|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Olivers Cross (W579998)|
|Distance:||34.3 km (21.3 miles)|
|Meets:||N72, R522, R512, R639, R665, R513, R639, M8|
The N73 commences its short run across the northern edge of County Cork, Ireland's largest and southernmost county, a short distance to the east of Mallow. It forks off the much longer N72 to climb gently out of the Blackwater Valley across open farmland. As an S2 road without the hard shoulders that often form a feature of such routes in Ireland, the N73 is relatively straight for the first few kilometres of its itinerary. As the landscape levels out, it passes Munster Bovine, a cattle-breeding and herd management specialist, before cutting its way through the gently undulating terrain. The route is aligned by a combination of hedgerows and low stone walls, punctuated by occasional trees and the odd dwelling. A number of small local roads also lead off into the surrounding countryside.
As the road passes through the thinly-scattered collection of rural buildings that constitute Clashnabrook, the speed limit drops from 100 km/h to 80 km/h. It narrows also as it gently winds its way along. After a few kilometres it passes St Crannacht's Church on the right, which possesses an enormous car park even though it appears to be in the middle of nowhere. After more gentle twists and turns, and after passing over a couple of small stone bridges, we pass through Skenakilla Cross Roads. A number of country lanes radiate out from the N73 at this point, which is in close proximity to a number of holiday homes and the newly constructed Ballygown National School. The speed limit returns to 100km/h as we head away from Skenakilla, and the road straightens out. The road then winds along through very pleasing countryside for some distance.
After the Wallstown Cross Roads - from which a minor road leads to Wallstown Castle - the N73 passes over the River Awbeg via a modern stone bridge. This leads onto a long uphill straight, at the top of which is a T-junction to the left, from which the R522 heads westwards towards the Doneraile Wildlife Park and Buttevant. The N73 then curves in a wide arc to towards the east, passing a B&B and the Ballyhoura Mountains before descending towards the village of Farahy. As it does so, it widens rather surprisingly to accommodate a climbing lane in the opposite direction. Through the village itself, the road crosses the Farahy River, which is also bridged by a separated footpath for pedestrians adjacent to the road. Once clear of Farahy, the road climbs again, and widens (although not enough to accommodate another climbing lane) until it reaches Kildorrery.
The village of Kildorrery is located on a historic crossroads which today is occupied by the N73 and the R512, which crosses our route here on its own itinerary towards Kilmallock to the north, and the mountains that traverse the boundary between Counties Cork and Limerick. The crossroads is surrounded by brightly-painted pubs and houses. Once clear of the village, the road makes a long and gradual descent away from the village, where again there is a climbing lane in the opposite direction. Where it crosses the River Funshion, it takes on marked out hard shoulders solely for the duration of the bridge. The road then undulates as it makes it way in a straight line over several kilometres, curving only subtly towards the right before arriving at Mitchelstown.
Until the construction of the M8, the N73 would have ended on the outskirts of the town, where the N8's western bypass (now numbered R639) met it at a five-arm roundabout. Since the opening of the motorway, however, the N73 has been extended to take over part of the former N8's route, and consequently it turns abruptly to the north at a five-arm roundabout which also accommodates the Kerrygold butter packing facility. Another long descent - yet again with a climbing lane favouring the oncoming traffic traffic, before at last switching to provide the first such lane on the route that favours traffic travelling in our direction - takes the road in a giant curve to the north of Mitchelstown. It narrows to become a modern S2 with narrow hard shoulders before reaching another five-arm roundabout, where the R513 crosses our path between Mitchelstown and the north, where it almost stretches as far as Limerick. There is also a hotel and an Aldi distribution centre located on this roundabout. The N73 continue on a north-easterly course along what would once have been the N8, adorned with hard shoulders until another climbing lane - once again in the opposite direction - widens the road. The road narrows for a kilometre or so before taking on yet another climbing lane against our direction, before resorting to central hatchings to protect a number of properties aligning the last few hundred metres of the route before the road's terminus on the M9. Shortly before the end, the N73 turns right at a roundabout, the road ahead being again the former N8 now numbered as R639. The last stretch of the N73 leads almost immediately to a dumbbell junction built over the motorway, offering onward travel towards Dublin to the north, Cork to the south, or onto an short-lived local access road directly ahead.
The original itinerary of the N73 saw the road enter Mitchelstown along Kildorrery Road, kinking around the former church that is now the Saint George's Arts and Heritage Centre, and running down Church Street to end at the crossroads in the centre of the town on what was historically the N8. Today this section of the former N73 is numbered as an extension of the R665.