Sea To Ocean

Dundalk Bay beckons

We spent a lot on roads in this country. Probably more, with hindsight, than we really ought to have. So I can’t help feeling ungrateful when I don’t use them. Motorways – highways, autobahns, what you will – are convenient, sure. You can cruise along at 120k (75mph), faster than on ordinary roads. You can steer like you’re on rails. You can sleep.

No wait, not sleep. That’s the one you’re not supposed to do. But honestly, if they wanted you to drift off at the wheel this is exactly how they’d design roads. They’re so safe they’re dangerous.

I spent last night at a friend’s near Dundalk, close to the M1 that runs DublinBelfast. The M4 and M6 take you from Dublin to Galway, so I could have gone home entirely by motorway. The route makes a perfect right angle, but nevertheless it’s what the satnav recommends.

Edward J. Valentine's intriguing pub in Longford Town

I took the hypotenuse, the direct route across country via N-roads (national routes). At least, it would be direct if it didn’t wind like a bastard. These roads live from bend to bend, forcing you not only to concentrate on steering, but to change your speed and even gear constantly. Though it must be said that these have also been the object of serious investment in recent years, with accurate lines and chevron markers on every bend. Driving them is hard, but not particularly dangerous.

This is the only way to see the country – insofar as there is anything to see in the midlands. Not counting a (very necessary) break then, it took me four hours to get from the Irish Sea to the Atlantic coast. I could’ve done it in an hour less by motorway, but dammit, it would’ve felt longer.

Here’s some more pictures from the trip:

The most Zen front garden in all Ireland
Breakfast or something
Stuff on my friend's table - I just liked the colour combination

9 replies on “Sea To Ocean”

Dundulk to Galway in less than a hour? Gulp. Sweet house. Best Zen garden in all the world, I think.

Met someone last night from a county I’d never heard of, something interior that borders Donegal and manages to extend itself to a 6 mile strip of coast. Can’t remember the name.
I didn’t know you had spent that much on roads in Ireland. My mental picture of Ireland during the boom days was a Porsche on the side of the road with its undercarriage strewn across a quarter mile of potholes and ruts.

That must be Leitrim – A hidden jewel among counties, to my mind, thanks in part to its relative obscurity.

The Motorways and National routes are in good shape now. The Regional and Local ones, alas… These are administered and funded locally, so it depends a lot on how well off the authority is. And Galway County is notorious in this respect; the cold winter of 2010 nearly obliterated some roads around here.

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