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Avoid driving into Dublin if at all possible. We suggest dropping your car off and then spending a few nights in Dublin at the end of your trip or before picking your car up on arrival. There is great public transportation. The airport shuttle buses are convenient and run about every 15-20 minutes back and forth between the airport and Dublin. Check which one drops you off closest to your hotel. (It makes a difference if it is raining!).

Heritage Pass

Consider getting a Heritage Pass. It is easiest to pick one up when you first arrive or at the first Heritage site you visit. It will more than pay for itself in a short time. Go to the Heritage Sites of Ireland Website to see the list of sites that it covers. It covers many of the favorite sites like: Glendalough Visitor Center, Rock of Cashel, Bru na Boinne Visitor Center (Newgrange and Knowth), Ross Castle, Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny Castle, Trim Castle, Charles Fort in Kinsale and many other sites.

Heritage Island Visitor's Guide

It is pretty inexpensive and provides various discounts (some are 2 for 1) on 90 visitor attractions (all are different than those covered by the Heritage Pass).


First-time visitors sometimes underestimate the time it takes to travel between two points. Distance is not the only criterion. Driving on motorways roads aside, prudent route planners reckon to cover an average 30 miles/50 kilometers in an hour.

In the Republic of Ireland signposts and place names are displayed in both Irish (Gaelic) and English, and distances and speed limits are in kilometers. In Northern Ireland signposts and speed limits are all in miles, and place names are in English, with a sprinkling of bilingual English/Ulster-Scots signposts in some areas and, occasionally, English/Irish Gaelic.

Traffic Lights

RED - Stop. Wait behind the stop line.
RED AND AMBER - also means Stop.
GREEN - You may go if it is safe to do so. Take special care if you mean to turn left or right and give way to pedestrians who are crossing.
GREEN ARROW - you can go in the direction shown if it is safe to do so. You can do this whatever other lights are showing.
AMBER - also means Stop.
FLASHING AMBER - means you must give way to pedestrians on the crossings, but can continue if there is nobody on the crossing.

Dangerous Driving and Penalty Points

Drivers with foreign driving licenses who drive in Ireland are subject to Ireland's penalty points system, a system designed to save lives and prevent injuries resulting from road crashes and collisions. If someone is driving in Ireland on a foreign license, the driver's details are held on a separate database for the purpose of recording penalty points. If that driver later applies for and obtains an Irish driving license, the penalty points are then activated on that license.

Terms to Know

Driving in Ireland can become a linguistic nightmare, especially if 'American English' is your native tongue. If, for instance, somebody is asking you to open the boot, he is not referring to your footwear.

Here are some helpful hints:
A-Roads (Northern Ireland) - major roads.
B-Roads (Northern Ireland) - minor roads.
Boot - trunk.
Boyracer - young motorist given to fast and (often) reckless driving.
Bus Lane - lane for the exclusive use by buses, taxis and emergency vehicles.
Estate - station wagon.
Filling Station - gas station.
Garda (Republic of Ireland) - police; the Garda Traffic Corps is charged with directing and controlling traffic.
Gas - in Ireland this does not refer to liquid fuel (petrol), but to gases.
Jeep - any 4x4 vehicle.
L-Driver - driver on a learner's license, required to display a red L on white background to warn other motorists.
Lorry - truck.
Motorhome - RV.
Motorway - equivalent to an Interstate.
N-Roads (Republic of Ireland) - national (major) roads.
Petrol - gas.
Petrol Station - gas station.
R-Driver - driver on a restricted license, required to display a red R on white background to warn other motorists.
R-Roads (Republic of Ireland) - regional (minor) roads.
Tyres - tires.