I'd never drive in Ireland again. Not that I drove this time; my husband did all the hard work, but sitting on the passenger side enduring the hundreds of dives off the road for passing cars was horrible.
The typical road in Ireland, excluding the relatively new and excellent motorways, looks about like this. I'd call it a little more than one lane wide by our standards.
Yet traffic moves both ways and to add to the terror, you are driving on the left side of the road. My brain has to adapt all the time to accommodate balance problems - add in the "wrong" road side and I was on over-load. The speed limit on these roads was an unbelievable 100 k per hour. As if it isn't bad enough that half your time is spend in the bushes on the so-called shoulder, often you happen across cars which are stopped dead, unloading passengers, people talking to friends etc. My final solution was to keep my eyes closed much of the time. What beautiful Irish countryside??? I saw the insides of my eyelids during our time on the roads.
You might turn a corner at 100k (in fact, we never drove anywhere near the limit) and there ahead would be a little knot of socializing people - chatting away, or walking three or four abreast across the road or bicycling at 10 k per hour. Cars hurtling toward them with screaming passengers and screeching brakes don't seem to bother them (is it the Guinness?).
Richard didn't find driving enjoyable but he didn't experience the depth of discomfort I did. He'd probably do it again if he could find a mute navigator/passenger or one with severed vocal cords and considerably more courage.
Passing buses was the worst. They just press on toward you unflinchingly and you do what you can...back up or drive into the weeds.
No wonder car insurance is so expensive in Ireland. When you return your rental car, they don't ask if you had an accident, they ask how many you had!
Don't get me wrong, I loved Ireland. Next time, I'd choose to be in the biggest vehicle possible (aka a tourist bus) and occasionally glance down and out of the window at the cowering, pale glassy-eyed tourist drivers sitting in the road side shrubbery, sweaty hands clutching the steering wheel, staring up at you, waiting for you to glide by.
Erin go bragh!