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Dublin Inner Orbital Route

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Dublin Inner Orbital Route
Dublin Inner Orbital J4.jpg
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From:  Beresford Place (O164346)
To:  Beresford Place (O163346)
Meets:  R105, R108, R110, R114, R118, R132, R137, R138, R148, R801, R802, R803, R804, R805, R811, R813, R814, R815, R816
Highway Authorities

Dublin City

Traditional Counties

Dublin

Route outline (key)
R802 Mountjoy Square - Pearse Station
R813 City Quay
R814 Lombard Street East
R138 Westland Row
R138 Leeson Street Lower
R110 St Stephen's Green - Kevin Street
R137 St Patrick's Cathedral - Christchurch
R108 Christchurch - The Quays
R148 Usher's Quay
R805 The Quays
R108 Church Street Upper
R804 North King Street
R803 Parnell Street
R132 Parnell Square

The Dublin Inner Orbital Route is a Ring Road created out of existing streets around the city centre. It was created in 2002 with the aim of directing traffic towards the main car parks while avoiding traffic bottlenecks within the central core of the city.

All the major junctions along the route are numbered, with light blue 'stack' direction signs indicating the junction number. The junctions are numbered sequentially from J1 to J40 in a clockwise direction (skipping J19), with J19 and J41-47 being assigned somewhat randomly to junctions which are only accessible when travelling anti-clockwise.

When the system was launched, Dublin City Council were expecting the junction numbers to be promoted by local businesses. The numbers were placed on road signs across Dublin as if they were destinations. It was launched at the same time as a number of new traffic restrictions in the city centre.

As might be expected of a city centre route created out of existing streets, the route is difficult to follow. It has to snake around turning restrictions and one way roads, there are many options which are generally ignored, and there are many routes which could cause the junction numbers to appear to jump around significantly. More importantly, most of the roads it uses are radial routes that were built to get traffic in and out of the city, not to keep it going round.

Road Signs

All road signs are erected on H-shaped mast-arm posts.

Original System

The first system was introduced in August 2002. It used an orange colour scheme, and directed motorists to radial routes (named by their road number), nearby car parks and nearby numbered junctions. It was devised by the city council, with advice from consultants.

'An Lár' ("City Centre") was presented in Irish only, to save space.

Direction signs with an orange background were used for the Orbital Route itself, while signs with a white background were used on approaches to the system. Junction numbering generally worked clockwise from Custom House Quay, and clustered around different one way systems.

Overall, the system was widely criticised for being too confusing, as it focused on junction and road numbering that local people didn't know. The orange colour was too closely associated with roadworks, too. The scheme's introduction cost €200,000, and following resistance from residents, a public information campaign was launched.

Only a few weeks into the project - and with only an estimated 50 out of 500 road signs erected - the project was stopped following complaints from the Department of Transport.

Second System

Grafton Street area road sign.
A 'blue 13' directs traffic to J13, even though it's not near the Orbital Route.

The sore subject was revisited in October 2003, and the new system built upon lessons learned by the first.

The orange colour scheme was changed to light blue. The different signs for the Orbital Route and its approaches were kept, with all signs having a light blue heading. The heading included the Dublin City Council logo and two circles, denoting the two orbital routes.

While directions to N-roads were kept, most R-roads were removed and replaced by the name of the suburb. 'An Lár' was translated into English, and some car parks were named. There were now 42 junctions.

The rethink cost €20,000, and took place with support from the Department of Transport. They later suggested any urban area could now copy the scheme, which Cork did.

These signs would go on to remain in place for over 15 years. When the roads in Dublin City Centre were renumbered in 2010, these signs remained and as a result few people were aware of the renumbering. The city council logo was later patched with an updated version.

March 2020 Revision

Inner Orbital parking sign.
The new signs carry much less information.

The system was revised again in March 2020, as part of a project to simplify the signing across the city.

The new signs all have a white background with a light blue header, regardless of whether you're on the Orbital Route or approaching it. The header shows the junction number, and two of the orbital logos.

The only information the new signs contain is directions to the nearest car and/or bike paring area (in an inbound direction), and directions to the M50 (in an outbound direction). The car parks are now all divided into four zones.

There are no other road numbers, or junction numbers, on the signs, making it somewhat difficult to follow the orbital as a through route. The aim is to get traffic heading towards the M50 instead. This aim reflects the fact that all primary routes in the city centre were downgraded in 2010.

At the same time, all of the junction numbers were changed. The start point was moved one junction around Custom House, and the new junction numbers followed the clockwise route. One turning lost its number, while several junctions gained numbers (generally those good for accessing car parks). Overall, the number of junctions increased by five. Only the Parnell and Mountjoy areas kept the same junction number.

Route

Although the Inner Orbital wasn't devised until 2002, the concept dates back as far as 1965. The General Traffic Plan (Schaechterle) called for an 'Inner Tangent', which would have been a dual carriageway serving many of the places that the Inner Orbital now does.

Elements of this made it into the Dublin Traffic Plan (1973), which suggested a largely grade-separated dual carriageway running via St Patrick's Cathedral, Smithfield Square and Parnell Square - as per the Inner Orbital. This project, known as the Western Tangent, was immensely controversial, and was eventually watered down to a series of isolated dual carriageways which opened in 1989.

The Inner Orbital is not the direct successor to that project, but it was inevitable that it was going to choose to run via the new dual carriageways instead of narrower city streets. Sections of the Inner Orbital at Patrick Street, Cuffe Street, High Street, North King Street and Parnell Street had all been upgraded to cater for the Western Tangent.

The route of the Orbital is significantly different in each direction. Streets unique to that direction are shown in bold.

Clockwise

  • Memorial Road
  • City Quay
  • Lombard Street East
  • Westland Row
  • Lincoln Place
  • Merrion Street Lower
  • Merrion Square West
  • Merrion Square South
  • Fitzwilliam Street Lower
  • Fitzwilliam Street Upper
  • Fitzwilliam Square East
  • Fitzwilliam Place
  • Leeson Street Lower
  • St Stephen's Green
  • Cuffe Street
  • Kevin Street Lower
  • Bride Street
  • Bride Road
  • Nicholas Street
  • High Street
  • Bridge Street Upper
  • Bridge Street Lower
  • Usher's Quay
  • Usher's Island
  • Blackhall Place
  • North King Street
  • George's Lane
  • Brunswick Street North
  • Church Street Upper
  • North King Street
  • Bolton Street
  • King's Inn's Street
  • Parnell Street
  • Parnell Square West
  • Parnell Square North
  • Gardiner Row
  • Great Denmark Street
  • Gardiner Place
  • Mountjoy Square West
  • Gardiner Street Middle
  • Gardiner Street Lower

It is curious that the clockwise route crosses over the anti-clockwise route by using Bride Street around St Patrick's College, rather than following the dual carriageway.

Anti-Clockwise

N3 direction sign.
The sign at the end of Blackhall Street has a light blue background, even though it's not numbered.
  • Gardiner Street Lower
  • Gardiner Street Middle
  • Mountjoy Square West
  • Gardiner Place
  • Great Denmark Street
  • Gardiner Row
  • Parnell Square East
  • Cavendish Row
  • Parnell Street
  • Ryder's Row
  • Capel Street
  • North King Street
  • Queen Street
  • Blackhall Street
  • Blackhall Place
  • Ellis Quay
  • Arran Quay
  • Bridge Street Lower
  • Bridge Street Upper
  • High Street
  • Nicholas Street
  • Patrick Street
  • Kevin Street Upper
  • Kevin Street Lower
  • Cuffe Street
  • St Stephen's Green
  • Merrion Row
  • Merrion Street Upper
  • Merrion Square West
  • Clare Street
  • Lincoln Place
  • Westland Row
  • Pearse Street
  • Tara Street
  • Beresford Place

There is some confusion over the route at Mountjoy Square. Official publicity shows it taking the shorter route along Parnell Street, but road signs indicate that it follows the clockwise route and uses Great Denmark Street. This may have been an early change.

It's also odd that it uses the unclassified Blackhall Street rather than continuing along Queen Street to the Liffey.

Route Changes

From St Stephen's Green, the anti-clockwise route originally used Dawson Street, Nassau Street and Leinster Street South. When work on the Luas line started in 2013, the right turn at the end of Dawson Street was banned. Road signs in the area were taken down, but the route was never rectified and now had a gap in it. This was amended with a new route in 2020.

One document, dated August 2017, shows the route running Merrion Row and Merrion Street Upper (as per the new route), but then doing a lap around three sides of Merrion Square. The clockwise route is shown running along Merrion Square East as well. The sign on Merrion Street Upper was covered in patches between 2009 and 2020, so it's possible that there had been a re-think in this area.

Junction List

Image Name Classified Road(s) Grid Reference More Info Map
Dublin Inner Orbital J1.jpg J1 R105 · R802 O164346 Clockwise only. Preceded by current J40. Formerly J40.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J2.jpg J2 R801 · R802 O164345 Clockwise only. Formerly J1.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J3.jpg J3 R802 · R813 O164344 Clockwise only. Formerly J2.
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Dublin Inner Orbital former J3.jpg J4 R813 · R814 O167343 Clockwise only. Formerly J3.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J5.jpg J5 R802 · R814 O166342 Clockwise only. Formerly J4.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J6.jpg J6 R138 · R802 · R814 O166340 Succeeded by J43.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J7.jpg J7 R138 · R815 O165338 Technically replaces former J9, but at the time the road signs only mentioned the exit for Fenian Street, not this exit for Westland Row.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J8.jpg J8 Merrion Square R118 O165337 Succeeded by current J10. Formerly J10.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J9.jpg J9 R118 · R138 O164338 Anti-clockwise only. Succeeded by current J7. Formerly J7.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J10.jpg J10 Merrion Square O164335 Preceded by J8. Formerly J12.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J11.jpg J11 Merrion Square O167334 Clockwise only. Formerly J43.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J12.jpg J12 R816 O166332 Clockwise only. Unnumbered until 2020.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J13.jpg J13 R138 · R811 O163327 Clockwise only. Formerly J45. Very close to Outer Orbital J57.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J14.jpg J14 St Stephen's Green R110 · R138 O161331 Succeeded by J46. Formerly J13.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J15.jpg J15 St Stephen's Green R110 O157333 Formerly J14.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J16.jpg J16 R110 · R114 O155333 Formerly J15.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J17.jpg J17 R110 O153333 Here the two directions cross over each other. Preceded by J19. Formerly J16.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J18.jpg J18 O152336 Clockwise only. Succeeded by J20. Unnumbered until 2020.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J19.jpg J19 R110 · R137 O150334 Technically anti-clockwise only. Succeeded by current J17. Formerly J17.
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Dublin Inner Orbital former J18.jpg J20 R137 O151337 Here the two directions cross over each other. Formerly J18.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J21.jpg J21 Christchurch R108 · R137 O151338 Formerly J19.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J22.jpg J22 R108 · R810 O149339 Formerly J20.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J23.jpg J23 R108 · R148 O148341 Preceded by J45. Formerly J21.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J24.jpg J24 R148 · R804 O144342 Clockwise only. Formerly J23.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J25.jpg J25 R148 · R804 O144343 Succeeded by J45. Formerly J24.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J26.jpg J26 R804 · R805 O144346 Clockwise only. Formerly J25.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J27.jpg J27 R804 · R805 O145346 Preceded by J31. Succeeded by J25. Formerly J26.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J28.jpg J28 R804 O145347 Clockwise only. Formerly J27.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J29.jpg J29 R108 · R804 O149347 Formerly J28.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J30.jpg J30 R108 · R804 O149346 Succeeded by J27. Alternative route to J45. Formerly J29.
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File-Dublin Inner Orbital J31.jpg J31 R803 · R804 O152347 Formerly J30. Preceded by J44.
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File-Dublin Inner Orbital J32.jpg J32 R804 O152347 Clockwise only. Formerly J31. Arguably the most unassuming turning of them all: a narrow right turn off a dual carriageway.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J33.jpg J33 R803 O154347 Succeeded by J44.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J34.jpg J34 R132 · R803 O156348 Preceded by J37 or J39.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J35.jpg J35 R132 O155350
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Dublin Inner Orbital J36.jpg J36 R132 O156351
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Dublin Inner Orbital J37.jpg J37 Mountjoy Square R802 O159354 Succeeded by J34. Very close to Outer Orbital J75.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J38.jpg J38 R802 · R803 O161351 Alternative to J34.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J39.jpg J39 R802 O161350 Unnumbered until 2020.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J40.jpg J40 R105 · R802 O163346 Preceded by J40. Succeeded by J1. Formerly J39.
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Dublin Inner Orbital former J41.jpg J41 R105 · R802 O162345 Anti-clockwise only.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J42.jpg J42 R105 · R138 · R802 O162344 Anti-clockwise only.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J43.jpg J43 R802 O162342 Anti-clockwise only. Preceded by J6.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J44.jpg J44 R803 O153346 Anti-clockwise only. Preceded by J33. Succeeded by J31. Formerly J32.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J45.jpg J45 R108 · R148 O148342 Anti-clockwise only. Preceded by J25 or J30. Succeeded by J23. Formerly J22.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J46.jpg J46 St Stephen's Green R138 O162334 Anti-clockwise only. Unnumbered until 2020. Preceded by J14.
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Dublin Inner Orbital J47.jpg J47 R138 O163333 Anti-clockwise only. Added to the route in 2020. Succeeded by J10.
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Former Junctions

Image Name Classified Road(s) Grid Reference More Info Map
Dublin Inner Orbital former J5.jpg J5 R118 · R802 O162341 Anti-clockwise only. Became a mandatory right turn in 2003; number removed in 2020.
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Photo-required.png J8 R138 O160339 Anti-clockwise only. Right turn banned in 2013.
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Photo-required.png J9 R138 · R815 O165338 Replaced by current J7, but the previous signage did not acknowledge the turn into Westland Row, and instead focused on the exit for Fenian Street.
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Photo-required.png J11 R118 · R802 O160335 Anti-clockwise only. Became redundant in 2013.
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Dublin Inner Orbital Route
Crossings
Roads
R108 • R110 • R118 • R137 • R802 • R803 • R804 • R805 • R813 • R814
Places
Related Pictures
View gallery (73)
Dublin Inner Orbital J22.jpgDublin Inner Orbital J25.jpgDublin Inner Orbital J38.jpgDublin Inner Orbital J39.jpgDublin Inner Orbital former J5.jpg
Other nearby roads
Dublin
Dublin Outer Orbital Route • E01 • E20 • E104 (Dublin - Killeen) • E105 (Dublin - Rosslare) • E107 (Dublin - Cork) • E108 (Dublin - Shannon) • E118 (Old System) • E122 (Old System) • E124 (Old System) • E125 (Old System) • E126 (Old System) • EuroVelo 2 • L1 • L6 • M1 (Republic of Ireland) • M11 (Republic of Ireland) • M32 (Republic of Ireland) • M50 (Republic of Ireland) • N1 • N2 • N3 • N4 • N7 • N11 • N31 • N32 • N50 • N81 • R101 • R102 • R103 • R104 • R105 • R106 • R107 • R108 • R109 • R110 • R111 • R112 • R113 • R114 • R115 • R117 • R118 • R121 • R122 • R123 • R124 • R131 • R132 • R133 • R134 • R135 • R137 • R138 • R147 • R148 • R801 • R802 • R803 • R804 • R805 • R806 • R807 • R808 • R809 • R810 • R811 • R812 • R813 • R814 • R815 • R816 • R817 • R818 • R819 • R820 • R824 • R825 • R833 • R834 • R839 • R840 • T1 • T2 • T3 • T5 • T7 • T35 • T42 • T43 • T44 • T5A

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