This Is No Way To Treat A Nervous System
Much like the roads back in the U.S. most roads in Ireland have a number designation, but they also have a Letter attached and that is where the story really gets told.
At the top of the bill are the “M” Roads. The “M11” or the “M7” as an example are super-duper ultra modern divided highways. In Ireland a divided highway is called a “Dual Carriageway.” These roads are in much better condition and better laid out than anything on the American Interstate System.
A slight notch below the “M” Roads are the “N” Highways. These are also excellent roads where you make good time at 120 kph or about 70 mph. They are a good way to travel about the country.
Now, it is on the “R” roads where everything starts to fall apart.
“R”roads connect the small towns together and are generally in good repair, but narrow. By narrow I mean only about one and three quarter lanes wide. They are often busy with two-way traffic squeezing by each other at 60 mph. They are country roads with little or no room for maneuvering when a Semi or a big tanker truck comes down the road heading right at you. Faced with that I find myself sucking in my breath thinking that it might make our car a little thinner. I know that idea is silly, but it couldn’t hurt, could it?
Moving even farther down the scale of drivability and up the scale of the need to scream are the “L” Roads. All too often these local roads are little more than very narrow lanes with lots of blind curves and absolutely no place to go if someone comes the other way. My wife calls the “Jesus Roads” because when you are zipping down an “L” road you may find yourself praying out loud, “Oh, Jesus, please don’t let there be anyone coming this way.”
I don’t do any of the driving here in Ireland, but I am still sitting in the front seat on the left. I serve as Navigator and even though there are no pedals by my feet I catch myself still hitting the gas or brakes. I think it’s just the panic reaction of being where I sit when driving at home but without a steering where in front of me.
In almost all of the different levels of Irish Roads you are going to find “Roundabouts” or “Traffic Circles.” When entering a Roundabout you had better be paying attention because everybody is moving at once. This is when having a Navigator really pays off.
We have also been using the Google Maps App. It is a great invention except when it doesn’t work right and it suddenly tries to send you off on an “L” road in the opposite direction. That is why I prefer the old fashion Road Atlas maps. I can read maps and they don’t change on the spur of the moment. I feel I can trust them more than the disembodied voice telling me to turn left and drive down that cow path to nowhere.