... when in the country driving you might want to drive slowly - for some unknown reason there are suicidal sheep, especially in the midlands that just jump over the ditch onto the street ...
... apart from that it's pretty safe - IF you aren't scared by goblins and fairy folk - hihi
The roads in Ireland are VERY narrow. If you rent a car GET the extra insurance! It will ease some of the stress of driving on the narrow roads. Stone walls often line both sides of the road. See my picture? The area that looks like a shoulder is the lane for oncoming traffic. Trucks and buses are wider then their lane, you may scrape the stone walls to avoid them. Get the extra coverage!
Getting off the ferry at Dublin Port from Holyhead of Liverpool is one thing, and being prepared for rip-off Ireland is one thing , but finding the Statoil petrol station on the South side of the river is another.
If heading on the main road out to the west of Ireland , this is the first petrol station you come across without heading into the city backstreets. I know it is in an expensive part of towm, but charging 1.54 a litre for Diesel is positively OBSCENE (when the avergae price is arount 1.07). If you have left enough in your tank (I stupidly hadn't) thena few more reasonably priced plkaces appear after a couple more miles on the N4/6.
Check the 'going rate' on the internet before you leave.
UPDATE 2009: It appears that the petrol statio in question has changed hands and is now in line with the rest. prices are now around 1 euro a litre. It's still worth checking the price before you arrive.
When driving in Ireland's rural countryside take your time, and adjust your pace to the local rhythm. Remember that in these areas the sheep are the queens of the road, and around every corner there may be a sheep walking or standing in the middle of the road, trusting your good driving instincts. So, please, mind the sheep!
Driving on Ireland's narrow country roads is fun but also dangerous. Constantly winding between high hedges, visibility is often zero. There is usually only one lane in each direction, and no margins at all, so that the road does not tolerate careless drivers. Always keep to your lane (the left one of course!), and respect the white line dividing the road as if it was a stone wall: Around the next bend in the road cars will appear in the opposite direction out of nowhere and go racing past you. They will assume that their lane is free, and they will need every inch of it.
So, dear VT driver, please take care!
When driving along narrow country roads, be mindful that a ditch typically runs along either side. This can be troublesome for people who are not used to driving on the left side of the road, because they tend to not properly gauge how far over they are.
I think we learned a couple of lessons. Next time, we will try a self-catering cottage (with more than one room) and do day trips from there. That will accomplish two things. My husband will be able to get some peace and quiet after driving all day and our son will be able to run around a make noise (can't really do that in a B&B or a hotel).
The second lesson is don't drive in cities. If we plan to tour a city, then we will do that either first or last and either not get the car until that is over or turn it in early. In the city we can walk or take the local bus
In Ireland we drive on the left and not very well. I've driven in many countries but here is the first place I'm often afraid when I'm behind the wheel. We have one of the highest accident rates in the EU. Not surprising really with almost non-existent law enforcement and an estimated 100,000 drivers on the road who have NEVER passed a driving test. Scary!
Be aware of the Indicator Tax. There is a levy charged on use of indicators in a vehicle. Luckily most Irish people have well developed telepathic skills and don't need to worry about it.
Over the past year or so, the Irish police have been cracking down heavily on drinking and driving. The legal limit for blood alcohol level is pretty low as well. If you have any more than one or two drinks, you should probably find a taxi or a designated driver.
This can be difficult in the country where taxis are scarce, which is why many of the country pubs are closing. People have no alternative for getting home, and just stay home instead, rather than risk loosing their license...but this a rant for another tip.
We came around a corner one morning and met up with two cows heading down the road toward us. Luckily, there was just enough room to pull over and let the cows by. We also had a few encounters with indecisive sheep. My advice - if you see sheep along the side of the road, slow down because sometimes they dart into the road. Fortunately, we didn't hit any.
Car hire companies have a bad reputation in Ireland for adding on some pretty spurious charges.
Things have improved in recent years, and you can normally get an 'all in' price at the time of booking - the internet has seen to that.
One are of difficulty that still remains is picking up a car at one location and dropping it at another. If the car hire company uses an agent then a 're-location' fee is often payable. I recently had to stump uf a whole 75 quid for that recently. Disgusting.
On the other hand the company I used (Dan Dooley) still came in cheaper than the big boys by quite a long way. This was because I picked up the car North of the border (in Northern Ireland) and dropped it off in the republic. The 'big boys' computer systems seem incapble of dealing with that, and given it is 'cross-border' rent will ask an astronomical price for such an arrangement.
So much for European Intergration.
A lot of visitors make comments about the inappropriateness of Irish speed limits. Remember that speed limits in Ireland are determined by how urbanized or how built up the area is, not by the conditions of the road. Through all towns and villages, even if they only consist of a church, pub and a post office, you will be reminded to slow to slow down to 50 or 60kph. Once you leave the speed limit suddenly increases to 80 or 100kph. The same occurs on poor, twisty, or badly surfaced back roads, on which it is virtually impossible to hit 100kph on some. The speed limit only decreases if you approach a really drastic or dangerous bend, or at a location that has been recognised by the authorities as being dangerous, i.e. someone has died there in an accident and a petition has been drawn up endorse this! Use common sense. Ignore the speed limits on these roads and drive carefully at a lower speed. Sharp bends, hidden dips and blind spots will be marked on most R roads (but not on unnamed ribbon roads)! The speed limits are not always a guideline as to what speed you should travel at as Irish road conditions are so varied!
If you driving cautiously on any of these roads and a local comes flying up behind you like a bat outta hell, they will know that you are a visitor so don’t panic! To avoid stress, you might want to pull over and let them overtake. On single lane N roads with one wide lane (standard in Ireland), use the hard shoulder if you see someone overtaking – you will probably be traveling at the speed limit! Don’t continue to position yourself in the middle of the road with oncoming traffic, not unless you want to be offended by non-threatening finger gestures and head shaking!
Ireland has one of the worst traffic accident records in Europe. This (of course) has nothing to do with the appauling state of the secondary roads, the numbers of untaxed and uninsured drivers or the fact that some Learner drivers are allowed out by themselves.
Each county has a board as you enter it how many fatalities there have been in the county during the last four years - it makes for gruesome reading.
In order to counter these dangers many Irish people insist on placing a bottle of Lourdes (or Knock) water in the glovebox compartment.
I don't know if this really works, but the at least if you buy the five-litre version (thanks to www.Catholicdiscount.com for the picture) you can also use if to fill your radiator in an emergency.
Get a mastercard that has insurance coverage because you will save hundreds!! If your mastercard does have car insurance, be sure to cancle the insurance provided by the car company otherwise your mastercard insurance will be void.
Get the smallest car you can b/c the roads are very narrow and winding. Even if you can drive a standard, get a automatic b/c it can get a little hairy at times. However, the automtics over there might not be what you are used to in North America - read the manual before you start driving. For example, you may need to press on the brake when starting the ignition. There might not be a gear for park, only neutral. You may have a manual and easy mode where you change the gears without a clutch, that's what I had. I had to pull over and read the manual!
Driving on left hand-side and round-abouts are not an issue, it's comes naturally.
STAY ON THE ROAD, DON'T DRIVE OFF THE ROAD OR CLOSE TOO CLOSE TO EDGE or you will destroy your tire!! It's hard to do b/c we are used to wide roads, just stick to your side but don't drive on the gravel or you will pay for it from your wallet. The insurance will NOT cover tire repairs or replacements
The speed limit is insane there. When the speed should be 40 km/hr it's 100 km/hr! It's funny b/c while I was driving in the country, over and over on the news I heard same thing about the nubmer of people dying on the country roads b/c of traffic accidents...well no wonder!! The speed limit is WAY TOO HIGH.
Another thing is that you will driving about 80 km/hr and all of sudden you will come to a little town with no warning where the speed quickly changes to 50. I don't understand why the speed is so high there.
Also the speed limits are in kilometres but distances are in miles...don't get that either.
................that you may meet an oncoming vehicle in the middle of the road, trying to avoid the huge puddles or potholes at the side. Take care on rural roads..............drive slowly, because it's quite possible that the oncoming vehicle won't be!
And watch out for people dithering, or going the wrong way up one-way streets, or changing lanes without signalling. Must be far worse in the tourist high season!