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Visas : For citizens of most Western countries no visa is required. UK nationals born in Great Britain or Northern Ireland do not require a passport to visit the Republic.
Public holidays : New Year's Day; St Patrick's Day (17 March); Good Friday; Easter Monday; June Holiday, August Holiday; October Holiday; Christmas Holiday.
Good buys : Traditional crafts such as cut crystal, woolens (particularly Aran jumpers and Donegal teed) and pottery.
Local dishes : Potato dishes are popular - try boxty, champ or colcannon, all variations on mashed potato, together with some Irish stew. The seafood, especially oysters and mussels, is excellent. Guinness is ubiquitous and Irish coffee (black coffee, sugar, whiskey and cream) is also popular.
Interesting fact : Ireland adopted the harp after the English banned bagpipes from being played during the occupation of Ireland. This is why the Irish have the harp as a symbol of the country. It appears on bank notes, flags, and on the famous stout drink Guinness.
Good reading : Good reading includes James Joyce's Ulysses, Ireland's most famous piece of literature, and Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, a sad and affectionate description of the author's childhood years spent between New York and Ireland.