The Republic of Ireland has had, for most of the existence of the state (founded in 1921), very poor road infrastructure by European standards. The reasons for our low levels of motorisation, due to persistent lack of economic growth, are beyond the scope of this site. For now it is enough to understand that for many decades, most of this was adequate for a non-motorised and largely poor populace. Shipping and long distance passenger travel by road was unusual, the railways being good enough for this purpose - though they were similarly underdeveloped. Piecemeal attempts at the development of modern roads were made during the 1970s and 80s, though progress was limited - both by poor organisation and lack of funding.

Once major economic growth began in earnest in the 1990s however, the situation could not persist. Traffic volumes typical of an industrialised nation spilled onto narrow country lanes. Car dependent development appeared all over the country, increasing car use. Car ownership rates soared. High traffic volumes damaged poorly built roads and accident rates increased. These are graphed here.

Funding was stepped up, but a major obstacle to progress was lack of central planning. All road projects had to be very small, due to limited funding, the small size of Irish construction companies, and the difficulty involved in projects which crossed county boundaries, which needed the co-operation of all parties. In 1994, the government formed a new state organisation, the National Roads Authority, whose mandate was to centrally plan a network of high quality trunk roads, and implement them over a number of years. This network would have motorway as its preferred standard as much as possible.

Modest progress was made throughout the 1990s, not enough to keep pace with economic growth. Traffic levels soared nationwide and journey times decreased. By the end of the decade, the situation had become critical. The first National Development Plan aimed to complete a motorway network between 1999 and 2006. However, by 2003, it had become very clear that this goal would not be met, as only around 20% of the network was complete with only 3 years to go - 158 km out of 789. Sure enough, by 2006, the completion rates were abysmal: Dublin to Belfast 88 km complete out of 98 km, Dublin to Navan 0 out of 48 km, Dublin to Galway 55/184 km, Dublin to Limerick 66/185 km, Dublin to Cork 42/158, and Dublin to Waterford - a paltry 6 out of 116. 32% of the network was completed by the supposed completion date.

In response to this, in 2005 the Government announced the Transport21 project, which would complete these roads by 2010 as well as a new set of motorways and dual carriageways running along the western seaboard of the island, known as the Atlantic Corridor. With funding levels high during this period, the interurban network of motorways was completed on time but little progress has been made on the roads in the ancillary list due to the economic crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. It remains to be seen how things will pan out as we move into the 2020s, but for now, please just browse.

Events of the last few years have overshadowed recent projects and far less funding is available now, but the development of high-quality road networks is of necessity a long term aim, so this site will hopefully be around for a long time.

This is a personal project only. It does not represent government or industry, and I have tried to make it as impartial as possible. I do not participate in road protests although I have written about this subject. I accept that road-based transport and public transport serve different purposes and both have advantages and disadvantages. I am a supporter of equal funding for both.

I can be contacted at j_p_dowling.at.yahoo.d0t.c0m.

Information is sourced from the following:

TII - Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly the National Roads Authority).
The Government agency tasked with delivering transport infrastructure, and in particular devising a network of trunk routes and implementing them to a high standard.

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport - Irish Government department responsible for transport-related matters.
Sets transportation priorities on a national level. Responsible for policy and legislative change, e.g. motorway redesignation, metrication of speed limits.

Wikipedia "Roads in Ireland" - Editable encyclopedia has a good page on roads in Ireland as well as well-maintained individual pages (examples 1, 2, 3).

Boards - The Roads forum on this discussion site under Infrastructure, although not an official information source, is a good place to find opening dates and other progress updates, as well as links to design documents.

In addition, the following excellent UK road sites provided much inspiration.

https://pathetic.org.uk/ - Pathetic Motorways.
https://www.roads.org.uk/ - General British Roads site.
https://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/ - Society of All-British Road Enthusiasts. They have a particularly meaty forum.
http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/roads - Northern Ireland Roads Site.
Information on schemes happening in Northern Ireland. A few of these cross the border into the Republic and are therefore of national importance.

Site version: 3.0 as of 20/08/2023