1.   Speed limits.

  • The Speed limit on most roads is 80km/h.
  • National roads speed limit is generally 100Km/h speed limit (vehicles with a standard license).
  • Some motorway and dual carriage ways go up to 120km/h limit.
  • Speed limit of 50km/h in villiages and towns.
  • Northern Ireland limimt is generally 60mph, 70mph on motorways and 30mph in towns. 
  • 80 km/h (or less where signposted) for vehicles towing trailers, caravans, etc  is .
  • 80 km/h (or less where signposted) for trucks (over 3.5 tonnes) and single deck buses. Double deck buses speed limit 65 km/h.
  • *A lower speed limit may be signposted where road conditions dictate.

2.  DO NOT DRIVE WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL or drugs. The legal tolerance limit is 0.05%.  NOTE: This is significantly lower than many US states and than the United Kingdom, New Zealand and several other countries, so be aware that you may be over the limit in Ireland having consumed less alcohol than in your home country.

3. Seat belts use is mandatory in front and rear seats.

4. Children under 12 years age must ride in the rear seats.

5. Minimum Driving age: 17 years.

6. Drivers must carry  

  • Valid drivers license
  • Vehicle title document/registration certificate or vehicle rental agreement
  • Insurance green card (not obligatory for vehicles registered in IRL or another EU state)
  • National vehicle oval country of registration plate (not required for vehicles fitted with EU standard format license plates)
7. Drive on the left .

8. Note that the sequence of most traffic lights is green-amber-red-green. Come to a gradual stop at amber lights. 

9. Give way to traffic already on a roundabout

11. Direction Sign Colours

  • Freeways/Motorways = Blue
  • National Primary & Secondary routes = Green
  • Regional and local routes = White
  • Places of interest/historic or cultural sights = Brown
  • Road works/diversions = Orange

12. Tolls- There are tolls in operation on a number of motorways, bridges and a tunnel in Ireland. Be prepared with small bills and change, or check your route(s) to see if they include toll roads.

13. Tips for North Americans driving in IRL for the first time.

14. Parking

On-Street Parking

Parking on the street in Ireland is usually either subject to a fee or a time limit. See local signage for details. Parking rules are quite strictly enforced, particularly in large urban areas, and parking illegally can result in a hefty fine (up to €95), immobilisation using a clamp (boot) or in some cases, your vehicle can be towed and impounded incurring an even larger release fee. For this reason, it is advisable to comply with local parking regulations which are clearly sign-posted.

Do not park on double-yellow lines or in areas marked "clearway". Some areas may be marked with a single yellow line, in which case, parking is restricted to certain times as sign-posted e.g. "loading bays" which are kept clear to facilitate deliveries to local businesses at particular times of the day. See local signage for details. Parking is also not permitted in bus lanes, close to junctions, traffic lights or pedestrian crossings.

Disabled Parking

You can only use disabled parking spaces (marked with a blue and white sign with a pictogramme of a wheelchair) if you have a European Disabled Drivers parking sticker displayed on your window. For more information visit The Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) http://www.ddai.ie/

Parking Meters

These usually control parking in a particular street / a number of parking spaces (bays). The most common type is a solar powered unit located on the street. To use the meter, simply insert coins until the desired parking time is displayed. Then press the Green button to print a ticket. The ticket should be displayed on your dashboard so that it is visible for parking attendants to check. Some machines also accept major credit cards.

Disk Parking

Some urban areas, notably all of Cork City and suburban Dublin, use pre-paid parking disks. These can be purchased in local shops/stores individually or in books. To use these disks simply scratch off the current time and date, much like you would scratch a lottery ticket. Display the disk on your dashboard so that it can be clearly read by a parking attendant.

Park by Phone (Park Magic)

Cork City and Limerick City use a system where motorists can pay for parking using their mobile phones. If you are going to be spending some time or parking regularly in these areas it may be worth setting up an account. You simply pick-up a window sticker with a barcode in a local store, or order one from http://www.parkmagic.net/ . Attach the sticker to your front windshield and call the number from an Irish mobile phone with caller ID active to register. You can then register your credit card / or Laser debit card. To top up, simply follow the instructions. To park, simply call the number on the sticker and enter the parking zone number displayed on local parking signs. Parking attendants can check that you have paid by scanning the barcode on your window.

Multi-Story Car Parks and Parking Lots

Major cities, towns and other urban areas have plenty of privately operated car parks. These are often multistory and prices can vary substantially depending on the area. Hourly rates are usually signposted at the entrance. Central Dublin and Cork can be quite expensive. It is usually possible to pay by credit card. If you need to park overnight, it is advisable to consult the signage as some car parks do not allow you to stay overnight, or may charge very high fees to do so.

Cork and Dublin have electronic signage around the city advising motorists where car parks are located and whether they have sufficient spaces.

Information for major cities

15. Dublin Traffic Control Centre

Call 1-800 29 39 49 (free incl. from payphones and mobiles) with signposting suggestions, traffic signal fault reports, information on parked vehicles causing congestion and traffic jams caused by roadworks.

16. Broadcast traffic reports on radio

The traffic information of the motoring organizations is broadcast regularly on national, regional and local  radio stations.

17. Fuel

Petrol Stations (Gas stations) are widely available throughout Ireland and all accept major credit and debit cards.

*IMPORTANT* Unlike roads in most other countries and due to Ireland's relatively sparse population Irish motorways do not currently have very many service stations. It is extremely important that you fill-up with sufficient petrol (gas) for your journey before setting out on any Irish motorway. If you are running low on fuel, exit to the nearest town and fill-up. Where services are available on motorways, they are very clearly signed. Look out for symbols displaying a petrol/gas pump on the signs. These will appear several km ahead of the exit and are pictograms. There is a serious risk of becoming stranded on the side of a motorway if you run out of fuel. There are plenty of petrol stations located in towns along the motorways, but beware that these can sometimes be several KM from the motorway exit. Plan your trip carefully and ensure that you always have sufficient fuel to get to a petrol station. If you remain on the motorway, it is possible to drive for hundreds of KM without ever seeing a petrol station! So do not attempt to drive without at least enough fuel to arrive at your destination if you are unfamiliar with your route.

Also, if you need food or a bathroom break, you will have to exit to the nearest town

You can get the current exchange rate for the Euro (Republic of Ireland) and Sterling (Northern Ireland) http://www.xe.com . Americans should bear in mind that European cars tend to be more economical in terms of fuel.   Diesel cars tend to be even more economical still and diesel fuel is sometimes cheaper.

18. Drivers Licenses

When renting a car most car rental companies will require a drivers license issued by the state you are normally resident in - and not an "international driving license".  

19. Additional Resources

For more information on driving in Ireland http://www.iol.ie/~discover/driving.htm .