If you don't want to worry about traffic, getting lost or driving on the left hand side of the road, see Ireland by train. Trains will get you where you're going more quickly than taking a bus and let you see parts of the country you won't see from the road. While service is not as extensive or frequent as in most European countries, Irish Rail heads to major cities and towns around the country. You can also opt for train tour packages through the company ranging from day trips to more than a week long.
Dublin is the primary hub of rail travel in Ireland. You'll find trains running locally in County Dublin as well other parts of the country.
DART around Dublin
Dublin Area Rapid Transit -- known as DART -- provides service from the north part of County Dublin along the coast of the Irish Sea south to the Greystones in County Wicklow. Purchase tickets by the trip or opt for a daily, three-day, weekly or monthly pass. Take the train to Tara Station to be less than a half-mile walk from cobblestone streets of Temple Bar. See Dublin Castle -- the former seat of British power in Ireland --and take in the beauty of the Dubh Linn Gardens just behind it.
The three main lines run from the city to Cork, Gallway and Belfast with trains running every couple hours. The Dublin-Cork line has the most frequent service schedule, as well as the most modern trains and optional Comfort Class seating. An early morning express service runs from Cork to Dublin to get you back to the city in time for business meetings. Secondary lines have less frequent service, but you'll still be able to choose from a few times to travel each day. You can connect with motor coach service at your destination to visit the local points of interest.
Making a Reservation
Get cheaper fares when you book online through Irish Rail's website. If you need to travel during morning or evening rush hour, expect to pay more than when traveling in the middle of the day.
Reserve Your Seat
You can reserve your seat on some trains when booking online. When you board some trains, your reserved seat will display your name on an electronic sign above it. Not all trains accept reservations or book reserved seats. When traveling the trains without a reservation or reserved seats, get to the station a minimum of 30 minutes ahead of time. Otherwise, you might have to stand for the duration of the train's journey.
Going First Class
You can opt for first class seating on the Dublin-Cork or Dublin-Belfast lines. Enjoy more leg room and adjustable seating as well as electrical outlets and lighted tables for using electronic devices. Each route has in-seat dining available and a complimentary newspaper on morning trains.
Don't be afraid of missing the sights traveling by train, because the railroad runs through some areas of the country where cars don't travel.
Best Bet: Dublin to Rosslare: A 100-mile journey from Dublin to Rosslare follows the coastline as it skips past the Wicklow Mountains. The train then veers inland across green pastureland to Enniscorthy, home to a 13th century Norman castle, the National 1798 Rebellion Center and the Vinegar Hill battle site. The train winds along the River Slaney to Wexford and Rosslare, where local sights include the Kennedy Homestead, John F. Kennedy Arboretum and 800-year-old Dunbrody Abbey.
You won't have to worry about booking bus connections with a train tour through Rail Tours Ireland. The company offers train tours ranging from one to nine days departing from Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Overnight trips include hotel accommodations, which are automatically upgraded to four-star lodging when you book online. Other services offered through the company include airport pickup, hotel and hop-on, hop-off bus tickets for Dublin.