Driving in Ireland without Driving Yourself Crazy

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

A strong will and a certain amount of courage is needed to drive in Ireland, since they drive on the wrong side of the road there. They think it's the right side, but it's actually the left. I know confusing right?  Still, since driving your own car is hands down the best way to see Ireland, it's worth the trouble.  Just remember that while it’s good to have a plan, it's best to not have a real set schedule.

Schedules can kill a vacation, especially in a country where many of the roads are one lane in either direction with no separation between them. Some roads barely seem big enough for two cars to pass each other and as you settle into the monotony of driving you might find yourself drifting to the side of the road you're most comfortable with.  In addition to this there are also many obstacles that at times you feel like you're playing a video game.

There is a popular Irish postcard with the caption ‘Traffic Jam’ which shows a car in the middle of the road surrounded by either cattle or sheep. This postcard is only funny when you see it in the airport before you’ve driven on country roads. After a few days in the country it seems more like a cautionary tale. Just relax, take some pictures and file the story away to get you a free beer in the pub next St. Paddy’s day.

Another thing to remember is that your car, and everyone else’s, has side mirrors. Yes side mirrors are a given, unfortunately they are also an accident waiting to happen. Especially when you drive through a busy Irish town with cars parked in the street on both sides. I’m not saying I ever took off someone’s side mirror, but if I did, I swear I went back and offered to pay for the damage.

Another important thing to remember when driving in Ireland is that most of the drivers live there and are familiar with the roads. True driving 65 mph on a mostly unpaved road that’s barely big enough for a car going in one direction may not seem like a good idea, and it’s not, but familiarity breeds complacency. Just get the extra rental car insurance and don’t worry about all the scratches on your car from hugging the bushes on the side of the road.

I have driven in Ireland a few times, most recently when my dad had to go to visit various family members that only my aunt knew. That situation brings me to my last piece of driving advice. If you ever need to follow someone who is the only link between you and where you need to be, all bets are off. Do whatever you need to stay with that car. Also since all cars look the same in Ireland, you probably want to write down the license plate number. Otherwise you may realize that the car you were following was just some guy on his way home from work. And while the Irish are a hospitable bunch, they probably won’t invite you in for dinner and to stay the night.

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Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

Have you any experiences of driving in Ireland? Visited other parts of Ireland? Do you have any advice or recommendations for our readers?

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