Tips on Renting a Car and Driving Safely In Ireland

Our first tip is to definitely hire a car

A car is the best way to see Ireland.

Unfortunately, the bus system leaves something to be desired and train tickets are quite dear (expensive).

Renting a car in Ireland is the only reasonable way you're going be able to see the out-of-the way castles, abbeys and other bits of antiquity.

It also allows you to travel as the wind may take you and find quaint villages off the tourist path.

There are many beautiful ancient graveyards, dolmens, prehistoric sites and chapels away from the main roads and the locals will always be gracious enough to tell you about them if you ask.

The Irish are kind to strangers, some say more kind than they are to Irishmen, so you will be treated well wherever you go.

Reserve a Hotel but you might want to take a chance with your B&B.

Although it is wise to book your hotel and your rental car before you leave home, we feel you will have fun if you take a bit of a dare with your B&B's.

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Book a hotel near the airport for the first night of your arrival and the night before you leave, but carve out a few days in the middle of your schedule for driving around and finding that perfect little village in Ireland where you feel most at home.

Perhaps it will be in the village where your ancestors came from or one where you find a great pub with traditional music. In any event, B&B owners still sit in their parlors in the evening waiting for unscheduled guests to stop in.

Hiring a Car

When you travel, hire the smallest car you are comfortable driving and one big enough to hold your suitcases and golf clubs. (If the missus nudges in close, all the better for that second honeymoon.)

You can find petrol in most villages but finding diesel can be a bit of a root.

Also, rent your Irish car well in advance of your trip because you do want to have an automatic as well as a vehicle that uses petrol. It takes some getting used to shifting with the left hand and having an automatic shortens the learning curve.

Mind the rock walls

The roads are narrow in Ireland and they are quite safe but rock walls are closer than they appear in the mirrors and, after all, many of you may have learned to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Unfortunately, the roads were first built for wagons and the rock walls are frequently just off the pavement. Only skilled pedestrians should try their luck in some places.

Mind the oncoming traffic

Ok, if you're from Europe, Asia or the Americas, you might think we drive on the wrong side of the road because you do drive on the right side when you think about it.

Try not to think about it... It's better that way.

Tis frightening at first, I know, but within a few hours you'll get used to it and it will become second nature. This may become a problem because we encourage you to pay attention when traveling along Irish roads.

The roads in Ireland are generally in good condition. You will be safe driving there if you pay attention.

Roundabouts are of special concern at first. Remember to go clockwise and, if you are going right, stay in the right lane.

Put away your cell phones

It is now illegal to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle in Ireland. Some think it should be a capital crime.

Mind the Guinness and walk if you can

Please don't drive after you've had a pint or five at the local pub. Stay in a hotel with a pub or in a village near a pub (there's always one nearby, you know) and walk home. Ye might get a wee bit wet but it won't be permanent.

The Guardai (Irish police) frown on drunk driving and we wouldn't want to make them mad, now, would we? We don't mean to sound like your ma'am, but we do want you jto be safe.

Mind the speed limit

The Guardai likes to hide just outside villages and towns and catch you where the speed limit decreases. Does this remind you of Alabama?

The speed limits are posted in kilometers and direction signs can be in miles or kilometers.

Road Signs

Roads in Ireland are well signed and maps are suggested but not required. You'll find good signage even off the beaten paths.

Good luck and have a grand time in Ireland.