13 Narrow (And Bendy) Roads In Ireland That Make Nervous Drivers 💩 Bricks

Roads don't come more unique that this

dangerous roads in Ireland
Photos via shutterstock.com

Ireland’s home to many a lovely, albeit mental, road.

From narrow stretches of tarmac that hug cliffs, to bendy ones that snake through mountains, our little island has its fair share of unique roads.

These roads can cause mayhem for people driving in Ireland for the first time, but they’re an absolute joy for those that are comfortable behind the wheel.

Below, you’ll find a guide to 13 of the craziest and bendiest roads that you’ll encounter as you road trip around Ireland.

13. Mamore Gap (Donegal)

inishowen scenic drive
Photo by Paul Shiels/shutterstock.com

If you explore the magnificent Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal the chances are that you’ll find yourself at Mamore Gap at one point or another.

The road here is bendy, but it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for most.  At 250m above sea level, Mamore Gap offers stunning views of the Fanad Peninsula, Lough Swilly and a good chunk of North Inishowen.

The road here is pretty narrow so hopefully it goes without saying that you should slow down and take it nice and handy.

12. The Slea Head Drive (Kerry)

Slea head road
Photo by Lukasz Pajor/shutterstock.com

The Slea Head Drive in Kerry is a beautiful stretch of road that’s up there with the most scenic drives in Ireland.

Now, personally I’ve never found this road in any way troublesome, but I’ve talked to many tourists that have lost their shi*t (slang for freaked out) while driving it.

Sure, there are sections of Slea Head that are pretty narrow and you’ll need to pull in and let a car pass you but, for the most part, it’s grand.

The real fun begins if you meet a tour bus head on at a section of road like the one in the photo above…

11. The Sheep’s Head Drive (Cork)

sheeps head drive
Photo by Phil Darby/Shutterstock.com

The Sheep’s Head Peninsula near Bantry is arguably one of the most underexplored corners of Ireland.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of walkers that bask in the brilliance of the peninsulas unspoiled scenery and landscape, but many people visiting Ireland Cork tend to pass it by.

If you can, get your arse to Sheep’s Head on your next visit. As you spin around the peninsula you’ll encounter many a narrow bendy road.

Don’t let this put you off, however – you’ll be treated to mighty views throughout your drive or cycle.

10. The Torr Head Scenic Route (Antrim)

torr head scenic route
Photo via Google Maps

For those among us that like taking ‘alternative routes’ and that aren’t scared of driving along a very narrow road, this one’s for you.

The ‘alternative route’ to Ballycastle in Antrim is called the Torr Head Scenic Drive. It clings to the coast and takes you along narrow roads and up steep hills way above the sea.

The route will take you to Torr Head (you can see Scotland from here on a clear day), on to Murlough Bay and along many a narrow and bendy road towards Ballycastle.

I drove this route 2 years ago on a foggy day and it was a disaster. Visibility was terrible and I could barely see a foot in front of me. One to avoid when visibility is poor!

9. The Sally Gap (mainly the stretch that climbs to Lough Tay)

a narrow road near Lough Tay
Photo by Dariusz I/Shutterstock.com

Next up is the ever-so-slightly narrow road that leads up to and alongside Lough Tay in Wicklow. For the most part, those of you that do the Sally Gap Drive shouldn’t really have any issue.

Sure, the road is narrow at times and you have to drive at a steep incline for a bit, but if you take it at a steady pace you’ll be grand.

This road is dangerous for other reasons – it tends to be one of the go-to drives for people visiting Ireland that have just rented a car… many of whom will have never driven here before…

I’ve driven this route 20+ times over the years and I’ve seen my fair share of rentals with scrapes and missing wing mirrors. A road to avoid if there’s ice or snow.

8. Corkscrew Hill (Clare)

Roads don’t get much bendier than Corkscrew Hill (it’s all in the name), a stretch of road between Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna in Clare.

The road, similar to Healy Pass below, was designed as part of a famine relief scheme many moons ago.

You won’t have much hassle driving along this one, although I can’t imagine how you’d get around it during ice or snow.

7. Ballaghbeama Gap (Kerry)

Ballaghbeama gap
Photo by Joe Dunckley/Shutterstock.com

Ah, Ballaghbeama Gap – one of my favourite stretches of road in Ireland. Ballaghbeama Gap is a narrow and bendy road in Kerry, a stone’s throw from Kenmare. 

Ballaghbeama is one of those places that has the ability to make you feel like you’re the last person left on earth.

I’ve done this drive three times over the years and the max number of cars that I’ve met was 4. 

In fact, you’ll probably meet more sheep than people. The road here is narrow (very, in places) but it’s handy enough to find places to pull in when required.

6. The Glengesh Pass (Donegal)

Glengesh Pass donegal
Photo by Lukassek/shutterstock.com

The road at the Glengesh Pass meanders through the almost endless sloping mountainous terrain that connects Glencolmcille to Ardara.

The road here is easy to drive but, as you can see above, it has its fair share of twists and turns.

As you’re approaching Glengesh from the Glencolmcille side, you’ll come across a little van selling coffee, with a bench close by. Stop off here and you’ll get some great views of the valley.

5. The Road From Horn Head to Dunfanaghy (Donegal)

horn head drive
Photo via Google Maps

If you read our guide to 88 of the best hikes in Ireland, you’ll be familiar with Horn Head. It’s here that you’ll find a brilliant walk that offers stunning coastal views.

There’s a lovely stretch of road that leads from Horn Head down to the village of Dunfanaghy in County Donegal.

As you can see from the grainy photo above, the road here is pretty damn narrow in places. It’d be no more ideal to meet someone head-on on the stretch of road above.

Don’t let this put you off visiting, however. I’ve been here many times and it’s a brilliant scenic drive with plenty of incredible coastal views throughout. 

4. Brow Head (Cork)

brow head cork
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The road up to Brow Head in West Cork is one of the narrowest and most beautiful stretches of road that I’ve ever driven on.

I’ve driven it in horrendous weather (above) and I’ve driven it when the sun was beaming down, and it’s just incredible. 

The road here is as narrow as it looks in the photo above. Drive this one nice and slowly and be prepared to reverse all the way back up or down, if needed, as there’s nowhere to pull in. 

At the top of the hill, you’ll find a little bit of parking (enough for 3 to 4 cars) and some amazing views to soak up.

3. The Healy Pass (Cork)

Healy pass cork
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The road at Healy Pass was constructed in 1847 during the famine as part of a relief scheme and it’s easily the bendiest in Ireland.

It looks like a bit like a giant snake from above, slithering its way through the two highest summits in the Caha mountain range.

Healy Pass is a corner of Ireland that looks like time passed it by and forgot all about it, leaving it untouched and unspoiled – magic.

Although the road here is narrow, you don’t tend to meet many other people driving along it, so you shouldn’t have too much hassle.

2. The Atlantic Drive (Achill Island)

achill island aerial photo
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

As far as I know (don’t quote me on this) the road to Keem Bay is known as the Atlantic Drive.

This is a mighty drive that offers endless views along with plenty of places to stop to stretch the legs and head for a ramble.

It’s not hard to see from the photo above why we’ve included this drive… the road here is insanely windy at one point.

I’ve driven this road many times over the years. It might look a bit mental from above, but it’s grand once you take your time and drive slowly.

1. Conor Pass (Kerry)

driving conor pass county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Conor Pass runs from Dingle out towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory and is one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, standing at a whopping 410 m above sea level.

The tight, narrow road here snakes alongside the mountain and weaves its way along sharp cliff faces on one side and an enormous drop to the other.

The road at Conor Pass can be intimidating for even the most experienced driver. Especially when the weather is bad and there are several cars trying to get through.

What roads have we missed?

Have you encountered another crazy road during your time in Ireland?

Let me know in the comments below!

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

10 COMMENTS

  1. Lol I have seen much much worse in Dublin/Wicklow There was this mountain road i ended up by accident when trying to find another pass there was 2 ditches on both sides the right hand side was ultra deep and it was very windy and the car was shaking in the wind even tho i was in a big car.

  2. We’ve just returned from motorcycling around the SW of Ireland which has to be the best transport to enjoy Ireland.

    Gap of Dunloe (Killarney National Park) is a tight and twisty single track road with stunning landscapes through the Gap, over the Black Valley and up to Molls Gap.

    Ballaghisheen Pass.

    Road from Kenmare to Glengarriff is bendy and includes a few tunnels.

    Healy Pass is the best of all though, friends who have done Austria said it rivals anything through the Alps.

    • I do love Healy Pass. I’d LOVE to try it on a bike!

      There’s something immensely special about Ballaghisheen Pass.

      I’d love to spend a week or two in a cabin there. You don’t get more remote or quiet!

  3. I believe you’ve missed the gap of dunloe road. As a French man I’ve went there 5 years ago and took that track (because it’s a track we can’t lie on it!) walking, but met some cars. They had a really bad time while trying to get down the gap… Walking is really advised on that road, I would never try driving believe me!

  4. The Priest’s leap, near Bantry. and the Kilgarvan to Bantry road, (Borlin Valley) both steep, winding single track roads through stunning mountain scenery.

  5. north Leitrim the bar roads around Glenade. the shortcut from arigna to geevagh. teh road along lough gill. teh bar road into kiltyclogher. manorhamilton to Meenymore and glenboy 🙂 have fun exploring 🙂

  6. I did Gap Of Dunloe on my 4th day in Ireland in our rental SUV (I’m from Hawaii) and it scared the sh*t out of me. I didn’t know what I was getting into, however we did about 90 mins in before turning around, so got to see a great deal!! Couple of close calls but it was completely worth the new gray hairs that popped up after I finally finished it!

  7. Driving a car is a very sedate way of doing any of these climbs. Just put your foot on the accelerator and the engine does the rest. Anyone who can actually drive should have no problem. On the other hand if you like road cycling you will have a blast. Some if not all of these climbs would definitely focus the mind and the body!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.