Odd Irish Border Road

On July 4, 2010 · 3 Comments

New reader Ian, an Irish expat living in California, has an interest in border anomalies. He pointed out an instance in his native Ireland: the most direct road corridor between two points crosses an international border multiple times in the space of just a few miles. I am aware of a similar condition in the United States involving Kentucky and West Virginia where a road crosses the border four times in two miles, but up until now I wasn’t familiar with an instance of this magnitude involving sovereign nations.

Imagine a leisurely drive between Armagh in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and Butlersbridge in County Cavan, Republic of Ireland. This journey from the United Kingdom to the Republic of Ireland would last about an hour and cover about forty miles through the countryside.

It all seems pretty basic and logically it would appear to involve the crossing of a single international border, correct? Well, not exactly. That could be done if necessary — and historically that’s been an issue — but it’s not the most efficient route.



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Crossing 1. Our fictional journey departs the UK from Armagh on the A3, Monaghan Road, and crosses into Ireland about eleven miles later where it becomes the N12. That’s not remarkable in its own right but it’s the first international crossing visible on the map as one travels south from Armagh so let’s make a note of it and start our tally here.

Then the really crazy stuff begins to happen.



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The drive lasts for another 17 miles or so through Ireland from the N12 to the N54, then:

  • Crossing 2. It crosses into the UK for 2 miles on the A3;
  • Crossing 3. And then clips an area of Ireland that’s an almost exclave called the Drummully Polyp (featured on the Strange Maps blog) on the N54 for another couple of miles;
  • Crossing 4. To once again enter the UK on the A3 for a couple more miles; and
  • Crossing 5. Finally cross back into Ireland for the last time on the N54.

There we have it. Five international border crossings have been encountered on our short virtual journey, and four of them within a distance of less than seven miles. Ian mentioned that a driver would hardly notice the numerous crossings except for the change in road signage. That would have been a completely different situation, he mentioned, during the Troubles. Back then the border would have been a lot more obvious because it would have been crawling with soldiers and checkpoints.

There might be better examples but I’m unaware of them. I’m sure the dedicated readers of the Twelve Mile Circle will submit comments if there are similar situations elsewhere.

On July 4, 2010 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Odd Irish Border Road”

  1. Greg says:

    Well, the trip from Noord-Bosvenheide, Belgium, to Alphen, the Netherlands, involves no less than 11 border crossings by my count (and maybe 13 or more depending on Google’s map accuracy), but I’m cheating by including Baarle. The directions only indicate 7 crossings though.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Noord-Bosvenheide+Ravels,+Antwerp,+Flemish+Region,+Belgium&daddr=51.399455,4.937135+to:alphen&hl=en&geocode=FYNJEAMd5lVLACkzWd1ZRLDGRzHgtFusrZkACg%3BFR9LEAMdr1VLACn15JiVbbDGRzHhouQQq5kAEw%3BFUOMEQMdfahLACkdjui1b7vGRzH-fXeVN3DNIA&mra=pe&mrcr=0&sll=51.43449,4.938375&sspn=0.131843,0.264015&ie=UTF8&ll=51.439029,4.9617&spn=0.13183,0.264015&z=12&via=1

  2. Dan says:

    This road was called the “Concession Road” for the part between the N3 junction in Butlersbridge and Clones, and the crossings were not “crawling with soldiers and checkpoints.

  3. Domenico says:

    The reference to “through Ireland” is invalid. Both sides are Ireland/ One the Republic of Ireland, one northern Ireland.

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