DUBLIN — An incentive of the last few years for young travelers to visit Ireland is inclusion of domestic transportation and ferry travel between Ireland and France with the popular Eurailpasses.
Many young travelers to Ireland fly into London first. At youth travel agencies in London such as USIT (the Irish Student Travel Service), special one-way fares are available to Dublin for persons under 26 years for 26.20 (about $41 U.S.). The USIT office in London is at 52 Grosvenor Gardens, near Victoria Station.
Once Eurailpass holders are in Ireland they can use all of the rail and express bus services operated by CIE (Irish Railroads) except services in Northern Ireland.
Eurailpasses should be bought from a travel agent before you leave home. You can buy one after you arrive in Ireland, but you are then charged a 10% penalty and the pass starts its term the day you buy it.
If you don't have Eurailpasses or Eurail Youthpasses, there are several other economical ways to see the country.
At the USIT offices at 7 Anglesea St. (off Dame Street) in Dublin, students can buy a Travelsave Stamp for 5.50 ($9 U.S.). It provides a 50% reduction on single adult fares on CIE rail and provincial bus trips over 2. This includes round trips to the Aran Islands by ship and a 50% reduction on adult fares on Northern Ireland Railways.
While at the USIT Office, you might pick up a copy of the 1987-88 edition of "The Sleep Cheap Guide to Europe." The booklet lists hundreds of small hotels and pensions throughout Europe. It was prepared by the International Student Travel Conference and is sold through affiliated student travel services around the world. The cost is 2. Many of the facilities mentioned offer discounts to students and teachers.
Other economical alternatives are do-it-yourself tour packages offered by the Irish Youth Hostels Assn. Its offices are at 39 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1.
They offer a variety of programs, including vouchers for youth hostel accommodations, bicycles and transportation by train and bus. For example, one- and two-week independent cycling tour packages include either eight or 16 accommodations vouchers, a youth hostel handbook and a map; you also are helped to plan your route. The price for travelers over 18 is 40 for one week and 70 for two weeks.
While traveling within the country, ask at tourist information offices about special events. For example, every summer Henry Mount Charles, the Earl of Slane, holds a rock concert at his castle 48 kilometers (30 miles) north of Dublin. Past performers include the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and U2. Tickets sell fast, so check with Irish record stores.
When it's time to move on from Ireland, Eurailpass and Eurail Youthpass holders can make free ferry crossings on the Irish Continental Line between Rosslare (Ireland) and Le Havre (France) in 21 hours, or to Cherbourg in 17 hours. In summer you can also make a 22-hour crossing from Cork to Le Havre.
Before you head for the pier, remember that U.S. citizens must have visas to enter France this year. Also, you will be required to pay about 5 for port taxes.
Eurailpasses provide passage and a reduction in the cost of a berth. On the Rosslare-Le Havre crossing I found that travelers with Eurailpasses could get a berth in a six-bunk cabin (without private washroom) for 1.25. A berth in a similar four-bunk cabin was 3 and a berth in a two-person cabin was 8.75.
Cafeteria food service was available, but was not served until 8 a.m. First-run movies were shown for 1.80.
The Irish Tourist Board publishes a free brochure, "Discover Young Ireland," which includes information on accommodations, activities, holidays, au pair arrangements, home stays, study programs, work, transportation and bicycle rentals. Copies are available from the Irish Tourist Board, 757 3rd Ave., 19th Floor, New York 10017; (212) 418-0800.