann, and Aircoach.

Services are regular, and very reasonably priced. They stop at Newry, Banbridge, Hillsborough, Lisburn and Belfast.

However, services do not always run at night and at peak travel times during the day the buses get full quickly. You might want to book in advance, or risk some delay.

London airports

Alternatively, try one of the London airports and then connect. This is easier today in that there are a number of low cost and regular airlines that have multiple flights every day to Northern Ireland airports.

Beware of lost connection flights:

Low cost airlines will usually not take responsibility if your inbound flight is delayed and you lose your connection.

So you might want to arrange it in such a way that you spend a day in London. Or that you book your onward flight with one of the major airlines as one ticket in which case your connection is assured.

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Travelling to Northern Ireland from Europe or Great Britain?

Both Belfast airports and Londonderry have good connectivity.

Try the low cost airlines like Easyjet, Ryanair, Jet2 and BMI service over 100 routes so chances are you will find one that suits you. If you book well in advance and choose your dates carefully, you can get REALLY cheap flights.

Beware of extra costs.

Some of the low cost airlines will charge you extra for services that are standard in other airlines.

So before you make your booking check not only the advertised price, but the total price once you have made all selections.

Travel to Northern Ireland By Sea

Take the boat only if you are bringing a car. Otherwise, it is easier (and often cheaper) to fly.

There are numerous options.

  • Option 1: Scotland to Belfast/Larne – Stena Line or P&O Irish Sea
  • This is the shortest route, it takes about three hours on a normal boar, or just over an hour on a super-fast ferry.

The downside: If you are coming from the south of England it means a long drive to south-west Scotland to take the boat.

  • Option 2: Liverpool to Belfast/Larne – Norfolk Line or Stena Line
  • This trip takes over 10 hours. You can either travel overnight, or over the day.

    Travelling to Northern Ireland overnight sounds ideal, you leave at night, sleep on the boat, arrive fresh and relaxed in the morning.

    The downside: This is probably the most expensive option.

    By contrast, the day sailing can be the cheapest of all options. You can opt to have a cabin, or stay on deck. A free meal is often included with the ticket (check when you book).

  • Option 3: Holyhead to Dublin/Dun Laoghaire – Irish Ferries or Stena Line
  • Three hours on a ferry, an hour and a half on a super-fast ferry. Usually slightly more expensive than Scotland to Belfast/Larne.

    The downside: You have to drive to Holyhead in north-west Wales, and then from Dublin to Northern Ireland.

    Our Advice

    In our five years in Northern Ireland we tried all three options, some several times.

    If you don’t mind spending some extra cash, the night sailing of Option 2 is the best.

    If you are not pressed for time and want to save $$ or ££, the day sailing of Option 2 is the most cost effective.

    Liverpool is easily accessible from most of England and you arrive at the heart Northern Ireland. You can have a cabin and rest during the trip and enjoy a good meal on the way.

    If you are coming from Scotland of Wales, options 1 and 3 are best respectively.

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    Travelling to Northern Ireland from Mainline Europe

    You can either cross by boat from France to the Republic. This is nice if you want to stop over in the Republic. If, however, you are in a hurry to reach Northern Ireland, it is a long trip made on secondary roads.

    Another option is to cross the English Channel by boat to England and then go for one of the three options above.

    Travel to Northern Ireland By Land

    Since Northern Ireland is part of an island, the only way you can come by land is from the Republic of Ireland.

    However, if you are a tourist from America, chances are that you have gone to the South first and are now considering travelling to Northern Ireland.

    The roads connecting South to North are generally small (as with most roads in the South) and not always in the best state of repairs. So, count on a lengthy trip even if the millage involved is not high.

    However, if you are in the Dublin area, then it all becomes so much simpler.

    The M1 is the main artery that leads from Dublin towards the North (just to make matters confusing, there is another road named M1 that starts is Belfast and heads south-west but the two are distinct).

    If you take the M1 from Dublin and avoid the rush hour, your trip will be quicker and more pleasant.

    From Dublin it is about 60 miles to the border, 66 to Newry, the first main city in the North,75 to Banbridge and about 100 to Belfast. The road is motorway until Newry and dual-carriage way from then on. Currently they are doing road works around Newry which can cause delays at rush hour, but otherwise it should be smooth driving.

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Tours-Northern-Ireland ? Where to start?

Tours-Northern-Ireland

So you have decided to visit my secret Tourist destination (at last, what took you so long!); or maybe you are already there. You are crouching over a map and are trying to plan you itinerary. You are wondering which places are worth a visit and which you can skip. Relax… Here is a list of some of the most fascinating places. Take your pick.

Giant’s Causeway Even if you don’t like natural attractions, you MUST plan a visit to Giant’s Causeway, the foremost natural wonder with the greatest claim to fame. Don’t miss it.

Rathlin Island If you want to beat the crowds, go off the beaten track, to Rathlin Island, a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Mourne Mountains. The crown of Ulster. Full of heather and ragged beauty, they will mesmerise you.

More Tours-Northern-Ireland to be added soon. Come back and check on us, we have so many things to tell you, we wish we had more hours in the day!

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Royal Standard Flag: When the Queen is present…

  • The Royal Standard Flag is the only other British flag that can be flown in government buildings or on official occassions, apart from the Union Jack.
  • You will see it flown in buildings when the Queen is visiting, in her car when she is travelling, 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

    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 Flag 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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Travel in Northern Ireland: Easy ways to get around

Travel in Northern Ireland By Car

If you are serious about making the most of your visit the car is the only option. If you are coming from Britain (or the Republic) bring your own. It might cost you a bit more on the boat than if you were flying, but it will save you money in the long run.

Car Rental Northern Ireland

If you are coming from further afield, you might want to rent a car.You will find all the big rental companies. You might want to also try some of the not so well known. I used 1car1 and found them very cost effective; or try some of the local car rental places. Their cars might be a bit older, but there is more room to bargain so you can save substantial money.

If you are coming from a country beyond the British isles, be aware that Northern Ireland drives on the left side of the road. For more info about how it is to drive in Northern (and Southern) Ireland click Driving in Ireland. (coming very soon!)

By Bus and Train

Buses and trains are operated by Translink. Local bus services are usually very good. However, if you want to go from one small town to another small town some distance away, chance are that you will first have to go into Belfast and take a second bus costing you more money and time.

There are four train services and all begin in Belfast. For more information about Translink’s bus and train services, click on the link.

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Translink Northern Ireland : Buses and Trains to get you there!

Translink Northern Ireland

Train Services There are four train services and all begin in Belfast.

  • The Belfast-Londonderry begins at Belfast Great Victoria Street and ends in Londonderry. It goes through Antrim, Ballymena, Coleraine and other smaller towns.
  • The Belfast-Larne service likewise begins at Great Victoria Street and ends at Larne harbour less than 25 miles away. Scenic places on the way include Carrickfergus and Whitehead.
  • The Belfast-Bangor service starts at Great Victoria and ends at Bangor. Notable stops on the way include Cultra where the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is located, and Crawfordsburn, a beautiful park and scout camp near the beach and next to posh Helen’s Bay, affording excellent walks and pic-nic opportunities.
  • Finally, the Enterprise service goes from Belfast to Dublin and passes important towns like Portadown and Newry.
  • Translink’s Journey Planner allows you to plan your route by bus or train around Northern Ireland. You can plan your trip up to 28 days in advance.

    Translink have a JourneyMap to assist you in your planning. Just zoom in for a more detailed map.

    A bit of information on the different bus schemes run by translink:

    Ulsterbus: This bus service connects all major towns and villages across all of Northern Ireland.

    Goldline: Express bus that connects the major towns. There are Goldline Express routes and Goldline Express high frequency. For more information on the routes, check the JourneyMap.

    Metro. Metro is the previously called Citybus service and serves the Belfast city area.

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Northern Ireland History: From Dolmens to Conflict Murals

Northern Ireland History: An Overview.

“History. You either love it or hate it”, or so the saying goes. I happen to be one of the minority who love it. Whether you love or hate history here is the bottom line: you can never really come to understand a place until you begin to understand its history.

In the part on Early, Neolithic history you will read about the megalithic monuments, court tombs, dolmens, Newgrange. They are fascinating and mysterious. Then come the Celts, this famous people who have left their bright mark on history.

If you are of western European heritage, chance are you have some Celtic blood flowing in your veins. So read on, it is about your ancestors.

Then you will read about the coming of Christianity, a turning point in the history of Ireland. In all Christendom Ireland became famous for its scholars and sages.

Here, you will get to know some of them. You will read about the Celtic Christians and the great Saints Patrick and Columba.

You will also read about savage Viking raids, the coming of the Normans and then the English, boy it gets complicated, couldn’t they have stayed at home?

And if you think you are nearly finished, think again.

In our Modern History read about Cromwell and William of Orange, about the independent thinking Irish clans and the Plantation of Ulster. And when you hear plantation, don’t think of cotton fields.

The Plantation of Ulster was probably the single most influential denominator in shaping Northern Ireland. Intrigued? It is coming soon!

And finally, the Troubles. An intense conflict, almost like an Irish civil war that left its scars yet from which Northern Ireland is in the process of healing.

Read carefully and, who knows, it is so interesting you might decide to become a history buff like me!

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History of the Celts – probably your history too!

Celtic Language

Ancient Greeks knew them as Keltai and later as Galatai both probably deriving from Celtic tribal names.

The Latin equivalents were Celtae and Gallus.

The Celtic (or Gaelic) languages are part of the larger Indo-European family of languages and as such related to Greek, Latin, German, English etc.

Celts in Ireland

Earlier historiography believed the Celts had invaded Ireland from the continent sometime in the first millennium BC.

Recent research suggests that the introduction of Celtic culture and language was gradual and continuous. At any rate, Celtic languages and culture seem to have been well entrenched in Ireland and Britain before 500 BC.

History of the Celts – Celtic Kingdoms

In Ireland, celtic tribes established a number of kingdoms. One of the earliest in what is now Northern Irelant were the Volunti or Ulaid.

They are mentioned in Ptolemy’s 2nd century BC Geographia. Their capital was probably in Navan Fort (Eamhain Mhacha), County Armagh.

There is an interesting Visitor’s Centre in Navan Fort, well worth a visit.

At their greatest extent the Volunti ruled all the way south to the river Boyne and west as far as county Leitrim.

Navan was destoyed in the 4th century AD and th Volunti kingdom came to an end.

Other early Irish kingdoms were the Erdini in County Fermanagh and the Robogdii in County Antrim and Londonderry.

The best known Celtic Kingdom

Perhaps the best known kingdom was Dalriada. Originating in Antrim, at its height in the 6th and 7th centuries AD it covered a large part of south-western Scotland and what is today County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

The kingdom disappeared by the time of the Viking invasions.

Perhaps Dalriada’ greatest claim to fame is its association with Saint Columba who was instrumental in spreading Christianity to northern Britain.

The famous book of Kells may well have been produced by Dalriadan monks.

Celtic Culture

Celts were organised tribally. At the head of the tribe was the king.

Society was divided into three classes:

  • the warrior aristocracy
  • the intellectuals composed of druids, poets, etc.
  • and everyone else

Women were known for their beauty and there is some evidence where they could wield substantial authority (nothing strange here!).

There is both literary and archaeological confirmation that some women became warriors.

Warfare was common. The soldiers carried a long sword and sometimes a round or hexagonal shield.

Trading was common and abundant among the Celtic tribes with an ancient system of roads transversing the areas of occupation of the main tribes.

Lastly, they wore a long sleeved shirts and trousers which the Romans called braccae.

Wow, I learned a lot, did you?

Enjoy the sights of the Emerald Isle. The background music is from Enya The Celts.

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