Guide to Driving In Ireland

Winding road in County Clare, Ireland

Renting and driving a car in Ireland can be a rewarding and safe experience if you are familiar with local laws.

To rent a car expect to be asked for your regular driving license.

You will be driving on the left hand side of the road. This means you’ll need to get comfortable using the gear shift with the opposite hand and learn to make right turns into traffic. You will also need to adjust which mirrors you use. It is a good idea to drive around a parking lot to get your bearings.

Colorful row houses in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland

Motorways are the newest part of the Irish road system and are designed to get travelers to their destinations quickly and, hopefully, safely. Stay in the left hand lane unless you are passing another vehicle or allowing other vehicles to merge. If the left lane is clear, that’s where you should be driving. Speed limits on motorway are 120 kph (about 75 miles per hour). At these speeds it is important to give other drivers plenty of space, to take care when changing lanes, and to be extra careful when preparing to exit.

Away from the motorways, there are still many narrow, winding rural roads in Ireland that may not be clearly labeled as such on SatNav or GPS. Local roads known as boreens are very narrow. When on rural roads, be prepared to meet farm machinery and livestock. Checking local reports for inclement weather before driving on back roads is certainly advisable. Good updated information can be found at The AA Ireland's website.

Doo Lough Pass in County Mayo, Ireland

Motorways have an M as a prefix, and national roads will begin with an N followed by the route number. Regional roads are will have an R followed by the number, and local roads begin with the letter L.

Speed limits are displayed in kilometers per hour.

Seat belts are required for all passengers both in back and front.

It is against the law to use your cell phone while driving.

Don’t drink and drive.

Be aware that signs and symbols in the Republic and in Northern Ireland may differ.


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