One of the best ways for tourists to witness the beautiful scenery and natural landmarks Ireland has to offer is by driving through its captivating countryside. Navigating the Emerald Isle’s wild and wonderful road network however, can present a challenge or two for foreign visitors. In light of this, the following list of key tips should help make your journey across rural Irish roads that bit safer and more informed!
1: Have a plan of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there
Although Ireland is roughly the size of the State of Florida, it is still very easy to get lost amidst the green fields we are known so well for. In particularly rural areas, sign postage may sometimes be quite poor so it’s definitely worth mapping out a clear plan of how you’re going to reach your destination – grab the GPS for assistance if necessary!
2: Watch out for those potholes!
There is a common misconception that potholes plague Irish roads, and for many years, they did! In recent times however, county councils across the country have worked hard to eliminate these dangerous road traps and create a safe pothole-free road network. That said, new potholes can emerge at any time on old rural roads in particular, so travel with caution and at a reduced speed when you’re on the back roads of our beautiful countryside. (Contrary to what the picture below suggests, potholes most definitely are not for swimming in!)
3: Slow down in the countryside, you never know what you’ll find
The Irish countryside has some of the most breath-taking views and natural landmarks you will ever come across. The best way to get out there and discover these treasures is to pick up a car at your nearest Europcar branch and hit the road. From ruins of ancient castles, and the crystal clear lakes of Killarney in Co. Kerry to the famous limestone pavements of the Burren in Co. Clare – there is plenty to surprise and delight visitors to the Emerald Isle.
It is certainly worth reducing your speed when driving along the highways and byways of the Irish countryside so you can take in the views around you and perhaps encounter some cattle taking a stroll across the road or some of our many sheep grazing in countryside ditches (our very own maintenance team!). Just remember to take it slow while driving in the countryside and you’ll be perfectly safe.
4: Don’t panic at the sight of a narrow road
When tourists come to Ireland looking to rent a car, one of the first questions they ask is ‘How wide is the car?’ There is a common conception among foreign visitors that Irish roads are notably narrow and challenging for larger vehicles to navigate, but this isn’t entirely true. When you leave the bright lights and bustling streets of Irish cities behind you and venture towards the towns and villages of the Irish countryside, you may encounter some side roads that look particularly tight and winding. Don’t panic if you encounter a road of this nature on your travels, the car will always fit! Of course if you meet some farm machinery or another vehicle on a narrow countryside road, keep well to the left when passing or stop and let the vehicle pass you before continuing and you will be perfectly safe.
5: Watch out for our Gaelic road signs!
Great places to visit in Ireland include our Gaeltacht areas, regions such as Connemara, Dingle and Donegal where the Irish language is very prominent. These locations should be near the top of your list of places to see in Ireland as you get a real feel for the Irish culture with traditional Irish dance and music available at night and the Irish language being spoken by the local people. When you’re driving through the Gaeltacht regions you must remember to keep an eye out for Gaelic road signs! It might take you by surprise to encounter an unfamiliar language but don’t panic. Pull in where safe to do so and assess your surroundings, consult your GPS or map if available and then proceed with caution ideally when the road is clear.
Written by Mark Lynes and Aisha McAuliffe, fifth year students from Coláiste Treasa Secondary School in Kanturk Co.Cork, who received a special accolade at the 2015 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, for their joint road safety awareness project titled ‘Take Care! Be internationally road aware’. Mark and Aisha recently completed internships at Europcar Ireland, during which time they worked with the Europcar Ireland team to develop different ways of boosting road safety awareness among foreign tourists visiting Ireland