When we began planning our trip to Ireland David and I had initially intended to rent a car. However, the more we researched and spoke to people who had recently visited, the more we started leaning towards hiring a driver instead.
We had many reasons for finally pulling the trigger on hiring a private driver including:
- In Ireland they drive on the other side of the road, which is totally doable, but definitely adds to the stress
- Unlike most countries, in general, credit cards do not offer auto insurance coverage in Ireland
- There is an upcharge for hiring an automatic vs. manual car (we prefer an automatic)
- The country roads can be difficult to navigate and you often run into unexpected detours/delays with sheep/tractors/road work etc.
- The Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula in particular can be quite harrowing drives
- We were excited to leverage the knowledge of someone familiar with the area and get their recommendations on sites, activities and places to eat and stay
- It made the trip much more relaxing and less stressful
- We got to see and do more, because not only were we not looking at the road or navigating, but because our driver knew about things that we wouldn’t have even known were in the area
After taking into account the cost of the car rental, additional insurance, a gps, parking, gas, tolls and time spent picking up and dropping off the rental (plus probably getting lost at least a few times) we figure that additional money spent was marginal and well worth it given how it eased our stress and how much we got to see and learn thanks to our guide.
We also only had a driver for four of our 10 days in Ireland as we did not need one in Waterford, Dublin, or on one of our days in Killarney.
I reached out to nearly half a dozen private drivers/tour companies and we ended up booking with Mary and Ray Walsh, a husband and wife team that own and operate Walk With Me tours.
It was a great decision and we were delighted to have spent our time exploring with Mary.
The pricing was reasonable, they were quick to get back to me, and very accommodating with our wishes and special requests.
In addition, Mary had a wealth of knowledge about the area and really made every day a special experience. She even had a solid knowledge of the Gaelic Language and taught us the meaning behind the names of many Irish sites and towns which was informative and sometimes shed light on bits of Irish history. She did not just pick us up and drop us off places, but was more like personal tour guide.
David and I do not happen to have any Irish heritage that we know of, but she told us that people often hire her who are interested in going around the towns to look for family connections as well.
While with Mary, she took us on a tour of the Dingle Penninsula, to the Cliffs of Moher, around the Ring of Kerry, and also transported us from Killarney to Waterford Castle Hotel, stopping along the way to allow us to visit Cork and Blarney Castle.
These were long days and I think if we had tried to drive ourselves it would have been very tiring. Fortunately, once we got back to our hotel we still had plenty of energy for dinner, drinks, and live music in Killarney (an unexpected highlight of our trip).
If you are interested in contacting Ray and Mary, their email is email@example.com.
They also have stellar reviews on TripAdvisor.
If they are booked, or you would like to get other quotes, I also really enjoyed my dialogue with these drivers who were quick to respond and had reasonable prices as well:
Please let me know if you have any questions on hiring a driver in Ireland.