Driving in Ireland

| September 12, 2011

Most visitors to Ireland either bring their own car by ferry from Britain, or they fly and hire a car. If you are hiring a car, you need to know that an automatic will cost half as much again as the identical manual gear box model.

Visitors are often surprised by how big Ireland is. It will take you seven hours to drive from one end to the other. The Island of Ireland is actually two countries, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of Britain. From Dublin to Belfast will take you a good two hours motorway driving. Dublin to Cork will take you between four and six hours depending on the time of day.

The only motorways in Ireland are around Dublin. The motorway speed limit is 120 Km/Hr (75mph) The speed limit on National roads, N7, N8, N25, etc is 100Km/Hr (62mph). On Local roads the limit is 80 Km/Hr (50mph). National roads go through all sorts of towns and villages where you will find shoppers double parked, so your average speed off the motorways is 40mph over any distance at all.

Speed limits are enforced by the Gardai (pronounced gardEE). The Guards do not stand silhouetted against the skyline wearing bright orange jackets, as they do in Britain. In Ireland they hide behind lamp posts, crouch behind walls and hide in the bushes. You will not see them before they catch you on camera. Believe me – I drive 30,000 miles a year in Ireland, I know.

If you are driving a UK registered car, including Northern Ireland, the Guards will not usually stop you. If you have hired a car in Ireland they will stop you, but will probably let you go once they see you are a visitor, driving on a US or UK licence. At the moment only Irish drivers can be given penalty points, though other nationalities can be fined.

Driving in Ireland is extremely hazardous, especially between 11pm and 6am. Drink driving is common, seat belts are rarely worn and drivers are aggressive and totally discourteous. Never expect another driver to give wayif he has the right of way. Drive defensively. Expect the absolutely ridiculous to happen.

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Category: Ireland travel guide

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