GENIRE-L ArchivesArchiver > GENIRE > 1998-05 > 0895195551
From: Pat Traynor< >
Subject: Gonna be Driving in Ireland?
Date: 14 May 1998 18:25:51 -0700
For those of you who have asked for advice on their upcoming
trip to Ireland:
ROAD ETIQUETTE IN IRELAND
(Condensed, abridged, chopped, hacked, edited, and also
changed somewhat from the original.) Original sent on request.
The "Boreen" (Pronounced: bore-een)
The boreen is a back-road one step up from a cowpath in
In fact many boreens were just cowpaths with some gravel or
tarmac thrown over it. For anyone unfamiliar with cows and their
travelling habits, their directional habits are somewhat
erratic. Much of the Irish road infrastructure is comprised of
boreens, and carries all types of traffic.
Unfortunately for the unprepared, the boreen is a very
intimidating place. Many visitors have been known to abandon
their cars, running and screaming through the fields. They have
often had recurring nightmares for many years afterwards and
many need professional counselling.
Most cars and trucks can go down them.. In one direction only.
Be prepared to have much of your paintwork removed as you drive
into the hedge to allow another car to pass. Progress is often
impeded by larger trucks and tractors, where you must reverse
until you find a gate or other spot where the road widens. Note:
the larger vehicle always has the right of way! Two steps
forward and one step back is the motto here.
Overtaking is a complex process and involves much communication
by the passer and passee. Firstly the passer indicates their
intention to pass by driving as close to the person in front as
Hazard warning lights are used here too, to say that the owner
is only gone for a minute and will move the illegally parked car
shortly. Leaving the engine running indicates greater urgency
and it is not uncommon to also leave the car door open,
especially when the closing time for submitting Lotto (national
lottery) payslips is approaching. Note: this is usually only
suitable for rural towns, in Dublin, car thieves are very
persistent and have even been known to fix totally banjaxed cars
in order to steal them.
In fact, if you have a popular car and it is not running, push
it to a dark street and wait in the shadows awhile. If your
timing is good, you can wait until it has been repaired and
before the "mechanic" enters to drive it off, then run full
speed at the man, or boy, screaming like a banshee and waving a
hurley stick. Now your car is running again!
Do not indicate when turning into a parking space - it is better
to keep the drivers behind on their toes.
Indicators are a special case in Ireland. They must not be used
even under pain of death. If one feels you absolutely must use
them, then it is appropriate to use them to signal past actions,
not intent as is the norm in other countries. The vast majority
of Irish motorists do not know how to indicate properly when
going through a roundabout so they adhere to the rule of not
using them. Please be courteous and do not confuse the drivers
by indicating in a roundabout.
Recently, the Gardai have been issued with hand-held radar guns
and hide behind lampposts so their cover is not blown. In truth
the government issued several thousand empty cases that resemble
a radar gun which saved a lot of money. Real radar guns are not
needed since all cars drive in excess of the speed limit, so the
Gardai just take their pick.
Some parts of Ireland do not have ditches or fences to prevent
animals from wandering onto the roadway. A bit like Australia,
only a lot wetter and colder. Sheep have discovered that black
objects absorb solar radiation better than say, white or green
things. Hence you have these ribbons of warmth running through
the bleak, windswept countryside providing comfort to the
animals living there. Unfortunately to humans, these ribbons are
known as "national routes".
On the new motorways, there are even newer blue signs, which
thankfully haven't been vandalised. Yet.. Touristy signs with
touristy information are camouflage-brown so that they blend in
with the scenery in touristy spots. In the last year or two
there have been small yellow signs with cryptic codes placed at
regular intervals on national routes. There has been much
speculation as to the purpose of these. They are of course
waypoint markers for the alien invasion due on the 23rd November
2008 at a secret site in Co. Leitrim.
Conversion between kilometers per deci-hour (the metric standard
10 hours per day) to imperial mph (not US statute miles, these
are different again) is quite easy, simply multiply the value in
Kmdh by 0.15E013, divide by the gravitational constant plus the
current distance from earth to uranus's third moon in
milipicojoulefarads and you have your speed in mph.
Road System Experiments
Ireland in recent years seems to have become a testing ground
for bizzare road experiments of various types. The first major
experiment to go badly wrong was the roundabout. The roads
authority discovered that roundabouts were dead handy because
they were cheaper than traffic lights or an overpass, didn't use
electricity and gave the illusion that you were getting
somewhere. The problem was that the road planners went berserk
and put roundabouts everywhere. Maintaining a decent speed on a
dual carriageway is hard when you have a roundabout every 100
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