The roads in Ireland are generally pretty decent; with big investments in the last 10 years thanks to the EU. We drive on the left.
From Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport to the Cottage it is dual carriageway all the way until the last 35km; when you go on to local roads. Most visitors think the roads are quiet, even in the height of the Summer season. Driving standards are generally high and people obey the speed limits and traffic laws.
Once you are in the countryside the roads get narrower and driving speeds slow down. It's a rural area, so that may mean traffic can stop whilst cattle are moved between fields or you are driving at 20km behind a tractor. So take it easy, allow a bit more time to get to places and enjoy the scenery.
If you are having a night out (or want a local road tour), then a taxi is your best bet. Usually these need to be booked in advance. The following local taxis are the ones we know about:
Currency and Cash
The Irish currency is the Euro. Whilst credit cards are widely accepted, many transactions are still cash based. There is no cash dispenser in Doolin (the closest is in Lahinch or Ennistymon). So it is worth ensuring you have enough cash when you are passing through these towns. If the Euro is new to you then there is a guide to the notes and coins here
Ireland is blessed with being a safe and secure place to visit. There is relatively little crime. If visitors experience crime, it is most likely petty theft from bags and cars. So please do take commonsense precautions like keeping valuables out of sight, not leaving bags unattended and locking cars when you leave them. In the unlikely event you need to report a crime to the Police (known as An Garda Siochana) there is a station in Ennistymon (+353 65 707 2180).
On arrival at the Cottage, you should find a small Welcome Pack with enough to keep you going for a lite breakfast (coffee, tea, milk, bread, etc.). So if you have a late arrival you will at least have something to keep you going.
Local Petrol Station and Store
There is a petrol station and small grocery store, the Mac's Service Station (known locally as "Desies") at the crossroads between the R479 and R498 i.e. the Cliffs Road and the main road down to Doolin village. The link to Google Maps is Here
. Mac's is a a 10 minute drive from the cottage.
The best place for food shopping (other the the local mini-marts in Lahinch and Lisdoonvarna) is the Supervalu Supermarket (also known as Fitzpatricks) in Ennistymon. Where possible, we suggest visitors drop in on their way through from the airport (or the South and East in general). It is on the right-hand-side as you leave Ennistymon heading towards Doolin. It's a large, modern, supermarket with a good range at reasonable prices. The link to Google Maps is Here
. Fitzpatricks is a 25 minute drive from the Cottage.
Shop Hours and Sunday Trading
Most shops are open 9-5 (with some closing for lunch). Supermarkets and grocery stores are normally open longer hours, as are petrol stations. Sunday trading hours are more limited, with most shops not opening and others having more restricted hours or rules (for example alcohol cannot be sold on Sundays before 12.30pm).
Online Grocery Delivery
Some visitors have arranged deliveries from Tesco.ie; which is the online arm of a large supermarket chain with a store in Ennis. We haven't tried it ourselves, but those that have say it works fine. The link is here
Mobile Calls and Data
Despite attempts to make mobile phone roaming charges less expensive, it can still be a shocking experience when you get home and see what you have been charged for calls and (especially) data whilst abroad.
With this in mind, many visitors buy a local SIM card for use in Ireland. All of the local providers offer call and data packages on a "pay as you go" basis. SIM cards can be bought in the Airports or towns.
We use Meteor, but any and all local telcos are pretty similar. For Meteor package details see here