Irelands Road Network - What you should know

If you’re traveling to Ireland and plan to drive while you are here, or if you are a new learner driver starting out driving for the first time, then it makes sense to get to know a few things about the Irish Road Network before you get behind the wheel. Irelands Road Network – What you should know.

Ireland has a Primary and Secondary road networks as well as smaller roads known as Regional roads. So what are the differences between the Primary and Secondary Networks and where do the Regional roads run? Lets Take a look.

Primary Networks

According to the Transport Infrastructure Ireland website “The primary and secondary road network in Ireland is some 5,306km long and is made up of motorways, dual carriageways and single lane roads.”
Since 2006 Motorways in Ireland are considered part of the Primary Road Network, and all motorways carry the Letter M before the route number. The main motorway network links major cities and towns, and in the process by-pass smaller towns and villages. Here is a list of motorways that are open to date (June 2017).
  • M1 – Dublin to north of Dundalk. Dublin – Belfast (TOLLED)
  • M2 – Killshane to north of Ashbourne. Dublin – Derry –
  • M3 – Dublin to north of Kells. Dublin – Donegal (TOLLED)
  • M4 – Lucan to Mullingar Dublin – Sligo (TOLLED)
  • M6 – M4 Junction 11 (Kinnegad) to east of Athlone; west of Athlone to Galway Dublin – Galway (TOLLED)
  • M7 – Naas to Limerick. Dublin – Limerick / (Cork) / (Tralee) (TOLLED)
  • M8 – M7 Junction 19 Dublin – Cork (TOLLED)
  • M9 – M7 Junction 11 Dublin – Waterford
  • M11 – Shankill/Bray Bypass; Ashford to south of Gorey. Dublin – Wexford
  • M18 – Shannon, County Clare to North of Gort. Limerick – Ennis – Galway
  • M20 – Outskirts of Limerick City to Patrickswell, Limerick – Cork
  • M50 – Entire route. Dublin Ring Road
While motorways form part of the Primary Road Network they are not the totality of it. Other roads known as National Primary Roads also constitute part of the primary road network. National Roads have the prefix N followed by a number such as the N24 which links Limerick to Waterford. As in this example National primary roads are artillery routes between major large towns, and are generally of a higher standard than National Secondary roads.

National Secondary Roads

National Secondary roads make up the bulk of the Irish Road Network and are the main cross country routes. They too link major towns such as the N51 which links Drogheda to Navan, but tend to be of a lesser standard, and less well maintained than the Primary network. Speed limits vary also across the network so keep an eye out for speed signs to ensure you remain within the speed limits. Also using the prefix N these routes start go up from N51.

Regional Roads

Consistently using the same simplistic naming system as before regional roads begin with the Letter “R” and are again followed by a 3 digit numeric value. Much smaller in nature these roads link small towns and villages and can at times be difficult to navigate due to being quite narrow and/or contains a lot of twists and turns. As such it is advised to take extra caution when traveling these routes, however using them can have many advantages. It is often true that the most beautiful, interesting and historical parts of the island are found by traveling on the R roads which wind their way into to the ancient fabric of the Irish countryside.

Commercial Use of The Road Network

Driving in Ireland can be a real joy especially if traveling on holidays or for pleasure. For commercial transport, such as moving home, delivery services or collections from large stores such as IKEA or Harvey Norman it is always best to entrust your precious cargo to the experts. Vandel Couriers are here to help with all your logistics needs should you require them.

For more information call us today on

00 353 41 983 0398 or 00 353 86 883 3148 or