|To:||Rosslare Harbour (T138123)|
|Distance:||187.8 km (116.7 miles)|
|Meets:||M8, N8, N40, R623, R624, R907, R629, R907, R634, R671, R673, R674, R911, R672, N72, R676, R677, R679, R680, R710, N9, R861, N29, R704, R700, R733, N30, R736, R735, R738, N11, R769, R730, R739, R740|
|Route outline (key)|
The N25 is the principal route across the south coast of Ireland, carrying traffic between the cities of Cork and Waterford, as well as the tourist areas of West Cork and County Kerry, to the port of Rosslare (and thus France, South Wales, and England).
Most of the road is still single carriageway, but of the wide type common in Ireland. Although the major cities of Waterford and Cork are both bypassed by motorway-standard roads, and parts of the N25 are subject – as are motorways – to a 120 km/h limit, no section of this route has been designated as a motorway.
Rosslare – Waterford
The N25 begins at the first roundabout out of the Rosslare ferry terminal complex. There's a sharp climb up the hill, and we're into Ireland proper. There's a fairly uneventful run along flat countryside here, passing nothing in particular until we get to the Wexford bypass, going around the west of the town. Halfway along, the N11 from Dublin terminates at a roundabout junction with our route, the N25 continuing left.
From here, things start to get a bit hillier as the road runs over flat countryside and farmland, passing to the south of Carrickbyrne Hill. There's then a turning for the N30 up to Enniscorthy (in case you missed the N11 at Wexford), before descending down into New Ross.
The N25 skirts the very centre of town to run along the quayside, though that is still reasonably built up itself, and does a left turn to cross over the River Barrow and finally leaves County Wexford, entering County Kilkenny. This crossing is currently congested and a source of delay, however work is expected to begin in 2015 on a €217m bypass, including what may be the longest bridge in Ireland.
After New Ross we're now back into countryside, although slightly less hilly than before, on the route towards Waterford. A large roundabout marks the start of the Waterford City Bypass, and also provides a junction with the N29 Port of Waterford access road that carries goods traffic to and from the Belview container port. The port was relocated out of the city centre in 1992, and N29, one of the shortest national primary routes in the country, was purpose built to link it to the N25.
A dual-carriageway just north of Slieverue, a dormitory town of Waterford City in County Kilkenny, marks the start of the (tolled) Waterford City Bypass. Despite the construction being of similar standard to the M8 Fermoy scheme, the Waterford Bypass remains as a non-motorway class road. There is no M25 in Ireland just yet. The 100 km/h speed limit reinforces this.
The new bypass sweeps around the northern and western edge of the city, and the Waterford suburb of Ferrybank, connecting with the N9 Dublin road at a roundabout, and with the N24 Limerick road before crossing the River Suir via a striking 475-m-long cable-stayed bridge west of the city, and finally making landfall in Waterford county.
The toll plaza is located immediately over the bridge and, as is typical for Irish toll bridges, movements in both directions are tolled.
Beyond the toll plaza, a grade-separated dumbbell junction above connects to the Waterford Outer Ring Road, R710. The last section of this road opened concurrently with the Waterford Bypass, and connects the new bypass with the southern and western parts of the city.
Waterford – Dungarvan
The sharp ascents and descents on the next 10 km or so of our route give some reason why the road hasn't been designated as a motorway. West of the village of Kilmeaden (yes, the cheese brand is named after the town, although it hasn't been produced there since 2005), the dual-carriageway bypass ends at an at-grade roundabout, and a 1-km-long wide-single-carriageway realignment connects to the old N25.
About 5 km of bends lie ahead on the original alignment before the start of the Kilmacthomas Bypass. This extraordinarily wide WS2, opened in 2001 (and evidently planned with an upgrade to D2 in mind) drops downhill as 1+2 (2 uphill against us), and at the bottom of the hill, there is an at-grade junction for the now-bypassed town of Kilmacthomas (the link road goes under the mainline), before a long climb uphill.
The wide, straight road continues for another 10 km before passing through the small village of Lemybrien. The long, straight gradual descent into Lemybrien provides ample opportunity to view the Comeragh mountains (to your right), and also to clock up some speeding fines if you're not careful!
Beyond Lemybrien, the road begins its climb again into the foothills of the Comeraghs. A climbing lane 1 km outside the village provides two lanes uphill as the road sweeps up and then right. Another downhill, and then another uphill, as we climb higher (aided by another climbing lane) towards Dungarvan.
A 60 km/h limit marks the start of the descent into Dungarvan. The road swings left and we're briefly driving south-east, before a long hairpin known locally as "The Pike" brings us back due west. Traffic coming up the hill against us is given an extra climbing lane here, although using it can be somewhat fraught.
Early stages of planning were carried out with a view to replacing the whole stretch from the start of the 60 km/h limit to a point west of Dungarvan with a new road, but no firm dates or plans have been disclosed yet.
The road here is narrow, skirting woodland on its northern side, and widens only as we near Dungarvan. About 2 km east of the town, the N72 national secondary road begins its journey to Kerry as a right turn off the main N25.
Most users of the N25 will remember Dungarvan for its roundabouts: no fewer than seven await the traveller between the eastern and western edges of this town.
Dungarvan - Midleton
With Dungarvan behind us, and safe in the knowledge that the next roundabout junction is 20 km away, a wide single carriageway leads us down before again turning right and beginning its ascent into the Knockmealdown Mountains.
In 1998, one of the opening stages of the Tour de France followed this route from Dungarvan all the way into Cork city (using the N8 to enter the city), so don't be surprised at the amount of climbing that's ahead of us.
Just before we begin this ascent, taking a left turn would lead us to the village of An Rinn (Ring, in English) in Munster's most easterly Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area). Following a law change in 2005 signs to destinations in the Gaeltacht are in Irish only. Ceann Heilbhic is Helvick Head (where there is a lifeboat station).
Another climbing lane (they're a Waterford speciality) is added as the road begins another ascent, and we get a good view of the coast for the first time since Rosslare. This section of road boasts some spectacular views of Dungarvan, Ring and Helvick Head to the right, although these are better coming the other way. A lay-by on the right halfway up this road allows those coming downhill against us to stop and take a look.
As we near the top of our ascent, we'll discover that this is actually a long wide hairpin (under 60 km/h limit - and regularly enforced!) turning left back on itself, and we find ourselves driving along the highest point of the route. If we still wish to gaze over the bay, a layby offers this opportunity, although the view is not as good as that offered on the lower section.
From here, the road is wide and runs through a relatively sparsely populated area with unremarkable scenery until we come close to the seaside town of Youghal, and for a while we find ourselves driving beside the water, with views towards Youghal Bay on the left and the forested banks of the Blackwater river estuary ahead. Youghal itself is bypassed, from a roundabout north of the town, shortly after the river crossing, to a grade-separated limited-access junction to its west. Just west of the start of this bypass, we enter County Cork, Ireland's largest by area, and the last on the N25's course.
Beyond Youghal, traffic picks up, and road quality drops somewhat – there is a 20-km stretch of variable quality, but well-aligned, road. The two un-bypassed towns of Killeagh and then Castlemartyr each provide ample opportunity for delays. Both have been earmarked for bypasses, but plans for this seem to have been terminally delayed, even when there was money to build such a scheme.
14 km beyond Castlemartyr, we find the first junction for Midleton, home of the distillery that produces the Jameson whiskey brand (and Paddy and Power's, and the eponymous Midleton whiskey). Up a short hill, and we meet our first roundabout since Youghal. Beyond this, the Midleton bypass (opened in 1986) begins, first as a low-quality dual carriageway, but improving in quality as it approaches Cork.
Midleton - Cork
After the LILO for Midleton (your last chance!), all junctions are fully grade-separated (the last cross-median junctions are being blocked), although one interesting feature of this section is an unused junction, complete with traffic lights(!). This was to have been the at-grade entrance to a major complex for the American biotech firm Amgen. Thankfully for those who use this road daily, the plans were put on hold (along with the company's other expansions in the USA), and the traffic lights never commissioned.
An overbridge dumbbell for Carrigtwohill marks the start of the 120 km/h limit for this road. Approximately 5 km later another dumbbell over the mainline marks the junction for Cóbh. One oddity here is that the traffic leaves after the overbridge, and tuns back towards the left roundabout of the dumbbell.
The junction for Little Island and Glounthaune marks the start of the D3 section of the N25. This continues up to the Dunkettle interchange, where the N25 ends. You can go straight ahead on the N8 to Cork City Centre, right on the M8 towards Fermoy and Port Laoise, or left onto the N40 Cork Southern Ring Road.
Under the old T and L system, the N25 was the T8 from Rosslare To Wexford, the T12 to just outside New Ross, the T7 to Waterford, and the T12 again to Cork.
The Waterford Bypass was officially opened at approximately 12:30pm on 19 October 2009 by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen, 10 months ahead of its proposed schedule, costing more than €500 million. The old route through Waterford is a short extension of the N29 (since the Waterford Bypass starts one roundabout further out from this), then the R711 to the Rice Bridge, an eastward extension of the R680 to Kilmeadan, and a short piece of the L4020 to rejoin the original route some distance west of Waterford.
In Dungarvan, the original line of the road ran was along what is today the R911 through the town.
The dual carriageway from Midleton to Cork was built around 1988. Consequently, it is of a lower standard than more recent High Quality Dual Carriageways, with some at-grade junctions.