Getting around in Ireland: Be prepared for interesting directions.
ARE YOU PLANNING on coming to Ireland this year? Then prepare yourself for slight possibility that you may never leave.
The reason has nothing to do with our charming cailíní or wonderful old pubs.
It's because when you're driving around Ireland, you'll find yourself having to ask for directions. Surely that's the normal way of things, I hear you say. Ah yes, but if you've never heard an Irish person give directions, you're in for a rare treat.
Tourist: "Excuse me, could you tell me how to get to (insert wherever it is you're hoping to go!)"
Local: "Ah now, I could direct you to there no bother, but you're starting from the wrong place."
Tourist: "Right, so where do I need to start?"
Local: "Arragh, from the right place of course. Where was it you started? You need to go back to where you were, and start again."
Unreadable place names
It doesn't help that our signposts still leave a lot to be desired - and even when they're there, you won't be able to read any of them.
Why? Because we have some of the most unpronounceable place names in the whole of Europe.
Picture yourself on the beautiful West coast of Ireland. Perhaps you're visiting Galway, the famous City of the Tribes. And you've heard that Muckanaderawlia (bear with me) is a lovely little village to visit in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking region).
Except when you get there, how do you know? The signpost reads Muckanagherderdauhlia. It happens to be the longest place name in Ireland.
Worse, if you get talking to the locals, they might use the Irish, Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile, which translates literally as 'Pig-shaped hill between two seas.'
In case you were wondering, like.
It isn't even the funniest of our place names, though. And there's a few in the running for that particular accolade.
Newtwopothouse grows the best grass in Ireland
Nobber, for example. It's in County Meath, and it comes from the Irish 'an obair', meaning 'the work.'
Cockhill Road, Stamullen is another Meath example. It's up there with Shercok, a town in County Cavan, and Kilcock, in County Kildare.
Not to mention the unfortunately named Muff in County Donegal. Apparently, the name comes from a mispronunciation of the Irish 'Magh', meaning plain.
Then there's Newtwopothouse in Mallow, County Cork, which is, wait for it, famous for growing the best grass in Ireland. The normal sort. Enjoyed by sheep and cows.
They're not all long names, of course. Some of my favourite are Inch and Ovens, both in Cork and Camp in County Kerry.
For the religious, there's Rosary Road and Lourdes Road
Dublin place names are just as mad. We have Lazer Lane, Lad Lane and Coke Lane. (Would I make this up?)
And as a stark reminder of our colonised past, there's Protestant Row and Little Britain Street.
In times gone past, we would also have been a hugely religious country. Why else would we have proudly named streets Rosary Road, Ave Maria Road and Lourdes Road.
On the flip side are slightly more violent names like Kill (County Kildare), Swords (Dublin) and Kilbrittain, County Cork.
Another thing to remember as you're motoring around our little country, is that the signpost will have the Irish name on top, the English underneath. Bear in mind that how you pronounce it, won't compare with how it's actually pronounced, and you'll save yourself frustrating conversations with the locals.
However much you might be tempted however, do not rely on Sat-Nav. During one of our recent 'snows' - don't get me started on how the country grinds to a halt when there's a few flurries - some visitors were driving through the Dublin mountains.
Mindful that Dublin people themselves, get lost in those Dublin hills, they were relying on Sat-Nav.
It was all going beautifully until they found themselves in the famous Sally Gap, unable to move because they were snowed in.
Luckily, they were just about able to get a signal on their mobile phone.
The motto of this story? Never trust Sat-Nav. Or signposts. Or directions from the locals.
Best thing really is an open-ended ticket.
That way you can just leave when you eventually find your own way.
Go n'éirigh on bóthar leat.*
*Old Irish expression literally translated as May the road rise with you, but simply meaning: Good Luck.
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