Rules of the Irish Road

Directional signs in Irish and English, cars parked every which way, street names in small print on the wall. Welcome to driving in Ireland!

Directional signs in Irish and English, not enough room for two-way traffic, cars parked every which way, street names in small print on the wall. Welcome to driving in Ireland!

In my Driven to Distraction post I alluded to having to get an Irish driver’s licence. I can drive legally for a year on my Canadian licence, but if I intend to stay longer, and if I want to get insurance at reasonable rates, I have to get an Irish one.

Do not overtake

No Overtaking. RR (Rules of the Road) p79

I have driven for almost 40 years without incident, in all kinds of conditions (Northern Canadian winters!) and vehicles, standard and automatic. I have rented a car every summer in Ireland year after year. I was prepared for some kind of process whereby I would be asked to demonstrate my competence and my knowledge of the Irish road rules – a process which I assumed would also acknowledge my experience and skills. The first part of that last sentence was a realistic assessment; the second part was a hopeless dream. It turns out that I must start from scratch, as if I was 17, as if I had never driven before.

Double yellow lines: no parking at any time. RR p115

Double yellow lines: no parking at any time. RR p115

Perhaps, you surmise, this is because we drive on the right in Canada and in Ireland we drive on the left. But anybody with a European driving licence can simply swap it for an Irish one, no matter what side of the road they drive on. This also applies to those in possession of licences from Taiwan, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Within Europe, all countries have agreed to the principle of mutual recognition for all sorts of qualifications and Ireland happens to have concluded agreements with several other countries for mutual recognition of driving licences. But with the US and Canada, it has not yet happened. There are “talks” apparently, but no real progress. This also means that Irish drivers who emigrate to Canada must go through a staged testing process.

You MUST not park on a footpath. RR p116

You MUST not park on a footpath. RR p116

 

Right – fair enough – I must prove my knowledge of the road and my driving competence. OK, theory test now passed, when can I take the road test? Wait, not so fast! First I must take, and pay for, a series of 12 driving lessons from an approved instructor. The lessons must be documented and they should occur two weeks apart: that will take six months. In the meantime, I must have L plates on the car and I cannot drive alone or on Motorways. Did you get that? I CANNOT DRIVE ALONE. I have, in effect, lost my independence. I must rely on Robert to drive me everywhere (we live three miles from the nearest village) or to sit beside me while I drive.

Drive at a safe speed.  RR p88

Drive at a safe speed. RR p88

In a future post I will describe the lessons – a whole experience in themselves! Meanwhile, I must admit that studying the Irish Rules of the Road has been a salutary experience. I leave you with some photographs to illustrate the Irish approach to road signage and to the observation of the Rules.

Unprotected quay ahead

Unprotected quay ahead. RR p183

20 thoughts

  1. Finola, that’s horrifying! I remember, back in the Dark Ages, getting my licence and how independent it made me feel. Hard to imagine going the other way. It seems as though you are maintaining sanity by nicely balancing outrage with humour …

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  2. Well now like, we must be thankful you are not having to matriculate the car at the same time. Love the ‘don’t balance your car on the end of the quay’ sign ….. supplied by the sponsors of JCB paint. Love it! I can feel the heat of your seethe from here.

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  3. And I thought the rules for driving in Saudi Arabia were harsh, but on second thoughts that’s only for second class citizens, namely women!!!!!! At least Ireland is being inclusive.

    David.

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