Driving in Ireland

My wife and I are thinking of taking a trip to Ireland in late April through mid-May and are looking to rent a car. I've read a number of things on the internet stating how stressful and dangerous driving in Ireland can be. We don't really want to tour Ireland without a car, but we also don't want our vacation to be filled with stress.

We have driven in Normandy before...is the experience with narrow winding roads the same or does Ireland take it to a whole new level? We wouldn't be looking at driving in Dublin or even picking up the car in Dublin. I think most of our vacation would take place in the western counties...and possibly North Ireland. What is the stress level here? Thanks for the help.

Posted by JS
Bay Area
2081 posts

We rented in Ireland and had no problems. we stayed out of big cities as Dublin. Renting a small car helps alot as roads are narrow and windy in general but sim to Normandy I was there in Nov 2006.
We rented from Avis I have also rented from AutoEurope in Britain all with no problems. just stick to a small car would be my advice.My opinion is Italy driving can be stressful but not Ireland.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2383 posts

If you were comfortable driving in Normandy, Ireland will not be much different. The only twist is the driving on the left side thing. I admit it was easier to get the hang of than I thought. Shifting with my left hand as opposed to the right was not bad, and the only time I had any issues is if I were waiting at an intersection and then turned right or left, instinct took over and I tended to go into the wrong lane. But, I made it through unscathed. Only other advice is that you may be stuck having to buy CDW, most credit cards, mine included, do not offer coverage in Ireland.

Posted by S&S
Sonoma County, California, USA
13 posts

We drove across Ireland and had no major problems. Sure, it was stressful at times (just like driving anywhere) but never enough to be an issue. We even drove around Dublin and had no problems.

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

If you can drive through the bocage of Normandy, you should be fine in Ireland. The only thing to get used to is driving on the other side of the road...it changes your perspective as you make turns from one road to the other, and enter and leave traffic circles. But if you can handle rural France (never mind Spain or Portugal) then you should be OK in Ireland.

Posted by Christine
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA
12 posts

troy, you will be fine. We have driven Europe,England, Thailand and Malaysia. We really appreciated a built in GPS in Germany (this was in a tiny Opel, not a fancy car). So we took a handheld GPS to UK last year.
even so, the two kids and I would take turns navigating to try and keep peace as hubby drove and we went around roundabouts a few times and went off wrong exits. Now, we love to tell stories of our "navigational skills". Also, you are not in peak travel time yet.
Have a great time. We will be there in May/June. We decided to get the CDW on the rental. First time ever, but think it will lessen some of stress.

Posted by Devra
Lake Forest, CA
199 posts

Had no problem driving in Ireland. Get used to the wrong side of the road. Paid a bit more for an automatic so didn't have to ship from the opposite side. Found Ireland easier than Paris and Italy. If you are staying three weeks or longer, you might check out leasing instead of renting as it is usually less. Happy travels.

Posted by jack
Sheboygan, Wisc., USA
927 posts

We were in Ireland in May 2005.Driving is not as bad as people say.A car is really the best way to get around.A shift car is best,cheaper and more readilly available.I am 68 and drove for 14 days south from Dublin around the south and west and then to Northern Ireland and back to Dublin.Northern Ireland is very nice and many people miss it.Anthing more I can help with ask.We found some great B&Bs.jack

Posted by Christine
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA
12 posts

Question for JACK and northern ireland. we are spending two nights in Bushmills to visit northern coast then will drive towards drumcliffe/Sligo enroute to Connemara. did you stop in Sligo? can you recommend place to stay or eat? Not much on Sligo in RS ireland 2007.THank you very, very much

Posted by Brian
Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
103 posts

You have to drive in Ireland. No debate.