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Driving in Ireland

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  • Driving in Ireland

    I'm visiting Ireland for 8 days in April with my parents. I'm in my 30s, my folks are in their 55 and 65. They are both very wary of driving at night in Ireland as they read this in several travel books. I insist that if we drive slowly and cautiously, we'll be just fine. I, for one, dont want to pack it in at 5 o'clocck everyday of my trip.

    Any other Americans travelled to Ireland and did you find the driving so scary that night driving was out of the question?

  • #2
    Re: Driving in Ireland

    What is their main worry about night driving? Is it being on the other side of the road?....we are much older, and have no problems driving off a ferry into France, and being on the other side.....remember that the driver sits on the right of the car, and everything in the car is set up for that- whereas when we drive on the continent, in our own car, everything's the wrong way round...but millions do it every year.
    Is it the narrow lanes?.....different laws..?....a car with a gear stick? Narrow lanes can be even easier at night, because you can see approaching lights....we live in an area where you have to pull into a layby to pass on the single roads, and it's possible to see someone coming from far ahead. You're not supposed to drive fast on those roads, anyway. Laws are pretty much the same all over the Western World these days, so there won't be any shocks there. And if you book a car early enough, there'll probably be an automatic for you.
    Jo. sigpic


    • #3
      Re: Driving in Ireland

      Their concern is based on the feedback other people have given on message boards (Frommer's specifically). They are mostly concerned with (1) the sheer drop off on one side of a narrow road and (2) lack of guard rails to prevent driving off the road into a ditch/off a cliff.


      • #4
        Re: Driving in Ireland

        Ah- I'm afraid I don't know the road mentioned....perhaps one of our Irish friends will know where this road is.
        Jo. sigpic


        • #5
          Re: Driving in Ireland

          I'm a bit confused as to what they mean by 'the sheer drop off one side of a narrow road'? Did someone on another travel site lead them to believe that roads in Ireland have large craters on either side or that the only possible way to get from place is by driving along cliffs where you turn one inch to the wrong side and you fall off the cliff? Because that is entirely ridiculous!

          To address the question seriously I would say that main concern is driving on narrow roads. In rural areas the roads can be narrow and people who aren't used to this can sometimes find it a bit stressful. See how you find it, if you are driving slowly and cautiously you will be fine. If you still don't feel comfortable on them then stick to the bigger roads (national roads or motorway) problem avoided. There are some scenic drives along the coast that can be near cliffs (not so near that you will just fall off!) e.g Antrim coast. Do these in the day and then you can use the main roads night, there is no point in doing a scenic drive at night anyway. I'm not the biggest fan of Irish roads but they are not the death trap that your parents are imaging.

          Where are you planning on driving?


          • #6
            Re: Driving in Ireland

            I don't remember roads which border a sharp drop. Maybe the Ring of Kerry? But you wouldn't be doing that at night, so I don't think you need to be concerned about a lot of dangerous cliff-edge driving. The Ring of Kerry can get congested but you could join a bus tour so everyone can enjoy the view and no-one needs to be concentrating on driving.

            You will mostly be driving in towns or on country roads the rest of the time.

            Driving in Ireland is similar to driving on the "wrong" side of the road anywhere, you just have to pay more attention and take it slowly. Sitting in a car with a steering wheel on the right will help to remind you - and don't forget to specify if you want an automatic if you can't drive a manual/stick shift (most Irish drive manual cars).

            Roads are often narrow and on some of the country lanes you may need to pull in when another car approaches to let it pass. Sometimes these narrow roads have drainage ditches either side (only a foot or so deep), so if you are driving at night make sure you pull in where there is a passing area - or look for a farm gate. Or let the other vehicle pull in - chances are they will be local and much better at navigating the lanes.

            The main roads are wider and have one lane in each direction if you are not on a highway. Sometimes you will see cars. tractors, etc. using the shoulder as a "slow lane" and they will pull over when you come up behind them to let you pass. A nice courtesy.

            Roundabouts can be confusing. Yield (give way) to traffic approaching from your right, when you approach them. Traffic already circling the roundabout has right of way. Mini roundabouts, which are no more than a circle painted in the road, operate the same way. Sometimes you have to almost drive over the circle, so just watch the other cars and follow suit.

            In a few parts of the country, especially around Kerry, you will notice that the road signs are in Irish. However, you can guess pretty much guess the meaning, usually "slow", "stop" or "yield".

            It takes a long time to get anywhere in Ireland, so leave plenty of time. Even short distances on narrow, winding roads take longer than you think.

            A final tip for road trips in Ireland - "Spar" stores are like 7 Elevens and great for snacks and drinks.


            • #7
              Re: Driving in Ireland

              It's been nearly 10 years, but I didn't find too much difficulty with driving in Ireland. Getting used to the left side of the road didn't take long, and if on country roads, they are narrow. People will pass you if you are slower than they, so just let them. If you are courteous, you should have no problem. The motorways are easy. By the way, if you reach your destination before dark then spend time wandering around locally - it will be fun. I am not an 'early-bird', but most of the time found that getting in before dark was the way to find out what was around. Then after dinner you knew if you wanted to stay at your hotel/inn or go out.


              • #8
                Re: Driving in Ireland

                We drove in Ireland for a week(my husband is 72 and I am 67), during all kinds of weather, during the day as well as at night. The main thing is getting used to driving on the other side of the road. There are areas that have very curvy roads, and you need to just be careful. Driving slowly might get you in an accident more readily than just driving the speed limit. What we decided to do when we were in Dingle is get a driver/guide so we could all enjoy the scenery. This is a good compromise for an area that has a lot of narrow, curvy roads. As the previous entries indicated, the really curvy roads would probably be something you would be doing in the daytime. Have fun. It's beautiful there.


                • #9
                  Re: Driving in Ireland

                  One more thing to mention is 'roundabouts' or traffic circles. If you are not used to them at home, trying them is a bit intimidating AT FIRST. Be patient but not too hesitant because that will tick off the other drivers. Use your signal when you are trying to exit or change lanes. Remember, if you have to go around more than once, it's ok. Try to pay attention to the sign leading up to it so you know where to get out. My friend and I devised the "clock" method. Instead of straight, left or right - we would say 5 o'clock, 10 o'clock, or whichever way we had to go. The exits out of a traffice circle can go at various angles. Just something to think about. Good map reading and navigation go a long way to making the drive pleasant. Also, if you go the wrong way, just enjoy it and laugh. Experience is what travel is all about!


                  • #10
                    Re: Driving in Ireland

                    To plan your journeys and for general driving and traffic advice check the AA road watch website their traffic alerts are also played on most Irish radio stations. It will give you an idea of driving times but allow much more time for special scenic routs in rural areas.


                    • #11
                      Re: Driving in Ireland

                      I have lived in ireland for 12 years. In April it will depend on were you are travelling but normally it will be daylight until about 8pm and in the west it will be closer to 9pm. In april the roads will not be too busy with tourists. All tourist type roads are signposted but beware of going off the beaten track without a good map or sat nav as these roads do not have signposts and can be very narrow.
                      Importantly never be in a rush in Ireland especially in rural areas as everything is at a slower pace and dont be surprised to find a tractor in front of you going at their own pace.


                      • #12
                        Re: Driving in Ireland

                        Thank you all for the replies and sorry for my delay in responding.

                        Emma - your post made me laugh very hard - I find my parents worries equally silly, but they read this on a blog somewhere...they didnt make it up! Blogs can really spread bad information. I'll now send this link to my parents so they can feel more comfortable.

                        I really appreciate all the feedback. For those of you who asked where we are driving - we are driving everywhere! We're staying at Adare manor near the center of Ireland the entire time, so every day is a day trip with a lot of driving. I understand the majority of our time will be on motorways, national roads, etc. I think there fear is that when we get to wherever we're headed, the roads will be narrow, dark and twisting, but you all addressed that.

                        Our itinerary is roughly:
                        day 1-bunratty, rock of cashel, doolin, cliffs of moher
                        day 2- galway city/bay and connemara
                        day 3 - dingle, ring of kerry, kilarney
                        day 4 - cork and kinsale
                        day 5 - kilkenny and waterford
                        day 6- dublin (by train from limerick station)
                        day 7 - dublin (drive there, turn in cars immediately)
                        day 8 - depart dublin for NYC

                        I know its busy...but we want to see as much of Ireland as we possibly can. This itinerary lets us explore quite a bit of the country. I think perhaps we should have done a B&B package instead, so we could stay in each area overnight...but it's too late for that.

                        Any thought/tips would be appreciated.