So why should you use a VPN? For a start, they encrypt your internet traffic, increasing your online security and preventing any third parties, including hackers, network administrators, and your Internet Service Provider (ISP), from monitoring your activities. Of course, they have a secondary benefit that’s particularly useful if you like to stream.
VPN services enable you to choose servers from all over the world. When you connect, your real IP address is hidden and you’re given a temporary, region-specific address. Most geo-restricted services use your IP address as the primary method of determining your location. When you use a VPN, you appear to be located in whichever country your current server is in, bypassing the site’s regional restrictions and allowing you to use it as normal.
We’ll go into more detail for each of these below, but if you’re in a rush, here are our top five VPNs for Ireland:
- ExpressVPN: Easy to use, able to unblock numerous streaming services abroad, and very fast.
- CyberGhost: Best budget choice yet versatile VPN offering good value for money.
- NordVPN: A fast VPN with an expansive network and strong unblocking capabilities.
- IPVanish: A speedy VPN which boasts unique security features and allows ten simultaneous connections.
- PrivateVPN: Fast, reliable, and able to unblock services like Netflix abroad.
Choosing which VPN to use can be difficult as there are so many different services all vying for your attention. We looked for services meeting the criteria below when finding the best VPNs for Ireland:
- Provides high speeds and stable connections
- Offers an expansive network and at least one server in Ireland
- Uses powerful encryption and includes additional security features
- Has apps for the most popular operating systems
- Doesn’t log any information that could identify you
Best VPNs for Ireland
Take a look below to see our list of the best VPNs for Ireland.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN currently offers access to more than 2,000 high-speed servers across 94 countries, including Ireland. It has excellent multi-platform support, and can even be installed on routers relatively easily. Additionally, this service is able to unblock some of the most popular streaming platforms, like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and ITV Hub.
ExpressVPN uses 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, a kill switch, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks to keep your traffic hidden at all times. This service doesn’t record any personally identifiable information, and accepts Bitcoin, allowing for anonymous sign up. Customer support is available 24/7 over live chat in case of any problems.
This VPN comes with apps for MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android. It can be quickly and easily installed on some routers using ExpressVPN’s custom router firmware (or an alternative).
- High-speed connections
- Great for streaming
- Anonymous registration possible
- Strong security features
- A little more expensive than some rivals
BEST VPN FOR IRELAND: ExpressVPN is our number one choice for Ireland. It offers high speeds, a large server network, and the ability to unblock a wide array of geo-blocked services. Includes a 30 day money back guarantee so you can try it risk free.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost has 20 Irish servers, and over 5,700 more throughout 89 other countries. Users can choose not just which country they’d like to connect to, but also (in some locations) which city. There’s even a list of servers designed for unblocking popular streaming services like Netflix, Sky Go, and BBC iPlayer, which makes watching your favorite shows abroad extremely simple.
CyberGhost includes a kill switch in both its mobile and desktop apps, ensuring you never have to browse unprotected. It uses 256-bit encryption by default, prevents WebRTC, DNS and IPv6 leaks, and even offers automatic malware-scanning and ad-blocking features. This service does not log any personally identifiable information and accepts Bitcoin. If you need help, support can be reached over live chat, 24/7.
CyberGhost includes apps for Windows, Android, MacOS, Linux and iOS devices. It can be manually installed on select internet routers.
- Fast enough for HD streaming
- 7 connections permitted
- One-click unblocking built-in
- Easy for novices to use
- Few options for advanced users
BEST BUDGET VPN: CyberGhost is fast, secure, and inexpensive. Best of all, it’s extremely easy to use, even if you’re not particularly experienced with computers. Includes 45-day money back guarantee.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is fast enough to stream live HD content with no interruptions. It has more than 5,200 servers spanning 62 countries, with 35 in Ireland alone. In addition to providing servers optimized for anonymity and P2P file-sharing, this VPN is capable of reliably unblocking sites like Netflix, RTÉ Player, and Amazon Prime Video from anywhere in the world.
This service puts major emphasis on your privacy. It uses 256-bit encryption and protection against DNS, WebRTC, port-forwarding, and IPv6 leaks by default. There are also more advanced features like dual VPN, Tor over VPN, ad-blocking, and malware-scanning functionality. With various cryptocurrencies accepted and no logs kept, this VPN enables you to register and browse almost completely anonymously.
NordVPN has apps for Linux, Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. It works with network routers, but must be configured manually.
- Expansive server network
- Very fast
- Excellent unblocking ability
- No-logs policy
- Desktop app takes a while to connect
STRONG ALL-ROUNDER: NordVPN is a strong all-rounder, combining fast speeds, numerous security features, and powerful unblocking capability. Further, its network is second-to-none in terms of size. Includes 30 day money back guarantee.
Money-back guarantee: 7 DAYS
IPVanish is perfect for people looking to protect their whole household: it allows up to 10 connections while most of its rivals permit between three and six. This VPN has more than 1,100 servers across over 60 countries, including two in Ireland, allowing users to gain a low-latency connection wherever they are. Further, IPVanish is fast enough to stream HD content with no noticeable buffering.
Considering its apps are so lightweight, there’s actually a good degree of security built in. There’s 256-bit encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch, for instance, as well as local traffic blocking. You can even choose to obfuscate OpenVPN traffic or switch IP addresses at regular intervals. There’s no need to worry about being tracked either as IPVanish doesn’t log any personally identifiable information.
IPVanish apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Firestick. After manual configuration, it even works on Linux systems and some wireless routers.
- High speeds
- Up to 10 simultaneous connections
- Apps for a wide range of systems
- Offers 24/7 live chat
- Struggles to unblock some streaming platforms
- Does not allow anonymous registration
PROTECT ALL OF YOUR DEVICES: IPVanish boasts high speeds, exceptional multi-platform support, and a few unique security features, making it ideal for those who use multiple devices to access the internet regularly. Includes 7 day money back guarantee.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN can reliably unblock major streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer abroad. It might not have the largest network (fewer than 90 servers in 57 countries), but it is faster than many of its competitors; you can stream live HD video with no stuttering or buffering whatsoever. As a bonus, PrivateVPN allows up to six simultaneous connections.
This VPN keeps you safe using 256-bit encryption as well as DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection. It boasts a no-logs policy so you can rest assured your activities can’t be traced back to you. Bitcoin is accepted, though, so if you’re still not convinced, you can sign up anonymously using a disposable email address. The customer support team is particularly helpful, and can even remotely connect to your device (with your permission) to install the software for you.
PrivateVPN offers MacOS, iOS, Windows, and Android apps. It works with Linux systems and supported routers, although you’ll have to configure the service manually first.
- Faster than most similar VPNs
- Able to unblock stubborn streaming services abroad
- Keeps no logs
- Anonymous sign up possible
- Fewer servers than its rivals
- No live chat available
STRONG GENERAL-PURPOSE VPN: PrivateVPN boasts better-than-average speeds and the ability to unblock some of the most popular streaming platforms. It’s highly secure, with a zero-logs policy for added peace of mind. Includes 30 day money back guarantee.
Can’t I just use a free VPN instead?
Free VPNs may appear tempting at first glance but we don’t recommend using one. There are several reasons for this, chief among them, their performance. These services’ networks are usually fairly limited but there’s a constant influx of users. As such, you can expect very slow speeds. This makes high-definition streaming a frustrating experience, with low-resolution video, frequent stuttering, and lengthy pauses for buffering. Additionally, free VPNs are usually the first to be blocked by major platforms, meaning you may not be able to access your chosen service.
Very few services are completely free, and “free VPNs” are no different. Some use an ad-supported model, which in theory, isn’t anything unusual. In practice, however, these ads are often extremely large, eye-catching, and obtrusive. Some of these services even store tracking cookies on your device, enabling them to harvest information such as your favorite sites, how often you visit them, and the times at which you do so. This data can then be sold for profit to anonymous third parties, usually without your express permission.
How to unblock geo-restricted content with a VPN
Accessing geo-restricted content from abroad is easy, even if you’re completely new to VPNs:
- Start by choosing a suitable VPN provider (we recommend ExpressVPN).
- Download and install the appropriate version of the app for your device.
- Connect to one of the VPN’s servers in your desired location. For instance, to unblock the RTÉ Player, you’d use an Irish server, but for Hulu, you’d use one in the US.
- Try loading video on your chosen site. It should load straight away, but if it doesn’t, clear your browser’s cache and cookies, then reload the page.
If you’d like to watch a live event, we strongly recommend performing the steps above before it begins. This approach ensures that should anything go wrong, you’ll still have time to contact your VPN provider’s customer support team for help.
HOW TO GET A PREMIUM VPN FREE: Want a VPN but don’t want to commit for a year or more to get a good deal? ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee that effectively lets you use it for free. You will have to pay upfront but can cancel at any point to receive a full refund, no questions asked.
Why else should I use a VPN?
If you regularly log into your Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks, or Citibank account online from Ireland, then try accessing it from another country (for instance, if you’re on vacation), you run the risk of tripping automated fraud prevention systems. However, by connecting to one of your VPN’s Ireland servers beforehand, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of this happening.
VPNs also ensure that you can access your usual streaming services wherever you are in the world. In fact, staying up-to-date with the latest shows on platforms like RTÉ Player, TG4, and Virgin Player is trivially simple. When travelling, you’re also more likely to connect to public wifi, but with a VPN, you can browse freely without worrying about whether your activities will be tracked or not.
Internet restrictions in Ireland
For the most part, users in Ireland can browse the internet without restriction. However, like in the UK, Irish ISPs block access to various file-sharing and streaming sites known for hosting unlicensed content. These include The Pirate Bay, Putlocker, RARBG, and EZTV. Further, while Eircom has had a three-strikes copyright violation policy since 2015, additional ISPs are poised to implement similar schemes in the near future. These policies will see users receive two warning letters if they’re discovered to be downloading copyrighted content, while a third violation will see their details given to the copyright holder.
There may be more restrictions on the horizon: The Times (paywall) reports that a bill set to block pro-anorexia and pro-suicide sites has cross-party support. While it’s hard to argue against blocking this kind of content, governments don’t seem to have realized that bypassing their often heavy-handed blanket restrictions is laughably simple with a VPN. In fact, one Pirate Bay proxy was (as of May 2018) the 115th most-visited site in the UK, despite the government having blocked the main site since 2012.