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1st Time Driving in Ireland - Any Advice?

1st Time Driving in Ireland - Any Advice?

May 18th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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1st Time Driving in Ireland - Any Advice?

Well, the big departure for Ireland will be here next week. We're very excited but a little nervous about the first day or two of driving until we get a comfort level established. Any Ireland driving experts have any words of wisdom for us? I've got a book that covers basic sign / street markings like a box junction. I guess I'm just checking to make sure we're not missing something important like don't park at a curb painted xyz color or your car will go towed or a boot placed on the tire. I'm sure we'll break some rules of the road on accident. If it matters, we'll be traveling in SW Ireland only. Is most parking in a town like Killarney or Kenmare free or paid via meter? I think Kenmare has a 2 hour parking limit. Thanks for the help!
jbjayhawk is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 11:36 AM
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A detailed map is essential for driving in Ireland. I like the Michelin Ireland map (available from amazon.com). If you want something even more detailed, buy either the Ordnance Survey map for the Southwest or the spiral-bound Ordnance Survey atlas for the entire country.
TimS is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 01:15 PM
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Most public parking is 'Pay and Display' -- in Killarney, near the Tourist Office, for example, you park and then look for the kiosk that dispenses tickets. After purchasing the necessary "time", you place the receipt on the dashboard so that it is visible.

In other areas, a Parking disk may be required that you buy for local newsstands or other shops.

You MUST yield to traffic already in the roundabout, but you generally don't need to stop unles a car is approaching (to your RIGHT, as traffic runs 'CLOCKWISE'.

The drive from Shannon Airport is VERY good about 'easing' you into the whole experience.

On dual carraigeways (4 lane), slower traffic rides to the left.

Traffic Calming are intentional 'bottle-necks to slow down traffic.

Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 01:20 PM
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I drove in Ireland for the first time a few months ago and honestly it isn't as bad as you are probably imagining. I wouldn't overthink it too much or you'll end up making yourself more nervous and anxious than necessary. Just be careful and take it slow the first day, and build in extra time into your itinerary to accommodate that.

Its a truly gorgeous country and your sure to have a great time.


tcreath is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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I always just keep saying to myself when turning "wide right, short left." And concentrate on making certain my right hand is closest to the center line! Just something to help the initial confusion....
Holldoll is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 04:40 PM
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As soon as you're outside of any of the towns - watch for the sheep - they're everywhere - and not bright about getting out of the way.
nytraveler is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 05:24 PM
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Here is my hint about driving in Ireland that has worked for the past ten years.
1. Get a good map. I like the the Michelin map because is shows all the roads although the maps that come with the rental car are not horrible.

2. Look at the map and write down your drive for the next day. In other words, have a plan.

3. One person drives and one person is the navigator. The driver drives and the navigator reads the map and watches for road signs and tells the driver when to turn.

4. It will take you longer than you think.

5. The Irish are very fond of overtaking (passing). Keep and eye down the road and stay to the left if you see a car pulling out in your lane.

6. The driverhas too remember to go left at roundabouts and if you miss your turn off don't panic just go around again. The roundabouts have good directions posted well before you enter.

7. The driver must keep the the white line on his right at all times.

All kidding aside just pay attention and you will be alright.

Have Fun
JOHNOD is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 07:41 PM
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Amen re the sheep, especially at this time of year with the lambs.

They graze commonage and verges.

Just take it slowly and enjoy it..It is so pretty just now, even with the rain just now.
anchoress is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 03:00 AM
Join Date: May 2007
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I have written a driving guide, intended for hire-car tourists visiting Ireland: please visit;

[please click on the 2nd url]

You might also be interested to read my Munster tour account, also in the same section. Since you're avoiding the major cities, I think you can relax and look forward to some great experiences! have a great trip,

pjdscott is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 03:20 AM
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Interesting guide, Peter.

Please do not expect Irish drivers to respect the speed limits...You will be disappointed. We pull over when, even though we are driving up to speed, someone is trying to drive up our.... Best to let them pass..

Interesting too re roundabouts. Recently we taught a Canadian about these; we are taught to use the right hand lane then change to the left hand to exit, obviously, to do that. Sometimes in heavy traffic it just is not possible to do this.
anchoress is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 04:04 AM
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Follow Johnod's advice, especially "driver drives and navigator navigates." We loved Ireland and driving was not an issue, but DH and I discovered quickly it took 2 people to drive safely, each with a specific job! Be an overachiever on your assigned driving task and you will love the Irish, the scenery, music, history, and pubs.
Julie49 is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 04:08 AM
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anchoress, thanks for the encouragement! irish traffic law is somewhat ambiguous about roundabouts (so is UK law, particularly when the roundabout has more than 4 entry/exit points). As you say, you need to keep your wits about you.

Concerning speeding, I agree that you're better off to let a speeder past you (as I suggest in my tips); there's no reason why you can't stick to the speed limit as you do. The use of the hard shoulder on 'N' [National] single carriageway roads is also open to interpretation, but technically you should not use it as a passing lane. Speeding is one of the prime factors in the rapid increase in road accidents and I would encourage drivers to stick to the limits.

A final point on speeding; whle there are not many fixed position speed cameras (the Gardai use a large amount of roving vans and squad cars, etc), those in position are not necessarily marked. I don't know what happens when a hire car is detected speeding by a camera - does anybody? If the Gardai pull you over, I know they can make life difficult by delaying you and they will issue you with a ticket, even if they can't compel you to pay the fine. I understand that the EU police forces are planning reciprocal law whereby you can be charged with traffic offenses when driving in different countries.
pjdscott is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 04:12 AM
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re the sheep- be very careful around dusk if the day has been relatively cool. The sheep seem to like to "park" themselves on the tarmac as the temp falls. I think the road surface holds the heat.
travelbunny is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 04:41 AM
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Thanks for help! I know it won't be that bad. I'm sure after a couple of days we'll be fairly comfortable. I figure if people get mad, honk etc. they'll get over it.
jbjayhawk is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 05:05 AM
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The Gardai are sparse and laid back here. In the rural areas at least. They fought against the new "Reserve" being formed. Yet they are low in manpower to the extreme.
And the random breath testing is fairly new also; the one time, Easter last year, that we encountered an after-pub-closing hours road block, the Garda who questioned us was drunk himself.
This is Ireland, not the US! Folk we have here from Canada are shocked at road standards/Gardai etc. It really is in these areas a backward country.

They are slightly more in evidence in the summer, but even so; and not in large presence even then.

Maybe more so in Dublin?

And NO NO NO to any idea re overtaking; or rather UNDERtaking on the hard shoulder!!
anchoress is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 05:48 AM
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Further to the idea of being careful on your first few days in a foreign country I agree - but suggest that the danger occurs *after* those few days when you get too comfortable! I remember cycling down a beautiful country lane in Connemara and approaching a junction. A French-registered car had turned the corner and was approaching me on the wrong side! They had landed at Dublin from the UK and, I suspect, lapsed once they hit the relaxing Connemara air!! They saw me coming and there was no problem since neither of us was going very fast.
pjdscott is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 06:00 AM
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I think, anchoress, you might have misunderstood the idea of the hard shoulder being used in overtaking: it often happens that a driver who is being overtaken moves on to the hard shoulder to facilitate the driver behind.

It is a manoeuvre that you should execute with caution, because if you move on to the hard shoulder and something goes wrong, you are likely to be held responsible.

A driver who normally drives on the right should adopt a little mantra to recite at the start of every journey here: "drive on the left; drive on the left". It's particularly important to remind yourself after *every* break in driving. Stop for a coffee, or to admire a view, and you can easily slip into the driving habits that work at home.
Padraig is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 06:25 AM
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A few years back we had a fabulous time driving from Cork along the coast to Dingle and back. Just keep saying in your brain as you go through an intersection or through a round-about ("stay left, stay left, stay left"). And we did do the "go around the round about an extra time if need be in order to figure out your turn".

Oh, and the hardest thing at first is being in the passenger seat without a steering wheel - especially when a big truck is coming towards you, so try to be patient with your passenger as they blanche.

It really is a great way to see Ireland, and one gets used to the driving quickly (stay left, stay left, stay left). We had a blast (especially on the Beara peninsula).
suz12 is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 06:38 AM
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I have driven in Ireland and the UK many times and have found it (for Me anyway) the best way to see the countryside. Had no problems with staying left as I kept the mantra "stay left" in my head as suz12 mentions. However, several times when I returned home after several weeks of driving on the left, I suddenly found myself driving on the left in this country. Fortunately it was early in the day in a small town side street when this happened, but the potential for serious consequences was there. But I guess when you return home and think you can relax, you let down your guard and don't think.
teacher33 is offline  
May 19th, 2007, 08:15 AM
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I did the same once after a long break in Europe... easily done....
anchoress is offline  

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