5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Jun 27, 2017 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Ah, the Emerald Isle. It’s a place of visual perfection, of green vistas, rainbows, and landscapes so beautiful that you have to pinch yourself that it is real, and you are HERE. But there’s one caveat – those Irish roads. Well, two caveats – driving on the other side of the road, and those Irish roads. But driving in Ireland is NOT scary, and is definitely doable, if you’re prepared and alert (as with any driving situation!). There’s so much to see and do in Ireland that driving, even on narrow roads, is a great way to experience the country and meet people!

Which way to go first? From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Here are our top tips for driving in Ireland…

5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Look Right, Turn Left

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again. Driving on the opposite side of the road can be difficult because you’re trained to do the exact opposite! Here’s our tip, gained from the good folks at IrishFireside – Look Right, Turn Left. What does that mean? Before you leave one road and go to another (from your driveway or a parking lot, for instance), look right, turn left. That is our mantra. We say it out loud to reinforce it. Even our daughter chimes in. A few days of that constant refrain and you’ll be good as gold.

Look right, turn left. From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Look right, turn left

Oh, those narrow Irish roads, lined with fuschia bushes! From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

 

Rules of the Road

  • As with driving in any country, follow all posted signage.
  • Speed limits are posted in kilometers on white circles with a red border (see photo below).
  • Do NOT turn on red, ever.
  • Signs are usually in both English and Gaelic.
  • Be careful to watch for one-way streets.
  • In a traffic circle (or roundabout), watch for cars and time your entrance just right. You might get a few honks at first (I did!), but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be entering and exiting them like a pro.
  • Be sure to fill your car up (with the right type of gas!) whenever you see a gas station, if you’re driving in rural areas.
  • Pull your car over if you’ve got a huge line of cars behind you, to let them pass.
  • It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving.
  • If you’re a bit lost and your passengers can’t figure out the map or the GPS, stop for help.
  • Lastly, especially in rural areas, watch for walkers and bikers.

 

Speed limit sign in Ireland - you can do it! From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Speed limit sign in Ireland

Traffic circle sign in Ireland, in both English and Gaelic. From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Traffic circle sign in Ireland, in both English and Gaelic

 

Watch for walkers! From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Watch for walkers!

 

Those Darn Buses

The scourge of many a driver in Ireland, the tour buses in popular locations (such as the Ring of Kerry) are almost a law unto themselves. On narrow roads, they take up most of the road. Hopefully you’ve rented a small car!

When you encounter a bus, scoot over as much as you can on your side. Don’t worry about the fuschia bushes or the tall grasses, they’ll live. One way to avoid getting stuck behind them on the Ring of Kerry is to drive in a counter-clockwise direction, as the tour buses drive clockwise. This is also a good idea because you’ll be on the inside lane, away from the edges that face the sea. And don't worry, you will likely bust a hubcap while you're driving here (or a mirror) - if you got the Super CDW Insurance (must!!), it's covered.

Watch for tour buses and scoot over! From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Watch for tour buses and scoot over!

See how close you can get to the bushes on the side? Make room! From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

See how close you can get to the bushes on the side? Make room!

Where to Drive

Well, there’s always the Wild Atlantic Way, which runs from West Cork to Donegal, all along Ireland’s west coast. You should also explore – there are many spots that tourists miss because they don’t know they exist!. Look for little signs by the side of the road – they always indicate something good! You can also explore the website Ireland Travel Kit, which shares small spots of interest all around Ireland (including some tips from us!). We love driving the Skellig Ring, as well as the Ring of Kerry.
 

A small brown sign at the side of the road means there's something interesting here! From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

A small brown sign at the side of the road means there's something interesting here!

What can you discover? From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

What can you discover?

Roads like these? They lead to incredible places. From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Roads like these? They lead to incredible places...

Don’t Try to Do a Huge Route in One Day

It always seems to take longer to get somewhere in Ireland than at home. It might be because of the mountains, or the narrow roads, or because you’re always stopping to take photos, but it is definitely a truism. Whatever you do, plan time for serendipity – you’ll always run across something beautiful or intriguing to explore. You might hit an Irish traffic jam. You may find a sign that leads you to a local treasure. You might stop for ice cream and discover a local market. You might stop to ask for directions and make a new friend. You might pull over for dinner at a pub, and delight in a ceilidh that goes for hours. That’s the true beauty of Ireland – the unexpected.

Irish traffic jam. From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Irish traffic jam

It's not hard to drive in Ireland, once you get the hang of it. From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

It's not hard to drive in Ireland, once you get the hang of it.

Driving the Skellig Ring brings its own treasures. From 5 Tips on Driving in Ireland

Driving the Skellig Ring brings its own treasures.

 

Where are you driving next, in Ireland?

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Jessie Voigts

 

 

 

 

 

 

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