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Driving in Ireland


You can see Ireland without a car – but not if you want to find the best bits.

Roadsign in Ireland

Cities like Dublin and Cork are fascinating, but it’s only when you leave them and get out into the countryside that you unlock the timeless charm and pastoral beauty of Ireland.

Taking your own car is easy and, thanks to improved ferry services, relatively cheap.

Hit the road

Sheep on a road

One of the pleasures of driving in Ireland is in exploring remote villages on winding country lanes.

But take care – many rural roads are narrow, with stone walls on both sides that can be poorly maintained.

Also, you’ll occasionally come across a junction without any road markings so keep a map handy.

Livestock presents a real danger. It’s not uncommon to turn a blind corner and find a herd of animals on the road in front of you.

The drink-drive limit in Ireland is 50mg for experienced drivers, and 20mg for learner and new drivers, and there are graded penalties for going over the limit.

For example, if an experienced driver is between 50mg and 80mg, they'll get penalty points. But exceeding 80mg will result in a driving ban.

Also, if you’re caught speeding you can expect to get an on-the-spot fine.

Star drive

Lake in Ireland
Tony Webster

The Ring of Kerry is a 110-mile circular route that takes you around the spectacular shoreline of the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland’s wild west.

The best way to go is anti-clockwise, starting in Killarney and heading along the north coast of the Peninsula looking out along the craggy windswept coast over Dingle Bay.

Cross the bridge to Valentia Island, the most westerly harbour in Europe, then stop in the resort of Waterville, where you can take detours into the surrounding hills.

All along the Ring you’ll find welcoming pubs, and spotless beaches with high dunes and foaming Atlantic surf.

Laws of the land

  • Dipped headlights should be used in poor daytime visibility.

  • In an emergency dial 999 or 112.

  • Motorcyclists must dip their headlights during the day and wear crash helmets.

Irish speed limits

Road types Speed limit
Urban areas 50 km/h
Outside urban areas 60-100 km/h (check signage)
Motorways 120 km/h

Local knowledge

Cars in city centre
Aapo Haapanen

The roads into major cities, particularly Dublin, get very congested during peak hours. Getting out of Dublin on a Friday afternoon can be a nightmare.

The city also has a high level of car crime, so be careful where you park at night.

Also, make sure you're clued up on Irish motorway tolls before heading out.

Beat the humdrum of your daily commute with a virtual drive along one of the most beautiful roads in the world.

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