Baile Átha Cliath
|Location Map ( geo)
|The Spire and GPO on O'Connell Street.
|Forward Destination on
| M1, N2 (M2), N3
|Next Terminal & Intermediate Destinations
|Belfast • Blessington • Cork • Derry • Dublin Airport • Dundalk • Galway • Letterkenny • Limerick • Navan • Sligo • Wexford
|Nearby Terminal & Intermediate Destinations
|Other Nearby Destinations
|Bray • Naas • Tallaght
Dublin, located on the east coast of Ireland at the mouth of the River Liffey, is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland and the country's most signposted destination.
The literal meaning of the city's Irish-language name Baile Átha Cliath (usually abbreviated to Áth Cliath on roadsigns) is "hurdles-ford-town". The name "Dublin" (Irish: dubhlinn, "black pool") is a reference to the small lake, used for mooring ships, which once lay close to the Liffey and the "hurdles ford" which crossed the river close to the modern R108.
While it was the Vikings who first established a trading port on the Liffey's banks, it was the Normans who enabled the city to become the main city of the island of Ireland. The Georgian period saw one of the city's greatest periods of growth and today it is Georgian architecture that gives the city its character. In 1916, the Easter Rising against British rule took place here. The area around O'Connell Street was mostly rebuilt in the 1920s after suffering severe destruction in the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War which followed it.
Today Dublin is a major tourist destination, famous not least as the home of Guinness stout.
As might be expected, the Republic of Ireland's road numbering system radiates from Dublin, the hub of which is O'Connell Bridge. This is originally where the N1, N4, and N11 all met, although since completion of the M50 motorway ring all National routes inside the ring have been reclassified as Regional roads. As of 2016, the majority of the old signs had not been removed.
On each side of the city, crossings of the River Liffey are by tolled roads: the M50 Westlink on one side and the East-Link Bridge on the east coast. The recently widened motorway carries the majority of the traffic, meeting all the major radial routes. A third toll road, the relatively recent Dublin Port Tunnel, relieves the former N1 through north Dublin and connects the port to the motorway network.
There is also an Inner Orbital and an Outer Orbital, created out of existing streets in the city, including the aptly-named Circular Road North. Various one way systems are in operation, including along The Quays, Customs House, around Trinity College, Parnell Square, Pembroke Street, Capel Street (twice) and Stoneybatter. These, coupled with many turn restrictions at signalised junctions, mean journey planning is essential.
While Dublin might not have become as notorious for its traffic as nearby capital London, it has been slow to explore solutions to its traffic problem.
Wide Streets Commission
Dublin's modern traffic problem arguably began with the Wide Streets Commission of 1757. This commission was created to address problems with congestion on Dublin's narrow medieval streets, which were blocked by pedestrians, horse-drawn vehicles and cattle. Over the following 100 years, the commission demolished buildings to create wider or even entirely new streets.
By the 21st Century, the work of the Wide Streets Commission continued to be paying dividends. The wide thoroughfares made it easy for cars to drive right into the centre of the city, whereas most other cities of the same age were having to keep cars out.
This unique selling point quickly became a victim of its own success. The widened streets soon became overloaded with traffic, especially at key junctions which had not been designed to handle so many cars.
The N11 Stillorgan Dual Carriageway, built in the 1950s, was one of the first major road improvements in the country. Passing through leafy Dublin 4 and its institutions, some would say this was an inevitable choice of route to receive such investment. The growth of the suburbs mean this road is now festooned with traffic lights, and suffers congestion where the upgraded road wasn't extended into the city centre.
The first serious traffic plan was Schaechterle's General Traffic Plan in 1965. This proposed a dense network of dual carriageways, tidal flow and one way systems, with widespread demolition. This was adopted by the Corporation in the form of an inner and outer ring road, with new roads being constructed in the industrial west, and mostly existing roads being re-used in the well-to-do east side.
That plan was soon replaced by the Dublin Transportation Study and Central Dublin Traffic Plan, which were completed by 1973. These predicted that the traffic problems would be much more serious than first envisaged, with a lot of long-distance commuting. A network of motorways was proposed, heading out into the suburbs, trying to avoid some of the more sensitive areas which had been upset by the previous proposals.
While the Corporation supported this proposal, only a tiny fraction of the finance needed was available. City centre roads were widened where space was already available, creating short sections of city centre dual carriageway which were never linked up to create a network.
On Patrick Street, a temporary dual carriageway was opened in 1989 which was designed to keep things moving while the main road was under construction. This was itself extremely unpopular, and killed virtually all ambition for road building in the city. Most of the city centre motorways hadn't been funded yet; those that were, were cancelled in 1992, except for the remains of the C-ring.
Dublin Port was, unsurprisingly, a source of many HGVs entering the city. The influence of this can still be seen in the layout of many key junctions, such as Cabra Cross.
Dublin's city centre continued to be dominated by car traffic well into the 2000s. The work of the Wide Streets Commission did at least allow quality bus corridors to be introduced along key routes into the city, while allowing cars to still use the same road. The first quality bus corridor, along the N11, opened in 1999.
The city's main focus became the completion and upgrade of the M50, which would remove a lot of through traffic from the city's radial routes. By 2002, this allowed a series of roads to become public transport corridors, including the closure of Frederick Street.
The expansion of Dublin's suburbs beyond the M50, especially with regards to large shopping centres, caused traffic levels to continue to grow. A tram system, known as the Luas, began in 2004, creating an alternative travel option for some commuters but increasing journey times for existing car traffic.
A pro-cycling, pro-pedestrian policy only began to emerge in the late 2010s, with particular areas of attention being a cycle route along the Liffey Quays and the possible closure of College Green - both are notorious congestion hotspots. A signage review in 2020 removed many long-distance destinations from road signs in the city, and added clearer car park information.
Much of the city's long-term transport planning is focused on BusConnects. First revealed to the public in 2018, this will involve a review of every radial route in the city, ensuring that suitable cycle and public transport provision is provided. In many places this will involve widening the carriageways.
|Aerfort / AIRPORT ·
|Cill Dhéagláin / ASHBOURNE ·
|An Uaimh / NAVAN ·
|Sligeach / SLIGO ·
|Luimneach / LIMERICK ·
|Loch Garman / WEXFORD ·
|N11 / M11
|Tamhlacht / TALLAGHT ·