What Side of the Road do they Drive on in Ireland?

Travelling to Ireland for business or pleasure is not without its stresses, even if the Emerald Isle is as welcoming a destination as any across the world. 

One of those potential stresses is driving around Ireland and more specifically, what side of the road do they drive on in Ireland?

We’ll answer that and give you a few helpful tips as well!

What Side of the Road do they Drive on in Ireland?

The short answer is simply that cars drive on the left-hand side of the road in Ireland. 

This means that any car you sit in will be in the left lane, with passing cars and traffic using the right lane. 

This is the direct opposite of right-hand car driving in the USA, and many other countries around the world, but the same as the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland which is attached to the Republic of Ireland. 

Why does Ireland Drive on the Left?

According to some, the reason Ireland continues to drive on the left dates way back to Roman times and is also heavily influenced by the intertwined histories of England and Ireland. 

Supposedly Romans used the left-hand side of their roads, when travelling by horse and cart, to free up the right-hand side for defence against possible attacks. 

This legacy would have been strong throughout England and the British Isles due to massive Roman influence, and left-hand road use would then have been imported across to the Emerald Isle during the 19th century when England governed Ireland as part of the UK between 1801 and 1922. 

Who knew Romans would have such an impact on car travel!

Different to Europe

Interestingly, despite being a member of the European Union since 1973 and being a member of the Eurozone currency, Ireland does not follow suit when it comes to driving around Europe. 

The majority of continental European countries, apart from Cyprus, Malta and the United Kingdom, operate a similar policy to America and drive on the right-hand side of the road. 

Due to the legacy we mentioned above, Ireland and the UK have never made the switch. This may have been easier to maintain as both nations are islands, separate from the rest of Europe and potentially less influenced by the goings on in France, Germany and other major nations. 

Whatever the reason, it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. 

Tips for Driving in Ireland

Driving in Ireland is really no different to anywhere else in the world. 

If you’re planning on travelling by car throughout our beautiful island, don’t worry! Take it slow, follow the tips below and if in doubt, stop and ask for help. Irish people are more than happy to offer advice, directions and help in general if you’re stuck. 

Below you’ll find a few more tips to get you moving:

Signposts in Gaeltacht and English

As you drive around Ireland you’ll notice signposts generally have place names in both Irish and English. 

Focus on the English, and learn a few Irish words along the way!

Country Roads

Ireland has a great network of major motorways and dual-carriageways but we’re still a relatively rural island and country roads and lanes are a fact of life for many drivers. 

They can be a lot tighter than what you’re used to, but take it slow and if you’re unsure pull over and let other drivers take over before you continue on your journey. 

Northern Ireland Signposts

Northern Ireland (6 counties in the north of the island) is legally part of the United Kingdom. 

You won’t notice this when driving as thankfully there is no hard border, no gates or walls. The only change is in the road signs and road markings. 

The key difference to be aware of is that in the south, traffic limits are set at Kilometres per hour, and in the north limits are set at Miles per hour. 

Watch your speed and you’ll be fine. 


Like many countries, the majority of petrol/gas stations can be found in the main towns, cities and along major roads. 

If you’re planning to veer off major roads, and onto country roads, for a long period of time then just make sure you’re well stocked in fuel. 

The last thing you want is a trip stopped by an empty tank!