Today’s blog is going to be short, perhaps the shortest I’ve written. Mainly because it is an addendum to the last post about my foray on the roads of Ireland.
Therefore, I give you the top ten things to know about driving in Ireland (as an American):
10. Be brave. You can do it and it isn’t as difficult as your mind tells you. Yes, it’s driving on the other side of the street, but your brain is an amazing thing — It adjusts quickly. Keep the center line to the driver’s side and you’re golden. Oh, and check out what some of the more funky traffic signs might mean. It’s helpful.
9. Be patient with your terrified passengers. Some fear the bushes and small stone walls that whip alarmingly close to, and sometimes brush, their windows. They may emit a high-pitched squeak with unease. Some don’t trust a GPS and will bring a 15 year old map (I’m being kind) to challenge the authenticity of this “questionable” technology… despite newer roads having been built since the map was published (See Research Assistant #1). Again, be patient. Fun fact: Grasping the steering wheel in a death grip helps you bite your tongue.
8. Tourist buses are out to kill you. I mentioned this in my previous post, but it warrants a second warning. They aren’t messing around and you are a little bug they will squash from the side going 60 miles per hour.
7. I have it on good authority when said buses pass each other these severely narrow roads, they courteously slow their roll and all the inhabitants wave to one another mere inches from each other’s faces, separated by only 2 panes of glass, as they pass. I think it’s mutual appreciation that they have discovered they unexpectedly will live to see another day.
6. The rental cars are magic. When you stop, whether at a stop sign or yielding at a roundabout, the engine stops. Panic that you’ve stalled your car will leap into your chest. Fear not. Shift your foot to the gas petal, it will start back up on its own. No worries, you did not break your rental. They just like to give you the whole Harry Potter experience.
5. Car rental companies that tell you your flat is covered if you buy the extra insurance are lying. *cough* Sixt *cough* Don’t use them.
4. So many roundabouts! Roundabouts that lead into roundabouts that lead into more roundabouts. That’s “rotaries” for many of you here in the U.S.. And if you’re on your way to the Dublin airport, there are stop lights at the roundabouts. Figure that one out. Isn’t the purpose of roundabouts NOT to require stop lights?
3. There is such a thing as “Ireland time” and that force is strong in these ones. Don’t drive like a maniac and risk your life to be on time. They won’t. The good news is, no one cares. It’s refreshing once you get use to it.
2. You will drive past the happiest cows in the world enjoying the absolute best views. Seriously, all other cows would be jealous, or perhaps just pissed off, if they knew. These cows live on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic to the jealousy of all human tourists, hindered only by meager fences (no electricity involved). From what I saw, they have no intention of crossing these suggestions of obstruction. Although it does make me wonder if a cow has accidentally stepped off a cliff, something I never pondered before driving on the Wild Atlantic Way.
1. There is no better way to see Ireland than on your own, exploring little known roads that take your fancy, turning down seaside country lanes on a whim. I’m not one to keep a tight schedule when traveling, preferring to see what the universe puts in my path for me to discover. If you’re like me, or are not and wish to cultivate that side of yourself, Ireland is a safe place to do that. Let the roads lead you… Just make sure you’ve hired from an honest car rental company.
*Header image credit Nic Freeman
*Cows on Cliffs of Moher photo credit Andrea @ Irishlandscapes.ie