Tips for Driving in Ireland

Driving in Ireland seems to be one of the things travelers worry most about during their Ireland vacation.

Stay Left When Driving in Ireland

Remember to Stay Left When Driving in Ireland; Taken in Rural Killarney, March 2008

I’ve written about driving in Ireland a few times at my Family Rambling site, so when my friends at Irish Fireside published a Q&A about driving in Ireland (linked below), I thought I’d share a few of my own tidbits… For most people, the first few hours of driving on the opposite side of the road provide a string of stressors… What side of the road am I supposed to be on? Where am I going? What does that road sign say? Is it safe to enter the roundabout now? What lane am I supposed to be in? Can I turn here? via Q&A: Driving in Ireland | Irish Fireside.

From my first post titled Tips for Getting Around in Ireland:

In Ireland and the UK you drive on the left. The driver’s seat is on the right side of the car and you shift with your left hand. This actually sounds more difficult than it is. This is your smallest worry. More importantly you need to remember to look right, then left, then right again. This is very easy to forget when you are walking in a city. I have found that the best advice I can give is to just pause before you turn or cross a street. Look everywhere. Look again. Then proceed.

Be prepared to abandon your itinerary and follow interesting signs you see along the road. Some of the best memories are unplanned.

From the second post I wrote titled More Getting Around Ireland:

I believe you don’t drive through Ireland so much as you hurtle. Merriam-Webster defines hurtle as : to move rapidly or forcefully. And, quite honestly, when you are driving down roads like this you don’t have to be going very fast to feel like you are going way too fast.

Driving along the more scenic -and smaller- roads will definately take you longer in terms of time but it will also provide you many more memories than the fast paced highways.

A few very helpful tips from my Car Rentals in Europe post:

…we found that mini van translates to “7 passenger vehicle” in Ireland. Which is not the same as a mini van.

…be sure to pay in US dollars if at all possible.  (With the exchange rate this will keep your costs down.  Way down.)

I highly recommend calling the rental company a couple of days before you leave, just to confirm your reservation. At that time ask what kind of car you can expect- there are many European cars that we just don’t have here in the US. Go online and research that car. If it just won’t do for your family and plans call back and see what is available for an upgrade. And make your change online if possible. Or through your travel agent if you have used one.

And a fun post I wrote for Tenon Tours:

I’ve been driving in Ireland for over a decade. It was only during my last trip to Ireland that I was told, “Americans don’t drive in Ireland, I think they are terrified.”

From  Keep Left, Right? And Other Fun Experiences

Do you have any worries or fears about driving in Ireland? I’m here to help you through them! Just leave a comment or email me!


  1. says

    I’m going to Scotland this summer and this is one of my top concerns about the trip. Thanks for the tips! Do you recommend renting an automatic transmission? Does that make it easier to drive on the left?

    • Jody Halsted says

      Hi Vero – and thanks for the great question!
      If you can drive a manual transmission, it’s not that difficult to adjust to shifting with your left hand. If you can’t drive a stick-shift, I would highly recommend paying extra for the automatic. You don’t need to learn to drive a manual while getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road!

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