I have driven on the opposite side of the road in many countries, but I never expected Ireland to be the most trying. One of our major problems was that the car rental company thoughtfully upgraded us to a luxury vehicle. How nice of them, I thought, as I got behind the wheel of a shiny new blue Jaguar. Well, your history lessons might have touched on that little conflict between the English and the Irish that spans about 400 years to the present.
The Irish aren’t giving up and since we were in a BRITISH automobile, the drivers thought of it as great sport to fool with these supposed Brits, even though we are Americans. In all the week’s driving, I counted exactly five other Jaguars on the road: A very unpopular vehicle on the Old Sod. At one point, I decided I should put little American flags on the front fenders so that the others on the road would not take out their vendetta against us.
The Irish people live up to their reputation for warm and inviting hospitality, especially as soon as they hear your American accent. Just stop to ask directions and they will be glad to tell you exactly and in great detail how to get where you are going. In downtown Cork, we held up traffic while someone gave us very long and very detailed descriptions. No one behind us seemed to care as the traffic light changed three times even though it was rush hour. The directions amounted to something like this: “Now go down here to the pub and turn left. Then you will go down the road to a yellow house and you will want to turn right, although the yellow house is on your left side. Then you drive down to a field where you will see a black-and-white cow and you make a left…”.
The roads are narrow and most have only two lanes. The main road from Galway to Dublin is obviously heavily traveled but it is not part of a freeway system. Just a nice four lane country road.
Spectacular vistas are everywhere in this charming country, but it is difficult for a driver to appreciate them when trying to avoid trucks driving over the center line and hedgerows and various items along the shoulder. I managed to shear off the passenger side’s rear view mirror as I sideswiped a ten foot high bale of hay that was tilting out into the road. Of course, when it happened, I was looking the other way for a black and white cow.