I went for a walk last Saturday morning and as you can see from the photo it was a splendid sunny winter’s morning. The photo was taken about 500 metres downstream from Blackrock Castle looking north across the River Lee to where the Jack Lynch Tunnel meets the roundabout at Dunkettle that is the start of the motorway to Dublin and to Belfast.
Directly underneath where I stood to take the photo, cars were entering the Tunnel and about 60,000 cars a day now use it. The tunnel is 350 metres long and has been in use for about 15 years. It sits about 20 metres below the high tide mark.
Now that the Newlands Cross flyover on the outskirts of Dublin is completed it is possible to drive from the Dunkettle roundabout in Cork all the way to Belfast without hitting another set of traffic lights. Yes from Cork on the South of Ireland to Belfast in the North and only having to slow down from time to time to pay a few tolls!
When we used to drive to Dublin some years ago before the motorway was built it was a different story. What is now about a 2 hour 30 minute drive took at least 4 hours and in fact the time it was going to take was very difficult to estimate as so many little towns and villages had to be negotiated.
From Cork we had to do through Glanmire, Watergrasshill, Rathcormack, Fermoy, then on to Cahir, Cashel and Durrow, then through the towns of Abbeyleix, Monastereven Kildare, Newbridge and Naas before finally hitting the Naas dual carriageway to Dublin. I am exhausted now just even thinking about it!
In Ireland we have come through a very difficult economic period but we certainly have seen some great progress on our main roads certainly with a motorway linking Cork with Dublin and then on to Belfast. On the southwest of the country some progress has been made but much still to be done. Limerick to Galway is nearly there but we still need a motorway link from Cork to Limerick but perhaps in time there could be a link from Mitchelstown on the Cork to Dublin road across to Limerick and that would be further progress.
As I mentioned there are now 60,000 cars a day going through the Tunnel heading for Dublin and all I could think of last Saturday morning was that we have seen remarkable progress in transportation in a few generations.
I remember my Dad telling me a story about his mother’s dad William Joseph Magnier who lived in Duntaheen a house just outside Fermoy on what was then the main road from Cork to Dublin. His story was of an event that took place perhaps 100 years ago when there were very few cars on the road. Mr Magnier was a solicitor and he was cycling to his office in Fermoy one day when he saw something that astonished him. He saw on the road a car coming from the Dublin side heading for Cork and at the very same time there was another car coming in the other direction heading for Dublin. He had never seen the likes of it before. Imagine two cars on the road at the same time going in different directions. It was no wonder that he nearly fell off his bike in amazement!
Ted Dwyer Family Business