Trunk roads in Ireland

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Ireland has an extensive network of public roads which connect all parts of the country with each other. Roads in Ireland are currently classified as motorways, National Primary routes, National secondary routes, Regional roads and Local roads. The introduction of this classification system began in 1977.

Prior to this, Republic of Ireland had a different road classification and numbering system. Roads fell into three categories: T (Trunk Roads), L (Link Roads) and unclassified roads. The origins of this system lie in pre-independence legislation: the preliminary section of Statutory Instrument S.I. No. 55/1926 — Road Signs and Traffic Signals Regulations, 1926 states that the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919 [1] gave the Minister for Local Government and Public Health the power to assign a "route letter and number" to a road, while Section 6.4 of Part I of the Regulations specifies the positioning of the "route letter and the number of the road" on directional signs. A reference in the Statutory Instrument to the "classification of roads as a 'Trunk' or 'Link' Road" indicates that a system of route classification and numbering was envisaged in the 1920s. However, at present, there is no information about when the Trunk and Link road-numbering system was actually introduced on signposts. Even though legal authority for the erection of directional signposts was given to local councils, the Automobile Association of Ireland began an extensive road signposting scheme in 1938 which included comprehensive signposting of routes from Belfast, Cork and Dublin.[2]

Evidence that the Trunk Road and Link Road classification and numbering system had been well established by the 1950s is found in Statutory Instrument S.I. No. 284/1956 — Traffic Signs Regulations, 1956 which contains examples of several directional signs. The first and second examples show the T8 as the route to Wexford and Rosslare. In addition, Esso road-maps of Ireland from the 1950s show the Trunk and Link road network. Despite its long-standing use, the original Trunk and Link road system was never legislated for and the routes of Trunk Roads and Link Roads were never formally designated by law.[3]

This current system of road classification and numbering has its origins in the late 1960s: the Minister for Local Government, Kevin Boland, announced on 23 July 1969 that a national road network would be formed.[4] In 1974, the Local Government (Roads and Motorways) Act came into effect. It allowed for designation of roads as motorways or national roads. National roads were first designated by Statutory Instrument S.I. No. 164/1977 on 1 June 1977. Twenty-five National Primary routes (N1-N25) and thirty-three National Secondary routes (N51-N83) were initially designated.

The changeover to the new system was gradual: a route planning map of Ireland from the late 1970s (or early 1980s), divided into a northern section and a southern section, shows a mixture of Trunk Road, Link Road and National route numbers.

Trunk Roads and Link Roads[edit]

Signpost with Link Road and Regional road route numbers
T8 Examples from the Traffic Signs Regulations 1956

Major roads were marked with "T" for Trunk Road, less important roads were marked with "L" for Link Road.

Trunk Roads connected major towns to each other while passing through smaller towns and villages.

Several trunk routes were designed to connect towns in different regions of Ireland (for example, the T41 from Enfield to Kilrush, via Tullamore, Portumna, Scariff and Ennis) while other roads (for example, the T66 Ring of Kerry route) were designated scenic routes.

Link Roads connected smaller towns and villages to each other and to the Trunk Road network.

There were eighty-four Trunk Roads in total, numbered from T1 to T77 consecutively (plus T4a, T11a, T12a, T21a, T28a, T50a and T72a). Roads with the 'a' suffix branched off roads with the same number. For example, the T4a branched off the T4 at Ballinasloe in County Galway and the T12a branched off the T12 to serve Cobh in County Cork.

The first nine Trunk Roads (T1, T2, T3, T4, T4a, T5, T6, T7, T8) radiated out from Dublin (with the T8 branching off the T7 at Enniscorthy) and followed an anti-clockwise pattern. This pattern was similar to the existing anti-clockwise pattern which the National routes and motorways radiating out of Dublin now follow. The pattern was interrupted by the T35 (Dublin-Cavan-Donegal route) which came between the T2 and the T3 and the T42 (now N81), T43 and T44 which came between the T5 (T6) and the T7 routes.

Unlike the present system, where each road (whether N- or R-) has a unique number, under the Trunk and Link Road system, Link Roads were numbered separately beginning with L1. These L (for Link Road) numbers are not related to the current Lxxxx numbers for Local Roads.

Confusingly, some old road signs still show the former (now obsolete) Trunk and Link road-numbers.

Trunk Roads were broadly equivalent to the present National routes, and Link Roads to the present Regional roads. Most of the National Primary and National Secondary routes had been Trunk Roads and generally they followed the routes of these Trunk Roads, albeit with a different numbering system. However, some National Primary and Secondary routes also incorporated Link Roads and unclassified roads into their routes. After the introduction of the new road numbering system, some Trunk Roads (either in whole or in part) were downgraded to Regional roads, effectively 'de-trunked'Trunk road#De-trunking: Ireland.

A notable feature of the former system was multiplexing (or concurrency), where a section of road was designated by two or more route numbers. Examples of multiplexes include the T7/T12 multiplex between New Ross and Waterford, the T6/T13 multiplex between Cahir and Kilheffernan (east of Clonmel), the T28/T36 multiplex between Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale and the short T19/T21 multiplex between Thurles and Toor. The road between Cavan, Butlersbridge, Cloverhill and the border with Northern Ireland (near Wattle Bridge in County Fermanagh) was a triple multiplex of the T10, T15 and T35 routes.

Three routes (T15, T22, T35) had sections which were disconnected from the rest of the route by roads which crossed through Northern Ireland. These routes lost their Trunk Road designations through Northern Ireland, regaining them on exiting Northern Ireland. The T15 crossed the border several times between Cavan and Clones, alternating between the T15 and the A3 designations.

List of former trunk roads in Ireland[edit]

Multiplex sections, where two or more trunk roads ran concurrent with each other, are shown in italics. Sections through Northern Ireland, with A and B road designations, are shown in bold.

Road From To Itinerary Replaced by
T1 Dublin (Belfast) Dublin - Swords - Balbriggan - Drogheda - Dunleer - Dundalk - border - (to Belfast via A1) N1
T2 Dublin (Derry) Dublin - Ashbourne - Slane - Collon - Ardee - Carrickmacross - Castleblayney - Monaghan - Emyvale - border - (to Derry via A5) N2
T3 Dublin Sligo Dublin - Lucan - Leixlip - Maynooth - Kilcock - Enfield - Kinnegad - Mullingar - Edgeworthstown - Longford - Roosky - Dromod - Carrick-on-Shannon - Boyle - Collooney - Sligo N4
T4 (Dublin) Galway (Dublin) - Kinnegad - Rochfortbridge - Kilbeggan - Moate - Athlone - Ballinasloe (multiplex with T31) - Kilconnell - Kiltullagh - Athenry - Derrydonnell - Oranmore - Galway N6
R348
T4a Ballinasloe Loughrea (Dublin) - Ballinasloe - Garbally - Aughrim - Kilreekill - Kilmeen - Loughrea (multiplex with T21) N6
T5 Dublin Limerick Dublin - Naas - Newbridge - Kildare - Monasterevin - Portlaoise - Mountrath - Borris-in-Ossory - Roscrea - Nenagh - Lisnagry - Limerick N7
T6 (Dublin) Cork (Dublin) - Naas - Kilcullen - Athy - Castlecomer - Henebry's Cross - Kilkenny (multiplex with T14) - Callan - Ninemilehouse - Kilheffernan - Clonmel - Cahir (multiplex with T13) - Kilbehenny - Mitchelstown - Moorepark - Fermoy - Rathcormac - Watergrasshill - Glanmire - Cork N9
N78
N77
N76
N24
N8
T7 Dublin Waterford Dublin - Stillorgan - nr St. Colmcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown - nr Shankill - Fassaroe - Newtownmountkennedy - Rathnew - Rathdrum - Avoca - Woodenbridge - Arklow - Gorey - Ferns - Enniscorthy - New Ross - Waterford (multiplex with T12) N11
R752
R747
N79 (now N30)
N25
T8 Enniscorthy Rosslare (Dublin) - Enniscorthy - Oylgate - Ferrycarrig Bridge - Wexford - Blackhorse - Killinick - Rosslare N11
N25
T9 Dundalk Cahir Dundalk - Ardee - Kells - Delvin - Mullingar - Kilbeggan - Tullamore - Ballard - Cadamstown - Kinnitty - Boheraphuca - Ballybritt - Roscrea - Templemore - Thurles - Holycross - Cashel - Cahir - (to Cork via T6) N52
R421
N62
R660
N8
T10 (Enniskillen) Mullingar (from Enniskillen) - Wattle Bridge - border - Cloverhill - Butlersbridge - Cavan (multiplex with T35 & T15) - Ballinagh (or Bellananagh) - nr Kilcogy (multiplex with T15) - Finnea - Castlepollard - Mullingar N54
N3
N55
R394
T11 Cork (Sligo) Cork - Mallow - Buttevant - Charleville - Croom - Patrickswell - Limerick - Bunratty - Hurler's Cross - Newmarket on Fergus - Ennis - Crusheen - Gort - Coole - Lydican - Drumharsna - Owenbristy - Kiltiernan - Kilcolgan - Clarinbridge - Oranmore - Galway (multiplex with T4) - Claregalway - Tuam - Dunmore - Cloonfad - Ballyhaunis - Tawnyinah - Charlestown - Tubbercurry - Collooney - joined T3 to Sligo N20
N18
N6
N17
T11a Dunmore Ballymoe Dunmore - Williamstown - Ballymoe R360
T12 Cork Wexford Cork - Dunkettle - Carrigtwohill - Midleton - Castlemartyr - Killeagh - Youghal - Dungarvan - Joulterspark - Lemybrien - Kilmeaden - Waterford - New Ross (multiplex with T7) - Wexford N25
T12a (Cork) Cobh (Cork) - Cobh Cross - Cobh R624
T13 Limerick Waterford Limerick - Tipperary - Bansha - Cahir - Clonmel - Kilheffernan (multiplex with T6) - Carrick on Suir - Mooncoin - Waterford N24
T14 Waterford Tullamore Waterford - Mullinavat - Ballyhale - Knocktopher - Stoneyford - Kilkenny - Henebry's Cross (multiplex with T6) - Ballyragget - Ballinakill - Abbeyleix - Portlaoise - Mountmellick - Tullamore N9
N10
N77
R432
N8
N80
T15 (Galway) (Monaghan) (Galway) - Roouanmore - Lackagh - Turloughmore - Moylough - Mountbellew - Athleague - Roscommon - Lanesborough - Longford - Ballinalee - Granard - nr Kilcogy - Ballinagh (or Bellananagh) - Cavan (multiplex with T10) - Butlersbridge - Leggykelly (multiplex with T10-T35) - border - A3 - County Fermanagh - border - re-entered County Cavan - border (Derrynure) - A3 - County Fermanagh - border - entered County Monaghan - Clones - Smithborough - Monaghan - border (Tamlat) - (to Armagh via A3) N63
R194
N55
N3
N54
N12
T16 (Enniscorthy) Portlaoise (Enniscorthy) - Ballynahallin - Bunclody - Ballon - Carlow - Ballickmoyler - Arless - Stradbally - Portlaoise N80
T17 Sligo (Enniskillen) Sligo - Manorhamilton - Blacklion - border - (to Enniskillen and Belfast via A4 and, later, NI's M1) N16
T18 Sligo (Derry) Sligo- Grange - Drumcliffe - Bundoran - Ballyshannon - Donegal - Ballybofey - Stranorlar - Killygordon - Castlefin - Cloghfin - border - Clady - (to Strabane and Derry via B85 and A5) N15
T19 Kilkenny (Limerick) Kilkenny - Freshford - Urlingford - Turnpike (multiplex with T36) - Thurles - Toor (multiplex with T21) - Ballycahill - Rosmult - Milestone - Inch - Anglesey Bridge - Rear Cros - Newport - Lisnagry - (to Limerick via T5) R693
N8
N75
R498
R503
T20 Kilkenny New Ross Kilkenny - Bennettsbridge - Thomastown - Inistioge - New Ross R700
T21 Thurles (Galway) Thurles - Toor (multiplex with T19) - Borrisoleigh - Nenagh - Borrisokane - Portumna - Killimor - Ballydavid - Killmeen - Loughrea (multiplex with T4a) - Craughwell - Derrydonnell (to Galway via T4) R498
N52
N65
N6
T21a Borrisokane Moneygall Borrisokane - Cloughjordan - Moneygall R490
T22 Dundalk Castleblayney Dundalk - border - A37 - Cullaville - border - re-entered County Monaghan - Castleblayney N53
T23 Dundalk (Armagh) Dundalk - Kilcurry - border - (to Newtownhamilton, Keady and Armagh via A29) R177
T24 Dundalk Granard Dundalk - Chanonrock - Carrickmacross - Corvally - Shercock - Bailieborough - Virginia - Ballyjamesduff - Ballymachugh - nr Finnea - Granard R178
R194
T25 (Drogheda) Collon (Drogheda) - Collon R168
T26 Drogheda Kinnegad Drogheda - Slane - Navan - Bective Abbey - Trim - Kinnegad N51
R161
T27 (Youghal) Clonmel (Youghal) - Kinsalebeg - Clashmore - Modeligo - Halfwayhouse Inn - Ballymacarbry - Clonmel R671
T28 (Limerick) Tralee (Limerick) - Patrickswell - Adare - Rathkeale - Newcastle West - Abbeyfeale (multiplex with T36) - Castleisland - Caherbreagh - Tralee N21
T28a Castleisland Farranfore Castleisland - Farranfore N23
T29 (Tralee) Cork (Tralee) - Caherbreagh - Farranfore - Killarney - Ballyvourney - Macroom - Coachford - Carrigrohane - Cork N22
T30 (Dungarvan) (Killarney) (Dungarvan) - Joulterspark - Cappoquin - nr Lismore - Ballyduff - Fermoy - Castletownroche - Mallow - Rathmore - Clasheen - (to Killarney via T29) N72
R666
T31 Portumna Granard Portumna - Ballinasloe - Athlone (multiplex with T4) - Ballymahon - Edgeworthstown - Granard R355
N6
N55
T32 Roscrea (Athlone) Roscrea - Birr - Cloghan - Ferbane - Fardrum - (to Athlone via T4) N62
T33 Birr Borrisokane Birr - Ballingarry - Borrisokane N52
T34 Athlone Boyle Athlone - Roscommon - Tulsk - Boyle N61
T35 Dublin (Donegal) Dublin - Clonee - Dunshaughlin - Navan - Kells - Virginia - Cavan - Butlersbridge - Cloverhill - border - (multiplex with T10-T15) - A3 - Wattle Bridge - A34 - Newtownbutler - Lisnaskea - Tamlaght - A4 - Enniskillen - A32 - Irvinestown - A35 - Kesh - border - Pettigo - Laghey - (to Donegal via T18) N3
N54
R232
T36 Abbeyleix Listowel Abbeyleix - Durrow - Cullahill - Urlingford - Turnpike (multiplex with T19) - Horse and Jockey - Cashel - Golden - Tipperary - Emly - Kilmallock - Charleville - Drumcolliher - Feohanagh - Newcastle West - Abbeyfeale (multiplex with T28) - Duagh - Listowel N8
N74
R515
R522
N21
R555
T37 Cashel (Kilkenny) Cashel - Dually - Ballinure - Laffansbridge - Killenaule - Ballingarry - Ballyline - Ballymack - (to Kilkenny via T6) R691
T38 Mitchelstown Mallow Mitchelstown - Kildorrery - Mallow N73
T39 Roscommon Louisburgh Roscommon - Ballymoe - Castlerea - Ballyhaunis - Claremorris - Balla - Castlebar - Westport - Louisburgh N60
N5
R335
T40 (Sligo) Galway (Sligo) - Ballysadare - Beltra - Dromore West - Easky - Rathlee - Kilglass - Enniscrone - Corraun - Ballina - Foxford - Strade - Bellavary - Castlebar - Ballintubber - Partry - Ballinrobe - Kilmaine - Shrule - Headford - Galway N59
R297
N57 (now N26)
N58
N5
N84
T41 Enfield Kilrush (Dublin) - Enfield - Edenderry - Daingean - Ballinagar - Clonmore - Cappincur - Tullamore - Screggan - Blue Ball - Kilcormac - Birr - Riverstown - Pike - Portland - Portumna - Power's Cross - Gorteeny - Mountshannon - Scariff - Tuamgraney - Bodyke - Moymore - Spancil Hill - Ennis - Darragh - Caherea - Lissycasey - Knockalough - Kilrush R402
N52
R489
N65
R352
N68
T42 Dublin Clash Dublin - Templeogue - Tallaght - Brittas - Blessington - Baltinglass - Rathvilly - Tullow - Clash - (joined T16) N81
T43 Dublin (Bray) Dublin - Milltown - Windy Arbour - Dundrum - Sandyford - Stepaside - Kiltiernan - Enniskerry - Fassaroe - (Bray) R117
T44 Dublin (Shankill) Dublin - Ballsbridge - Merrion - Booterstown - Blackrock - Monkstown - Dun Laoghaire - Dalkey - Killiney - (Shankill) - (to Bray via T7) R118
N31
R119
T45 Clones (Newry) Clones - Killeevan - Newbliss - Ballybay - Castleblayney - Milltown - border - (to Newtownhamilton and Newry via A25) R183
R182
T46 Carrickmacross Ballybay Carrickmacross - Ballybay R180
T47 Tullamore (Athlone) Tullamore - Clara - Moate - (to Athlone via T4) N80
T48 Durrow (Borris-in-Ossory) Durrow - Ballycolla - Aghaboe - Sentry Hill - (to Borris in Ossory and Roscrea via T5) R434
T49 Cashel Clonmel Cashel - Rosegreen - Ballyclerahan - Clonmel R688
T50 Mitchelstown (Limerick) Mitchelstown - Ballylanders - Knocklong - Hospital - Newline (multiplexed with T57) - Caherconlish - Beary's Cross - (to Limerick via T13) R513
T50a Kilmallock (Limerick) Kilmallock - Bruff - Holy Cross - nr Ballybricken - (to Limerick via T57) R512
T51 Kilcullen Kilkenny (Dublin - Naas) - Kilcullen - Timolin - Moone - Castledermot - Carlow - Leighlinbridge - Paulstown - Kilkenny N9
N10
T52 (Drumsna) Belturbet (Drumsna) - Annaduff - Mohill - Cloone Grange - Carrigallen - Killeshandra - Milltown Abbey - Lisnamaine - Kilconney - Belturbet - Sugarloaf - Gannons Cross - joined T10-T35 multiplex R201
R200 (now N87)
R197
T53 Dromod Swanlinbar Dromod - Mohill - Garvagh - Fenagh - Ballinamore - Gortmore - Swanlinbar - border - (to Enniskillen via A32 and A4) R202
T54 Carrick on Shannon Bundoran Carrick on Shannon - Leitrim - Drumgorman - Drumshanbo - Tarmon - Drumkeeran - Killarga - Manorhamilton - Glenade - Kinlough - Bundoran R280
T55 (Carrick on Shannon) Fenagh (Carrick on Shannon) - Drumheckil - Keshcarrigan - Fenagh - joined T53 R209
T56 Carrick on Suir (Kilkenny) Carrick on Suir - Ballinacluna - (Kilkenny via T6) R696
T57 Limerick Emly Limerick - Ballyneety - nr Ballybricken - Mohane - Newline - Hospital (multiplexed with T50) - Emly (joined T36) R512
R514
R513
R516
T58 Ballina Belmullet Ballina - Crossmolina - Bellacorick - Bangor Erris - Bunnahowen - Belmullet N59
R313
T59 Stranorlar (Derry) Stranorlar - Kilross - Letterkenny - Manorcunningham - Newtown Cunningham - Speenoge - Bridge End - border - (to Derry via A2) N56 (now N13)
N13
T60 (Letterkenny) Lifford (Letterkenny) - nr Corkey - Lifford - border - A38 - Strabane - (to Derry and Dublin via A5) N14
T61 (Bray) Rathdrum (Bray) - Kilmacanogue - Killough - Roundwood - Annamoe - Laragh - Rathdrum R755
T62 (Dundalk) (Omeath) (Dundalk) - Ballymascanlan - The Bush - Carlingford - Omeath - Cornamucklagh - border - (to Newry via B79) R173
T63 Waterford Dungarvan Waterford - Tramore - Annestown - Knockmahon - Bunmahon - Stradbally - Dungarvan R675
T64 Macroom (Bantry) Macroom - Kilbarry - Inchigeelagh - Ballingeary - Kealkill - Ballylickey - (to Bantry via T65) R584
T65 Killarney Cork Killarney - Kenmare - Glengarriff - Bantry - Scart - Aghaville - Drimoleague - Dunmanway - Enniskeane - Bandon - Inishannon - Halfway - Cork N71
R586
T66 Tralee Kenmare Tralee - Castlemaine - Killorglin - Glenbeigh - Cahirciveen - Waterville - Caherdaniel - Sneem - Parknasilla - Kenmare (part of Ring of Kerry route) N70
T67 Killorglin Killarney Killorglin - Killarney (part of Ring of Kerry route) N72
T68 Limerick Dingle Limerick - Kildimo - Askeaton - Foynes - Tarbert - Listowel - Tralee - Camp - Annascaul - Dingle N69
R559 (now N86)
T69 Kilcolgan Kilrush Kilcolgan - Kinvara - Ballyvaughan - Lisdoonvarna - Ennistymon - Lahinch - Milltown Malbay - Quilty - Doonbeg - Kilkee - Kilrush N67
T70 Ennistymon Ennis Ennistymon - Ennis N85
T71 Galway Bangor Erris Galway - Moycullen - Oughterard - Maam Cross - Recess - Clifden - Letterfrack - Kylemore Abbey - Leenane - Carrowkennedy - Liscarney - Westport - Newport - Mulrany - Ballycroy - Bangor Erris N59
T72 Donegal Letterkenny Donegal - Inver - Dunkineely - Five Points - Ardara - Kilrean - Glenties - Lettermacaward - Dungloe - Burtonport - Kincasslagh - Crolly - Dore - Bunbeg - Brinlack - Gortahork - Falcarragh - Dunfanaghy - Creeslough - Cashel - Carrigart - Milford - Ramelton - Letterkenny (West Donegal Coastal Route) N56
R259
R257
R245
T72a Donegal Malin More (Donegal) - Five Points - Killybegs - Kilcar - Glencolumbkille - Malin More R263
T73 Speenoge (Derry) Inishowen Ring: Speenoge - Burnfoot - Fahan - Buncrana - Drumfree - Clonmany - Ballyliffen - Carndonagh - Gleneely - Moville - Whitecastle - Quigley’s Point - Muff - border (Culmore) - (to Derry via A2) R238
T74 Letterkenny (Derry) (Letterkenny) - Newtown Cunningham - Speenoge - Bridge End - border - (to Derry via A2) N13
T75 (Dungarvan) (Clonmel) (Dungarvan) - Ballymacmague South - Halfway House Inn - (to Clonmel via T27) R672
T76 Borrisoleigh Templemore Borrisoleigh - Templemore R501
T77 Longford Foxford Longford - Strokestown - Tulsk - Frenchpark - Ballaghaderreen - Charlestown - Swinford - Foxford N5
N57 (now N26)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] - OPSI
  2. ^ [2] - AA Ireland
  3. ^ [3] - Boards.ie
  4. ^ [4] - Parliamentary Debates

External links[edit]