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Thursday 22 March 2018

Sat-nav directions send Ring of Kerry tourists wrong way round the bend

Jason O'Brien and Anne Lucey

'AT the next Kerry town, take the first anti-clockwise exit.'

Councillors in the Kingdom are to approach sat-nav companies in an attempt to end the increasingly sticky problem of big buses meeting on one beautiful narrow road.

There is no one-way system in place on the Ring of Kerry, which runs for around 190 km through some of our most beautiful countryside.

But, for years, there has been an unofficial one that has seen busloads of tourists beginning in Killarney and heading west for Killorglin, travelling the ring in an anti-clockwise direction back to Killarney.

Slightly unorthodox, perhaps, but it is Kerry, and the system worked by ensuring almost everyone went in the same direction, albeit slowly, and made getting into a tight squeeze with oncoming traffic less likely.

But Killarney Town Council has been told that modern technology has a lot to answer for -- as increasing congestion problems on the narrow roads of the ring were blamed on satellite navigation devices. Sat-navs, it seems, are sending foreign drivers the wrong way around the twist.

"A lot of foreign buses using sat-navs are entering the Ring of Kerry the wrong way round and getting stuck in the tunnel," Fianna Fail councillor Tom Doherty said, referring to the tunnel on the spectacular mountain route between Kenmare and Glengariff.

At just 12 feet high, it needs to be approached by bus drivers with caution. And, councillors believe, from the Glengariff side rather than the Kenmare side.


Mr Doherty said that warning systems were needed to stop heavy traffic entering the ring the wrong way, and that multi-lingual signposts should be erected closer to Killarney town -- advising of the unofficial one-way system -- as buses and trucks were often too far gone when they realised their error.

Killarney town clerk Michael O'Leary vowed to go one step further. After hearing numerous incidents of Garda time being wasted trying to release buses "with foreign registrations" caught in a tight spot, he said he would "try and contact" the makers of software for sat-nav devices, to see what could be done.

Not a lot, as it turns out.

The Irish Independent contacted market leader TomTom yesterday, and was told that a request to change a route would have to be heard by its mapping provider, Tele Atlas.

"We have looked into this request and have determined that this would not be feasible," a spokesman for Tele Atlas said.

He explained that a sat-nav cannot calculate a 100-mile circular route. A user who wants to sat-nav their way around the Ring of Kerry must enter the towns along it in the correct order to observe the unoffical one-way system.

"At some point in the future, it is possible this concept of following a predefined route could be available," said the TomTom spokesman.

Maybe that one-way system deserves another look.

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