Driving in Ireland

Oct 29th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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Driving in Ireland

We are planning a two week driving vacation to Ireland in May. We are not used to driving on the left and are concerned about our first attempt upon arrival. We have been checking and are considering a charter flight in and out of either Shannon or Dublin. I believe we can only choose to fly in or out of one location. The charter is a lot cheaper and direct so saves the connection headaches.

If we fly into Dublin we might decide to spend some time there and then pick up the car on our way out. Not sure where the most convenient place might be so that the first drive won't be in an incredibly busy spot with something crazy like a 6 lane roundabout. Any suggestions?
Our general itinerary is 3 days Killarney, 3 days Galway, 3 days Derry, 3 days Dublin, not necessarily in that order and maybe one night before glying out at an airport hotel after we give the car back. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We aren't too concerned about the driving overall but a little about the first pick up after flying all night from Canada. If we do Shannon that would mean we would be driving in and out of Dublin with the car. How scary is that? The worst place we have driven is Rome and our first experience with a roundabout was a big one right out of the Lisbon airport when we were in Portugal.
You guys are great. Couldn't travel without you.
Sprig is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 09:55 AM
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We did a similar trip on our honeymoon and picked up the car in Dublin. Yes, the first mile was a little scary but after that my husband got used to the driving and it was fine. Also, people in Ireland are really nice and not aggressive drivers, for the most part.
Once you get into the countryside, which is like 98% of your trip, you will be fine. It is tiny roads and hardly any other cars.
The one thing we did do, that I recommend, is to rent a car that was automatic- too hard to drive on the "wrong" side AND shift with the "wrong" hand! It costs a bit more, but my husband said it was worth it. Have a GREAT trip!!
poodle13905 is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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We actually had a standard car and if you typically drive with a stick shift at home you'll have no problems, even using a different hand. The Avis car rental is located near the outskirts of town so you only have a short stretch on city streets and after that you're on a major highway and then two lane country roads. Just have your passenger remind you "on the left" every time you leave a parking lot, and also remember you don't need to wait for traffic coming right to clear before making a left turn onto the road (we did that a few times...)
MonicaRichards is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:21 AM
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It is more a disadvantage than an advantage to have a car in Dublin. The airport is north of the city, and allows good access to the M1 which can take you towards Derry.

You might consider flying into Dublin, spending time there, then going to the airport to pick up your car and commencing your circuit. One roundabout exiting the airport (concentrate: go right); one motorway intersection, and then you have relatively simple driving while you get used to the car -- the next roundabout is 40 miles away.
Padraig is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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Stupid question. So we go right on the roundabouts, same as in North America, even though we are driving on the left? I thought the roundabouts would be left.
Sprig is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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You go clockwise round the roundabouts in Britain and Ireland, because you drive on the left-hand side of the road. You go anti-clockwise in the rest of Europe, where you drive on the right-hand side of the road.

Everywhere, you give way to traffic already on the roundabout unless there are specific alternative (and rare) instructions to the contrary. Other drivers will know these rules, and will drive accordingly.
chartley is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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"Go right at the roundabout" is the phrase used in the British Isles for "go round the roundabout clockwise till you get to the turnoff that was to your right as you first approached the roundabout. Then turn left off the roundabout onto that road"

It's extraordinarily easier to understand when you're there rhan by reading. And there'll almost always be a visual signs up making it clear what you have to do.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 11:08 AM
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Monica - You said Avis was close to the outskirts of town, would that be outskirts south or north.

If we picked the car up at the Dublin airport we would probably go north first but we had tentatively planned going south and that might work with Avis.

Sprig is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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Just got back from our Ireland/Scotland/England trip and one of my favorite part of the trip was driving on the left side! I do drive a manual at home here in US so we rented a tiny economic car with a stick shift and was no problem at all...other than occasional hick-up's with the 'wrong hand' reaching for the stick out of habbit. We drove from Dublin to Cork & Killarney and wouldn't have been able to enjoy the countryside had we not rented the car. Speed limit changes rather abruptly but as long as you pay attention (shouldn't you be anyway?), you'll be fine. There were a lot of constructions so just watch out for the detour signs. It takes a little bit of getting used to at first but once you start driving around a bit, you'll have fun driving on the left side. Driving in Dublin can get a bit frustrating like any other metropolitan areas, especially with constructions. We flew into Dublin, stayed in Malahide, took train into Dublin, and it was a rather stress-free way to enjoy Dublin. Besides, Malahide is a nice little town with a fancy castle of its own.
MaestroGeek is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Sprig, I believe the Avis is on the North side of town (up) but North/ South is not really my thing. I would suggest you Google them to know for sure.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 01:03 PM
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And here's a map: http://www.avis.ie/CarHire/Europe/Ir...in-City-Centre R109 and N4 are the roads you take to get to/ from the freeway. They're like Expressways and easy to navigate.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 01:33 PM
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Anyone driven there recently? Last time we went was 4 yeaqrs ago - off the motorways the road system south of Dublin was impossible - there were very few signs - they seemed to assume everyone knew where they were going.

The other problem was stopping and asking for directions. Everyone was so bloody friendly it took hours to get anywhere.
markrosy is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 02:05 PM
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We were just in Ireland in August. We were expecting to find it hard to get around but it wasn't. We've driven in other European countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal) as well as Costa Rica and the hardest by far is Costa Rica. Once you realize that a sign is going to tell you the closest destination that your road goes to not the furthest (like in the US) then it's pretty easy. Just verify on your map the towns along your way and update as you pass a town.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 03:05 PM
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We were in Ireland in September. We spent a couple days in Dublin and then went to the airport to pick up our car there. We rented through Europcar and got a small automatic for $661. (Avis, by the way, was great!)

I'd recommend getting an automatic, as it's one less thing to think about. I drove a standard for 15 years, but I can still stall the car at a traffic light when I'm waiting on a hill.

A really nice thing about the roundabouts is that if you're unsure about your exit, you can just go round again until you're sure you've got the right exit.

If you are going to be driving on narrow back roads, as we did, I suggest you either take off your hubcaps or tie them on with a plastic tie that you can probably get at your car rental company. We lost three hubcaps and ended up buying another set to replace them, as we didn't know how much Avis would charge to do so.

A second suggestion: Get a Master card World card. It is the only one that will cover the CDW in Ireland. Otherwise you'll have to pay for it yourself.

After trying several other cards, I finally scored exactly what I needed through Citibank. The card's number begins with 5466, which, according to a post I read last spring, indicates that it is the right card.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 08:44 PM
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Hi Sprig - just came back from Ireland last week and our itinerary was a bit spread out too. We flew into Dublin, took the train to Galway then the next day picked up our car at the tiny Galway airport (automatic of course!) The taxi drivers gave me great tips for the roundabout - watch the roundabout sign to find your exit. If your exit is in the first two, stay in the left lane. If you're exiting 3rd or 4th, stay in the right lane. The other valuable piece of advice was "go slow and easy" and it was fine but get the smallest car you can possibly handle! Those roads are a wee bit tight in spots!
sheri_lp is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 04:36 PM
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We are taking two sets of golf clubs with us so the car can't be too small. I don't know what would be scarier....the car from Dublin airport or taking the trains with two bags and two sets of clubs....nothing is easy.
Sprig is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 02:20 AM
Join Date: May 2007
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As Padraig and others say, avoid driving in Dublin city itself. I'm a native and try to avoid the car. There are major roadworks on the ring motorway (M50) and constant lane and traffic management (this past weekend, they changed the lanes on the N7 approaching the M50 junction yet again - it's currently like a switchback railway at this point). I would choose Shannon or even Cork if possible and visit Dublin by train.

I write a guide to Dublin - you might be interested to read my driving tips pages (below) and you're welcome to contact me via the site. I will upload new driving material on 1 November (tomorrow) and welcome suggestions.

Have a great trip,


Driving tips for Ireland
pjdscott is offline  
Dec 18th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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I think your plan to fly into Dublin and pick up your car after your stay there is a good one. Dublin has great public transportation and driving/parking is a pain. The driving itself is no big deal compared to Rome.
wheeedle is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 08:47 AM
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Sprig, One thing to definitely consider is if the person with you can read a map accurately and quickly. You can go around the round-about another time although it certainly points you out as a tourist. We were in Ireland in June '07. We've been over there before and the traffic is much heavier than it was just three years ago. Having said that, the drivers are much more polite than U.S. drivers. I would definitely recommend staying overnight before heading off on your adventure...or take a bus to someplace (Galway?). You're just too tired after an overnight trip to be out on the road. We did that on the '04 trip...not a good idea and we're lucky we didn't have a wreck. We stayed at Drynam House in Swords. It was very handy to the bus and her husband's a taxi driver who could take you back to the airport if necessary. I think the stick/automatic is strictly up to you. If you're used to driving a stick, it isn't that much of a problem. If you are used to driving an automatic, don't try to save money by getting a stick. Have a good time, Kathie
Gunny is offline  
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