|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||116.1 km (72.1 miles)|
|Meets:||M9, N9, R698, R676, R697, R696, R885, R706, N76, R707, R689, R688, R687, R640, R639, M8, R640, R663, R906, N74, R497, R664, R515, R507, R505, R513, M7, R527|
The N24 is the main road from Waterford to Limerick, and - by extension - one of the key routes from Rosslare Europort to the West Coast. Considering that it connects two of Ireland's major cities, as well as a number of sizeable towns in between, it is perhaps surprising that it remains relatively underdeveloped. Although it begins just outside the city of Waterford, it never quite makes it into the county of the same name; instead, it passes across Counties Kilkenny, Tipperary, and Limerick.
The N24 starts on the N9 / M9 at the Grannagh Roundabout (M9 Junction 12), just a short distance from the N25 Waterford City Bypass. It heads north-west along the course of the River Suir to Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel, and Cahir, before adopting the course of the River Ara to Tipperary. Thereafter, it progressively straightens out as it heads cross-country towards Limerick, ending on the M7 at Junction 29, to the south of the city. Throughout its length, the N24 runs quite close to the route of the Waterford-to-Limerick railway.
Section 1: Waterford - Clonmel
Since the completion of the M9, and the consequent alteration of the course of the N9 into Waterford, the N24 has begun its itinerary a short distance away from its original starting point close to where the Black Water tributary flows into the River Suir. It enjoys a close relationship with the Suir for more than half its length, and the road's close proximity to the river has a more than a little influence upon its character. It leaves the Quarry Roundabout, from which the M9 stretches north towards Kilkenny bejore joining the M7 for Dublin, and from which the short N9 Quarry Link Road connects to the N25 Waterford City Bypass, as a wide S2 with hard shoulders. Its final destination of Limerick is signposted from the start, at a distance of 122 kilometres.
The road joins its original course very quickly, as the local road which occupies the N24's original course joins us at a T-junction to the left. We pass what remains of one of Ireland's many ruined castles and pass right along the northern bank of the Suir before a long curve to the right takes us away from the water. The river marks the boundary between County Kilkenny and County Waterford, and although the road never quite makes it into Waterford, we will nonetheless be seeing plenty more of the river.
As the N24 strikes out across the countryside, we pass a small industrial complex before occasional houses begin to align the route. We pass a number of local access roads and several farms on our way to Mooncoin. The speed limit, which thus far has been an interrupted 100km\h, drops to 80km\h well before we reach the village, and the road narrows to lose its hard shoulders before the limit drops again to 50km\h. Mooncoin itself is a tidy but nondescript settlement, and we are soon into the country again. We regain our hard shoulders and, eventually, the 100km/h speed limit as the road sets itself on course to reconverge with the River Suir. As we meet the river again (without actually seeing very much of it!), the road widens to take on an overtaking lane in our direction, with a wire barrier separating us from the traffic flowing the other way; the road remains wide and the barrier remains in place for several kilometres, as the overtaking lane alternates between our side of the road and that of the oncoming traffic. It is in this form that the N24 carries us swiftly past Fiddown and Piltown, bypassing the original route of the N24 through those villages.
The road narrows down in time to cross the Lingaun River on an old stone bridge, carrying us over the border from County Kilkenny into County Tipperary. Soon afterwards, with the carriageway sporting a hatched area down the middle, we enter the pleasant town of Carrick-on-Sur. Upon entering the town, we cross a roundabout serving Comeragh College, before passing an industrial estate and filling station on our way towards the town centre. A mini-roundabout provides access to the residential housing through which we now pass. The road retains its central hatching and occasional filter lanes until we pass a secondary school to our left, where it narrows to duck under the Waterford-Limerick railway. We pass near to the railway station without actually seeing it, and the road widens again before passing a park and arriving at a crossroads. From here the R676 heads south to cross the river to climb out of the valley towards the mountains, while the R697 stretches north all the way to Kilkenny. There is an imposing Garda station on the crossroads. The N24 then heads through the town, passing Fair Green and a selection of local businesses before turning left quite abruptly at a mini-roundabout; to carry straight on would take us onto the R696, which meets the N76 several miles north of the town, offering a second route to Kilkenny. Our left turn takes us through a residential district to a second mini-roundabout, where this time we must turn right to remain on the N24; the road to the left is the R885, which is mostly one-way, and brings traffic up from the R676 to join us. We pass the old post office, the Clareen Well ("a source of water to the town for centuries", according to a plaque on the wall), and a large park which at this point is all that separates the road from the river. There is a Lidl supermarket to the right as we begin to leave Carrick-on-Suir behind.
The N24 is straight and lined with trees as it makes its way directly towards Clonmel, pursuing its course with the River Suir to the left and the Waterford-Limerick railway to the right. There are no hard shoulders, and the trees are close enough to hang over the carriageway, but the road nonetheless has a 100km/h speed limit. After a while we break out into the open, and we get several glimpses of both the river and railway. The road continues like this for a kilometre or so, before turning away from the former to pass beneath the latter. The road widens out for a time as it races alongside the railway, and they swap position once again - the cars passing over the trains this time - before entering Kilsheelan. The route returns to the banks of the Suir again as it runs through this colourful village, leaving it again only after returning the countryside.
Some 7 kilometres short of Clonmel, the N76 joins us at the Kilheffernan Roundabout, bringing traffic from Kilkenny. All three arms of the roundabout have a brief central reservation separating the traffic flows, and filter lanes upon approaching the "Yield" signs. After the roundabout, the N24 widens again and regains its hard shoulders as we make swift progress - taking a more direct line than both the river and the railway, into Clonmel.
Section 2: Clonmel - Tipperary
As the N24 enters Clonmel, the county town of Tipperary, we are greeted by the Bulmers Brewery, as indicated by the presence of a great many large brown silos to the side of the road. This is accessed from the Ferryhouse Roundabout, which also sends a local road over the River Suir to meet the R680. Our road now heads into Clonmel through its suburbs, until we are presented with a choice at the Moangarrif Roundabout; here the original route of the N24 heads towards the town centre along Davis Street, now classified as the R707, while the present-day N24 bears right onto the Frank Drohan Road, which constitutes a snaky suburban bypass of the town. There are various industry units on either side of the otherwise leafy bypass, which is subject to a 60km/h speed limit. The road curves to the left as it passes under the railway once again and flanks the southern edge of Clonmel Racecourse. The Carrigeen Roundabout serves the Carrigeen Business Park to the right and a residential district to the left, while a second roundabout shortly afterwards provides access to a Tesco Extra. About half way between this roundabout the next, the carriageway acquires a central reservation, although the road continues to have only one lane in each direction. The Fethard Road Roundabout sees the R689 leave the town, bound (rather predictably) for Fethard. The central reservation disappears again as we head towards the Cashel Road Roundabout, which carries the R688 across our path from the town centre (just as predictably) towards Cashel. This is followed by the longest and last stretch of the Clonmel bypass, which possesses a separate cycle path and passes through a staggered crossroads serving the local housing estates, before hugging up the railway line to its end. At the Cahir Road Roundabout, we rejoin the R707 which has followed the old route of the N24 through the town centre.
We now join the Cahir Road, which takes the N24 away from both the river and the railway on its way to the town of that name. Although more winding than the earlier sections of the route, the road pursues a more direct course than either the river or the railway between Clonmel and Cahir. Most of it is wide with hard shoulders, and there are ample hatched areas with turning filters to cater for the side roads. At Barne, the R687 leaves us at a T-junction to the right, heading to New Inn. The road then loses and partially regains its shoulders as it proceeds past several farms. At the Knockagh Roundabout, its course has been considerably realigned to cater for the Cahir Bypass, which was constructed in conjunction with the M8 linking Dublin and Cork.
The single-carriageway bypass carries the N24 to the north of Cahir, along a stretch of S2+1 on which the overtaking lanes alternate on either side of the central wire barrier. This meets the M8 at Junction 10, a dumbbell interchange, off which it cannons into a confusing arrangement whereby it doubles back and connects with the former N8 (now numbered R639), the route of which it adopts to pass beneath itself and shadow the motorway across the River Suir. Amid the confusion, the R670 departs from the road a short distance from the dumbbell to head into the town centre. The N24 then rejoins its former route (now numbered R640) as it exits Cahir at the Tipperary Road Roundabout. It is a good job that neither the railway nor the motorway are directly involved in all this, because the N24 passes over the railway immediately before the roundabout, and then passes promptly under the motorway as it sets its course for Tipperary.
Is it heads north-west through the wooded and hilly surroundings, the N24 passes through an S-bend under an 80km/h speed limit before passing over the railway again. At this point, it bids farewell to the River Suir for the last time, taking up the course of the River Ara in its stead. The road is narrower than before, without hard shoulders as it continues to run in close proximity to the railway towards Tipperary. Before Bansha, we cross the railway yet again and the speed limit drops to 50km/h as we pass through the village. With long rows of houses close up against the road, we pass the church before the road widens in the heart of the village. Soon enough we are back into the country, and the road twists and turns its way through Bansha Wood towards Tipperary. It cross both the River Ara, and the railway once more, before entering the town.
Section 3: Tipperary - Limerick
The N24 enters Tipperary by passing through residential suburbs before meeting the N74 at a mini-roundabout at the eastern edge of the town centre. We must turn left here to continue on the route, passing through a cluster of brightly-decorated pubs huddled up at the roadside. The Lidl supermarket and its car park provide a sudden and rare open space as we proceed uphill along Main Street through the narrow town centre. The buildings become more grand in style and step back a little as the road levels out. At a crossroads right in the middle of the town, the R497 departs for the hills to the north and eventually reaches Nenagh, while the R664 heads towards the forested ridge that flanks Tipperary to the south. A tight turning at the end of Main Street sends the R515 off ahead towards Kilmallock, while the N24 bears right to head out of town along Limerick Road.
On the edge of the town we pass a Tesco Superstore before the Bohercrow Roundabout provides access to a retail park. The N24 bridges the railway again and gains an 80km/h speed limit as it heads directly for the Tipperary Racecourse. It crosses the Dublin-Cork railway near the racecourse and the Ballykisteen Golf and Country Club, just a short distance from that railway's junction with the Waterford-Limerick line. The road crosses over from County Tipperary into County Limerick before passing through the village of Oola. Here the route gets very familiar with railway line, frequently hugging up against it and crisscrossing it several times during the next few kilometres. The R507 heads north from a crossroads after Oola, bound for Doon, while a local road disappears into the countryside to the south. The R505 similarly heads north from a crossroads shared with a local southbound local road a few kilometres later, similarly destined for Doon. From Beary's Cross, the R513 heads south to Herbertstown. By this point the road has widened out to regain hard shoulders, and proceeds in an almost completely straight line over its last 6 or 7 kilometres towards Limerick.
As we draw close to the N24's final destination, we pass the Killonan substation amid a tangle of power cables that converge on the spot. At an unassuming roundabout shortly before the road's terminus, a turning to the left leads onto the Old Ballysimon Road, which follows the original course of the N24 into Limerick city centre. As at its beginning, the road's end has been reconfigured along with the construction of a motorway, in this case the M7. The final stretch consequently incorporates a short dual-carriageway - the only real section of such road along the whole route - albeit one subject to a 60km/h limit, and which quickly loses its central reservation to become an S4. It is in this form that the N24 approaches the M7's Junction 29, although it regains a narrow central reservation in time to pass across the junction itself. The route loses its National Primary Road status beyond the junction, from which you can continue straight ahead in to Limerick. Alternatively, you turn left to head for the West Coast, or right for the Irish midlands and Dublin.
And, shortly before its end, the N24 cannot resist the temptation to cross over the Waterford-Limerick railway, one last time.
Historically, the N24 began at a fork on the N9, just after its crossing of the Black Water tributary to the River Suir, to the north-west of Waterford city centre. It then ran along the northern bank of the Suir for a short distance, before heading inland along its modern-day course; that route is now the L7526.
The Piltown/Fiddown Bypass scheme has enabled the N24 to avoid the twisty old section of the route that passed through the centres of both of those villages. The old road is now numbered L3433 and L3432 at each end, while the R698 has taken over the middle section that passed between the two villages.
At Clonmel, the road has been diverted to follow a suburban bypass to the north of the town, having originally followed what is now the R707 through the centre. At Cahir, the rather convoluted bypass can be avoided by following the R640, which occupies the old route of the N24 through the town.
At its end, the completion of the M7 meant that the original route of the N24 into Limerick city centre was cut back to its present terminus at Staunton. Before the coming of the motorway, it proceeded into the city along Ballysimon Road, ending where it met the old N20 - which has been similarly curtailed - at Newtown Mahon, near the Limerick Courthouse; that route is now the R527.