How to drive in Ireland – The Basics
Which side of the road should you drive on?
This is optional, but generally Irish drivers drive on the left. However, for a couple of hours each side of pub closing time, either side will do.
The most important thing to remember is – when you see a driver coming towards you, you go to the other side. Simple. This may prove tricky on a blind bend, but you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right, so don’t worry.
Originally, we all drove on the left. This was because everyone else drove on the right, and we wanted to be different. The U.K. had to tag along with us, because it would have been too awkward at the border with Norn Iron. However, this policy was officially abandoned in 2005 when Minister McDaid did the grand opening of the new policy.
Roads in Ireland tend to vary. In fact they go around a lot of corners and things.
Since Ireland discovered Money, there has been some investment in roads. This has essentially been concentrated in building Toll Booths. On the minor roads [i.e. anything that hasn’t been designated a Motorway] there has been a lot of work done in the installation of pot holes.
Roads in Ireland are constructed with two criteria in mind – to cause maximum damage to the environment and heritage, and to cause maximum surprise. The latter is very clever, as they build stretches of motorway that lead straight into the middle of some God-forsaken village in the middle of nowhere. So the road goes from six lanes to the width of a car in a matter of seconds, with no warning whatsoever. Sleeping while driving is not a good idea.
The erratic nature of motorway building is explained by the fact that the Irish government uses motorway construction as a means to discovering sites of archaeological interest. To date, many fine examples of Irish heritage have been discovered through motorway building. Of course, these sites are immediately built over. We can’t have history standing in the way of progress.
The most dangerous thing on Irish motorways is that there are no toilets!
You can drive from Co Wicklow to Newry without relief (and even then you would have to drive into one of the Newry shopping centres to find somewhere to go)
That is very true. The simple solution [pun intended] is to bring several large empty containers.
The one type of road to be strictly avoided is so-called Scenic Routes. These usually turn out to be more winding than my intestines and single-track, with massive flocks of sheep and herds of cattle crossing the road every 100 yards or so. Plus all those endearing potholes and fallen trees nobody has bothered to remove. For Scenic Route assume Nightmare Dirt-track and reverse sharpish.
Ah yes…. The Scenic Route! These were developed in the early sixties as a tourist attraction. They are completely avoided by locals, so are a well known spot now for hunting.
The fallen trees are to get you to slow down for a cleaner shot, incidentally.
Don’t forget the national obsession with roundabouts!
The Red Cow roundabout on the M50 is regarded as the second worst roundabout in Europe after the Champs Elyssee I think. So how could a bureaucrat with little else to do possibly make it worse?
In a shining display of sheer Irish ingenuity someone decided to run a pair of fscking tram lines through it!
It beggars belief.
Don’t forget to mention that anyone who’s just been to Mass on a Sunday is exempt from adhering to the rules of the road… a lot of folks around here seem to get around just by pure Divine Intervention.
Robert – You are jumping the gun. There is a lot of ground to cover yet…
K8 – Rules of the road? I didn’t know there were any?
I remember I once saw a pair [brace?] of nuns drive onto a main road with their eyes tight shut and a rosary beads in their hands! They made it too. So maybe it works?
The most dangerous thing on Irish roads are the other vehicles!
Ian – Full bladders are a major cause of motor accidents.
I’m liking ‘brace of nuns’ very much. Yours is a blog on which one can learn so much. Hope you’re enjoying your bank holiday. grumble grumble.
GD – the excellent stretches of road tend to stop when they reach the TD’s house, why on earth would they carry on? ref Mayo
I spent a year working at a special school run by Irish nuns in England back at the beginning of the 80s. They claimed they had one driving licence between them. (In the days when they still wore veils it would have been beyond the wit of a British bobby to tell the difference between Sister Thomas More and Sister Thomas Aquinas). I didn’t believe their claim until one day I got in the school minibus with about five of the sisters. They began a great litany to the saints – the only thing that got us safely through the Surrey traffic!
Flirty – That hadn’t occurred to me, but you’re right. Follow the yellow Brick Road and find the Evil Wizard at the end….
Ian – Why are nuns always called Sister Thomas? Now that you mention it – I had three of them teach me when I was in infant’s school. i could never tell them apart except by their smell.
The first design criteria, to cause maximum damage to environment and heritage, could be expanded to include causing maximum damage to your car, also. My personal âfavouriteâ? example of this around here is the speed bump in the 80 km/hr zone, a less than subtle hint of the 50 km/hr zone starting 50 yards later. Damn near impossible to see in the dark.
L-plate…. Can you explain to me please why L-platers almost always drive alone, run red-lights like it’s the most normal thing to do, all the while talking on a mobile phone stuck to their ear? L doesn’t stand for Learner in Ireland?
More than the L-platers, cyclists run red-lights. Maybe you can do an article on riding bicycles, too?? :p
Andrew – I haven’t mentioned speed bumps yet. So far, it hasn’t occurred to them to put them on motorways. Give them time 😉
Roundabouts are created by people who have a need to create caos out of order.
Gaye – L drivers can’t drive. That’s why I’m delighted they are being turfed off the road.
Leann – Have you seen our Red Cow Roundabout? Hah!! Dictionary definition of chaos.
I’ve always had a desire to be a tourist in your fair country, but after reading your driving horror stories, I’m having second thoughts. Or was that your intent – scare away the bloody tourists and lessen the number of eejits on the roads 😉
What joy it must have been for toll booth operators working on Saturday night.
A whole extra hour! Free!
For some reason, yet again, the Red Cow roundabout is a building site once more! What is it about that fscking piece of tarmac that they just have to keep digging up, through and around it!
Maybe that is where Berties missing money is hidden.
I’m serious though, in the past 9 years I have never passed through it without some serious groundwork going on!
Do they use a pothole making machine or is it still done by hand…I prefer the old way it takes some skill to make a pothole by hand and place it exactly the right place to cause the maximum amount of damage…Craftsmen like that are a dying breed over here….
Still by hand and done by a team of 4. Three Irish lads watching one Polish lad digging the hole and telling him how he is doing it wrong.
Oh, that made me laugh! “On the minor roads [i.e. anything that hasn’t been designated a Motorway] there has been a lot of work done in the installation of pot holes.”
I lived in the Philippines for four years and often uttered Hail Mary, Holy Mary mantra like while driving from A to B. Since I’ve returned to Ireland I’ve found this same mantra works just as good over here for calming me down!
And what is it about Kildare drivers. They all seem to drive so badly.
I’m a newbie, found you through technorati!
Oh dear. I go away for a day and a load of comments appear.
Maureen – Welcome! Don’t let my stories put you off. The roads here are quite safe. Statistics prove it. 95% manage to complete a journey in one piece…
SID – Actually you have a good point. They should be prosecuted for double charging for the hour.
The two Roberts – I’ll leave you two to talk together..
Ellen – Another big Welcome! I think the only thing that sets Kildare drivers apart is that they live in Kildare. Apart from that, they are as bad as the rest.