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A37 (Cullaville)

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Location Map ( geo)
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From:  Hackballscross (H919114)
To:  Ballynacarry Bridge, Fane River (H873141)
Via:  Cullaville
Distance:  3.4 miles (5.5 km)
Meets:  N53, B30, N53
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Route outline (key)
A37 Hackballscross - Ballynacarry Bridge
This article is about the Northern Irish section of the Dundalk - Castleblayney road (N53).
For the Limavady - Coleraine road, see A37 (Coleraine - Limavady)

The N53 between Dundalk and Castleblayney strays across the Northern Irish/Republic of Ireland border for just over 3 miles to pass through Cullaville. In Northern Ireland the road is numbered A37 and called Concession Road.

Unlike the N53, which is consistently signposted "Dundalk - Castleblayney" along the route, there are comparatively few signs on the A37, particularly at the crossroads in Cullaville where three of the four roads lead into the Republic.


Approaching the crossroads in the centre of Cullaville

The N53 becomes the A37 at the tripoint of County Louth, County Monaghan and County Armagh, the former two of which are in the Republic of Ireland. As might be expected, aside from a "Speed limits in miles per hour" sign, there is no indication that you are in another country. The road has a number of features taking advantage of the cross-border nature. For example, there are nine filling stations along the road, as petrol is slightly cheaper in Northern Ireland, which leads to "petrol tourism". There are also a number of shops selling fireworks to the general public, which is illegal to do in the Republic.

The road starts with a 60mph / NSL speed limit, and is straight like a Roman Road. There's a brief temporary 20 limit for Clonalig School, where the road is clearly diverted from its original course. Just after the two re-join, the road enters Cullaville and the speed limit is reduced to 40.

The main feature of the A37 is the crossroads in the middle of Cullaville with the B30. There is a conspicuous lack of signs coming in this direction, but there is one on the other side. Turning right takes the B30 to Crossmaglen, which is the only way you can reach the rest of Northern Ireland from here without crossing the border again, while turning left takes you to the Fane River and back into the Republic on the R179. The speed limit goes back up to NSL after leaving Cullaville, but the road isn't dead straight now and has a few bends, though nothing taxing. The final left corner crosses the Fane River at Ballynacarry, and the road re-enters the Republic and becomes the N53 again.


The A37 was first allocated in 1923, along with the other original road numbers in Northern Ireland. From the beginning, this was a duplicate number, and the route description used - "Dundalk via Castleblayney to Londonderry" was that of the historic coaching route which was never intended to have international borders on it. This may have been considered a temporary number, as the Irish Boundary Commission were finalising the Irish Border at this time, and recommended that South Armagh be part of the Republic as it had a Catholic (Nationalist) majority. This would have made the route run in its entirety through the Republic and hence the A37 number would be obsolete.

Unlike Approved Roads with formal custom points, such as the A1 and A29, the A37 was considered a Concession Road without custom points. This allowed T22 (former number for N53) traffic to cross through Cullaville without stopping for customs. Legally, drivers in Northern Ireland were not allowed to enter the republic via this route, but many did anyway. The IRA considered the A37 an important route for smuggling goods through the Republic into South Armagh towns and villages such as Crossmaglen. An official custom point was set up at the B30 / R179 just south of the A37, but this was destroyed by the IRA in 1971 and never replaced.

On 1 January 1993, all custom points were abolished, so the A37 was no longer a unique Concession Road. However, there has been some concern that after Brexit that they might have to be reintroduced again, which would be the first time for the A37 / N53.

Alternative numbers

It has been speculated that the existence of the duplicate A37 may be an mis-transcription of the A97 number, which is otherwise unused in Northern Ireland but appears in this location in 1940s Bartholomews mapping. This was debunked when the original road lists were found, showing this to be the oldest duplicate A-road in existence (there are also two duplicate B-roads in Northern Ireland dating to the original classification).


N53 to A37 youtube video

A37 (Cullaville)
Related Pictures
View gallery (9)
Concession Road, Cullaville - Geograph - 2361963.jpgA37.jpgBungalow above the A37 (Concession Road) west of Cullaville - Geograph - 3078720.jpgThe A37 at the eastern outskirts of Cullaville - Geograph - 3078700.jpgThe eastern end of Cullaville village, Co Armagh - Geograph - 2362266.jpg
Other nearby roads
A25 (Northern Ireland) • A97 (Northern Ireland) • B32 (Northern Ireland) • N2 • N53 • R135 • R181 • R182 • R183 • T2 • T22 • T45
B30 (Northern Ireland) • N2 • R178 • R179 • R180 • R927 • T2 • T24 • T46
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