Driving with Technology

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You know what it’s like. You are driving through a beautiful area of countryside. Your passengers are all soaking up the wonderful scenery. Every now and then you hear a “Ooh; look at that …” or “Wow, just look at the cloud formation over the hill-tops” but you can’t look because you are engaged in that old juggling trick of driving and map-reading all at the same time. Not to mention the time lost when you first arrived whilst you raised a second mortgage to enable you to buy all the different Ordnance Survey maps that are needed (why are you never in an area entirely covered by just one single map?) and then managed to find a shop which actually sells them.

There are indeed some beautifully stunning areas throughout the Emerald Isle, and the volume of traffic is light. Motorways are few and far between, and many of the main routes which criss-cross the country are comparatively slow, so there is a great opportunity for you to enjoy the scenery as you drive – providing that you do not have to check which page of the road atlas you should be on, or struggle with the opened-up folded map you are trying to follow.

Well fear not! Technology is here to ease your burden, and there are a number of ways you can utilise it to make your Ireland driving experience more enjoyable than ever before.

The simplest is probably to download Google maps and directions onto an i-phone, using their ‘Maps & Compass’ app. It allows you to specify if you are walking or driving, and shows a map with the route highlighted, or a page with a route listed on it. It’s a free app.

For anyone with an Android based smart phone, there is a fully functional and free ‘turn-by-turn’ navigation system available. The engine is Google Maps Navigation and it is reported to work really well.

Google have recently announced that a full-function version of Google Maps Navigation will soon be available for smart phones, but have not confirmed which ‘phones might be included in the roll-out. There is strong speculation that the i-phone will be included. However, neither Google or Apple are confirming anything publicly; no doubt the Android – v – Apple war needs to end first.

Tom-tom and Garmin are two high volume suppliers of classic ‘turn-by-turn’ nav systems in Ireland. As stand alone systems which can be taken from vehicle to vehicle they are very flexible, and fairly cost-effective. Wherever you are travelling from for your trip to Ireland, you can probably bring one of these with you – just make sure you have downloaded the Ireland maps onto them before you leave home! The very occasional mis-direction along a too-small road just adds to the adventure of your trip.

Most travellers will hire a car, and typing ‘car hire Ireland’ into your search engine will bring up a good deal of choice. It is worth choosing cars with a built-in sat nav, which is generally easier to use than stand alone systems, and do not offer a target to the opportunist thief.


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