You’re headed to Ireland and want to see more than Dublin. Guess what? Get ready, because you’re going to be driving in Ireland!
Whoa! Relax! Driving in Ireland isn’t as scary as it may seem for us American folk. I know what you’re thinking. But driving in Ireland means driving on the *wrong* side. Ok, relax. We gotchu.
We rented our car from Europcar in Dublin, after landing in Dublin at 7am Irish time and 2am our time. To say we were exhausted is an understatement. Although every one at Europcar was extremely helpful, we did feel that the process took longer than it does in the states. We were there for approximately 2 hours waiting for our car. The stress of driving in Ireland did not compare to the insomnia and lack of patience we were experiencing as we waited for our little ice-over car. You will need to show your U.S. Driver’s license and passport, but then you will be on your way… unless you’re us and can’t seem to leave the parking lot without a little help.
If you go during the winter time, expect that your car windows might freeze over. This is not something we were used to, coming from a state that panics when it goes below 65 degrees. If this does happen, check with the car rental agency and they will likely have some anti-freeze to help you out. Once you can see through your windows, the next step is turning on the car, which we found to be quite the adventure. Although we rented an automatic car, we had to hold down the brake while turning the key. It was a very interesting situation. We haven’t even started driving in Ireland yet. We’re still just trying to get this thing to roll down the streets of Dublin.
As I’m sure you already know, the Irish drive on the left side of the road, and their steering wheels are on the right. On Motorways, the right lane is for passing only. So, don’t be a jerk driving in Ireland and move over.
In some counties, deer, sheep, goats, and other animals have access to the road you’re on… like in Ireland. Drive slow on these roads; the animals are unpredictable, and will walk out right in front of your vehicle. So, again, drive slow, and be prepared for anything and everything.
Confession: While driving in Ireland we almost hit a sheep and felt really bad about it – that is after we stopped laughing from complete and total shock. We told someone we met later that day that we had almost killed one his land’s precious sheep! He shrugged and said, “That’s nothing. We’ve got plenty.”
When driving in Ireland, set your GPS to avoid tolls. It can be a hassle to drive and count your coins to make sure you have E1.90 exactly. The machines don’t take 5 cent coins, so keep that in mind too. Although you can insert your VISA card, which we ended up having to do, the entire process can be stressful if you’re not from the country.
If your GPS is a jerk like ours, then it may take you on very narrow, country roads meant for one car. In farm towns, tractors will get out of the way for you, but to avoid this mess, try to stay on the Motorways when driving in Ireland.
Make sure to look around (safely of course). There’s so much beauty around every corner and so many adventures around every turn.