Renting a Car in Ireland
You would think this would be pretty straight forward, something you don't have to worry too much about when it comes to your trip, however this was one of the first things I learned, and my biggest challenges in planning our trip.
Ireland is known for it's narrow and one lane, winding roads with speed limits that are as high as 100 km per hour or just over 60 miles per hour. They've been known to cause a number of small fender benders, with mirrors being plucked off by buses and maybe getting a bit too close to the stuff on the side of the road. (Guilty! Read on to see what happened!)
The first thing you will notice, in Ireland, you drive on the opposite side of the road from Canada and the US. You'll deal with the challenges of learning to stick to the left, and not drift too far one way or the other.
The second most important thing to keep in mind is the transmission of the car, most cars in Ireland are Standard or Manual transmission. If you can drive stick, thats great,but keep in mind with the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car, you're shifting with your left hand, not your right. It also gets really weird reaching for your seatbelt with your left hand over the right as well. If you can't drive stick, you'll want to specify that you need an Automatic transmission, and expect to pay a bit extra for it.
Insurance is mandatory for all rental cars, but what you may not know is that some credit cards actually will cover the insurance premium for you, IF you book it on that credit card. Dave has a Visa Gold card and as a result, they cover rental insurance! We called ahead to the credit card company to ensure we had coverage in Ireland, they sent a letter over to us so we could bring it to the rental company. In Ireland you need Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Protection (TP) as well as Liability insurance.
We encountered a few issues at this point. We actually booked our rental through Air Canada, and got one of the best rates I found. Included in this, was all the major policies, the Collision Damage Waiver, Theft Protection and Liability insurance. We also got unlimited mileage which was great since we drove well over 1000 km over the course of our trip. Unfortunately, to get the insurance coverage through your credit card company, you have to waive the insurance coverage provided by the rental company and we weren't able to. We were stuck with what would have been a €1,500 deductible, OR we could pay €28 a day to bring the deductible to €0.
Had we gone with the credit card insurance, it would have covered everything along the way. The one thing however, the rental company would have taken a €5000 deposit on one of our credit cards. The math on this... $7,500 Canadian. Ouch.
Needless to say, we opted for the €28 per day, for the 6 days we had the car.
What we didn't anticipate was that we were going to end up with a flat tire along the way. Everyone was joking about us driving on the left side of the road and sticking to that side. What no one told me, was that you may find yourself drifting a bit too far to the left. I had Dave screaming at me along the way telling me I was getting a bit too close to the yellow line on the left. Well, this one time, we were driving from the Cliffs of Moher to Tralee, and I may have drifted just a little wee bit too far to the left and heard a loud noise, before I saw the tire pressure warning light go off on the dash... oops! I had hit something on the side of the road. My guess was there was a rock sticking out a little further than expected and it managed to puncture the side wall of the tire.
We pulled over to the side of the road, on a slight hill, about 15 kms outside of a small town called Ennis, and got out of the car to change the tire. While Dave was working on the tire, I called the rental car company (twice) to see what I had to do to get a replacement. They told me we could go to a local "Tyre Yard" to get it changed, and they'd reimburse me for the cost. Huge shout out to the people at Clare Road Tyre Shop, who had us in and out within 30 minutes. The insurance at least made us feel a bit better about this, I felt like I got my money's worth.
Other than the transmission, the wrong (left) side of the road, and the insurance, everything else will run smooth, just like you're renting a car elsewhere. Just be sure to keep these things in mind if you're renting a car! And, Good luck! driving on the wrong side isn't that scary, it's fun to do something different!