COUNTRY ROADS IN IRELAND
If you are in a hurry use the highway. Ireland's roadways have become much more developed in recent years which make your trip to the airport much easier. But remember that Ireland's byways are much more scenic. While the highways are the quickest route from point A to point B you will miss the High Crosses, the small shops serving fresh scones and tea and the experiences that make Ireland truly memorable.
The vast majority of the roads (particularly in the south, southeast and southwest of Ireland) have stonewalls lining the road (even many of the national roads). The walls are almost on the white line on the edge and often covered with vines. Unfortunately, the roads were first built for wagons and the rock walls are frequently just off the pavement. Only skilled pedestrians should try their luck in some places.
Many country roads are not well marked. Therefore, it is most helpful to know the name of the next town or village on your route. Directional road signs are usually a single post with a number of arrows pointing in different directions. In some instances, it is difficult to determine which way the arrows are pointing. Some signs are broken and the arrows are pointing in the wrong direction. If you come to a crossroad and you are not sure how to proceed the best advice is to go straight. If you plan on traveling at night it would be a good idea to carry a flashlight so that you may read the signs and arrows at the crossroads. Have fun trying to figure things out and making your way. Don't be afraid to stop and ask for directions. The locals are usually very helpful and more than willing to offer assistance.
You will encounter traffic jams, but not in the horn-honking-frustrated-driver way you may be used to. Think instead of a herd of sheep in the middle of the road trotting from one field to the next or cars parked on either side of an already narrow road as an entire community attends the burial of a neighbor. Relax and enjoy the pace of Ireland.
On two lane highways, the Irish do something which some drivers may find unusual. Often, Irish drivers will go right down the middle of the road to pass another car in spite of the fact that there is oncoming traffic in the other lane. The oncoming traffic; as well as those being over taken, is expected to drop to their left while the passing car goes right down the middle. If you are driving slower than others, it is best to keep your car to the left side of the road and use the paved berm. If you're traveling considerably slower than the flow of traffic keep as far left as possible with the left hand directional turn signal or hazard signals on.
Many motorways in Ireland are toll roads.
E FLOW Tolls around Dublin
M50 - The M50 is now a paperless/cashless Toll Plaza. There are no barriers or Toll Booths. It is operated by a system of cameras recording registration numbers of vehicles from the front and rear. There is a 3 euro charge that is levied by an automatic sensor as you pass this point along the M50 (every time you pass it). The charge is automatically charged to your cars vehicle ID number and must be paid by 8PM the following day or a huge fine is levied. It is easy to pay at a variety of sites like certain petrol stations. Verify with the rental car company where the sensor if located and if you will encounter it on your planned route around Dublin. Some rental car companies come with an E flow pass- where it is automatically charged to your credit card by your rental car company. (www.eflow.ie)
M1 Dublin to Belfast Toll is at Drogheda
M3 Dublin to North West
M4 Dublin to North by North West
M6 Dublin to Galway Toll is at Ballinasloe
M7 Dublin to Limerick/Cork Toll is at Portlaoise
M8 Dublin to Cork Toll is at Portlaoise AND Fermoy
N18 Limerick Bypass(Tunnel) Tunnel is in Limerick City
N25 Waterford Bypass Toll is on Cork side of Waterford (Bridge Crossing)
East Link Toll Plaza Dublin City
Dublin Port Tunnel - leading from East Link under City emerging on the M1 Motorway to Belfast / Connecting with M50
Roundabouts (rotaries) are very uncommon in the US but are a standard feature of Irish road networks. Roundabouts are frequently used on Irish roads to keep the traffic flowing. Don't let a roundabout spook you. After all, you routinely merge into much faster traffic on American highways back home. The traffic in a roundabout has the right-of-way; entering traffic yields (look to your right as you merge). It helps to remember that the driver is always in the center of the road.
The rules for using roundabouts are simple:
Yield to all vehicles coming from your right and always turn left on entering the roundabout.
Approach them slowly when you see the sign signaling one is coming up. Keep to the left. You must ALWAYS give way to traffic already on the roundabout. If you are leaving the roundabout on the first or second exit, keep in the left lane. If you are leaving the roundabout on the third exit, you drive on the inside lane, the right lane, passing the first exit and just after second exit indicate left and get into the left lane. Then exit as before.
You should yield and/or observe traffic signals when approaching roundabouts. Once you enter a roundabout you should keep moving. If you miss the exit you wanted, keep moving until you come back to it again. You should use your direction signal when exiting in a roundabout.