|Via:||Ballina, Bangor Erris, Westport|
|Distance:||297.6 km (184.9 miles)|
|Meets:||N4, R290, R297, R298, R314, N26, R315, R312, R313, R319, R317, R311, N5, R335, R336, R344, R379, R341, R340, R344, N6, R338|
|Route outline (key)|
Belladrihid – Westport
We start our journey at the Belladrihid Interchange some 6 km south of Sligo, at the end of a sliproad from the dual-carriageway N4. The R292, which has travelled out to Strandhill from the N4 in Sligo and then back to rejoin the same road here, is also linked to this interchange – without, however, meeting the N59 directly.
The first few kilometres are the old route of the N4 through Ballysadare, but after crossing the river, it's the R290 that takes up that role from the roundabout, and the N59 heads westward. The coast is often only a few hundred metres away but, with the undulating tree-lined fields hiding it from view for much of the time, you don't notice it.
After nearly 30 km, the R297 turns off to the right, making its own poor attempt at being the coast road, while the N59 turns south west and heads for Ballina. Along the way the R298 links back to the R297 before that road returns as we cross from County Sligo into Mayo.
Ballina is a historic cathedral city, although only a small town by modern standards, and a hub for the roads of north east Mayo. From here the R294 heads east, the primary N26 south and the R314 north along the coast, while the N59 continues westwards, further from the coast than ever before. After 12 km we cross the R315 at Crossmolina, and then 18 km further on the R312 heads south. The next junction with a through route is at Bangor Erris, where the R313 continues west to Belmullet and its peninsula (which may be an island). If you were following the coast, this is the road you will use to rejoin the N59, after using the scenic R314.
From Bangor Ferris, the N59 heads south, finding the coast as the island-studded Blacksod Bay narrows towards Mulrany. Here the R319 heads west, across Achill Sound to Achill Island, which I suspect is a stunning place when the fog doesn't roll in! Meanwhile, the N59 has turned east, running almost within sight of the coast all the way to the pretty old town of Newport where the R317 and R311 join. We then head south to the equally beautiful town of Westport.
Westport – Galway
The N59 winds its way out of the surburbs of Westport, with the R335 taking the Wild Atlantic Way route. The countryside gradually gives way to mountains in the distance, as the road heads along flat heaths alongside them. There's then a descent down to Killary Harbour, where the road crosses into County Galway. It meets back up with the R335 to the right, which comes in along the north side of the harbour.
The N59 continues to the south, following Killary Harbour. At the southeast corner of the harbour in Leenaun, the R336 branches to the left, following its own circuitous route to Galway. The N59, meanwhile, continues to follow the harbour line, before branching off south towards Kylemore Lough, meeting the R344 from the left. It runs along the south of Letterfrack Water, then through countryside towards Clifden, where there's a TOTSO with the R341 in the middle of town. That road takes the long way round route via Galway Bay, while the N59 heads east.
This part the route runs near numerous lakes and mountains, trying to find a route between them. The N59 meets the R341 again, followed by the R336 crossing over and reaching Galway by a different route. It follows roughly the line of Loch Corrib, though the road itself is some distance away. The countryside gradually gives way to Galway suburbs, and the final section of the N59 is a diversion from its original route to meet the end of the N6 and the end of the road is at a crossroads with the N6 to the left. The other options are straight on for Galway Hospital, or right to meet the R336 yet again.