Northern and Southern Ireland

Ireland is one of our favourite destinations, and we love booking people on trips to this gorgeous place. But there is often a little confusion over the fact that, although it’s such a small place, this island in the North Atlantic is divided into two separate countries which use different currency and have different governance.

Provinces and counties in a nutshell

Ireland comprises 4 provinces  – Connacht, Ulster, Munster, and Leinster – which have been in 1610. These  are divided up into 32 counties, of which 6 form Northern Ireland, and the rest the Republic of Ireland.

The division of Ireland into counties is a process that took place over many years with the final county (Wicklow) being formed in 1605. Since then, the counties have remained largely unchanged.

Note that, in Ireland, the word ‘county’ comes before the name, for example, County Antrim not Antrim County.

Northern Ireland

  • Part of: United Kingdom
  • Currency: Great British Pound
  • Capital: Belfast (mostly in County Antrim with some in County Down)
  • 6 Counties: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Tyrone.

Republic of Ireland (aka Southern Ireland)

  • Part of: European Union
  • Currency: Euro
  • Capital: Dublin (County Dublin)
  • 26 Counties: Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.

In 03 May 1921, the Partition of Ireland divided Ireland into Southern and Northern Ireland, each self-governing entities. To cut a long and tragic story short,  the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed on 06 December 1921, came at the end of the Irish War of Independence and it is based on this that Northern Ireland is now part of the United Kingdom, and Southern Ireland is part of the European Union.

Crossing the border

The border between the Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom is around 499km long and runs from Carlingford Lough to Lough Foyle. There are no conspicuous border markers or border posts.  South Africans do need a valid visa for the United Kingdom, even if you’re only visiting Northern Ireland. Until recently, visa-free entry was permitted to the Republic of Ireland for South Africans but, since covid-19,  there is no more visa-free entry for South Africans for the foreseeable future.
UK citizens currently don’t need a visa to enter the RoI but this could change so double check before you travel.

However, with  Brexit and Covid-19, things can change so please keep an eye on the press and ensure you are legally permitted. Find out about UK visas here GOV.UK  and Irish visas here: DFA

ALWAYS check what form of travel documents you need before going anywhere and ensure that you have everything with you in case you are asked to provide this while you’re travelling. This includes travel by air, ferry, train, etc.

Please note that British TIPS does not issue visas for any country, and we are unable to assist you with visa applications. Kindly use the links provided above. Thank  you!

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