N34 Dundalk-Cavan-Carrick on Shannon

Could Open : 2030 Status : Under consideration
N34 Road Logo


Single Carriageway : 104.2 km

Due to the history of the island of Ireland, the region around the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has had poor transport connections. In fact, during the Troubles, many cross-border roads were closed in order to reduce gun-running, black marketeering and other activities of paramilitary groups.

The area has two radials coming from Dublin. The N2 Dublin-Derry and N3/N87 Dublin-Donegal roads pass through the area but require major upgrades. There is also the N4 Dublin-Sligo road, but this is a peripheral route and does not serve a significant portion of the region.

There are some extremely poor east-west routes and none performs satisfactorily. Starting from the east, the highly dangerous N53 connects Dundalk to Castleblayney. The pre-partition status of this road is shown by the fact that it freely crosses the Louth/Down county borders (and therefore the Republic/N.I. border) in the course of its run west to connect with the N2. The numbering switches from N53 to A37 and back. From a security and administrative point of view, this is not an ideal situation.

Next, the surprisingly prominently-numbered N12 links Monaghan and cross-border Armagh. Continuing west, the abysmal-quality N54 winds its way west and south before terminating at the N3 north of Cavan. Like the N53, this road also crosses the border, but several times: the numbering can't make up its mind if it's N54 and A3, as it passes through Fermanagh's complex border.

Finally, there is the N55, though this is a north-south route. Its origin is at Cavan town from where it winds its way south and southwest as far as Athlone.

The N87 deserves special mention, however. It was created as a bypass route for the N3 in order for traffic to continue northwest to Donegal apparently due to terrorist activities that destroyed the N3 bridge over the border. Since the bridge has long since been repaired and relations normalised, the N87 is an anachronism.

A major new east-west route is required in order to address these multiple issues. The new road, which need only be single carriageway, must start at the M1 west of Dundalk. Avoiding the unnecessary border crossings which plague the old routes, it would run west to Cavan and straight onwards through open countryside before reaching the N4 east of Carrick-on-Shannon. At this point, traffic heading for Sligo would use the proposed N4 dual carriageway to complete their journey northwest, while traffic continuing west could use the new N5, proposed elsewhere.

Although apparently not under the control of the NRA, a scheme (discussed here) to provide a section of this route is being progressed as of October 2010. This road would connect Cavan to Carrickmacross via the tiny villages of Shercock and Cootehill - roughly along this alignment. Since this scheme is not documented on the NRA's site, it is possible that the resulting road will only be of Regional status, which would not be appropriate. In addition, it crucially omits the western Cavan to Carrick-on-Shannon leg, which is essential if the route is to function appropriately.

Although it is true that the remainder of the run to Sligo could be achieved by following the N3 into Northern Ireland as far as Enniskillen and then heading west along the A4 and N16 (map), there are a number of problems with this idea:

  • - It would involve having to upgrade the N3 from Cavan to the border

  • - It would involve Northern Ireland having to upgrade the A509 and A4 roads in their jurisdiction, and they may have no plans to do so

  • - It would involve having to upgrade the entire N16 Enniskillen-Sligo road which passes through difficult geography

  • - It would duplicate in part the proposed N4 dual carriageway to Sligo

  • - Although it would improve access to Enniskillen, it would not serve any intermediate destinations in the Republic

  • The Northern Ireland element of this plan could be eliminated by routing via the N87 instead, but most of the above criticisms would remain (especially the lack of intermediate destinations and the duplication of the N4.)

    Note: This page was updated in March 2013. It used to be called "N34 Castleblayney-Cavan-Carrick on Shannon".

    Please give your opinion on this road proposal. Rate it out of 10, and whether you think the standard (road width) is appropriate.

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Wikipedia page on this road (none - new route)


Origin M1 west of Dundalk
Terminates N4, east of Carrick-on-Shannon
Places Served Dundalk, Carrickmacross, Cavan, Carrick-on-Shannon
Routes Spawned -
Intersects M1, N2, N3, N4, N55

MAP OF N34 :