I love having the freedom of a vehicle when I travel. I had researched traveling by train in Ireland and wasn’t happy with what I was finding. I didn’t have a lot of time to go from east to west and there were places spotted throughout the country that I wanted to see. So I reserved a car before my friend and I arrived in Ireland. We decided to start touring the countryside and leave Dublin sight seeing for the last day. Surprisingly, we got on the highway, through the outskirts of Dublin and on our way into the country very easily. The same can’t be said for the end of the trip! The highways were pretty standard, but when we started to get in the country, the road started shrinking, at least it felt like it. The road seemed barely wide enough for the car, and the edges of the road became non-existent. Where in the United States we typically have an emergency lane, not here. It is yellow line, one inch of tar, vines, then rock wall. Below is an example of the roads. This didn’t seem to bother the locals, who would walk their dogs on the road, ride their bikes, etc. It made me a nervous wreck. What if I came over a hill and there was a man and his dog, a walker, a bicyclist?
Don’t let the innocent looking vines fool you, nine times out of ten there is a rock wall right behind them holding them up! When we got to a stopping point in a city or town, we could park the car and get a break. Scary part was that some of the towns didn’t really have parking spots, they parked along side the road…mostly in the road. So driving through town on a hill where cars parked, you had to go into the other lane in order to get around the parked car. Every time, I worried about meeting an oncoming car. We were lucky.
I’m a big fan of roundabouts and think the United States should have more of them, but trying to adjust to being on the opposite side of the car and the road on the same trip was challenging. My friend might have been horrified, but she hid it well. She and I were both wondering on which roundabout I would actually pop a tire from hitting the curb! I’m a slow learner, but I was afraid of hitting another car, so I would hit the curb instead.
By the time we made it to Cork, I was ready for a break. Problem was, no parking. So we ended up going into a parking garage. When I finally got us wedged into a spot, I lost my cool. I had a little melt down and didn’t think I could handle this driving anymore. Well, my friend didn’t want to try it, so I had to get a grip. She made a comment to me about taking the car back and flying home, and she was doing this just to get me to snap out of my funk. What I really needed was a very large glass of wine! So we found a great restaurant, Rafferty’s @ Clancy’s and I had two glasses of wine. That was a well needed stop. Normally I don’t want to take my chances with drinking and driving, but we ended up shopping, browsing and walking around town, so enough time had passed where I felt comfortable getting behind the wheel.
The towns and roads varied on their space, but it seemed like north of the Cliffs of Moher the roads opened up a bit. There were still rock walls, they just weren’t an inch from the road. At the end of our trip we did some sight seeing in Dublin, which went smoothly until we tried to get from Dublin to the airport to drop off the car. We must’ve been stuck on different roads for over an hour! We had maps, but when we were looking for the signs, there would be a sign for the highway we needed, then that highway would never come. I think we ended up seeing water, so we were southeast of Dublin instead of north of Dublin. We asked for directions, but that still didn’t help. Eventually we made our way back to the highway and the airport.
Driving in Ireland was quite the adventure. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I can only get better, right?