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August 3, 2007

European Camp Daddy - Day 4: Cork to Kenmare


“There’s no place on earth
I’d rather be
Than eating scones
On the Irish Sea.? – Unknown

When you’re driving in Ireland, every day of your life that you have spent behind the wheel of an automobile is a handicap. Your driving experience counts against you. Every turn you’ve ever made has worn grooves into your brain that will lead to a sure and swift death on the streets of Ireland.

You have to learn to drive on the other side of the road. To circle the roundabouts clockwise instead of counter clockwise. To judge the distance to the shoulder on the other side of the car. To parallel park all over again. Speed and distance are measured in kilometers.

In short, when you get behind the wheel of an automobile in Ireland, everything you know about driving is wrong. I think that, in retrospect, I would have been better off handing Jennifer the keys.

The roads in Ireland are a insane. It was sort of humorous in Dublin and Cork, but out in the countryside, it’s not so funny any more.

The roads have no shoulders. The back-roads of Tennessee seem like an autobahn compared to main roads of Ireland. We took the N71 from Cork to Kenmare. The speed limit is marked at 100 km/hr, but this speed is rarely obtainable. Not only are the roads impeded by construction, tractors, livestock, and foreign drivers, but, they really aren’t wide enough for anything bigger than a bicycle.

In the off chance that you have the road to yourself, going 100 km/hr is suicidal. The vegetation grows right up to the very edges of the narrow road, and the roads twist and wriggle through the countryside, little more than paved cattle trails.

Every village you come to has streets so narrow that you’re passing other vehicles, mindful of your side view mirrors on each side. You seriously have to know where each side of your car is down to the inch to make it through the village streets.

Driving in Ireland requires a very high level of concentration. Yesterday, while I was trying to explain to Jennifer how to convert military time to standard time, and kilometers to miles, I passed a couple of people on the wrong side of the road. They were not happy.

When you’re on the left side of the road driving straight down the road, it’s not so hard to stay on the correct side. It’s the turns that trip you up, because you’re used to turning left and going into the right lane. Or turning right and going into the right lane. The turns are where things fall apart.

Jennifer helps me to stay on the left side of the road, yelling “get over!? whenever we end up on the wrong side of the road, which happened several times yesterday. We’d probably be better off if she were driving.

Even getting into the car requires some level of concentration, because Jennifer and I have to remember to switch sides before we get in. Standing beside the road is dangerous, because you’re standing with your back to traffic and don’t realize it.

Car insurance in Ireland is the best money you ever spent. It would be a bargain at twice the price. I, of course, have none.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 3, 2007 at 5:29 AM


I read this story to Albert and he laughed because he still remembers how to drive and can imagine how backwards you must be feeling. Darn those pesky keyholes. Have another pale one on us.

Posted by: sl on August 3, 2007 at 8:59 AM

so....., you've been to Ireland for an entire week, and all I know is how cool the nintendo ds is, elevators are fun, how grass grows on the sides of the road and how hard it is to drive on the opposite side of the road......

Posted by: James on August 3, 2007 at 1:38 PM

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