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On this Page:
  • My Experience Driving on the Left side of the Road in Ireland.
  • My, these roads are narrow.
  • The distance looked shorter on the map.

Before you read any further let me make one thing clear, the following is not to discourage you from driving in Ireland, driving in Ireland is part of the adventure. To see the sights of Ireland you have the following options; take a bus tour, walk, bicycle, pay a private driver, or drive your self, a train isn't going to do it. The following is to insure, if you decide to drive in Ireland, you have an idea of what you are getting into. Irish drivers are polite, and surprisingly, Ireland road traffic is often (but not always) on the light side.

Every morning, sometimes even before I had the car in drive, I would hear from the 16 year old in the back seat "Dad, stay to the left!". On the road I would hear, "Dad, your going too fast!. "Dad, your too far left!" and occasionally from my wife a "Jerry, watch it!". Ok, sometimes these admonishments were justified but sometimes they were just my family expressing their general apprehension with driving in Ireland.
Just like in Britain, in Ireland (both north and south) one drives on the left side of the road. On my visit to Britain in 1992, it took me a day or two to adjust to driving on the left side of the road. In 2004, being 12 years older, I found the mental change to driving on the left much more difficult to make. Map program for finding a location

Before entering an intersection, us 'drive on the right people' will check for traffic making certain we look left last before pulling in to traffic; this is particular important if we have a limited view down the left side of the street. Driving on the left side of the street requires one to reverse the look left, last, habit. As cars on the left side of the street will be arriving at you from the right, you want to look right last before pulling out in to the intersection.

Above - an average size rural road. Many roads we drove in Ireland were narrower than the one pictured above.
Ireland's Roads are generally in good shape but are often very narrow. Lined with hedges and often stonewalls, even at relatively slow speeds the roads make you feel like you are traveling fast. In some areas of Ireland such as the Ring of Dingle, at times, the roads can be so narrow you will need to pick a spot to stop and allow on-coming traffic to pass. (How the Tour Buses make these drives, is a wonder to me.)

As you travel down these beautiful hedge line roads, you might spot convex mirrors hanging in the hedges. When you are at an intersection, where you can't see down the road to check traffic, look for a mirror hanging across the way; it may be the only way to check for cross traffic.

It may take longer to get to your destination than you think.
Looking at a map of Ireland one might think it is possible to drive from its most northern tip to its most southern tip in 5 or 6 hours. But, that thinking is not the reality on the ground. Yes, there are some major divided highways that can take you fairly quickly across the island. Keep in mind though, that most highways do not go around cities but through them. On approaching cities, roundabouts are used to redirect traffic, in the process lessening the amount of traffic on the main road. In my experience, the main road (now a regular two lane street), usually continues through the center of downtown with all its traffic.

Other factors that effect how fast you can travel are the rural nature of the road and the over all topography of the land. Costal and mountain driving can take up considerable time due to the frequency and sharpness of curves. After a long day of touring, narrow roads and stops at intersections may make that colorful B&B you booked off a main trek seem like eons away.

I plan to cover the following topics on driving when I finish this section.
  • Some of the road rules in Ireland - roundabouts.
  • Egad, even the cars are different.
  • Should I buy extra insurance coverage?
  • Make certain you check the tires before driving off in that rental car.
  • Should I drive in Ireland? What type of car should I get?

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The information on this page was gather during my families July 2004 visit to Ireland