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.