The distribution of designated cycle paths on the roads of Ireland are about the same as in the UK, mostly are small sections marked as cycle path. In some of the major towns such as Dublin and Galway there is a good network of designated cyclepaths. On some of the major trunk roads there is an hard shoulder type area on the left hand side of the road that is generally about half a car width and designated by a broken yellow line. This usefully keeps you away from the main traffic but can vary in width and goes down to nothing at junctions. On the narrow major roads in the west this hard shoulder is very often missing.
There are some way marked local cycle routes in Ireland, the Irish tourist board booklet 'Cycling in Ireland' shows 24 cycle routes covering South and Northern Ireland, however some of these are only suggested routes and not officially way marked as yet, some of them I'm told are hoped to be made official and sign posted in the near future. Most of the local tourist board sites give more information on these routes, see Tourist info. links below.
The campsites in Ireland are generally very good, however they aren't too plentiful in some parts, so some careful route planning is needed. There is a 'Camping & Caravan in Ireland' booklet available from most tourist information offices for €4 which lists over a 100 sites that are registered with the Irish Tourist board, they use a 1 - 4 star classification with some sites choosing to be unclassified.
More information can be obtained at the Caravan and Camping Parks in County Ireland's site. which gives details of opening dates, prices and facilities offered for all the sites listed. There are other campsites in Ireland that are not registered with the the Irish Tourist board and for these you may need to consult other camping site websites such as :
We found that the average costs for 2 adults and a tent is about €20.
Camping Ireland have a phone app which lists all 'Camping Ireland' sites but not all the campsites in Ireland. It is available for the IOS and Android operating systems and can be downloaded fro the Apple or Google app stores for free. It has a searchable map which uses Google maps and you will need a data link to use the map on the move. There is more information on the camping app on the Camping Ireland site here.
If you get stuck for a campsite then you will find that some of the hostels will allow you to camp in their grounds and you can use their facilities, there is a leaflet available from most tourist information offices which lists all the hostels and whether camping is available.
As far as cycling maps of Ireland are concerned your choice is rather limited. The maps in Ireland are produced by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland. You have a choice of the 'Holiday' series1:250,000 map which covers Ireland with just 4 maps and the 1:50.000 'Discovery' series maps which uses 89 maps to cover the whole of Southern and Northern Ireland. The Holiday series maps lacks a lot of detail and unless you plan on sticking to the main roads aren't much use for cycling using the quiet lanes. Irish sign posting is notoriously unreliable and sometimes non-existent. Where you do find them at junctions there is a plethora of signs on a post pointing in all sorts of directions telling you where all the nearest B&B's, Guest houses and local attractions are, but only if you are lucky a road sign giving you actual directions to places! Therefore a detailed map is a must and your best bet is the 'Discovery' series which are actually very good, the down side is that you may need a lot of them and they are not cheap at €7.50 each. You can purchase the 'Discovery' series online direct from the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.
You can download OpenStreet maps of Ireland for your GPS from the following sites:
The Rough Guide to Ireland - Published by Rough Guides ISBN 1-85828-128-8 A very useful guide to all things in Ireland.
Finding a shop open till late is not much of a problem in Ireland. They seem to have long opening hours and seem to be open most of Sunday. Most petrol stations have a small shop or supermarket attached.
We used the Irish rail service several times back in 2004 to transport our bikes without any problems, however on our recent tour in Ireland in 2016 we were hoping to use the trains again to get us from Dublin to Galway. Iarnród Éireann are now using updated multiple unit style trains without guards vans. These new units have only spaces for 2 bikes and you cannot turn up to the station expecting to get your bike on the train, you have to book them in advance online. Due to having to book the bike places online we found it impossible to find a two bike spaces for the days we wanted in August. We did consider the buses but as it was peak season we thought it would be too busy so decided to hire a van to take us and our bikes to Galway.
There are also some regulations on the times that you can take bikes and there may be some trains that you can not use, you will need to contact Iarnród Éireann (Irish Railways) for more details and up to date information. If you know which dates you are traveling it is also best to check for engineering works in advance, as we got caught out hoping to travel from Rosslair to Kilarney and found when we got to Rosslair that they were replacing the bridge at Cahir and thus had to travel via Dublin!
You can also take your bikes on most of the buses in Ireland. However it is up to discretion of the driver as to whether your bikes are carried, as it depends on the available luggage space. We would suggest that you make the bikes as small as possible by lowering the seats and handlebars and removing the front wheels to make it easier to get the bikes in the bus luggage compartments. There is normally an extra charge for the carriage of bikes. If you are on a long journey with several changes of bus, you may be OK on the first leg but may have problems with later connections in getting roomfor your bikes. Having said that we had no problems on our journey to Kilarney from Wexford where we had to change buses at Waterford and Cork. For more information on the Irish buses look here.
Getting to Ireland from the UK
There are numerous ways to get to Ireland either by Ferry or plane, it very much depends on where in Ireland you wish to go. Here are a few links that might help you.
There is a Tourist information Office in most of the major towns and cities. They have information on places of interest in there local area and sell Ordnance survey of Ireland maps of the area.