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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (3)
From:  Kilkenny (S523572)
To:  Port Laoise (S468960)
Via:  Durrow
Distance:  48.7 km (30.3 miles)
Meets:  N10, N78, R432, R694, R639, R434, R433, R430, R425, M7, N80
Highway Authorities

Transport Infrastructure Ireland

Traditional Counties

Kilkenny • Laois

Route outline (key)
N77 Kilkenny – Port Laoise

The N77 is a National Secondary Road linking the city of Kilkenny to Port Laoise.


Section 1: Kilkenny - Durrow

With the construction of the Kilkenny Ring Road in tandem with the M9, the N77 was diverted to the east of Kilkenny via the new road. As a result, it now starts on the N10 at the Hebron Road Roundabout, heading north around the periphery of the city as a wide S2 road with narrow hard shoulders, and a segregated cycle lane and walkway to its left. It passes close to the residential housing on the edge of the city, although this is largely screened off by pine trees. To the right, albeit also partially screened off by a fence and foliage, lies open farmland. At the Johnswell Road Roundabout, it crosses over a local road that passes from the city out into the countryside, past the Pococke Golf Course. The next section is much the same as the last, although the view of the countryside to the right is less obscured. After the New Orchard Road Roundabout, any attempts at screening the road off from its surroundings appear to have completely disappeared, as we pass right next to a new-build housing estate before passing into the countryside. The route then arcs around the north of the city, with the Kilkenny Golf Course to its left before it passes under the Glendine Road, and the bypass ends at the Castlecomer Road Roundabout. The bypass section has street lighting throughout.

At the end of the bypass, the N77 turns north via a TOTSO, to resume its original route, while the R712 has taken over the old road into the city centre. From here, destinations along the N78 - namely Castelcomer and the Dunmore Cave tourist attraction - are signed together with the N77's destination of Durrow. The road is subject to an 80km/h speed limit as it narrows down and leaves Kilkenny behind. The street lighting stays with us as far as a brown tourist sign detailing tourist attractions which are both along the N78, this time the Castlecomer Discovery Park joining Dunmore Cave on the signage. All of the implications are that you might as well leave the N77 for the N78, unless you insist on following the road through to Durrow!

The N77 twists its way through the countryside as far as Dunmore, where the speed limit drops to 60km/h as it passes through the village. The route is lined with high stone walls, which are partially overgrown, on either side as the limit returns to 80km/h. The walls are replaced by high hedges as we approach the roundabout at Hennebry's Cross. This appears to have once been a fork in the road, allowing the main route to flow straight onto the N78, the route of which (in the guise of the T6) was once the main road from Kilkenny to Dublin. Whereas the N77 looks to have executed a TOTSO to take the left fork, it now turns left more abruptly at the roundabout, while the N78 to Castlecomer continues straight ahead.

The route exits the roundabout by immediately making a fairly sharp turn to the right to regain its earlier alignment, as as we have passed the exit for the tourist attractions we are now informed that Port Laoise (43km), Durrow (19km) and Ballyragget (11km) lie ahead. We are also warned that the road beyond this point is twisty; it turns out also to be narrower than before. It snakes its way towards the Dinin River, which is crossed by an old and fairly steep humpback bridge. Once it has crossed the river, the N77 pursues a rather more straight course through the countryside, passing the Conahy Shamrocks GAA ground along the way. Our course converges imperceptibly with the River Nore as we approach Ballyragget.

The N77 turns right in the town square, Ballyragget

We draw close to the town accompanied by hard shoulders which vary in width before disappearing again once we have entered the built-up area. The road passes through the residential area along a straight section which kinks to the right before the left upon arrival in the town centre. After passing a Supervalu supermarket to the left we encounter a pedestrian crossing before the road bends quite sharply to the left. At this point, are two T-junctions on the outside of the bend; the first of these takes a narrow road up to the church, while the second sets off the R432, which zigzags its way eastwards to Castlecomer. Then we pass through the large, triangular town square, which hosts several pubs and restaurants. From the wide end of the triangle, the R432 offers us an alternative route (via the R430) to Abbeyleix, through which the N77 will pass towards the end of its itinterary.

The route heads west on its way out of the town, passing a long and very attractive old stone bridge across the River Nore, which nowsdays takes one-way traffic towards the the R694. It seems likely that this formed the original road between Ballyragget and Durrow, as we cross the river on a much more modern bridge which curves its way across the Nore. After the bridge, the R694 joins us, having come up from Freshford. The N77 becomes much wider than before, as it gains hard shoulders while running in close proximity to the river. as far as the large Glanbia food processing plant. The road then flirts on and off with the River Nore - which forms the boundary between County Kilkenny and County Laois - as far as Knocknatrina Wood. By the time we reach the wood, we have crossed the county border, which deviates from the course of the river just south of the wood, which the road similarly avoids by curving to the south and then to the west of the trees. Upon arrival at Durrow, the road narrows reluctantly as it enters the 60km/h and then 50km/h speed limits, first passing modern residential housing set back from the carriageway before encountering a narrow section where much older housing is separated from the traffic only by pavements on either side. There is a triangle in the town centre, where the N77 passes up the eastern side towards its erstwhile terminus on the N8 (now the R639).

Section 2: Durrow - Port Laoise

With the opening of the M8, the N8 ceased to pass through Durrow. Consequently, the N77 was extended northwards from its former terminus along the route of what was once the main road between Dublin and Cork. The N77 originally met the N8 in The Square, the large open space in the centre of Durrow. The road splits to pass either side of a wide grass-covered traffic island where it used to terminate, but due to its extension it now passes through a TOTSO from which the R639 follows the former route of the N8 towards Cork. The centre of Durrow is spacious and attractive, featuring a large green open space and a range of interesting buildings, which house several pubs, cafés, restaurants and a hotel; the church is located on the opposite side of the square from which the N77 arrives.

It is no surprise that the N77 is much wider as heads out of Durrow across the Erkina River, where again we do so on a modern bridge located alongside an old stone bridge which once carried the traffic on the main route. After the bridges, the R434 heads west towards Borris-in-Ossory and Roscrea. Our route heads in a straight line between the Erkina River and the River Nore, curving to the right as crosses the latter with no abandoned bridges in sight. We pass through the trees that line the banks of the Nore on both sides of the river, before curving to the left again as we pass the brown-signed turning for the Laoise Heritage Trail and Heywood Gardens at Castlewood Cross.

The road heads north shadowing the line of the much more twisty River Nore, which lies to the left, while we pass the large area known as Killamuckl Bog, to our right. For the most part, however, as see only the pine trees flanking the road. The N77 narrows down to lose its wide hard shoulders as the speed limit drops to 50km/h and we enter Abbeyleix. The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel sprawls along the right-hand side of the road before we arrive within the residential reaches of the town. The ornamental Fountain of the Third Viscount De Vesci lies to the left immediately before the R433 - from Rathdowney and Ballcolla - joins us along the other prong of a fork converging here. We enter the centre of Abbeyleix, an attractive town, along a tree-lined avenue which widens to accommodate parking along Main Street. A crossroads brings the R430 across our path, heading to Carlow on the right (or back along the alternative route to Ballyragget via the R432), or to Mountrath on the left. This is by no means the end of the town however, for Abbeyleix is a linear town and we pass by a range of small businesses before a fork sees the R425 take the right prong towards Port Laoise via Ballyroan, while the N77 takes a more direct and unimpeded course towards Port Laoise from the left prong.

The N77 eventually returns to the countryside, with some persistent outlying houses eventually giving way to the fields. The route is straight with the occasional sweeping curve, although we have to wait several kilometres before the road gains the hard shoulders that we would expect of a carriageway formerly occupied by the N8. The route passes between the Coolnamona and Cashel Bogs, where the countryside is completely flat. After a long stretch of relatively uneventful progress, the road approaches its interchange with the M7 at Junction 17. This is a conventional roundabout interchange located close to Portlaoise Rugby Club, from which we can head south-west to Limerick or north-east to Dublin.

We head into Port Laoise along Abbeyleix Road, which was numbered as the R922 after the N8 was removed from the town centre due to the opening of the M7, but before the N77 was extended northwards after the N8 shifted completely upon the opening of the M8. The N77 follows what was once the opening stretch of the N8 past Portlaoise Golf Club to its right, and O'Moore Park and the Portlaoise GAA ground to its left, passing over one small roundabout on its way to the town centre. Both the road and its pavements are wide as it heads through the final residential district before ending at the Abbeyleix Road Roundabout, from which the N80 heads south-east towards Carlow, and north towards Tullamore in the Irish midlands.


The N77 originally began on the N10 near the railway station in the centre of Kilkenny. It headed north from the city centre along Castlecomer Road; that route is now numbered as an extension of the R712.

Prior to the opening of the M8 in May 2010 on a new alignment passing some 7 kilometres to the west of Durrow, the N77 terminated on the old N8 at The Square in the town centre. The opening of the motorway led to the N77 taking over the old route of the N8 from Durrow to Port Laoise, where it connects with the M7 before terminating on the N80 in the town centre.

Related Pictures
View gallery (3)
Corner of the town square, Ballyragget, Co. Kilkenny - Geograph - 442569.jpgM7 Portlaoise bypass - Geograph - 1794379.jpgUntitled.jpg
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