The Intermittent Kevin

As rarely and randomly updated as most blogs

A few notes on driving in Ireland

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The Irish people, in all their wily self-sufficiency, are able to do without that which we spoiled and obese Americans might consider essential. For example, you might consider it a necessity in a motorized country for there to be roads wide enough for the cars to actually drive on. Not so, say our Irish brethren. Except they’ve been drinking, so it comes out like “Nae suh!” and then they buy you a Guinness.

Apparently a legal thoroughfare.

In fairness, the roads are usually at least one lane wide, though not always. When possible, they’re stretched to one-and-a-half or one-and-three-quarters lanes, thus allowing I and my fellow driver to gently brush mirrors as our cars scooch by each other—I at two miles per hour, he at 35.

Then there’s street signs. Don’t need em. Doesn’t matter, since the name of the street is liable to change three times in half a kilometer anyway. Hell, for all I know, they’ve changed the name of the street outside since this morning. As a result, navigating around the twisted roads of Cork involves a lot of landmark sighting—and, more often, blind dumb luck.

And constant, constant self-reminders that I’m supposed to drive on the left side of the road. The actual driving you get used to; for some reason it’s realizing which ways to look as you cross the road. My brain just shuts down and I simply swing my head back and forth like an idiot as my car creeps into harm’s way.

But there’s an upside to all this anarchy. Irish people are seemingly never in a hurry to get anywhere. If another driver makes a crazy looping turn through an intersection, they just stand by. If someone pulls over and mounts the curb, they just swing around. Though I did see one fender bender, I would imagine that major wrecks are much less common when everyone is constantly on their guard.

And they’re so friendly about the situation that we Texans are put to shame. On one occasion there was genuine gridlock on a tiny road in front of us, with cars stopped head-to-head; I witnessed the three cars in front of me all cheerily place themselves in reverse, back themselves out of the block, and wave as the opposing traffic passed through. Amazing.

Which is not to say the Irish are lacking in driving nuttery:

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Written by Kevin Miller

July 29, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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