Confessions of a Flight Attendant: Ireland- Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

Enjoying a Guinness at the Gravity Bar above Dublin.

Working as a flight attendant comes with certain perks and benefits that often entice us to fly against the jet stream and map our own routes, connecting points with no apparent relation. Because of these priceless benefits, a group of us decided to fly to the other side of the U.S. for a Washington Redskins game against our very own San Francisco 49ers. Being on the “wrong” side of the country and cheering for the “wrong” side of a game gave us the idea to take our rebellious getaway to the next level and find somewhere to drive on the “wrong” side of the road.

On this whim we decided to hop the pond to Ireland in search of rolling green hills, aged whiskey, and some good old Irish luck (preferably in the form of a leprechaun). Obviously renting a car and driving through the countryside seemed like the best way to experience this. One short hop to New York and a long overnight flight and we stepped off the plane in Dublin (minus my bag which mysteriously missed the flight from New York to Dublin) and we began our crazy eight day wild ride!
We arrived in downtown Dublin just in time for my favorite part of the day: sunrise. Actually, we arrived in plenty of time to take a nap in the hotel lobby before sunrise, when the hotel would open. I’m sure we were quite a sight for the young Irish gal who groggily arrived to open shop only to find four American girls and a whole lot of baggage in a sleepy mess all over her tiny lobby.


Just four short flights of stairs to our cozy oasis where we could sleep in peace (instead of a pile) for a few more hours before exploring Dublin. By the time we woke up and decided to face the day, the day had already given up on us.   During the middle of winter in Ireland the last of the sun’s rays are gone before 5pm, which left us in the dark once again. Thank goodness for Dublin’s posh nightlife and festive winter lights!


The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

We were able to satisfy at least one of our goals with a fine round of old Irish whiskey while enjoying some underground Irish banter, clogging, and tin whistling. Well, maybe there was more to the music than a tin whistle (similar to a flute) but I couldn’t be sure.

The next day we climbed more stairs, this time to the second story of a double-decker bus, and set out for a classic tour of historic Dublin. This was clearly the most inconspicuous way to enjoy all Dublin has to offer with classic tourist stops at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Jameson Distillery, and the infamous Guinness Storehouse. After our brief date with daylight and sunset at the Gravity Bar high above Dublin, we set out for a legendary night of dancing amongst some of Irelands fairest and finest.

By the time my missing luggage arrived in Dublin, we were ready to continue our adventure and test our luck behind the wheel and find some rolling hills. We rented a car, stuffed its tiny boot with our big bags and drove north to Belfast. Wait, is north still the same when the passenger seat is to your left and cars pass on the right? Which peddle is the gas and which is the brake? What about traffic signals? Does green mean stop or go over here? This is nuts! Whoever thought driving on the wrong side of the road would be a good idea was WRONG!

We began our road trip by stopping in Belfast (which is actually part of the UK) and renting a spacious flat for the night. We met up with some local friends for another crazy night out, this time spending Pounds instead of Euros. We visited the Giant’s Causeway, a must-see if you ever find yourself in the north of Ireland. There’s an enchanting legend about a duel between giants and how this natural wonder of numerous hexagonal stones came to exist there and in Scotland, but you’ll have to visit it yourself to truly appreciate the sights and the tale!


The lovely cliffs of Moher.

While heading southwest to Galway, trying to stay on the “wrong” side of the road became a challenge as the right side looked so right. Along the way we were able to pass through plenty of rolling green hills, flocks of fuzzy sheep, ruins of castles, and stunning views of the coastline. We spent an afternoon on the edge of the windy cliffs of Moher in the west, which might have been some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever encountered. It was quite a romantic afternoon for us gals!


An adventure? Yes. Safe? Doubtful. Surely with the help of an invisible lucky leprechaun we managed to drive full circle through Belfast, Dunnegal, Galway, and back to Dublin with little more than some bruised nerves and white knuckles.

A few more samples of old Irish whiskey, Guinness draughts, and Smithwicks along the road and some woven wool souvenirs and we made it back to Dublin with only a few bumps and bruises and a completely intact rental car. Driving on the wrong side of the road definitely provided us with memories and laughs that will last a lifetime. I dare you to try it! Just make sure if you’re on the wrong side, oncoming traffic is on the opposite side.

Lessons Learned and Travel Tips:
Tip one: Checked baggage will get lost. Pack the necessities and a change of clothes in your carry on. (Luckily I did.)
Tip two: Hotels are not always a 24 hour operation all around the world, consider that when booking flights and trains.
Tip three: Elevators are not that common in Europe, which might affect how much you pack.

Tip four: Don’t forget to consider daylight hours and weather.

Tip Five:  Don;’t forget which side of the road you’re meant to drive on.

Tip Six:  Always enjoy the open road.

Courtney O'Connor

About Courtney O'Connor

Court O'Connor is a flight attendant based in San Francisco, CA, which serves as the launch pad for this small town girl's spontaneous adventures around the world. Follow along on her journeys, pick up priceless tips, and experience the adventure of life in the sky.