After the ridiculously long trip to the Road King truck stop in Holyhead (check out my review here) it was time for part two of our journey to Dublin in the Emerald Isle, i.e. Republic of Ireland.
After a good night’s sleep (which was most definitely needed) we woke up to a breezy but sunny morning with a bright blue cloudless sky. The ferry, the Jonathan Swift, wasn’t due to sail until 11.50am so we had loads of time to get to the ferry port (some six miles away) by the last check in time of 11.20am. By 10am I was getting itchy feet and with the motor home packed up and good to go I made the executive decision to get over to the ferry port and wait there rather than at the Road King.
As you’d expect the journey to the ferry port was quick and painless although on arrival we ended up in a bit of chaos. It seemed many other people were like me and ‘couldn’t wait’ to get on the ferry and the queues were large and also haphazard. I hate waiting in queues (even though it is something the Brits are supposed to enjoy and do well) so I will gloss over this experience and move straight on to embarking.
The motor home/camper van queue consisted of three vehicles, and we were the last of the vehicles to embark. I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to getting the motor home on the ferry and was quite nervous but it was painless. I’d like to say it was quick and painless, but I can’t as I would be lying – it wasn’t quick (because of the long queues) but it was painless. Getting a vehicle on (and off) a ferry isn’t as complicated and daunting as it first appears.
Being the last on the ferry meant finding a seat was a bit of a mission and when we did it wasn’t one with a view. There were plenty of the “club class” seats available and if I wasn’t so tight I could have stumped up 36 Euros for two of them, but for an hour and fifty minutes (not to mention the fact I am tight and would prefer to use the money for something more worthwhile) the decision was made to sit wherever there was space. During the crossing my wife did make a valid point (that doesn’t happen too often!) in that most of the people with a sea view seat were actually asleep and not enjoying the view. These passengers could sit anywhere and sleep yet they chose a sea view seat (taking the opportunity from another passenger) and didn’t make the most of it. Being third from last on the ferry meant we didn’t have a choice of seats and had to take what we could find, yet we didn’t sleep and would have like the opportunity to enjoy the views. Sour grapes? Definitely – but it was a damn good point very well made.
The Swift is one of the faster ferries with a short crossing, which is great but the ferry itself is not all that. Don’t get me wrong, it is adequate and served a purpose but that’s it. When I booked the Swift ferry I looked at the pictures on the website, and you know that saying “The camera never lies?” Well it does in the case of the Swift. In the photos the Swift looks large, spacious, and luxurious. In real life it is nothing like this. It is small, it felt cramped and claustrophobic and it is far from luxurious. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Swift, but it served its purpose and that’s all that mattered.
Unlike embarking, disembarking was pretty quick. Once off the ferry getting to the M50 tunnel (I didn’t fancy heading in to Dublin and navigating around the city) was very easier, and much more so than I was expecting. Once through the tunnel we joined the M50 and followed it around to the junction with the N4/M6 and left towards Galway.
Driving across Ireland was nice and a totally different experience to driving in the UK. There was traffic on the motor way, but nowhere near as much as you get on UK A roads, let alone motor ways! The Irish drivers are also far more courteous than British drivers and rather than being “pushed along and tailgated” (like what happens in the UK) the Irish sit back and let you have some road space. Another thing I noticed is that Irish drivers seem more aware of what other drivers are doing and help them out. For example, when coming up to slower vehicles (especially HGVs) and getting ready to overtake Irish drivers hang back and let you pull out and get past. They don’t do what the British drivers do and don’t let you out or creep alongside making it difficult or anything like that. Driving in Ireland is a pleasure and the drivers respect each other, give plenty of room, are patient and courteous and also drive slower. Even though the motorway speed is 120kph very few drivers were doing this speed, and the same can be said when the speed limits were 100kph, 80kph or 50kph. Most drivers drive less than the speed limit.
I have to say that I did get an impatient (and unnecessary) toot of a horn from one driver on my way across Ireland – I was overtaking an HGV and gave him plenty of room as I pulled back in (like I always od) and the driver behind me obviously thought I was taking too long and gave me a long and aggressive toot for it. When the driver came passed me (staring at me giving me the middle finger as he did so) I noticed he was late twenties and driving a modified (spoilers, larger wheels, body kit – typical UK chav stuff) Golf that was registered in the UK. Yep – I got the horn (and finger) from a fellow Brit on Irish roads. This bloke’s behaviour was totally uncalled for and I wonder if I had been in an Irish registered car if he would have done the same? Unfortunately, I think the answer to this is yes. There are times (and they seem to be increasing as I get older) when I am ashamed to say I am British and ashamed to have the “GB” on my number plate and this was one of them.
Other than my (I am ashamed to say) fellow countryman I didn’t get any other abuse driving across Ireland. I, actually received the opposite and found the Irish drivers let me out of junctions, gave me loads of room to complete my manoeuvres, and were the ones that pulled to the side and flashed me through on the single track roads. Driving the motor home across Ireland to Galey Bay Campsite (the first of our Irish adventure) was a pleasure and much quicker, slicker and enjoyable than driving across the UK to Holyhead the day before.
The first stint in Southern Ireland was just under a hundred miles (99 miles) and took us just under 2 hours. Considering we had to navigate through Dublin port, queue up to get on the toll, get through the tunnel and navigate around a large section of the M50 I didn’t think this was too bad. We also had to stop at a service station with a payzone to pay the M50 toll, which caused a bit of a detour.
Our first site in the Republic of Ireland is Galey Bay Campsite in County Rosscommon and this was our base for the first three nights. Please do take a look at my “Review of Galey Bay campsite” for an honest, unbiased and “warts and all” account of this campsite.
Check out how quiet the roads are in Ireland - I had to get the wife to capture a quick clip to believe it myself!
The difference in the volume of traffic between the UK and Ireland is huge. On the M6 in Ireland there was a bloke on the other carriage way who was walking across the road to the fast lane to pick something up off the road. Now you couldn't do that on the M6 in the UK without playing chicken with the traffic could you!?!
About the author
A total motor home newbie with a six year camping background in a folding camper. A keen blogger sharing my experience of researching, choosing, buying and owning a motor home. and every thing that goes with it.
The Motor home