Once you leave Dublin city, the only proper, efficient, and flexible way to enjoy the real Emerald Isle is by car. While driving on the “wrong” side of the road can be quite nerve-wracking at first, you will eventually acclimate and come to enjoy it.
But be advised:
1) While a few modern highways connect the big cities at high speed, most of the main roads are quite narrow and slow going. It will typically take you a lot longer than you think to get where you are going. Most of the main roads go straight through town, an invitation to slow down, take a break, and enjoy the local color.
2) Watch your speed. Most roads are extremely narrow, with lots of ups, downs, twists, and turns… and very limited visibility. The extents and trajectory of almost every road is defined by impenetrable hedge rows and stone walls that have stood for centuries. Single lane bridges are quite common and shoulders in case of emergency are a rarity.
3) Keep your wits about you at all times. If you feel tired, pull over and take a break until you can really concentrate on what you are doing. One moment of inattention could be disastrous.
Special note: If you are ever get Dingle-way, driving the scenic Conor Pass is not for the faint of heart, but is quite a thrill.
Many road signs are bilingual (Gaelic and English), while in some areas, known as Gaeltachts, the signs are Gaelic only. If you don’t know that “An Daingean” refers to the town of Dingle, you just might miss the turnoff.
All that said, please don’t freak out. Just exercise reasonable caution and enjoy! Let’s go!