Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road in Ireland

My rental car is a foot away from the bumper of the parked vehicle in front of me.  Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to put it in reverse.  I have to find an agent from Budget to show me how.  Causing an accident in the first 15 minutes of renting a car is not my idea of how to spend a vacation.  Driving on the opposite side of the road in Ireland is certainly going to be a challenge.

Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road in Ireland

Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road in Ireland. I saw this Land Rover in Killarney National Park and immediately was amazed by it's beauty and authenticity. This is the quintessential Irish vehicle!
Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road in Ireland. I saw this Land Rover in Killarney National Park and immediately was amazed by it’s beauty and authenticity. This is the quintessential Irish vehicle!

I haven’t even made it out of the rental car parking garage, and I’m already having problems.  This isn’t a good sign.  I hope it’s not a harbinger of things to come.

Surprisingly 34% of the world travels on the left side of the road while the remainder manage on the right.  Most on the left are former British colonies: Australia, India, Bahamas and South Africa to name a few.  Canada as well used to until they realized with border crossings it was better on the right.  I was amazed to see left side travel when I was in locations like Japan and Bali.

Having driven around Scotland on the left side of the road a few years ago, I figured it wouldn’t be an issue in Ireland.  This time instead of opting for the easy yet more expensive automatic transmission, I went for manual.  I’m a very good driver with no accidents.  Why not throw caution to the wind by adding another hurdle?

Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road in Ireland. Directors filmed the Star Wars Movie "The Last Jedi" at the 2 stone outcroppings in the background
Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road in Ireland. Directors filmed the Star Wars Movie “The Last Jedi” at the 2 stone outcroppings in the background

I wasn’t considering the fact I’d be operating on two hours of sleep after having arrived from Providence, Rhode Island on the red eye into Dublin.

Now I’m trying to remember to keep to the left while also having to shift and use a clutch.  Back home in Mexico and in the US I drive with an automatic.   Although manual is not difficult, it’s not something that comes naturally.  Let’s just say that I’m in the wrong gear on a daily basis and I stall a couple of times every day.

Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road. I parked in Killarney National Park, I just took some photos of the lake and met a French guy who gave me some photography tips.
Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road. I parked in Killarney National Park, I just took some photos of the lake and met a French guy who gave me some photography tips.

Making sure I get into the correct side of the car is an issue.  When I’m rushed or not thinking my body moves to the left side, and only once I open the door do I realize the driver sits on the right.  Like an idiot I take the walk of shame back to the correct side.  Likewise determining where the other drivers sit has become an annoyance.  On the road I’m frequently looking into an empty seat attempting to determine who is the idiot behind the wheel.

One of the most unsettling parts of driving on the opposite side of the road is the uncertainty.

I often question “am I in the correct lane?”  Once I pulled out into traffic and looked the wrong way, narrowly avoided getting hit.  Thankfully I haven’t driven on the incorrect side of traffic yet (on this trip).  No dings or scratches on the vehicle appeared during my tenure.

Once you get the hang of driving on the left it’s really not that difficult.  However I am having trouble judging where is the center part of my lane.  Frequently I’m on the shoulder hearing the rumble strips.  Occasionally I feel the car jerk as I momentarily drive off of the pavement.

If you don’t read another blog entry for the next 48 hours you’ll know I’ve made a terrible mistake driving on the opposite side of the road.  Otherwise I think I getting accustomed to this whole “wrong” side of the road phenomenon.

Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road. I parked outside Caitin's Pub where the have a sheepdog expo. This is also the spot where I got some great sunrise photos.
Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road. I parked outside Caitin’s Pub where the have a sheepdog expo. This is also the spot where I got some great sunrise photos.

Happy travels,

Matt Weatherbee

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Matt Weatherbee
Matt Weatherbee

Hi, I’m Matt.  In 2008 I quit my job, sold everything and drove from Boston to Mexico to start a business.  Now I live and work in the Carribean, and spend my free time traveling the globe.  Learn more.

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