When putting information on this site I attempt to avoid anything that is overly controversial, political or religiously biased and to present facts and accurate information. I have received e-mails, heard things in personal conversations, seen news reports in the U.S. and seen news reports in Ireland about news reports in other countries that raise the question about how safe it might be to visit Ireland. I feel this can't be ignored and needs some explanation concerning the situation in Northern Ireland.
Is it safe or not to visit Ireland or any specific parts of Ireland? First of all, Ireland as a whole or in part is NOT a war zone. By American standards it might even border on being boring as far as any major incidents or newsworthy events go. There are no tornados, eathquakes, wild fires, gang wars, serial killers, road rage shootings or other events that make up the nightly news in many U.S. cities. It is a beautiful country with fantastic, friendly people. Personally, after living in Ireland for the better part of five years, I would say over all anywhere in Ireland is safer in all repects than any major U.S. city.
So why do certain events make worldwide headlines? Why does it appear to be so violent in news reports? Let's put a few things in perspective. There are under 6 million people on the entire island. That averages out to about 171 people per sq. mile. There are more sheep than people! Ireland as a whole is pretty much a peaceful, quiet area of the world.
The Republic is a neutral country that helps where it can and minds its own business. Northern Ireland is made up of hard working people and on its own pretty much keeps to itself in the world political arena. So when a relatively small group on either side of the political fence do something outrageous it makes news. When you throw religion into the mix, it makes headlines. When children are involved or people killed it makes worldwide headlines.
To further make the point, everytime a gunman shoots up a school in the U.S. or a family member goes beserk and kills his entire family it makes headlines in Ireland and around the world. If the U.S. were judged solely by what is seen on the news or read in the papers no one would ever want to visit there. Yet we all know, that while tragic, in relation to the population these are isolated incidents and not a true picture of life all the time, everywhere in the states.
Think honestly for just a minute about where you live. Aren't there certain areas that are generally (right or wrong) considered to be areas that you would not go into - that are called bad, dangerous, unsafe or high crime areas? And the bigger the city the more of these areas there are or the worse they might be. Would you say that the town or city you live in is unsafe to visit because it has one or more such area? Is Oklahoma City a war zone or unsafe for tourists because the Federal Building was blown up?
Much of what is on the news concerning Northern Ireland is in small, mainly residential areas. Chances are a tourist wouldn't even come across these areas. Some areas in the northern part of the country, such as County Donegal in the Republic, have no violence. Instead there is fantastic fishing, beautiful beaches and championship golf courses. Even the cities of Northern Ireland that are often in the news in, such as Belfast, are safe for tourists and well worth visiting.
If you don't consider visiting Ireland, especially the northern parts of the island, for a vaction or holiday you are truly cheating yourself of the opportunity and experience to explore the history, culture and beauty of an island whose past influences the way you live today.