Driving in Ireland, what do we need to know ?

For this of us who are starting off in Ireland before heading to Northern Ireland and the rally, is there anything we need to know ?  I have search the web and it doesn’t look like there is anything we need to carry or or to the car at all, unlike a lot of other European Countries.  Can anyone help further ?

 When we went to Southern Ireland all we did was stick a GB sticker on the back of the car.  Take a Sat Nav and or a map as some of the locals like to alter the sign posts, We drove down a road with the sign post pointing in the direction that we were travelling and at the end of the road another sign post was directing us back again. It’s called the charm of the Irish, so I was told.  They do have Mobile speed traps near some of the City’s.    Make sure you take the correct medical papers in case you need medical treatment.   I had my first, and thankfully only one, Angina Attack when I was there.

In the North, you are essentially in the UK so all the traffic laws are the same as the mainland.

For the South, you might find the following link useful; it contains all the relevant information including the speed limits applicable in the Irish Republic / Southern Ireland. Bear in mind that they now use kilometers rather than miles, and also use euros rather than pounds. Some of the major motorways have Tolls, and to confuse things, some of the ring roads round Dublin have a drive now / pay later by phone system (a bit like the London Congestion charge).


Enjoy the drive!

Hello!  We took my 5 over to Ireland last year, all you need is a GB sticker, a map and Sat Nav (if you have one with the relevant maps) and a sense of humour!  We managed to get the roof down most of the days we were over there.  The scenery is stunning over there and the people are just lovely and very welcoming.  Watch out for the Irish breakfasts, they’re huge!



According to my book
which admittedly is a few years old now


Distances are given in
Km on the green signs, but older signs still show miles

Speed limits are in mph

Signs are in English,
although there may be some Gaelic ‘give way’ signs (Geill Sli)


Everything else appears
pretty much as in the UK.



You will have to excercise caution in NI.

Mondays; Wednesdays, and Fridays are all days when delivery trucks drive on the right hand side to allow shops and stores to have their produce delivered in rotation. After 10pm you are obliged to give way at pub car parks as they empty…rapidly. Mind you, in many villiges Happy Hour is every hour!

Horse drawn vehicles are common, but do not be alarmed if they appear driverless as the horses have more horse sense than the owners…who are probably still in the pub.

If you are caught driving on Sundays, you will be burned as a heretic and your car will be flogged…literally.

If you see cars with " Red Diesel only" stickers…it’s likely a Police car…dead giveaway.

If you get bricks chucked at you…it’s a compliment. You still have your car.

Put your hardtop on. They will mistake your softtop as tent, it’ll be cut off and donated to the local Girl Guides. 

Apart from that, have fun.Big Smile


PS: True stories

Late on one Saturday night, the Garda spotted O’Callaghan driving very erratically through the streets of Dungarvan, County Waterford. The policeman pulled him over and asked O’Callaghan if he had been drinking that evening.

‘Aye, so I have. ‘Tis Saturday, you know, so me and the lads stopped by the pub where I had six or seven pints,’ chattered the inebriated O’Callaghan. ‘Then there was something called “Happy Hour” and they served these mar-gar-itos which are quite good. I had four or five o’ those. Then I had to drive me friend O’Reilly home and o’ course I had to go in for a couple of Guinness - couldn’t be rude, ye know. Then I stopped on the way home to get another bottle for later …,’ and O’Callaghan fumbled around in his coat until he located his bottle of whiskey, which he held up for inspection.

The Garda officer sighed and said, ‘Sir, I’m afraid I’ll need you to step out of the car and take a breathalyser test.’

Indignantly, O’Callaghan replied, ‘Why? Don’t ye believe me?’


An elderly couple were driving through County Kerry, Ireland. Irene was driving when she got pulled over by the Gardai, who asks her, ‘Ma’am did you know that you were speeding?’

Irene turns to her husband, Mick and enquires, ‘What did he say?’

Mick yells out, ‘He says you were speeding!’ The Garda said, ‘May I see your license, please ma’ am?’

Irene, once again, turns to Mick and says, ‘What did he say?’

Once more, Mick, shouts out, ‘He wants to see your license!’

Irene gives the policeman her driving license.

The Garda retorts, ‘I see you are from Kerry. I spent some time there once and had the worst date I have ever had.’

For the final time, Irene turns to Mick and asks, ‘What did he say?’

Mick yells very loudly, ‘He thinks he knows you!’

Dave and Peter, two English men, are walking along O’Connell Street, in Dublin, when they see a sign in a shop window:

Suits £15.00, shirts £2.00, trousers £2.50.

Peter says to Dave, ‘Look at that - we could buy a lot of that gear and, when we get back to England we could make a fortune. When we go into the shop don’t say anything, let me do all the talking, because if they hear our accent they might not serve us, so I’ll speak in my best Irish accent.’

They go in and Peter orders, 50 suits at £15.00, 100 shirts at £2.00 and 50 trousers at £2.50 The owner of the shop says, ‘You’re English aren’t you?’

Peter replies replies, ‘Oh bother… Yes, how on earth did you know that?’

The owner says, ‘This is a dry cleaners…’

cool, all sounds quite simple then.  Is a GB sticker compulsory do we think ?

I doubt you’ll get any issues for not having either a GB sticker, or ‘Euro-style’ number plates (with the little blue band), but technically you should have one or the other (or both).

Driving in Ireland…well, that’s not a can of worms…

(Hopefully) Without causing [too much] offence to anybody, - the standard of driving in Ireland is pretty bad compared to anything I’ve ever seen in Scotland/England/France/Germany/Belgium/America…

Key things to watch for -

Country lanes - if there’s an oncoming car, my advice would be to just stop (for all the extra time it takes), or else you’ll eventually find yourself driving in the hedge as the oncoming car gives you no space at all (when it has plenty).

Roundabouts - it’s generally acceptable on many large roundabouts to take the left hand lane, not indicate, and then take the last exit - so take particular care, especially if you’re planning on entering a dual carriageway in the right hand lane.

If you enter a car’s ‘personal space’ (regardless of whether you’re remotely close or not), especially at roundabouts, you will doubtlessly hear a horn (usually several seconds after the event).
Similarly if you overtake in a line of cars, and slot in to a gap (which would be bigger if the driver was courteous and allowing others to pass), you’ll get the same horn treatment.

Many rural villages/towns (especially around Dublin) use speed bumps as traffic calming - some of these will be a problem for some lowered mx5s.


I’ll easily hear more horns in a week in Dublin than at least 6 months in Scotland.

Speed limits are in km/h - I doubt there are any mph signs left anywhere these days.


In the UK you get public-awareness videos saying ‘put your seatbelt on’ and ‘slow down a bit on country roads’. Here we get 'when approaching a roundabout, slow down. If you’re going left, indicate, and choose the left hand lane…'
Says all you need to know really.


It’s such a different style - it might be just across the water, but don’t expect it to be like ‘home’ - keep that in mind, and you’ll be fine.

Roads are generally in good condition, but as with anywhere, rural ones can be have pot-hole issues.

If you’re driving down from Belfast beware of the average speed cameras near Newry, and the static camera after crossing the Irish border.


Unmarked police (Garda) cars tend not to be as obvious when in ‘pursuit’ as UK ones, so if you hear sirens double check what’s around you - the lights won’t stand out as much.


That’s about it - just double check you’re insurance covers you outside (mainland) UK


Also, just to add to a very long post - that’s all based on Dublin/Wicklow - maybe the rest of the country is different…maybe

 http://driving.drive-alive.co.uk/driving-in-ireland.htm includes mention of the GB stickers issue, but I have a few contacts in traffic police circles who might be able to give me a formal answer about it as I think there may be some reciprocal arrangement about not having to bother when we cross into each other’s jurisdiction.

Northern Ireland number plates are still a different format from the rest of the UK, and the Southern plates are a completely different system again relating to year of 1st reg, county and unique identifier number. Many Northern drivers (including myself) cross the border on a regular basis and never feel the need to display a GB sticker. In truth, I suspect if you were stopped by the Gardai (police) in the South in your open top MX-5 and you explained why you were visiting, I think they would laugh you on your way. Unless you were doing 80mph and smelled of Guinness of course…

On a serious note, bear in mind that another reciprocal arrangement also allows for transfer of points on your license if caught speeding or drunk driving…

I never bothered with a GB sticker in all the years I spent trundling between the North and the South; having said that, I got the fifth degree at a Gard checkpoint, at Dublin Airport while driving a GB-plated car (I’m not from N.Ireland; just happened to live there for a while). AA/RAC; treat Southern Ireland as “Europe” if crossing over the water (but not if driving from the North); so free Europe cover applies if travelling from GB. Once you are North, you have normal cover. The AA operates normal patrol vehicles down South, not sure about the RAC (I got collected by the RAC in Dublin, using a local garage, refused to take me to the border, where I would have gotten a tow home).


The Gard do share driver data with the DVLNI/ PSNI, not sure about the DVLA. As for points; technically, NI has a different points system from GB (NI points cannot be put on a GB licence, but they can fine you, and you will have to appear in court, even for fixed penalties…). The UK has signed up for such an EU wide agreement, but when I spoke to someone in the NI office about it, its not been ratified yet by Stormont, so isn’t yet in force. There may be a local arrangement between the South and the North though. There are speed cameras down South; when I was there, they appeared to be old fashioned second hand GATSOs, not in yellow. The Gard do sometimes use the most unlikely of unmarked cars (sometimes pretty beaten up).



I think it is.

Driving around Dublin is a nightmare, beware of the “foreigners”, who jump out at you when slowing down at junctions, and start to splash your windscreen and try to clean it for you, for cash I presume. If this happens get your wife to scream at them, this usually frightens them off.

There is also the flowers sellers and newspaper sellers who do similar things too.

What would make me say it’s not just Dublin/Wicklow is that the people I know from other parts of the country don’t seem to see it as I do (yet anybody from outside does).


I should also add, just in case people find themselves in a carpark or whatever - zebra crossings are for decorative purposes only.


Also just to clarify, I’ve been working here for the last 9 months or so

 I was told to check mirrors 3 times when pulling away…

to be sure to be sure to be sure!

 not sure if it has been mentioned before

road speed signs in the south are in km/h  in the north they are in mph , so just be careful


And it might not be entirely obvious when you cross the border.

 Assuming you mean the republic - based on past travels to Donegal

Roads are bumpy

Road signs - distances in Miles, speed limts in KPH - or was it the other way around …?

Check your insurance covers you for ROI

If going through Derry - or maybe some other border towns - be especially prepared to follw diversions esp. if there’s some trouble going on. There’s less of it these days, but you never know! If you spot a pile of tyres - keep clear!

Bone up on the price of petrol before you go - if going through the North, compare prices with the South, and plan fuel stops accordingly.

I never bothered with GB stickers.

I would carry warning triangles/flouresecnt jackets wherever, irrespective of any rules.



Wrong time of year for street bonfires.

I doubt these are (m)any mph signs left these days. Distances and speeds are both kmh (in the South)

From experience going from mph to kmh is made a lot clearer than the other way round- but if you use common sense, you should be fine.




Just a few things to look out for…

If you are driving down from the North, be careful around Newry, they have average speed cameras. These are very tall yellow jobbies and will catch you if your’e not prudent with your speed.

In the Republic, At traffic lights be aware that there are folks that will try to wash your glass. Be polite but firm, usually they will just try the next sap. The thing to watch out for is “Gypsies” selling you small cuttings of plants that they have just nicked from whatever bush is near them at the time. These people WILL give you trouble when you decline their advances, to the point of kicking your car or worse, holding a sharp object against the bodywork as you drive off!. The best way to deal with problem is to haggle until the lights change and then just drive off, this seems to confuse them and by the time they are ready to damage your car, you have gone.