N2 M1-Ardee-Carrickmacross-Border

Could open : 2025 Status : Committed
N2 Road Logo


Dual Carriageway : 77 km
(Standard not yet confirmed)

A high-quality road between Dublin and Derry is a long term goal for the island as a whole. Interest in building such a facility was floated in 2006. The Irish government offered to pay Northern Ireland 60% of the cost of their section, or around £340M, on the grounds that our section was useless without theirs. More progress is being made on the N.I. half of the works. A preferred route was announced in 2009. As of 2010, work was due to begin in 2012, though the economic crisis has put the brakes on since the Republic's contribution, now up to £400M, is unaffordable. The standard defined in NI is expressway, which in this context means a dual carriageway with no median breaks, grade separated major junctions and left-in left-out minor junctions - just one step below a motorway. As of 2013, the road became mired in legal difficulties, but a start date still seems imminent.

The section through the Republic is unlikely to be a full motorway since it would not match the Northern section. The construction of the southern half has no completion date and will probably not be finished until the latter half of the 2020s. It is not yet defined where the connection point to the M1 will be: at Dundalk or Drogheda. It is possible to argue in favour of both:

In favour of a Dundalk connection:

  • - The mileage is less

  • - The dangerous N53 road gets a major upgrade

  • - The N33 is already safe due to its high build quality so it does not need an upgrade

  • - It is a more logical route if the intention is to serve the Newry-Dundalk-Drogheda corridor, as it is easier to access from there

  • - If the proposed N34 is built, it will connect directly with it allowing Dundalk to be served by that route also

In favour of a Drogheda connection:

  • - More of the N2 gets upgraded

  • - Less of the N2 would be detrunked

  • - A smaller geographic area would be left without a north-south national route; in particular the medium-sized town of Carrickmacross would remain connected to the national primary road network

Overall, the Drogheda routing is more likely to be chosen, as detrunking large sections of national routes in Ireland is politically and economically difficult. Towns lying along a national route benefit from the connectivity this provides and would not appreciate having it rescinded. The town of Carrickmacross would stand to be a loser following such a move.

There is an unresolved issue with the numbering of routes. There are three possibilities:

  • 1. The new route retains its current numbering, meaning that the N2 will continue to begin at Dublin and run to Monaghan via Ashbourne and Slane, and the part of the new route between Drogheda and Ardee will continue to be numbered N33. The disadvantage of this approach is that the new route would be titled "N33/N2", which is awkward. Many motorists will assume the Dublin-based N2 is the primary route and continue to use it.

  • 2. The N2 is downgraded between Dublin and Ardee and renumbered to something else. The new route is numbered N2 in full meaning that the N2 now starts at Drogheda, runs west, then rejoins the current alignment. The disadvantage of this approach is the huge amount of signage that would need to be amended and the familiarity problems this would present to Dubliners in particular.

  • 3. The N2 is downgraded between the end of the M2 Ashbourne-Drogheda motorway, described elsewhere, and Ardee and renumbered as a regional route. The rest of the route is numbered N2 in full. A fair amount of signage would need to be amended in this case.

Overall, I believe the third numbering option will be chosen as it is more logical and strikes a good balance between removing unnecessary parts of the existing route while leaving as much of it intact as possible.

Full information and the latest updates on the Northern Ireland part of this project are available here.

Note: In March 2013, this page was updated. It used to be called "N2 M1-Castleblayney-Border". The proposed route used to be a dual carriageway from Dundalk to Castleblayney to the Northern Ireland border. Now it starts at Drogheda.

Wikipedia page on this road


Origin M1/N33 Junction, west of Drogheda
Terminates A5, Northern Ireland Border, north of Monaghan
Places Served Ardee, Carrickmacross, Monaghan, (Derry)
Routes Spawned -
Intersects M1, N34


Please take a minute to answer a very short survey on your opinion of this road proposal.

Anonymous from the UK (probably Northern Ireland, considering the area the route serves) rates this scheme 10/10 and its alignment 10/10. They have the following comment to make:
"Would strategically enhance Dundalk's status as some sort of northern hub, attracting jobs, investment. Agree with need to upgrade N53, and shorter route to upgrade."
[Note that this comment is now no longer valid since the page was changed to depict the route starting at Drogheda. However it still will run reasonably close to Dundalk.]

'Indeed' from Belfast rates this scheme 4/10 and its alignment 7/10. On the standard, they have the following comment to make:
"The N4 Dromod & Roosky Bypass or the N21 Castleisland Bypass would be a good comparison, but certainly with motorway-style junctions. A freeflow interchange between the new dual carriageway and the existing motorway should not have to be built "in hindsight" in 30 years time either - do it properly the first time round."
In referring to the N4 and N21, the person means a 2+2 standard (4 lanes, central divider, no stopping lanes), which was what I intended.

On the scheme in general, they have the following astonishingly detailed comment to make - more like an article, and nearly as long as my own scheme description above:
"From an Irish taxpayers perspective, dualling the N2 the whole way to the border is a worthwhile endeavour because it leads to Letterkenny/NE Donegal. From a UK taxpayer's viewpoint dualing the A5 Londonderry>Ballygawley improves Londonderry>Strabane/Omagh/Enniskillen and also Belfast>Omagh/Strabane.
However, there is little benefit to be gained from further improving the road south of Ballygawley because;

*it leads to nowhere of strategic significance within the UK (no offence to Aughnacloy, but it simply is not),
*the Ballygawley>Aughnacloy section has recently been improved with a new alignment and safety features, and
*most importantly of all, it is the least frequented section of the whole A5.

My mother's family is all from Newry and has familial ties with Derry. It is a thoroughly unscientific assumption of mine, based on personal anecdotal conversations that generally most people from Armagh & Newry travel to Londonderry via Cookstown, not Omagh. But, a quick check of the oul' GoogleMaps reveals that there's only three tenths of a mile in the difference.

I have no evidence, but I assume that these people would be easily persuaded to switch to the "via Omagh" route (ie. the A5 instead of the A29 & A6) were the A28 Newry>Armagh>Aughnacloy road were dualled also. This is what I propose.
I would prefer this to either Dundalk>Monaghan>Aughnacloy and Drogheda>Monaghan>Aughnacloy.

Why? Because more people would benefit; Armagh's population in 2001 (14,600) was twice that of Monaghan in 2011 (6,600), and in 2011 County Armagh (175,000) was almost three times more populated than County Monaghan (60,000). As it stands the road from Monaghan to Dublin is of a very decent standard thanks to recent improvements, whereas Armagh to Dublin is not. My proposal also improves interconnectivity within the UK; Londonderry>Newry/Armagh/Warrenpoint/Kilkeel (and possibly Banbridge) routes all improve.
This proposal still fulfills the requirements of upgrading the road from Dublin to Londonderry (or, if you prefer, Derry) and Letterkenny (or, if you prefer, Kenny). But it brings Newry and Armagh onto the line of that route. (Might I state that for the very same reasons (ie. to enfranchise more journeys) I would rather the Dundalk option than the Drogheda option. That, and it would improve connectivity between Dunalk and Monaghan/Omagh/L'derry/L'kenny). And, there would be only 7.2miles longer than the current N33 route.

Falling back upon my anecdotal evidence, I have even heard of Donegal people driving to Dublin via Newry. This is a very recent phenomenon indeed, dating only since the 2010 opening of the new A1 Newry bypass.
So basically, instead of traffic for the island's northwest from Dublin turning off the M1/N1/A1/M1 route at Drogheda or Dundalk, I propose Newry.
Another point to ponder is that

Aughnacloy > M1 J14 51.4m
Aughnacloy > M1 J17 is 41.5m
Aughnacloy > Carnbane Interchange 32m
[Note: 'm' here means miles.]

A shorter route may please the environmentalists and the public purse."

To summarise, the poster would upgrade the A28 from Newry to Aughnacloy instead of any routes in the Republic. This would be shorter and serve more population since Armagh is more densely populated than Monaghan. I do not disagree with any of this.
However, the main objection is that it would place the entire burden of construction and cost on Northern Ireland for a route which, although it would be heavily used by N.I. drivers making local trips between Derry/Londonderry and Newry, would serve the Derry-Dublin route in a larger sense. This connection probably isn't of too much interest to N.I. drivers yet they would be paying for all of it.

BC from the UK (probably Northern Ireland) agrees with this idea and rates it 10/10 and its alignment 8/10. They provide this commentary, with my notes in brackets:
"Should be higher spec [higher than dual carriageway].
The A1 Sprucefield to Newry dual carriageway suffers accidents/queues at grade seperated junctions. From a safety perspective (less so than from a time one), grade-seperated junctions are the way to go.

[Note that it is assumed that although the proposed route wouldn't be full motorway, it would nonetheless feature grade-separated junctions.]
Of minor note, full motorway from the M1 at Drogheda (or Dundalk) would make numbering easier to understand.
Whilst complete grade seperation may be too costly at present, construction of junctions to allow them to be retrospectively grade seperated could be a compromise."

A person from the UK rates this scheme 10/10 but the alignment only 5; and thinks it should be motorway. In their opinion:
"Starting from Dundalk is better".

Computerfan0 rates this 10/10 and the alignment 8. They think that "HQDC or motorway" is the right standard.
"Starting at Dun Dealgan (Dundalk) is what I'm in favour of."
Later, he rated it again, giving the upgrade 9/10 but wants a different alignment, rating mine only 1/10:
"I would actually rather it started at Ardee instead of one of these two towns."

Carol McGowan doesn't like this scheme, rating it only 1/10. She thinks it should be lower spec and has this to say:
"The current route is not intuitive. Please reconsider joining the M2 to M1 at the Duleek junction prior to the toll plaza. There would be more of a minimal impact on the residential / agricultural area as this is predominately an industrial zone with platten cement factory and and an incinerator factory."
She goes on:
"The M1 is already at or beyond capacity at peak times. The M2 joining with M1 at the exit 7 point is a design flaw. To address this the M1 would require upgrading to a three lane motorway. At the City North Hotel exit 7 on the M1 going to Dublin on the M1 and going to Dundalk is congested at peak times. It is sensible to consider the Duleek link with M1 NOT the City North Hotel exit 7 on the M1. Alternatively, it makes much more sense if you build the M2 from Ashbourne to Ardee and not consider joining with M1 at all. Julianstown village is already experiencing congestion with trucks and lorries in order to avoid the toll. This is a particular point whereby there are many drivers exiting the M1 at Julianstown in order to avoid the toll. Please realise that this would be detrimental to the village of Julianstown, as the M2 drivers will logically follow the other toll avoiders through Julianstown. Any of the public representatives would be aware of the Julianstown traffic and will corroborate my assessment."

Someone from the UK rates this 8 on both counts and says:
"In my opinion, the standard is about right (D2AP). I know some national roads do have a motorway but I think a dual carriageway is fine. I just want it to be built as soon as possible."