Driving In Ireland

Apr 30th, 2004, 03:24 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Driving In Ireland

It will be the first time for driving in Ireland. Any advise would be appreciated.
Differences in the car, (except the steering wheel on the opposite side), etc. Usually get standard shift, but this time we will be getting an automatic. A little nervous about taking on this, but we like the small towns. Thanks
Nlingenfel is offline  
Apr 30th, 2004, 04:27 PM
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Hopefully you're not going to drive in Dublin to begin with. If you're landing in Shannon, it's very doable. I always tell myself about 100 times--when turning, short left, wide right. Over and over. If you take it slow, it really becomes easy rather quickly. Most difficult I find is something like pulling out of a driveway, like a gas station or something. Old habits take hold and then remember--short left, wide right. I think you'll find it easier than you think it will be. Driving in Ireland is lots slower than in US and that helps. Also, remember, when there is a "hard shoulder" (a partial lane on your left--on some roads), the rules are that if someone is passing you, you pull onto the hard shoulder to make room for them. Then when they have passed you can pull back into the full lane. Same thing if someone coming toward you is passing--go to the hard shoulder to give them room. It takes more concentration than we're used to, but it will be fine! Have a great trip!
Holldoll is offline  
Apr 30th, 2004, 04:30 PM
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Last June I drove in Ireland for the first time. We turned the car back in without a scratch...but it wasn't easy.

Get the smallest car you can fit into.
Pull in the passenger side mirror.
Get into the habit of looking both ways when making any turn.
Get the extra insurance coverage for peace of mind.
Don't drive after dark.
Take your time and enjoy!


chip is offline  
Apr 30th, 2004, 04:37 PM
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Holldoll and chip give excellent advice. I can only add..hold your breath! Seriously, take your time and think of it as an adventure! You can't begin to imagine it until you've been through it. The town roads aren't bad, it's the smaller town roads that still get alot of traffic that are something. Your best decision was the automatic shift! Have a great time.
suse is offline  
Apr 30th, 2004, 09:01 PM
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From my (opposite) perspective, making the switch wasn't especially daunting -we started in Boston and figured that things could only get better. They did, and a couple of days was enough to start feeling comfortable - but then you can get too comfortable and let your guard down, especially when turning onto a road with no other traffic to remind you of which lane you should be in.

One often-overlooked danger is when you're in pedestrian, not driver, mode - it's very easy to look the wrong way before crossing the street. So remember to look right for oncoming traffic, not left!
Neil_Oz is offline  
May 1st, 2004, 03:20 AM
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I didn't find the driving on the "wrong" side of the road that difficult. It was kind of fun, but as said above, just go slow and remember to look BOTH ways. The thing that we found the most difficult was how narrow the roads are - literally just wide enough for the car itself. And people there (mostly natives) do drive SUVs, minivans, etc. And there are large trucks and buses to contend with too. And there are usually NO shoulders - which means the stone wall and the hedge are about 6 inches from your car. So definitly get the smallest car you can. But having said all that we didn't get a scratch on ours so it's most definitly possible to do.

The other main thing is to figure you won't go faster than about 40-45 miles per hour. There are almost no "highways", most of the "good" roads are just narrow two lane country roads, some with lines painted on the pavement, some with no markings at all. And most roads go THROUGH towns, rather than bypassing them. So if you are going from point A to point B and it's 60 miles figure on almost two hours, not one like you would here in the US.

But if you keep all these things in mind and know what to expect you shouldn't have any trouble. We loved driving in Ireland.
isabel is offline  
May 1st, 2004, 05:31 AM
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We drove in Ireland years ago and it was the highlight of the trip. All of the above info is applicable ie. smallest car, longer travel times, etc. Our turn out of the rental office was enough to reenforce the need to look both ways and pay attention! After that one fright we were fine. We even had a standard transmission and it proved relatively easy.

Having a car allows you to really see the countryside and the great people of Ireland. Just be careful after dark especially after a pint or two.

BDM is offline  
May 2nd, 2004, 07:14 AM
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I'll echo everything stated above, particularly the tendancy to flip back to old habits as you go in and out of parking lots. We find that it's better for the navigator to announce turns as "inside-inside" or "outside-outside" rather than "right" or "left". On the small roads, we expected signs to direct us to the bigger cities, but they often didn't --- rather you need to know the next tiny town along your route. Also, get maps that have the finest detail -- 1:210,000 or 1:250,000, even if you have to buy a few maps or a road atlas, it's worth it. Can't remember if there are many round-abouts in Irelend -- but in Great Britain, we think of them as our friends. You can drive around them for 5 minutes trying to figure out the correct turn off and no one is the wiser.
macboo is offline  
May 2nd, 2004, 12:44 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your great tips.
Anything else you can think of, no matter how small, would be appreciated.

We leave the end of this month.

Nlingenfel is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 06:20 AM
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I'm usually the passenger/navigator during our Ireland trips. Because I seem to be challenged by maps, I print out driving directions for each leg of our trip before we leave home. Then, I can read off the directions as we travel, freeing the driver from having to study road signs and make last minute decisions. I use the route planner at www.theaa.com and have been delighted with the very good directions.
MaryZ is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 06:29 AM
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I have found this to be a very good route planner for Ireland. I plugged in some destinations and then looked at the map, and it seemed very accurate. I would just question some of the times as it can be slow going through some of the smaller towns and if you get behnid some farm equipment.

Budman is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 07:06 AM
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The route planner idea is a good one if you stick to a plan. Unfortunately, I only usually know where I'm going and not how I'll get there. Plus, it would be a shame not to get lost from time to time.

wojazz3 is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 01:42 PM
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It isn't that bad after the first day if you've ever driven in a big American city; you've already got the skills to get around. I do recommend however that you do not hop off the plane and try to drive too much on the first day. I would say no more than an hour. We made that mistake our first time and ended up with some interesting stories and upset locals.
rshersnow is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 02:30 PM
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When we were there four years ago, it was the narrowness of the roads that gave me the biggest problem. My wife, who rode shotgun the whole time, was in constant fear of my hitting parked cars or rock walls. I was sure that I was steering right into oncoming traffic. Turns out she was right. On the second day out, our passenger side mirror clipped that of a parked car. Our mirror popped out and broke. At that point I had to believe her. It got better, and the lack of traffic on the narrower, more rural roads in combination with the slower speeds got us through. It's a great way to see the country!
mexicobeachbum is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 12:10 AM
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One reccommendation I make is do not get so confident and start passingcars. This is legal on country roads. The signs should show when you cannot pass (also an unbroken line in the misddle of the road means no passing. If you are drining and someone is up your back there is a small shoulder on the left and just drive more to the left and let them pass. This is standard practice. Passing is tough to get the hang of and do not bother as you are not in a rush. You could end up head on with another car if you misjudge especially on bends in the road. Take your time.
SiobhanP is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 01:57 AM
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Getting an automatic was a good move. It will decrease your stress levels enormously.

Driving in large cities in America does not prepare you in any way for driving in Ireland. Here are my tips:

1. Be patient. You will get behind a lot of traffics and older drivers going between 10-40 mph, even on the main roads.

2. Pull over. If you are nervous and driving slowly, and notice even a couple of cars lined up behind you, look for a spot where you can pull in.

3. Drive slowly if you are nervous. We know tourists have a hard time with our roads, so we try to be patient, but we appreciate some courtesy, which includes pulling in, as mentioned above.

4. Be alert. Much more alert than you need to be driving in America. Around that corner or up over that hill are walkers, people on horseback, cyclists, sheep and/or cows. Anticipate.

5. Don't panic on roundabouts. You can always keep going around until you're comfortable getting to your turn. Also, don't stop when approaching roundabouts if there are no other cars approaching to your right. The car behind you will not expect you to stop.

6. The best way to navigate in Ireland is to learn the names of the towns between your departure point and destination. All signs tell you which town you are heading for, so if you know the names, the rest is easy.
rightted is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 02:34 AM
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and can I add in a number 7 to that list?

don't forget - the distances are all in KMs, but the speed limits are all in MPH (it can be confusing!!).
cailin is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 08:13 AM
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8. Especially in small towns, locals tend to park in the in the middle street to do things like pop into the store and the like. Even if your lane is clear, do not assume that the traffic that is blocked won't pull out around the offending vehicle. The rule seems to be that if they get there before approaching traffic does, they have the right of way.

wojazz3 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2004, 02:19 PM
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Thank you all very much.

We had a wonderful trip and all your driving tips certainly helped.

Should have started from Shannon instead of Dublin, but other than that everything else was ok. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed it all.

Thanks again to all of you.
Nlingenfel is offline  
Jun 8th, 2004, 04:13 PM
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Is that it? Where did you go? What did you do? What was the highlight of your trip? I know you had a wonderful time. Isn't Ireland great!!!
Budman is offline  

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