The biggest weekend on the Irish golfing calendar will see the Irish Open come to Donegal for the first time from Wed 4th to Sun 8th July.
Up to 120,000 golf fans are expected to watch global stars including four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy, 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett and defending champion Jon Rahm do battle in the stunning surroundings of Ballyliffin Golf Club, Inishowen.
The event tees off on Wednesday, with a star-studded pro-am event that will see the likes of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, actor James Nesbitt, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny and champion jockey AP McCoy play alongside the top golfers.
Then it gets serious on Thursday with the first round of the professional tournament. Saturday and Sunday will be the busiest days as the competition hots up and the Irish Open champion is crowned.
Ballyliffin Golf Club is situated in the far north of Donegal, just off the Moville/Buncrana Rd (R238) near the village of Ballyliffin. The roads in this part of the country are generally narrow and not designed for large numbers of visitors, so we are expecting significant disruption to traffic for the duration of the event.
Electronic and AA signage will be used from Bridge End on the N13 Letterkenny/Derry Rd, so head for there and then follow the signs to the course. You are advised not to use your sat nav as the signage and designated routes will get you there as quickly and painlessly as possible.
From the east and southeast – take the M1 northbound from Dublin and exit at J14 Ardee, then join the N2 and A5 via Monaghan and Omagh towards Strabane. In Strabane, take the A38 towards Lifford then look out for a right turn at the Rossgier Inn onto the St Johnston Rd (R236). Continue towards Bridge End and Buncrana via the N13 and R238.
From the west and southwest – take the N15 northbound from Sligo towards Ballybofey. Continue towards Letterkenny on the N13, then follow signs towards Buncrana via the N13 and R238.
From Northern Ireland and cross-channel ferries – take the A2 to Derry City, then travel to Ballyliffin via Muff, Quigley’s Point and Carndonagh on the R238, R240 and back onto R238.
See the map below for the respective routes:
Image: Google Maps (click to enlarge)
You could also use the Foyle Ferry from Magilligan Point in Derry to Greencastle in Donegal. The crossing takes approx. 15 minutes and then it’s about half an hour’s drive to Ballyliffin. The ferry operates every day on a regular shuttle service from 9.15am to 8.15pm. Fares and more information are available here.
Alternatively, there will be a free shuttle bus from Carndonagh and Buncrana to the course every half hour.
Three road closures will be in place in the Inishowen area from Monday 2nd to Monday 9th July: Slab Rd in Burnfoot, Shore Rd in Ballyliffin and New Rd/Horsemarket St in Carndonagh. Diversions will be signposted.
Image: European Tour (click to enlarge)
The busiest times for travelling are expected to be from 6:30am to 12:30pm and from 4:30pm to 7:30pm each day, so you may wish to travel outside these hours.
Free parking will be available on western and eastern approaches to Ballyliffin, with approximately 7,000 spaces available in total, or you can park in Carndonagh or Buncrana and use the shuttle buses mentioned above. Motorists should follow the instructions of Gardaí and stewards to find a parking spot.
As always, keep an eye on TheAA.ie/Newsroom and our Twitter page as we will be sharing information and keeping track of the traffic across the weekend.
Lead image: European Tour