Star.pngStar.pngStar grey.pngStar grey.pngStar grey.png


From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (7)
From:  Newtownbalregan (M1 J17) (J022088)
To:  Castleblayney (H830180)
Via:  Cullaville (NI)
Distance:  18.1 km (11.2 miles)
Meets:  M1, R934, A37, N2, R938
Grid References
1st border crossing: H921115
2nd border crossing: H875142
Highway Authorities

Transport Infrastructure Ireland

Traditional Counties

Louth • Monaghan

Route outline (key)
N53 M1 J17 – Rassan
(A37) Rassan – Ballynacarry Bridge
N53 Ballynacarry Bridge – Castleblayney
The N53 heading westwards

The N53 is a national secondary road providing access between the M1 at Dundalk and the N2 at Castleblayney, and thence to Monaghan. The route is fairly straight and uneventful, with the exception of a 5.4-km stretch inside Northern Ireland through Cullaville, where the road is known as the A37, Concession Road.


Section 1: Dundalk to Cullaville

The N53 near Annaghvacky

The N53 starts at junction 17 on the M1 just outside Dundalk. The stretch of road immediately after leaving the interchange is rather narrow. Before long the road opens up, gaining hard shoulders. The road ahead runs nearly entirely straight across the County Louth countryside, heading westwards. The road is a modern S2, with provisions for non-motorised users. Slight bends are present where part the road has been realigned. Soon the unusually named Hackballs Cross is reached. Local legend states that the junction's name came from an 18th century landowner who hacked thieves disturbing his property to death.

The standard of the road drops noticeably after Hackballs Cross. The road becomes narrower and contains many dips and crests, albeit still maintaining a straight alignment. The speed limit reduces through the small village of Annaghvacky, where the L3117 branches on the right towards Crossmaglen, becoming the C227 at the border. A route proposal to bypass this unimproved section has been approved in 2023

The N53 also heads towards the border. Not long after Annaghvacky the road regains hard shoulders and becomes flatter. There is a slight bend to the northwest just before the border is reached and the N53 becomes the A37. This is also the triple point of counties, Louth, Armagh and Monaghan.

Section 2: Cullaville to Castleblayney

Approaching Castleblayney

The N53 resumes at Ballinacarry Bridge entering County Monaghan, taking over from the A37. The bridge itself is rather narrow, although the road opens up immediately after crossing it. The N53 is noticeably less straight in County Monaghan than in County Louth, although still without any major bends. The road is now running north-west towards Castleblayney. A small lake is visible beside this stretch of the road, as is rather common in Monaghan. A golf course is passed as the road reaches the outskirts of Castleblayney, where a T-junction with the former N2 is reached.

The N53 TOTSOs here, running south along the former N2. Soon the modern N2 bypass of the town is reached, and the N53 terminates at a roundabout here.


The road from Dundalk to Castleblayney has been around since at least the 18th century, as a coaching route. The Irish Boundary Commission did not want to put South County Armagh in Northern Ireland as most of the people there were Catholics and wanted to join the Irish Free State, rather than remain in the UK. This would have put all of the road in what is now the Republic of Ireland. However, this never happened and hence the road passed through the border twice as it does today.

What is now the N53 was originally designated as the T22. The old N53 east of the M1 into Dundalk is now the R934, while the end in Castleblayney has gained a short extension over the former N2 to meet the town's bypass. In recent years, parts of the road have been upgraded in County Louth, replacing the narrow and sometimes winding sections between Newtownbalregan and Hackballs Cross. The majority of the road remains on its original alignment.

Unlike other T roads which were Approved Roads, the T22 did not have any custom points at the border, and was considered a "Concession Road", so anyone in the Republic could drive from Dundalk to Castleblayney without having to stop for customs. Residents of Northern Ireland were not legally allowed to use the road for this purposes, but many did. One echo of this concession road status remains in that the A37 is exempt from the UK HGV levy and another is the almost complete lack of signposts in Cullaville at the junction between two classified roads.


Related Pictures
View gallery (7)
Irish road - Flickr - 5546956309.jpgN53-2015-before-reconstruction.jpgN2 approaching the Castleblaney bypass - Coppermine - 21973.JPGThe N53 between Annaghvacky and Hackballs Cross - Geograph - 3080716.jpgN53 at Concra - Geograph - 3202412.jpg
Other nearby roads
A1 (Northern Ireland) • A29 (Northern Ireland) • A37 (Cullaville) • E01 • E104 (Dublin - Killeen) • E118 (Old System) • E126 (Old System) • M1 (Republic of Ireland) • N1 • N52 • R132 • R171 • R172 • R173 • R177 • R178 • R215 • R934 • T1 • T9 • T22 • T23 • T24 • T62
National Roads and Motorways of Ireland
MotorwaysM1 • M2 • M3 • M4 • M6 • M7 • M8 • M9 • M10 • M11 • M12 • M13 • M14 • M15 • M16 • M17 • M18 • M20 • M21 • M25 • M28 • M32 • M40 • M50
National PrimaryN1 • N2 • N3 • N4 • N5 • N6 • N7 • N8 • N9 • N10 • N11 • N12 • N13 • N14 • N15 • N16 • N17 • N18 • N19 • N20 • N21 • N22 • N23 • N24 • N25 • N26 • N27 • N28 • N29 • N30 • N31 • N32 • N33 • N40 • N50
National SecondaryN51 • N52 • N53 • N54 • N55 • N56 • N57 • N58 • N59 • N60 • N61 • N62 • N63 • N64 • N65 • N66 • N67 • N68 • N69 • N70 • N71 • N72 • N73 • N74 • N75 • N76 • N77 • N78 • N79 • N80 • N81 • N82 • N83 • N84 • N85 • N86 • N87

SABRE - The Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts
Discuss - Digest - Discover - Help