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Travelling by train in Ireland is a relaxing and hassle free way of getting around between the main population centers. Iarnrod Eireann (Irish Rail) is the state-owned rail company in the Republic of Ireland, while in the north, Northern Ireland Railways(NIR) is the rail company. The rail network in Ireland is not very extensive, serving only the larger cities and most major towns. If you are thinking of traveling to the more remote scenic areas, you may have to use the local bus services to reach your destination.
At Discovering Ireland Vacation, we can recommend a variety of Rail Tours and railway tours of Ireland that offer itineraries ranging from day trips to 10 day tours that incorporate coach excursions.
Our map of Ireland's rail network below will give you an indication of how much of the country you can see using the rail system.
Trains are usually comfortable and punctual by Irish standards and the rail-car stock has recently been upgraded to provide state of the art comfort on the inter-city network. Friday evening trains from Dublin to all parts of the country are usually full to capacity even a half hour before departure as many people working or studying in Dublin travel home to otherparts of the country at weekends. Sunday evening trains to Dublin carrying these returning passengers are also very busy.
We would advise traveling early on both days if possible. We have links to the Iarnrod Eireann site listing fares, timetables, and other information.
If you intend to use the rail service as your mode of transport while in Ireland you may want to consider one of Iarnród Éireann's Explorer Tickets which allow you various travel options during your stay here.
Students can purchase a Travelsave stamp to affix to their ISIC cards for discount fares, usually ~50% off.
For under 26's Faircards give 50% discount. Travelsave stamps and Faircards can be purchased in USIT offices. InterRail passes are accepted in the Republic but only offer a 33% discount on fares in Northern Ireland.
You can also check out the Northern Ireland Railways website.
In Dublin, the electric rail system called the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is a quick and easy way to get around Dublin. It runs along the coast of the Irish Sea from Howth in north County Dublin to Bray south of Dublin in County Wicklow. However, the west side of the city is not served by the DART.
A light rail system called LUAS is available in Dublin making it much easier to get around the city. You can purchase a Dublin Explorer ticket at any DART station which allows you travel around Dublin on DART and Dublin Bus services for four days.
In Cork, there is an Eastern commuter rail line serving Fota and Cobh with immediate plans to extend to Middleton. There are also plans to open commuter stations on the Northern line at Blackpool and Blarney which currently serves only Mallow.