Thursday, March 25, 2010

Driving Tips and Suggestions for Visiting Ireland

Here are some tips and suggestions for having a pleasurable experience while driving in Ireland:

  1. It takes two. One person to drive, one to navigate (unless you do the smart thing and get GPS). Why? See Item 2.

  2. Signs. Ireland is a country of confusing signs, no signs, or signs with so much text that you think James Joyce wrote them. You can't drive and read the signs at the same time essentially. Learn to speed read. Plus the signs are both in Irish and in English. Signs might be on the left-hand side of the road or as in the case of the photo below, on the right-hand side. We were looking for the N20 and N21. That sign was on the opposite side of the street.

Green signs indicate motorways. These photos of signs show what you see approaching a roundabout. A huge sign with lots of city names in two languages and lots of arrows. You know you need to figure something out because there is a major roundabout coming up. So you start leaning forward and trying to pick out your town, your next highway number!

Here is a view of a sign with several city names close up.

Irish signs have lots of information. Learn how to speed read and look ahead.

Most often, what will happen is this: you will be driving and all of sudden you will approach a roundabout and you will have about 3 seconds to read the sign and decide which exit to take. You can always stay on the roundabout and go around again! Or, your navigator can keep their eyes peeled for signs which usually only appear AT THE ROUNDABOUT (which in my opinion is too late!) and must try to discern your next city from as far away as their syesight will allow.

3. Color of signs: Brown indicates an item of interest like a castle, abbey, etc. They will also have a little graphic to tell you what the item is (castle = castle, etc.). Advice: There is a sign that shows a crown with a bicycle. We never did figure that one out. Fred thought it meant "You're effed." I think it means bike trail to the castle. But, don't use the car to follow it!

Another piece of advice: Avoid all signs to visit famous wells. What is a well? It is a hole in the ground with water in it. A castle or an abbey is easy to find if you get lost. They stick up out of the ground and are easily sighted. A well. Nope. As Fred says, "You're effed." Trust us. We tried to find St. Brendan's Well and it did not end well, so to speak. Avoid all wells.

4. Driving the ring of Kerry: Do it in a counterclock wise direction. You will be following the motorcoaches, but trust me, you want to do that. It is much better to be behind a bus than in oncoming traffic forced to back up on a narrow lane with your lane being the on that is on the cliff side having to reverse to let the big ass bus by! See yesterday's post for a video on what to expect driving the ring of Kerry. Here's the video again of what to expect when you drive the ring of Kerry.

5. Be prepared for anything: Livestock on the road, children on the road, being behind a truck that is carrying a huge load of hay. Ireland is a big country, but it's highway system feels like country roads, small town.

Insert photo of hay truck

6. Back up: Be willing to back up. You are going to miss your turn, take the wrong exit, overshoot or mess it up. But you are in beautiful Ireland. Shrug it off. Find a turnaround and reverse it.

7. If you see a castle sign, follow it: You never know what you will find! More on castles in a later post!

1 comment:

FredCanDoIt said...

Fill in the blanks: I love my husband. He has nerves of _____