There can seem to be a bit of a mish-mash of signs on Irish roads, with signs of various colours and styles sharing a single signpost. Yes, it can be confusing! Once you know how to decode the signs though, all becomes clear.
While square or rectangular brown signs, which are informational, are usually separated from official directional signs, this isn’t always the case, as this somewhat chaotic signposting in Glengarriff shows – a testament to the fact that it IS possible to provide too much information!
|Blue Signs||Motorways (also signs directing to car parking)|
|Green signs||National Roads|
|White Signs||Regional or local roads|
|Brown Signs||Tourist information – hotels, attractions, driving routes etc|
Knowing this, if you now look at the jumble of signs in the image above, they should start to make sense.
Official signage is always bilingual, with the Irish version in italics over the English one. The only exception to this rule is in Gealtacht, or Irish speaking, areas, where signs are in Irish only.
Knowing the way signs are formatted means you can get a lot more information from them. In the one on the left, it is a sign on the N77 road, in the direction of Durrow.
The destination in brackets means it is also the correct road for Athy, but you will have to make a turn somewhere ahead to get to Athy. You are 25km from Durrow and 46 km from Athy.
Traffic lights appear in two basic guises.
Standard Traffic Signals
Standard traffic signals have a sequence of: Red » Green » Orange » Red. The rule with an orange light is that you must stop unless it is unsafe to do so. Note that unlike the situation in the US and Canada, where you can turn right on a redlight at a junction, you cannot turn left on a red light in Ireland.
In spite of the fact that legally an orange light means ‘stop unless it is unsafe to do so’, the reality is that Irish people tend to drive through much of the time. Many law abiding visitors, on obediently stopping when the lights go orange, have found themselves rear-ended by a motorist behind who was just speeding up to “make the lights”.
Pedestrian Crossing Signals
Pedestrian lights are often not at junctions, but at places where pedestrians frequently cross. Their cycle is: Green » Orange » Red » Flashing Orange » Green.
The flashing orange light indicates that pedestrians still have priority but that motorists may proceed if it is safe to do so.