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crazy driver in Ireland

Menlo Park...
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crazy driver in Ireland

An American would have to be crazy to sign up to drive in Ireland, I had heard. For that matter would a Canadian have to be looney? Not one to be deterred I signed up for 8 days with a manual car from Dan Dooley in Shannon and, already lacking a night's sleep during our flight from SFO through BOS, we headed out to try our luck. Within an hour on the country lanes of Co Clare I was ready to give up, cry, and wait for a bus. The roads we found all over Ireland are in absolutely perfect condition, but do they have to be so narrow? And what's with the hedgerows? Don't you realize that they tend to restrict the view of the road ahead? When a car or worse a truck approached from the other direction I found it best just to close my eyes and pray. But my prayers must have been answered, because after a few days the roads did indeed seem wider and my car did indeed seem narrower, and I started to reach for the gear shift with my left hand without thinking about it and I started to enjoy it. Still wish I could have enjoyed the scenery more rather than the view of the hedgerows.

I guess we got the worst weather Ireland has ever had. Two days with appearances of the sun but which ultimately turned rainy, like all the others. Our umbrellas were of little use with such a huge wind. I would have brought a rain coat but, being Californian, I don't own one. But we used what sun we had to explore Mizzen Head, Sheep's Head, Beara, and Dingle Peninsulas. Absolutely gorgeous.

We generally ate at restaurants rather than bars, and we ate very well everywhere. Fresh fish and veggies with very creative menus and delicious cider. The winner has to be a little place we found in Athlone called Thyme. That was worth 2 dinners. Probably the exceptional dish we tried all week was fish chowder, the best I have ever had. We were disappointed that the music in most towns started so late if at all. We ended up paying for a concert in Dingle that was worth the price. The best free music I found was a group of children playing on a street corner in Dingle. Dingle also boasts Castlewood, by far the best B&B of our trip. And the best breakfasts.

Dan Dooley treated us well and got us on the road with little trouble and with the parting words "look right, turn left" that I found to be very useful advice. Truly words to live by.

Aer Lingus carried us between Boston and Shannon very professionally, except for the food. The meal going east was the worst I've ever had on an airplane in my life. Followed soon by breakfast consisting of a small container or orange juice, frozen solid. Dinner on the way back was little better, but at least it wasn't beef. The planes did have good entertainment systems; two movies later you're in Shannon.

Making up for the weather we found great warmth in everyone we encountered. I was surprised that all the cars seem new and faster than mine. Such a lovely green neat colorful country. Such pride obvious in the presentation of the homes and towns. Flags and banners supporting the local sports teams. A truly beautiful country.

Look right, turn left.

Ennis, Ireland
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1. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

What an entertaining trip report, you have really put a smile on my face:-)

Such a pity you got the worst of the weather, especially as we had a pretty decent Summer, but it sounds like you managed to have a good time anyway.

I am sure the rain was a lovely change from the Californian sunshine:-)

As for the music in the pubs, it tends to start at around 10 p.m. in a lot of places and this can be late for people who want to rise early and make the most of the day.

Thanks for posting your report. I really enjoyed reading it.

Dublin, Ireland
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for Sligo, Dublin
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2. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

Love your report, lucky you not owning a raincoat ;-)

Maryland
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3. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

LOL I really enjoyed your description of immersive driving-- Ireland & UK Style. Eventually one gets the hang of it but your description is fun and very accurate as the widths perception developes as the kilometers go by. While driving, I found a place in the road in front of me where my bum visually sits between the center and the road edge, at 1/4, and tried to aim for that path and it did not fail me. Steering wheel always at the 1/4 mark. ( my bum is usually behind the steering wheel ) That has worked for me since I first drove in the UK in 1990. I remember wincing thru tiny villages when a huge lorry passed me and I always ended up with mirrors intact. :) The only time I lost a mirror was when a motorcycle passed between lanes at a tailback ( traffic jam ) and he kept going. I was surprised this "between lanes" thing for motorcycles was legal !!

An anorak would have been perfect. Glad you had a fun trip !

Thanks,

Sunny

Indy
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4. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

From your title I first thought you were referring to me and my sister when we were there in March. Thank goodness we bought full coverage insurance. Those roads are so narrow it took a few days to get used to the screeching sound of the hedges scraping the side of the car. Amazingly we made it 5 days before our back left tire gave out from running off the road. :-)

What an amazing trip. Such beautiful countryside and even more amazing people!

England, United...
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5. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

Loved reading this - thank you!

Dublin, Ireland
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6. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

I don't know where you have been driing, but the roads are more than adequate for us irish. it is just the americans who seem to have difficulty. hedgerows are traditional and are protected wildlife habitat. I must say I have never encountered scraping on my car. there is always a ditch or mound between a hedge and a road, even on the smallest boreen.

as for the food on aer lingus flying east. blame the americans for that! they load the food for the journey.

Western Ireland...
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for Dingle
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7. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

Excellent post, thanks!

KC, MO
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8. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

Nakagoli, as I was walking the Sky Road today I had to step INTO a hedge since a car and a van almost met in front of me. Luckily the van driver coming at me stopped; he tooted at the young mother w/ toddler in back seat to slow down. A "shoulder" of any size or type between the road and hedge/stone wall seems like a luxury - the N59 feels like a motorway. (I was walking against traffic and there was no shoulder on either side. I was on a blind curve between the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel driveway and the D'Arcy Memorial trail.)

Philadelphia...
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9. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

Just returned from two weeks driving around the country. Roads are narrow and you have to be carfull passing oncoming buses and trucks. Some roads were one car wide and we had to find a driveway to pass an oncoming car. Getting used to a stick shift with your left hand takes awhile but not a deal breaker. Drivers are crazy there but don't be scared, just carefull.

Dublin, Ireland
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for Austria
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10. Re: crazy driver in Ireland

yes, you have some crazy drivers in Ireland, just as you have some crazy divers in the states. AND, there are narrow roads in the states as well. however, Ireland has one of the lowest death rates on the road, in Europe, so it cannot be all that bad. and a lot of the fatal crashes are caused by people who are used to driving on the right. they go on wrong side of road and swerve the way their gut reaction tells them to, but the wrong way. it is all to do with spatial awareness and a not being able to place a car on the road. don't blame the irish, blame the inability to adapt!

if you are on a road that you perceive to be "narrow", SLOW DOWN!