N81 Blessington-M9

Could Open : 2025 Status : Not under consideration
N81 Road Logo


Dual Carriageway : 12.8 km

The N7 is an overloaded trunk route that connects Dublin with the country's second, third and fifth largest cities, as well as providing the main route for a string of large midlands towns. It has high traffic counts and is in urgent need of further 6-laning beyond east Naas where a 2006 project ended.

Described elsewhere, the M47 is a proposed new motorway that would parallel the N7 to the north. There are considerable difficulties associated with this, however, and it is unlikely to proceed. Another solution would be to utilise the N81 as an alternative access route to Dublin. The N81 is a rural route that winds through the Wicklow Mountains, before turning into an urban dual carriageway as it passes through Tallaght and finally an urban street all the way into the heart of Dublin. To set the N81 up as an alternative access route, a connection would be needed between the M7 and the N81 southwest of Tallaght, hereafter called the N81 Link.

The N81 Link would involve building a new dual carriageway from Blessington west to the M7. There is a current NRA scheme (Tallaght to Hollywood Cross) to replace much of the N81 between Dublin and Hollywood Cross with a new road within the next decade. This road will be partially dual carriageway near Dublin and single thereafter. The N81 Link starts at the point where the dual will probably end and terminates on the M7 between junction 10 west of Naas and the future junction with the proposed M40 Leinster Outer Orbital Route. The part of the M7 between this connection point and the M9 split would probably need auxiliary lanes (bringing it to 8 lanes total for 2.3 km) in order to avoid weaving.

The advantage of this scheme is that it would allow M7 and M9-origin traffic to use the N81 to get to Dublin instead of the overused N7 Naas Dual Carriageway. The N81 only becomes an urban dual carriageway as it passes through Tallaght and does not suffer from excessive traffic congestion.

In order to resolve the numbering issues that this idea throws up, a related project would be to renumber the N81 as the N10 from Dublin as far as the M7 via the N81 Link. The rest of the existing N81, south of Blessington, would still be the N81. The existing N10, at Kilkenny, would be renumbered N79 (a currently unused number.) A number in the 70s was chosen because the existing national secondary routes that run through Kilkenny are N76 and N77. This idea also has the advantage that the current anomaly could be resolved - whereby the N10 is west of the N9 (and thus violates the national route numbering plan, under which Dublin radials are numbered anti-clockwise starting from the top). The N10 would now lie to the east (clockwise) of the M9.

The effect of all these changes are as follows:

  • - Traffic heading south on the N81 can deviate west as it bypasses Blessington and join the M7. Poulaphuca, Baltinglass and Tullow traffic would continue south on the existing N81, while N80 traffic can either exit at the turnoff for the N80 at M9 junction 5 or else stay on the N81 and continue as currently.

  • - Traffic heading south out of Dublin, starting either within or on the M50, heading for M7 or M9 (southwest and south coast destinations) can either use the N7/M7 via Naas or the N81 and the N81 Link.

  • - Traffic heading northeast on the M7 or M9 can access Dublin either by continuing northeast on the N7 or by taking the turnoff for the N81 Link. This turnoff might be especially advantageous for reaching destinations in southwest or south Dublin like Tallaght and Sandyford, enabling motorists to avoid the busy junction 9 (Red Cow Interchange).

  • - Traffic heading west on the N80 from the east coast and looking for N81 destinations will join it heading north as normal, though if they are heading for Tallaght it would be faster to continue as far as the M9 and turn off for the N81 Link after the M9 joins the M7.

  • - Local traffic in the Baltinglass/Tullow area can still use the existing N81 and other regional roads in the area, which should be much quieter.

Note: In 2012 this proposal was changed. The N81 Link Road used to terminate on junction 2 of the M9. Now it terminates on the M7 just west of Jct 11 (Naas).

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


Origin Blessington, N81
Terminates M9 Junction 2, near Kilcullen
Places Served -
Routes Spawned -
Intersects M7

MAP OF N81 :