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Trains in Ireland

Hi folks,

I have our UK transportation as sorted as can be. Now I have a question about trains in Ireland. We will be spending 11 days in South/Southwest Ireland. We will be traveling by train, bus and foot. I have worked out our route and what form of transport, as well as checked timetables and have picked out preferred times. My question is: will we need to make reservations on trains in Ireland? We haven't had to book trains in Ireland or the UK before but this being the Summer of Post-Pandemic Travel, I am wondering if we can get away with winging it on Irish trains and buses. Thanks for all your help. I have big plans to contribute after we get back 😀.

Edited to add: I have searched but have not found the answer to my specific question.

Posted by
6470 posts

Irish Trains are mass transit- they don't sell out, you can buy until minutes before departure.
But you get a far better price by booking ahead and a guaranteed seat- and can even choose your specific seat. Even the most expensive book ahead option is around 1/2 of the buy on the day fare. That most expensive option (the right hand one of the three) can be changed or cancelled until 60 minutes before departure.
So there is no real reason not to book ahead, you could so every incentive to book ahead.

Posted by
180 posts

Excellent. Thank you. Except for the trip that we may not have 60 minutes notice if we need to change it, I will get booking on Irish Rail.

Posted by
59 posts

Jumping in on this with a further question for isn31c or anyone else -

My wife and I arrive in Dublin on Saturday, Oct. 14, at about 6:00 a.m., and want to get right over to Galway. We are leaning towards taking the train from Heuston Station. (We do understand the a coach from the airport might be easier and cheaper.) Thinking of the train then, someone in another thread suggested we should allow three hours from arrival to catch the train, which suggests that a 9:00 train would be ideal. My question is around what to do if the flight is late or we are otherwise held up somehow, and can't make out reserved train. Must you go online to make a change, or call some phone number? Or - is there some sort of kiosk in Dublin airport that can handle that? Thanks for any information.

Posted by
6470 posts

The first train is at 0735, then 0925, 1125, 1325 etc. So if on time you should catch the 0925.

When you buy a ticket you will create an account with Irish Rail. The ticket has to be changed online within your account- https://www.irishrail.ie/en-ie/rail-fares-and-tickets/tickets-explained#Online%20Tickets

If you know when you are still stateside that you are x hours late taking off change it there at the airport pre-boarding while you still have data.

If you get the transatlantic tail wind and quiet immigration/bag collection you have a very slim chance of the 0735. At that time on a Saturday the bus or taxi to Heuston should only take 30 minutes. If you are that lucky you might be able to change a 0925 ticket to 0735 on data/wifi at the airport

Posted by
59 posts

Thank you so much isn31c, for all that info and advice. I think it makes sense for us to get tickets on the 9:35 then. That way, we won't need to rush and can look for some sort of breakfast at the train station. If for some reason our flight is early, or things just happen to go fast, we can certainly consider trying for that earlier train. Many thanks.

Posted by
59 posts

Thanks again for these comments. I can't really "reply" to people in this forum, but a sort-of reply to Concerned Local: Thanks, and I do understand that the bus/coach would be easier and potentially quicker. After much back and forth on this, we have opted for the train from Heuston Station. One thing to bear in mind is that, for the wife and I anyway, it isn't just a matter of getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. It's also the (small) adventure of taking a train ride. While I realize that A) the coach is not terrible, and B) the train isn't go to be like Hercule Poirot's Calais Coach, the train seems like more fun to us. Here in the U.S. we rarely have occasion to take a train, so this is an opportunity for us. A small part of the adventure of travel. But thank you.

Posted by
59 posts

Another comment on this, now that we are home from our ten-day trip to the ROI, and a sort of reply to "Concerned Local". After arrival in Dublin at about 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, the whole process of finding the right bus to get us to Heuston Station, sitting in Heuston Station for two hours (bundled up and shivering, since it apparently has little or no heating), and then the train ride to Galway made for a hell of a grueling day. In hindsight, we would have been better off to get on one of the coaches that left right from the airport. I was wrong in thinking that the train might have a little bit of glamour or a fun-factor to it. The train worked as advertised, and got us to Galway on time, but there was nothing about it that gave it an edge over the bus. The Eurostar - it is not. Anyway, really what we should have done is to spend one or two nights in Dublin before heading out west. That would have been a more pleasant experience than either of the other two options.

Posted by
180 posts

I see a lot of bus vs train discussion so I just want to share my perspective. There are four things that make trains the choice for me every time. One is that you can get up and move around. The second is sometimes you get a cup of tea. Third, sometimes you get a table and we enjoy bringing our lunch or playing a card game on a longer train ride. Last, but sometimes not least, there is always a restroom on the train.

Posted by
6470 posts

But perhaps a salutary lesson for future travellers to heed the advice of locals who actually do the journey rather than relying on Google

@Katiecem- the OP- has already stated why she prefers the train to bus. Modal choice is exactly that, different locals will have different transport choices for all kinds of reasons- not just on this journey but on many other journeys in Ireland and in the UK. A different local, in the case of @Miles (who very narrowly seems to have missed the 1st train) might have had breakfast at the airport knowing they had time to kill, and how long it would take to get from there to Heuston. Or a local person might have suggested somewhere in central Dublin to have breakfast if there was time in hand on the day, in preference to just being sat on the platform.

It is right that people should have the full range of choices and make their own minds up- not be prescribed by the choice of one individual person.