Go Mall

John would have been proud or disappointed that I visited his relative's summer cottage, Patrick Pearse

John would have been proud or disappointed that I visited his relative's summer cottage, Patrick Pearse

We are in Irish-speaking country now, on the north side of county Kerry, near the ever-popular “Ring of Kerry,” which we will avoid. “Go Mall” means slow down in Irish, and it’s painted on the roads in many places. Despite this, the drivers here are a bit nuts. Fortunately, most of the drivers around here in Dingle are tourists. You can tell by the license plate: an “09” is often a rental since the economy is so bad, and most Irish can’t afford new cars. Our little Nissan Micra is like a poor man’s Mini, but I appreciate the handling.

It’s been hard getting used to driving on the left-hand side of the road, stick, and shifting with my left hand. Only once did we nearly collide in a roundabout; all I got out of it was a nasty horn.

I met an elderly Irishman in a Tesco near Limerick, after we emerged from terrible Friday rush-hour traffic, and construction. He was in front of me in the check-out lane, complaining about the angle of the sunlight through the windows. He shook my hand when he left, pointed at me, and said, “Remember: watch out for the Irish drivers.”

That night, we got stuck driving in the dark to Dingle, as we under-estimated the travel time, and got caught in many construction projects. The roads here are pocked with pot-holes, and are very narrow. On top of this, the Irish love passing you in places they really shouldn’t. So there’s the constant threat of headlights coming right at you around a turn, and the fact that the American brain is already bewildered by everything, opposite from all that is natural, driving. A left-hand turn is as easy and natural as a right-hand turn, in the states. But a right-hand turn requires extra attention. And then, you’ve got the roundabouts…

We were planning to go to Kilkenny tomorrow, to a working farm, but they never wrote us back about our request to stay there, so we’ll be staying on another night here in Dingle which is just fine by me.

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
This entry was posted in travel, Travelogue 2009 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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