Doing the Dingle Run
March 30, 2008 1:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Dingle, Ireland for a week in May, and I had a question about driving and the relative sanity of my plans.

Specifically, I have a plane to the U.S. to catch at Shannon Airport on Saturday at 1:15pm (departure time). My plan was to leave first thing that morning from Dingle and drive straight to the airport. Given the roads and travel times, is that crazy? Should I revise my plans to stay closer the day before travel?

Aerlingus suggests arriving at 10:45am. Google maps is telling me 2 hours 40 minutes, so that would mean leaving around 8am. I'll have a GPS if that helps.

Bonus questions: as a first time left-hand driver, how do I avoid death? What will I kick myself over if I miss in the Dingle area?
posted by selfnoise to Travel & Transportation around Dingle, Ireland (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bonus questions: as a first time left-hand driver, how do I avoid death?

In my experience, your brain adjusts to left-hand driving within a few hours. Yes, you will have some near-collisions and white-knuckle experiences. I am from the US, and last time I was in the UK, I drove a lot and it really wasn't that big a deal.
posted by jayder at 2:16 PM on March 30, 2008

I'm Irish, but don't drive so can't help much. I will say that AA gives the time as 2 hrs 40 mins as well.

Just beware that Irish road signs aren't always the most helpful, bring a good map.
posted by Fence at 2:32 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dingle! Ok it was 7 years ago when I was there, but it's a pretty nice place, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. There was this excellent hostel just nearby, in a place that started with a V-- i can't find the name of it though, but if you want me to look, drop me a mail and I'll try. I suppose you could try to see Dingle's resident dolphin (in the bay) but the little boat tour i took was... very touristy. I did see the dolphin though.

Otherwise it's great to just wander around and get a feel for the place- the landscape there is really stunning so I'd plan on walking out into it (I hiked up into the hills along some random road, ok I was lost, but it was really impressive anyhow).

I did it by bus so I can't tell you about travel times.

But I can tell you that the hardest part with driving on the left, is that you are on the right hand side of the car. And there's *alot* of car to your left. I definitely hit a few curbs through not leaving enough space on my left. (otherwise it was fine).

Oh also, at least when I flew Aer Lingus, they had this bizarre restriction that you couldn't use a laser-based player in flight-- so no DVD player, no cds. I don't know if it's still an issue.
posted by nat at 2:36 PM on March 30, 2008

I agree with the above. The biggest issue for me was leaving enough room on the left and positioning myself in the lane. The relatively narrow lanes exacerbate the difficulty. I thought I was going to have problems simply remembering to drive on the left, but adjusting my space perception was by far the biggest challenge. I took off a parked car's side mirror (and my own as well) in a town ... just as the driver was about the exit the vehicle. He was surprisingly good-natured about it. Later, our B&B hosts in Doolin told us that almost half of the "yanks" who stay with them end up with a smashed side mirror, and the rental car company was likewise unfazed when I reported it. Might as well just plan for it to happen, and make sure you get the insurance!
posted by majorsteel at 2:47 PM on March 30, 2008

I was in Ireland in November. What I remember about the driving is that every trip took a lot longer than I'd have expected it to take. That's not sightseeing time, but time on the road. The distance you're traveling is only roughly 110 miles. The 2 hour 40 minute estimate might be a bit optimistic.

Also, you need to factor in time to return the rental car. That can take awhile if the return is off-site to the airport and you need to take a shuttle back.
posted by 26.2 at 2:49 PM on March 30, 2008

Oh, and I forgot one thing. In that area there's a lot of tourist bus traffic especially in the Ring of Kerry area. Whenever you can, try to drive the in the opposite direction of the buses. (The buses all follow one another in the big circle because some of the roads aren't wide enough to have buses pass in opposite directions.)

If you get behind tourist bus traffic it'll be a very, very slow journey. Ask a local how to avoid the bus routes.
posted by 26.2 at 2:53 PM on March 30, 2008

i was there in 2000 and we got a rental car for a day to tool around where the buses didn't go. road signs were not as helpful or prominent as they are in most parts of the us. take time into account for wrong turns. roads in the rural areas are MUCH narrower than streets in the us. not as narrow as say, elfreth's alley, but close. i know you'll want to go at a normal speed, but go a bit slower than usual until you get the hang of "wrong sided" driving. i know this from experience and my friend screaming at me to slow the fuck down as we whipped around a curve near the cliffs of mohr (which you should totally see if you have the time).

frankly though, if you haven't driven in ireland before, and you don't know the roads, your first outing probably shouldn't be on the way to the airport when you have a plane to catch. but that's me and i get to airports WAY earlier than i really need to because i'm neurotic.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:18 PM on March 30, 2008

I've got nothin' for your main question, but Murphy's Ice Cream in Dingle is fantastic. I don't know how far from Dingle you're looking to go (if you clarify, I could make other suggestions), but Killarney National Park is only an hour or so away and is beautiful.

And as far as driving goes, like others have said, lane positioning is probably the hardest thing-- you'll want to drive closer to the center of the road than your instincts tell you. (I say this as a passenger rather than a driver, but a passenger who spent a great deal of time terrified that she was about to be smashed into parked cars or stone walls.) Also, if you were thinking of renting a stick-shift car because it's cheaper, you might want to think twice-- my dad, who's been driving stick-shift in the US for 30 years, spent two days doing it in England and then insisted on changing our reservation to an automatic when we did the next rental in Ireland.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:29 PM on March 30, 2008

I recently returned from Ireland, which was my first time driving on the left. Didn't make it down to Dingle, so I can't help you there, but I will comment on the left-hand driving.

Remembering to drive on the left wasn't hard. In fact, having lots of roundabouts there where in the US we would just have a simple intersection actually made it easier, as the roundabout kind of forces you into the correct lane when you exit. As several others have said, centering the car in the lane was the hard part; I can't count how many times my passenger/navigator had to say to me the first few days, "Dude, you're way too close to these parked cars over here."

Also, the fact that the turn signal lever was on the right of the steering column and the windshield wiper control on the left took a day or so to get used to. You'll turn on your windshield wiper when you're trying to signal a turn. Don't sweat it too much.

Some roads in the country have fairly wide paved shoulders marked off with dashed lines which seemed to function as half-lanes: If someone's trying to pass you, you move over to the shoulder as much as possible, and the oncoming traffic moves to the shoulder as much as possible as well, allowing the car to pass. Likewise, watch for oncoming cars trying to pass others on such roads, where you should again move over as much as possible.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:31 PM on March 30, 2008

Also be aware that driver education in Ireland is very average. From memory something like a third of drivers have never passed a driving test, instead opting to renew their learner permit year-in year-out.
The fatality numbers per 100,000 were quite high compared to Australia, particularly per km traveled (although just now looking these up show they are considerably safer than the USA - so carry on).
posted by bystander at 11:25 PM on March 30, 2008

That driving time estimate is based on good traffic conditions. It's realistic if the roads are clear and you're driving at a reasonable speed.

However, if you're not comfortable driving on the left, it'll probably take you longer. The road from Dingle to Tralee is not great, and (at least two weeks ago) there are road works in Lispole that might slow you down.

Once you get past Tralee, the road to Limerick is pretty good. Limerick itself can be slow to get through at peak times, but the morning should be OK. The road to Shannon is good.

(Oh, and the hostel nat mentions is probably in Ventry, but I have no idea what it might be.)
posted by Grinder at 4:12 AM on March 31, 2008

One thing to add: 10.45 seems terribly early for a 1.15 flight. If I was there by 11.30 or even midday I'd be happy enough. And it's a small airport - it's not like you're going to be trudging through numerous terminals. I'm not saying you should leave later than 8am BUT if you do get detained and are running a little late, I wouldn't panic.

How seriously you take this advice will depend on how stressed you get about being on time for flights. Enjoy Dingle, though, it's lovely.
posted by tiny crocodile at 11:20 AM on March 31, 2008

Best answer: Oh and don't miss the Conor Pass. You probably won't, though, as it's one of only two routes off the peninsula. Nice picture here. It's a slightly hair-raising drive, but it's totally worth it (and it's not really that dangerous).
posted by tiny crocodile at 11:23 AM on March 31, 2008

Response by poster: Ok, just wanted to provide an update in case anyone is in this same situation and finds this thread. I chose to drive out the day of my flight and had no problems. Comments:

- The drive is about 2 hours 30 minutes, and that's going the longer way. Traffic was extremely minimal but you could always get stuck behind some tractor somewhere. I was pretty lucky that way, though, and after a week I was driving comfortably at the speed limit.

- I was really surprised at how well-marked the whole of western Ireland is in terms of signs. I used a GPS but didn't really need it except on small farming roads on the peninsula. This goes against commentors above, Rick Steves, and everyone else in the universe, but... yeah. Signs not actually that bad.

-Road quality may be poor compared to, say, Ohio, but compared to Maine it was actually a bit better (higher quality paving, but narrower).

- The thing about being on the right hand side of the car is definitely true. Everything else about driving there was really easy, but my wife had some TOO FAR LEFT TOO FAR LEFT! moments.

-The Conor Pass is incredible.

-If you go, definitely rent a car. There's so much that the buses can't do, you can go at your own pace, and you definitely want some of those "standing alone in an ancient ruin" moments.

Anyway, thanks everyone!
posted by selfnoise at 7:54 AM on May 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

« Older Anyone been to the Daily Show taping recently?   |   Best strategy for buying Red Sox tickets mid-April Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.