|Location Map ( geo)|
|Via:||Kells, Mullingar, Birr|
|Distance:||177.7 km (110.4 miles)|
|Meets:||N2, N3, N51, N4, M6, N80, N62, N65, M7|
|Route outline (key)|
The N52 is a cross-country route connecting northeast to southwest Ireland.
From Ardee, the road heads first to Kells, which it skirts by means of a surprisingly high quality bypass. It then goes on to Mullingar, where it briefly multiplexes with the N4, and proceeds to the M6 at Tyrrellspass. It multiplexes with the motorway from junctions 4 to 5, then leaves south to run around Tullamore on the bypass and on through Birr and Borrisokane, ending on the M7 at Nenagh.
The N52 originally started at Dundalk, passing along Anne Street and the Ardee Road, this section is now the R171 and the L3168. In January 2001 the N52 ended at Jct 14 of the M1, then the terminus of the M1, connecting to the town by the new link road to that junction. The N52 subsequently took over this link road and the eastern bypass (former N1) when the M1 bypass opened in 2005. However, the section north of Ardee was downgraded in 2012, to encourage through traffic to use the alternative and much superior route via the M1 and N33. This section is now officially the R215, as indicated in Transport Infrastructure Ireland mapping; however, as of 2020 directional signage had still not been changed, including newly erected signage, and the section continues to be shown as N52 "on the ground". Louth County Council continues to refer Ardee-Dundalk road as the N52 in official documents.
The route as far as Tullamore had earlier been part of the T9 Dundalk - Cork trunk road. Between Mullingar and Tyrellspass, the N52 runs on a completely different alignment from that of the original route. The old road is, in places, the R400, the L1122, and the R389. It ended in the centre of Nenagh on what was the N7 (now the R445).
The Nenagh bypass section opened in 2001, the Mullingar bypass in 2006 and the Tullamore bypass in 2009. The N52 was multiplexed with the M6 to avoid Kilbeggan and bypass Tyrrellspass when this route opened in 2007. The remaining section between the Tyrrellspass and Mullingar bypasses was reliagned to an equivalent standard in 2013.
Multiple minor schemes have taken place between Mullingar and Delvin in the 2010s, with much of the road now on a new corridor avoiding private accesses; and the final section expected to be completed in 2020. The road from Devlin to Kells is still of extremely poor quality throughout.
A bypass of Ardee, connecting to the N2 north of Ardee, is awaiting further public consultation due to local complaints about severance.
The section of road between the Tullamore Bypass and Kilbeggan is to be upgraded to Type 2 Dual Carriageway, with detailed design underway as of December 2019.