|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Annesley Bridge Road, Dublin 3 (O174362)|
|To:||Bolton Street, Dublin 1 (O153348)|
|Via:||Ballybough Road, Parnell Street|
|Distance:||2.8 km (1.7 miles)|
|Meets:||R105, R131, R101, R802, R804|
The R803 is an important route out towards the Fairview area of Dublin from its city centre.
Near the start of the route, Parnell Street (formerly Great Britain Street) is an excellent example of a Dublin city centre dual carriageway. It was a product of both the Wide Streets Commission, and of more recent plans to create a relief road around the western side of the city.
The little dog-leg around Ryder's Row to get to the R804 gives an idea that things weren't completed as they were supposed to be. The dual carriageway was meant to continue west and join North King Street, with the poor quality buildings here being demolished and replaced. This was a phase 2 project that never happened.
Even in the final plans, there would have been a few signalised junctions on Parnell Street. Even so, it was supposed to be a major feat of engineering. At Parnell Square, the westbound carriageway would have continued as it does, but the eastbound carriageway would have tunnelled under the Rotunda Hospital. This rare example of sensitivity doesn't change the fact that two great big sliproads would have demolished a number of buildings on Parnell Square, and most of the buildings in the so-called "Chinatown" district of Parnell Street.
The dual carriageway that was built was narrowed a little to accommodate the Luas in 2017. The eastern ("Chinatown") section has a very wide, single carriageway street, giving some indication what the rest of the road would have looked like until the 1970s. It is often claimed that distinctive districts of cities emerge when an area is threatened with demolition, and this may be true for Dublin's "Chinatown" too.
After Gardiner Street, the big dreams emerge again. The R803 opens out to a large dual carriageway known as Summerhill (historically 'Summer's Hill').
This is another area which is flanked by less-than-attractive 1970s architecture, and a bus depot. Upgrading it was a priority because the land was cheap, and because we are approaching what was supposed to be the Royal Canal Motorway. The R803 begins to narrow back down to WS2 as it crosses North Circular Road.
As the R803 crosses the Royal Canal on Clarke's Bridge, it passes through an area which would have been demolished to create a large motorway junction. Two new motorways would have merged somewhere near Croke Park, and traffic on the R803 would have had the option of joining the motorway to go north, or following a sliproad to Dorset Street.
Ballybough Road continues under the railway bridge, and over the Tolka on Luke Kelly Bridge, into an area known as Fairview Strand. The road ends in Fairview at a junction with the R105 known as Edge's Corner.
While it's possible to drive the R803 westbound throughout, there are two gaps in the eastbound carriageway. The southbound section of King's Inn's Street, and the longer route around Parnell Square, are not designated R803. Arguably, through traffic wouldn't consider a route that circuitous anyway.