Posted by: mdmusingsie | March 6, 2015

A Long Way to ‘Drive’

Moving country has had its challenges and the most recent one is obtaining an Irish Driving License. Ireland won’t let you swap your US license for one of theirs – you have to start from scratch as if you’d never been behind the wheel before.

This may not come as a shock to Americans, because, having lived in 4 different US states, I’ve had to redo the whole ‘paper’ test (now done on computers), driving test, new license thing in three of those four states (might not have lived in the fourth one long enough to have to bother or can’t quite remember 🙂 ). However, at this ripe old age and having driven for several decades, it’s getting a little old.

After studying the book to check out the differences, I can say there are a few outside the obvious different road signs, plethora of roundabouts, and these darn metre things. For instance, the hand signal for a car turning left is different. The car license also covers tractors so there is a smattering of questions about those. Pedestrians are considered road users and have the right of way (I should have known that already without having to read it, based on the way people cross streets here).

One thing they don’t have is centralization. You book your theory test at one location (and pay a fee), then have to book an appointment (or drop in and hope you get a slot) at another location to get your license (and pay another fee, oddly less than the theory test fee), and don’t show up for that one without your signed form from the optician stating you can see well enough to drive (cha-ching for the eye test, though that was the cheapest of the three). Expect your license in the mail in 5-10 working days. In everywhere I’ve been in the US it’s been one stop shopping – theory test, eye test, photo, please wait; now here’s your license (one location, one fee).

Now I would have thought they would have these offices smack dab in the centre of the city where they would be easy to get to. No such luck. Unless you have a car (which begs the question why you need to take the theory test), you bus it (or get someone to drive you). The closest center I could find is roughly approximated below where point A is where I live, point B where I had to get the eye test form (could have done that in advance), point C was the theory test, and because I passed (100% thank you very much!) I hustled down to point D, the license place to apply for my provisional license (having to wait less than an hour without an appointment and saving having to take another day off work) then back home. I took 3 different buses I’d never been on before and a total of 5 buses, plus got a scenic tour of Ballymun at no extra charge. (And no, there was no bus that would take me from A directly to C (or D for that matter).


I must commend all the folks at the theory test and license place. Everyone was friendly and helpful and almost downright cheery! Pretty amazing considering some of the things they’ve likely heard and or seen (the dog, cat, snake, small child, shredder ate my license; I accidentally pushed the wrong button to answer the question, etc. etc.).

Once I get my provisional license I get to take lessons. I suppose it’s not such a bad thing (except for the cost) – I’ll see if they can teach this aging dogette new tricks (i.e. how to properly drive a stick shift). I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.


  1. Good luck Dawn!

  2. Gives you plenty of time to reconsider your decision making… You’ve got to really WANT to drive…

  3. Best of luck with all of this, Dawn!

  4. consider it just another “new” adventure

    • Yes, one in a long line of adventures in Ireland

  5. […] I completed my first Irish driving lesson. As I posted earlier, instead of looking at the required 12 lessons as a burden, I’m using them as an opportunity to […]

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