Guidebook Updates for Ireland

When we learn of important changes to the information in our guidebooks on Ireland, we post them here. (Of course, it's still smart to reconfirm critical transportation and sightseeing details locally.) Armed with a Rick Steves guidebook and these late-breaking updates, you're set for a great trip!

Across Ireland

Across Northern Ireland

  • Visitors to the UK are no longer able to get a VAT (value-added tax) refund on purchases made in UK shops, and tax-free sales at airports, Eurostar train stations, and in ports have been discontinued. In Northern Ireland, overseas visitors can still buy items tax-free at stores that offer this service, provided that the items are sent directly to an overseas address outside the UK and the EU. The UK's rules around tax-free shopping may evolve further as the UK continues to adjust to the fallout from Brexit.

Aran Islands

  • The Doolin Ferry Company is now the only outfit running ferries to the islands from Doolin's harbor. (Ferries also leave the mainland from Rossaveal and Galway.)

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Aran Walking Tours is no longer in business.
  • Bia Restaurant on Inishmore has closed.
  • South Aran Restaurant on Inisheer has closed.

Belfast

  • A £4.70 dayLink transit pass (formerly the iLink smartcard) covers trains, buses, and Glider buses throughout downtown Belfast as far out as the Ulster museums in Cultra and George Best City Airport. The iLink smartcard now covers areas farther out: The Zone 2 version adds Bangor and Carrickfergus Castle (£10.50/day, £40/week); Zone 3 includes Belfast’s distant international airport (£14/day, £53/week); and Zone 4 gets you anywhere in Northern Ireland, including Portrush and Derry (£17.50/day, £62.50/week).
  • Belfast's tourist information office no longer stores bags.
  • The city is building a brand-new Grand Central bus station, a block or so to the west of the Europa Bus Centre/Victoria train station, that's slated to open in 2025.
  • Belfast City Bikes on Winetavern Street no longer rents bikes or offers bike tours.
  • Manny's Chapel Lane Fish & Chips in the Cathedral Quarter has closed.
  • The Barking Dog restaurant in South Belfast has closed.
  • Ibis Belfast Queen's Quarter has closed.
  • The Wellington Park Hotel is likely no longer open to the public, and we no longer recommend it.
  • The Elms Village student dorm may no longer rent rooms to travelers in the summer. Instead, we recommend the year-round Vagabonds hostel (also operated by HostelWorld).

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

  • The Ulster Folk Park is now the Ulster Folk Museum, which is now a separate entity from the Ulster Transport Museum.
  • Walking tours of Belfast now leave from in front of City Hall (rather than from the tourist information office).
  • The City Tours sightseeing bus now starts on Donegall Square West.
  • McComb's Coach Tours are best booked online (and can no longer be booked through the Belfast International City Hostel) and their countryside tours now depart from in front of the Europa Hotel, not the hostel. They no longer operate a service between Belfast and the Gobbins Cliff Path.
  • Lagan Boat Tours has closed.
  • Sandy Row Walking Tours has closed.
  • The Belfast Traditional Music Trail (formerly Belfast Trad Trail Tours) now meets at the Second Fiddle pub (42 Waring Street).
  • Café Parisien and the Made in Belfast pub have closed.
  • The Bangor tourist information office is now closed Sundays year-round.
  • Grey Point Fort in Bangor is temporarily closed for maintenance.
  • Bramble Lodge and Café Brazilia in Bangor have closed.

Boyne Valley

  • The bus between Drogheda and the Brú na Bóinne visitors center is now Local Link #188.

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

  • The cost of reaching Brú na Bóinne from Dublin without a car has jumped significantly: It now costs about €20 for a round-trip train ticket between Dublin and Drogheda, and about €15 each way for a taxi from Drogheda.
  • The Hill of Tara no longer charges for admission.

County Clare & the Burren

  • The medieval banquet at Dunguaire Castle is under new management.
  • Vaughan's Pub in Kilfenora is under new ownership and no longer offers Irish set dancing.
  • Brogan's, in Ennis, no longer offers live trad music.
  • Three recommended accommodations in Doolin are under new ownership: Kay's House, Half-Door Cottage, and Rainbow Hostel.

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

  • The bus between Ennis and Shannon Airport is now bus #343 (not #51).
  • The hop-on / hop-off Coastal Shuttle Bus to/from the Cliffs of Moher is no longer in service.
  • Ennis' Grey Gables B&B and Rowan Tree Hostel have both closed.
  • The Cloisters restaurant in Ennis has closed.
  • Half-Door Cottage in Doolin has a new email address: [email protected].
  • The Old Ground Hotel in Ennis has a new email address: [email protected].

Derry

  • Entrada restaurant has closed.
  • SuperValu supermarket has closed.
  • Merchant's House lodging has closed.

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

Dingle

  • Clonmara B&B no longer books individual guests (only tour groups).
  • The Global Village Restaurant has closed.

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

  • The Historical Town Walk is no longer running.
  • Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours has new tour options (and no longer guarantee to see Fungie the dolphin, who likely died in 2020). Current tours are a three-hour Eco Tour to the Blasket Islands (€55), a Mini Eco Tour of Dingle Bay (€25, 1.5–2 hours), and a guided Harbor Cruise (€15, 1 hour).
  • Neligan's now now offers its traditional music session with beginner dance lessons on summer Monday nights (not Thursdays).
  • Galvin's Travel Agency has closed.
  • Mountain Man hiking shop has closed.
  • Siopa Ceoil music shop has closed.
  • The owner of the Celtic and Prehistoric Museum (on Slea Head Drive) has died, and the museum is unlikely to reopen.
  • Dingle Cinema has closed.
  • The Hideout Hostel is closed for refurbishment; when it reopens it may no longer be a hostel.
  • Eileen Collins Kirrary B&B has a new email address: [email protected].

Donegal & the Northwest

Dublin & nearby

  • The Book of Kells Experience, a new high-tech exhibit, has opened in New Square (2 minutes from the Old Library) at Trinity College; it's included in the Old Library admission ticket. Meanwhile, the Old Library and its contents are being painstakingly restored — it's currently open to visitors, but is mostly empty of books. The library is set to close for several years, beginning in late 2025; during this time the Book of Kells will be on display in Printing House, a new building at Trinity College.
  • Pat Liddy's Highlights and Hidden Corners tour is now €25, and the discount for Rick Steves readers is 20 percent off with the code "RSTEVES23"; tours should be booked ahead online. In the main season the tour runs daily at 10:15 (instead of 11:00), and in summer they run a second tour Mon–Sat at 14:15. The meeting point is now the "Tree of Gold" sculpture in Central Plaza on Dame Street. Private tours now start at €245 for a half day.
  • The Musical Pub Crawl now departs from the Ha'penny Bridge Inn (at 42 Wellington Quay in Temple Bar), not Gogarty's Pub.
  • The Evening of Irish Folklore and Fairies has moved from the Brazen Head pub to the Stag's Head pub (at 1 Dame Court) and become a pre-dinner show that now runs from 17:00 to 18:30 (after which guests may enjoy dinner at the Stag's Head or at one of the many restaurants nearby).
  • The Dublin Pass has been rebranded as the Go City All-Inclusive Pass, with the same offerings and prices.
  • Dollard & Co. market hall eateries have closed.
  • Porterhouse Central is now Tapped.
  • The Dingle Whiskey Bar is now just called "Distilled."
  • Windsor Lodge in Dun Laoghaire has closed.

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

  • The Dublin Writers Museum has closed. Fortunately, those interested in Dublin's literary culture and history can still visit the Museum of Literature Ireland.
  • Tickets for Trinity College guided tours and for the Book of Kells in the Trinity Old Library must now be booked ahead online, and are no longer available on campus.
  • The City of a Thousand Welcomes program has been discontinued for the indefinite future.
  • City Hall's "Story of the Capital" exhibit is no more.
  • The former Irish House of Lords is closed for the indefinite future.
  • The former North Star Hotel on Amiens Street is now The Address Connolly ([email protected]).
  • Lisa Tully no longer gives guided tours of the Wicklow area.
  • Charles Stewart Guesthouse has closed.
  • Ely Bar & Grill has closed.
  • The Ferry House B&B in Dun Laoghaire has closed.

Galway

For books printed before January 2023, the following may apply:

Kenmare & the Ring of Kerry

  • It is now possible to visit Muckross House without a guided tour.
  • You no longer need to make an appointment to see a demonstration at the Kissane Sheep Farm — just check their site for their current demonstration schedule.
  • Kenmare guide Anne-Marie Cleary has renamed her business Kerry Tour Guides and expanded her offerings ([email protected]).
  • Kenmare's ancient stone circle is no longer open to visitors at all hours; it's now visitable approximately 8:30–20:30, though in summer it's open until dark, and closes earlier off-season.
  • The Smugglers Café (across the bridge from Portmagee) has closed.
  • The Willow Lodge in Kenmare has closed.

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Kenmare's Murnane Cabs are gone, and Experience Tours no longer offers taxi service. We recommend instead Kenmare Tours & Travel (+353 087 243 8588).
  • Star Sailing is now called Star Outdoors and rents kayaks, not sailboats. They no longer organize hill walks.
  • Several recommended eateries have closed: Bookshop Vegetarian Café, Jam, and Packies.
  • Several recommended accommodations have closed: Sallyport House, Virginia's Guesthouse, and Whispering Pines B&B — and in Portmagee, Beach Cove Lodge and Portmagee Heights B&B.

Kilkenny & Cashel

  • The museum in the cellar of the Hall of the Vicars Choral at the Rock of Cashel is closed indefinitely because of water damage. The entrance to the hall is now on the courtyard side, and the ticket office has moved from the hall to a small building along the path leading to the complex.
  • Wattie's B&B in Cashel has closed.

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

Kinsale & nearby

For books printed before January 2023, the following may apply:

  • Kinsale's bus stop has moved to a spot just behind the tourist information office, across from the waterfront parking lot.
  • Tom Canty is no longer running taxis; instead, contact Flash Cabs at +353 86 826 1296.
  • The Kinsale Mead Company now offers tours Nov–March by appointment only, and April–Oct tours are at 12:00, 14:00, and 16:00.
  • Jo's Rooms hotel has closed.
  • Mother Hubbard's restaurant has closed.
  • Finn's Table is now Finn's Farmcut.
  • Duncrone B&B in Ardmore has closed, as has the Cliffhouse Hotel restaurant (the hotel is still open).

Portrush & the Antrim Coast

  • The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge now remains open in winter months, albeit with shorter hours.
  • The machinery at the Old Bushmills Distillery closes down for maintenance for a week in September (not July); tours still run while the machinery is down.

For books printed before January 2023, the following may also apply:

  • Admission to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is now possible only with a timed-entry ticket, which must be booked online in advance.
  • You can now book in advance for tours of the Old Bushmills Distillery — and you should, as tours often sell out.
  • Ocho tapas bar in Portrush has closed.
  • Harbour Bistro in Portrush is now closed on Mondays.
  • Tourist restaurant in Portrush is now Coast.
  • Waterworld (in Portrush) has closed.
  • Shola Coach House has closed.

Waterford

For books printed before January 2023, the following may apply:

Westport & Connemara

Wicklow

  • Tara's Palace Museum of Childhood (near Powerscourt) has closed.
  • Guided tours at Glendalough are now offered daily at 15:00 April–mid-Oct (now only 35 minutes). Now that the tours are offered at a less-crowded time, it's worth planning your visit around this tour.
  • The museum at the Irish National Stud has been replaced with the fun, interactive "Irish Racehorse Experience" exhibit (included with ticket), which vividly illustrates all aspects of Ireland's obsession with horses.
  • A shuttle bus no longer connects Kildare's train station to the Irish National Stud. Whether you arrive in Kildare town by train or bus, you now need to take a taxi (or a long walk) to reach the stud.