Trucks at Work

Narrow roads

So we're screaming up the N-52 "highway" from Limerick to Mullingar, crossing the midlands of Ireland at 100 kilometers per hour -- what that is in miles per hour, I don't want to know. Because it's far too fast for me, let me tell you.

While the Ford Focus we're in -- piloted skillfully by my daredevil brother, Michael "Mario Andretti' Kilcarr -- holds the road just fine, it's the road I have problem's with -- a narrow, twisting ribbon of asphalt that has absolutely no shoulder. In fact, both sides of the road are hemmed in closely by hedges and stone walls -- walls that are 1,000 years old in some cases, so they won't be ditched for a highway expansion project anytime soon.

The truckers here must navigate these 'highways' with cabovers pulling 48 foot trailers for the most part -- contending with the cars and many farmers who pull loads of peat along the road puttering along at 20 to 30 kph. Not a receipe for easy driving, let me tell you.

And the N-52 is a HIGHWAY mind you -- get down into the Ring of Kerry, and two cars can't pass side by side, and that's before you start worrying about the bicyclists and donkeys in the way. And truckers must find their way around these terrifying strips of asphalt because no other way exists to get the goods people need to live to their final destination. There's almost nothing like these roads back in the U.S., thank goodness.

Ah, but it's a glorious land all the same -- rich and green, with many places still untouched by the tides of times. Eight hundred year old ruins dot the countryside (even sharing spaces with new subdivisions) and it just adds to the flavor of this special place.

So good luck to Ireland's truckers -- may your journeys be safe on your tough roads. I, for one, have found them too much for me to handle, to say the least.