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Headed to Ireland - Concerned About Driving
Old 06-13-2015, 12:55 PM   #1
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Headed to Ireland - Concerned About Driving

DD and I are headed to Ireland for two weeks (6/17-6/30).
We will spend a few days in Dublin, then rent a car and head to the coast. We will be staying in B&Bs with some activities planned (biking on Inishmore Island, kayaking in Liscannor Bay and I will climb Carrountoohil). Lots of time for wandering the country and seaside villages. My only concern is driving. Any words of wisdom or suggestions?


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Old 06-13-2015, 01:13 PM   #2
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Yes, stay left!

It really wasn't hard except going through intersections and panic situations. The passenger's job was to chant "stay left" in those situations. Make sure you understand the rules of the road expecially round a bouts. When I went over and was going to drive Megacorp paid for an international drivers license. The logic was if you had an issue they would take that instead of my state license. Not sure if that's still true.

Make sure you can get an automatic if that's what you're used to. They were not as common as the US. Driving a stick came easy for me, but I was used to it.
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:14 PM   #3
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You're going to encounter some narrow roads....stay on the left of them.

Oops..MRG posted while I was typing.
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:15 PM   #4
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I've driven in Ireland and Scotland. My experience was it's doable, but nerve-wracking to be on the left side of the road. Also - outside of cities the roads are narrow - but 2 way traffic - so don't go to fast, and be willing to pull over to the side to get past (or let past you) oncoming traffic. Roundabouts are clockwise.

Have a great trip. I found Irish people to be the friendliest of all my travels. They kept asking me what county my kin were from. (I'm not Irish but have reddish hair so I guess I look Irish.)
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:18 PM   #5
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I suggest you rent a car with a Diesel engine as that will significantly cut your fuel bill. If you own a portable GPS, download the maps (usually Ireland and Britain will be in the set) and bring it with you. You can rent a car with GPS but at significant extra cost and it will limit your choices. Also, if you are comfortable driving a manual transmission, that will be cheaper. Most Irish cars are manual. Petrol (aka gas) is much more expensive in Ireland; hence the popularity of small diesel cars.

As you will be driving on the left, practice in the parking lot before you head for the hills. Do take paper maps, as GPS can sometimes be misleading in rural areas (e.g. suggesting a one lane paved road or bóithrín).

One well known tourist drive is the Ring of Kerry. It is customary to drive it in an anti clockwise direction, because the road is narrow and if you are going the "wrong" way you may find yourself having to reverse out of the path of a large coach.

Here are the Irish Rules of the Road.
RSA.ie - Rules of the road

Be aware that sheep and cattle have the right of way in the countryside. This will only be an issue in remote areas. You will have to get on the motorway first!

Have fun, and may the road rise with you!
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:27 PM   #6
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We've been to Ireland twice and had no problems driving. The driver sits on the right and that actually helps as a reminder to stay left.

It does take a bit to get use to shifting a manual with your left hand.
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:49 PM   #7
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I've not been to Ireland, so I am jealous.

My friend found out the hard way that most credit cards do not cover car rental insurance in a handful of countries, including Ireland--you probably already are on top of that but just wanted to mention it.
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:51 PM   #8
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My best advice is to stay out of the pubs unless they're within walking distance of your hotel.
They don't like intoxicated drivers over there.
I always like driving on the "wrong" side of the road. My biggest problem is I automatically get in on the left side front seat, and my wife thinks I'm wanting her to drive. It's just a habit, and she's the last person I want driving me anywhere.
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:54 PM   #9
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The passenger's job was to chant "stay left" in those situations. Make sure you understand the rules of the road expecially round a bouts
Exactly. In addition to "Stay left!", the passenger on my trip simply yelled "Danger!" when their side of the vehicle was perilously close to a hedge, stone wall, cow, person etc.

And when driving in Dublin: PRAY. PRAY. PRAY.
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:57 PM   #10
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I've not been to Ireland, so I am jealous.

My friend found out the hard way that most credit cards do not cover car rental insurance in a handful of countries, including Ireland--you probably already are on top of that but just wanted to mention it.
I have been able to get insurance coverage in Ireland on my Canadian gold cards, but apparently they do not accept U.S. Credit cards.
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Old 06-13-2015, 03:06 PM   #11
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Also, if you are comfortable driving a manual transmission, that will be cheaper.
It's not a big deal, but the slight increase in complexity of a manual does add to the mental load - especially at first. While the shifter is on the "wrong" side using a different hand, at least the break, clutch, and gas pedals don't change relative position.

I drove a manual land rover in Malawi for a week. After the first day or two it was easy. The problem in Malawi was the throngs of bicycles weaving all over the road - I was sure I was going to mow someone down. You shouldn't have that problem in Ireland.
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Old 06-13-2015, 03:36 PM   #12
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The problem in Malawi was the throngs of bicycles weaving all over the road - I was sure I was going to mow someone down. You shouldn't have that problem in Ireland.
Not unless the sheep are riding bicycles.......did anyone mention the sheep?
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Old 06-13-2015, 03:49 PM   #13
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Not unless the sheep are riding bicycles.......did anyone mention the sheep?
Yes, in post #5.

This is worth a read too. Especially the post about unrealistically high speed limits on narrow country roads. Some of the locals think they are rally drivers.

Driving, Ireland Warning or Danger: 36 Reviews, 22 Photos - VirtualTourist

Check out the Wild Atlantic Way:

http://www.wildatlanticway.com/home/
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Old 06-13-2015, 04:12 PM   #14
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Yes, in post #5.
OK...(I have a good memory.....but it's short)

(One thing in particular I remember from our trip to Ireland, ~ 30 years ago, is how green it was, (yeah, I know, Emerald Isle and all that).......but we were coming directly from Riyadh and it actually gave us eyestrain.)
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Old 06-13-2015, 04:18 PM   #15
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Driving for me was not hard on the roads. It is a bit more difficult in parking lots as you seem to revert back to your instincts.

One other thing - if you get a diesel, the motor may stop when you are stopped at an intersection. The rental place forget to tell me about this fuel saving mechanism. I was cussing the car and restarting it until about the third intersection.
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Old 06-13-2015, 04:30 PM   #16
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I drive in Ireland every year using a manual rental car. The best thing to remember is that no matter where u drive that the steering wheel is to the center of the road. That's the universal rule in all countries. So when u are turning on to a different road just keep that in mind. This will also help you when u get back to the states, as some people get used to saying "LEFT" and then do the same when they get back here. Oops. They then have an accident here, not there.

Get the smallest car u are comfortable with. I always get a little VW Polo, even though I drive a large car here. The smaller the car the better u are able to maneuver into and out of their ridiculously small parking spaces (they're called car parks there ) Also the better able to pull to the side in narrow roads when a lorry is coming ur way.

As some other poster said get to understand roundabouts before you go. They're easy, just yield to the right, then enter. That's it.

The car rental companies almost force you to get minimum theft/collision. My card covers the deductible I think. Some don't. You can pay more to get the deductible lowered.

West coast is really where the beauty of Ireland is I think. Concentrate on that area. The Irish love Americans. When I was growing up there I had a job as a bartender and we loved US tourists cos they were the only ones that really tipped 😀






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Old 06-13-2015, 04:43 PM   #17
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The best thing to remember is that no matter where u drive that the steering wheel is to the center of the road.
+1

It sounds too simple, but it's saved me on occasion. Visual your body always next to the centre line or centre of the road. (That's centre, but center will do for foreigners.)

Take care when turning into a dual carriageway (divided highway) or an intersection with bollards (that's bollards, not bollocks), again it's your body next to the bollard or central divider.
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Old 06-13-2015, 05:28 PM   #18
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Just keep the speed moderate and you should be able to recover from whatever errors you make. When I was visiting there in 2002, it was the German drivers who the locals feared, because not only are they also driving on the opposite side of what they are used to, but they tend to go fast and get in horrific accidents. According to the Irish I spoke with.

The one thing that I never got used to was left turn on red (similar to our right turn on red)
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Old 06-13-2015, 05:46 PM   #19
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... Roundabouts are clockwise. ...
Wait, is that left-hand, or right-hand 'clockwise'? Or is there a metric conversion? This is so confusing!

Fortunately, I did not need to drive while I was in either Ireland or Scotland. Being a passenger was bad enough for me. Making a left-hand turn in front of all that traffic makes me cringe and ready to yell a warning at the driver (you are not crossing their paths, but it's habit for me to feel that way)!

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Old 06-13-2015, 05:56 PM   #20
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I tried driving in the UK once. I could not do it. I was a nervous wreck. Thankfully I had a native Scotlander with me who gladly took over the wheel . Heck I even had trouble Walking around in London, fortunately they paint signs on the road to tell you which way to look before stepping out into the street
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