I will traveling throughout Ireland with a group of 6 people. We were going to rent a mini-van to hold us all but I am wondering if we will have problems on the more narrow roads. We will be going from Dublin to Kilkenny, Wexford, Kinsale, Kenmare, Dingle, Galway. Any advice?
I guess the answer is yes, but. . . We had 6 (one 8, 13 & 17 + 3 adults) in Ireland and rented an Opal Zafira which they call a mini people mover. I must say with our luggage it was tight, and although the Irish called it a big car I was pretty determined to avoid the full sized mini-van. I don't think 6 adults would be comfortable in this car. I talked to some people at the airport who had a full sized mini-van and ended up with some scrapes. That said I'd buy the extra insurance and try to stay to the larger roads. I must say I was surprised to see full sized pick-ups in Ireland this time, so just learn to stay tightly to the left and go for it.
The roads are narrow, yes. Most of the roads you'll be encountering, though, will be OK. You do have to watch out for the walls along the roads in the west. Dublin to Kilkenny is divided highway much, if not all, of the way. If you're doing the Ring of Kerry drive from Kenmare toward Dingle you'll have to watch out for tour buses coming the other way. You'll probably notice, too, that on narrower roads large trucks will pull off the road to let you pass. I wasn't always happy when they did that, though, because I didn't mind going slow behind them and when they pulled over I felt obligated to speed up. It's a courtesy, not a rule, so if they do that make sure you acknowlege them with a wave as you pass. Relax and have a wonderful time!
Those of us who've driven on those narrow roads in Ireland will warn about the tour buses. The sheer size of those loggerheads dwarf a mini-van yet they travel around most of the roads. You should feel ok about renting what's practical for your group.
It will make the trip a little more of a challenge for the driver. Motorists there aren't insane, and for the most part I found them to be defensively minded drivers - as compared to Italy.
Other than that take the 'super' insurance on the car, be comfortable using the shoulder if needed and keep your sense of humor..!
Please make sure what-ever vehicle you do end up with is an automatic, but beware. I always order an automatic vehicle and usually even after I have confirmed they(i have used both irish & american car providers) have tried to stick me w/a 5-speed. It is bad enough driving on the left in Ireland w/out having to shift on the left as well. Last summer Hertz had to upgrade me from a large sedan to a Mercedes-Benz SUV (VERY nice to see over the stone walls), because of their mistake.
We drove back roads in Ireland a few years ago. Very scenic, pastoral. But, very narrow roads, often with tall hedges or walls on both sides, creating a tunnel-effect. When we returned our small rental car, I noticed a tall stack of hubcaps at the rental return. The staff told me they were casualties of customers driving too close to the wall/hedge on country roads!
The driver must pay attention all the time, and can never watch the scenery. It took me 3 days to get used to it, and 3 more days to get tired of it. I'd do it again, but just be prepared.
Driving in Ireland is a challenge only of you drive like you are still in the US. The day I picked up my rental car I drove it around the parking lot and around the airport to get used to it.
We stayed and toured around the West of Ireland, so we had the walls and hedges on one side and trucks and tractors on the other. The first 2 days were white knuckle driving, I mean I had to pry my hands off the wheel at the end of the drive. After that I got used to it and drove like a local.
I had nightmares before my trip after I read all the driving horror stories in Ireland. Well, I just got back from my two week trip yesterday and have to say that, in my opinion, driving in Ireland is a breeze. Yes, the roads can be narrow, but you just adjust your speed and go on. The drivers there are a million times better than those in the states and a LOT more courteous. If I were to do it over again, I'd get a bigger car and I wouldn't have a problem driving a minivan. Don't lose any sleep over it like I did.