Hitting the Road in Ireland

If you’re an American in Ireland, don’t drive with people you love.

as big as they get
as big as they get

I love my brother-in-law. He has a good heart and I want him to keep it functioning for a long, long time. But after a mile or two of his taking the right-handed driver’s seat of our Irish rental car, I felt like killing someone.

I can’t remember the last time I got car sickness. Usually, though, I am the driver and not the passenger stuck in the back seat of an unfamiliar vehicle going too fast on roads that would better fit a bicycle or two. Add to that the tunnel effect of driving along roads that have stone fences edging in the cars and tall bushes that keep you from seeing anything but the immeasurably small distance between your knees and the buses heading toward you at break-neck speeds.

Not just little polite buses, but enormous bully buses that know where they are going when no one in your rental has a clue. We made a strategic decision to avoid traffic and take scenic side-roads with the help of GPS. With a thoroughly confident voice, this bossy GPS woman guided us down one tiny road after the other, making a 3-hour journey stretch into six.

sharing the road
sharing the road

By the time we got to Ballycastle, my brother-in-law was lucky to be alive, because who else could I blame for six hours with my eyes closed and my stomach dizzy through what I believed would be gorgeous Irish countryside that I never got to see. I closed my eyes just outside of Dublin. When I opened them in Ballycastle, however, all was forgiven.

Unbelievably beautiful Ballycasttle
Unbelievably beautiful Ballycasttle
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11 thoughts on “Hitting the Road in Ireland

  1. I loved driving in Ireland… just like our back-roads in West Virginia. You did not even mention meeting herds of cows being driven down the roads (just stop a while and let them pass you). As to those hedgerows of bushes 2 inches from the road, yes the ones with stone walls hidden 6 inches inside the leaves, I just used the twap-twap-twap of those leaves on my mirror as my guide to the edge of the road. Put some Irish tunes in the CD play and turn it up loud for the drive.
    Oscar

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  2. Oh, you were both patient and good-hearted, Susan! And I can relate. I’ve been on a similar ride once on the little island of Mauritius, in a taxi. I finally dared to open my mouth and ask him which side of the road (very narrow like the road you pictured, and hilly) he was driving. He said: first we had the French here and we drove on the right side, then the British took over and we drove on the left side. Now that we’re independent, we drive in the middle of the road.

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  3. What a great story, Susan! When we moved from the US to London, one of my business perks was a company car. The only catch was I’d never driven on the left. So James and I took the train to Scotland, rented a car and practiced. I had the same feeling you did about driving in a tunnel with the narrow roads and stone walls. It was definitely a white-knuckle practice session. 🙂 ~Terri

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      1. Oh, I totally agree, Susan. And then there was the first encounter with a 3-lane roundabout. Yikes. I was channeling Billy Connolly in my creative use of colorful language on that one! 🙂 ~T

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