skip to main content
Suitcase and Heels Suitcase and Heels

How Not to Drive Around Ireland

Irish National Road

An example of a national road.

Driving around Ireland can be fun and enjoyable if you like narrow winding roads, averaging 60km/hr and remembering to flip all your left/right instincts. Oh my God, the roads. I think I know why the Irish drink. A pint was just what I needed to soothe my nerves after a day’s drive. These are some tips I’ve picked up for how to not drive around Ireland.

Step 1

Choose the biggest rental car you can find. They have a full-sized sedan or a van? Perfect. That’ll make those narrow roads more fun to navigate. Parking will be like a big game of Tetris. Fun for the whole family. At €1.50/litre for gas (converts to $1.86/l for Canadians, $6.97/gallon for Americans) you’ll of course want the biggest gas guzzler available. Money is meant to be spent!

Hyundai i10

I did Step 1 wrong and rented a teeny tiny Hyundai i10.

Step 2

Decline the GPS because you’re a stingy bastard. That €10/day could be spent on pints instead. The road map provided by the rental agency will do just fine, especially when you go off course and have no idea where you are. Along these same lines, don’t get a local SIM card for your phone so that you can you can use Google maps when you inevitably get lost with nary a wifi signal to be found.

Step 3

Use hotel wifi to look up Google’s directions to your next destination before you set out. Write them out in shorthand and hope your navigator can decipher. Neglect to include distances or town names. You’ll know the road when you see it. The lack of road signs will just make it more of a surprise when you end up in Knockanglass instead of Tipperary.

Step 4

When you ask for directions try to find people from out of town. Don’t write down any of their instructions. It’s especially important that you get mesmerized by their lovely accents so you only listen to the first step and immediately wipe the rest from your memory.

One way street

I don’t care that it’s only one-way, that’s still too narrow.

Step 5

Roundabouts. Take six days to figure out that when Google says “take 1st exit” it means “go left”. 2nd exit = straight. 3rd exit = right. Feel like an eejit (to use an Irish term) when you realize this. When in doubt, drive around and around until your navigator figures it out or you give up and guess. “Eeny…meeny…miny…that one!”

At times, driving in Ireland made me want to curse, cry or just abandon the car and find a pub but by the 5th day I was actually having fun with the twists and turns and hills. I still managed to get turned around and anxious going through anything bigger than a small village though. With all that, I still maintain that if you want to visit multiple towns on your trip to Ireland, driving yourself is the best way to do it. I would do it again, but this time I’d spring for the GPS.

Have you ever driven in Ireland? Would you do it again?

Leave a Comment