If driving to the Irish Open, the good news is that a lot of the route is via motorways, unless travelling from parts of Connacht.
Before setting off, it is worth noting that you will encounter delays en route to the Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle.
Depending on when you turn off the M1/ A1 motorway, traffic will be heavier around Newry and through the town itself. The A2, coming from both the Drogheda and Belfast directions, as well as the A25 and the B8 will all be busier than normal, particularly on approach to Newcastle itself.
It goes without saying that traffic around Newcastle itself will be very heavy throughout the event. With the Park and Ride facilities located on Dundrum Rd, Castlewellan Rd, Bryansford Rd/ Central Promenade, these areas will be particularly slow moving due to the high volume of cars and buses using the car park facilities.
Discover Northern Ireland, the Irish Open, Translink and the Northern Ireland Executive have put together this document, which may also be of use for people heading to Newcastle.
If coming from Dublin, you will be taking the M1 Dublin/ Belfast Rd as far as Newry.
At this point, you have three options.
Firstly, take the B113 exit for the A2/Newry/ Warrenpoint/ Forkhill/ Seaport. You will then follow signs for the A2, passing through Warrenpoint, Killkeel, Ballymartin and then onto Newcastle.
Secondly, exit the A1 a little further north at the A25 exit for Newry/ Camlough/ Downpatrick/ Train Station. You then follow the Armagh Rd/A27 onto the A25, which then merges onto the B8. You then travel eastbound, passing through Mayobridge, Hilltown and Bryansford before reaching Newcastle, at which point the Royal County Down Golf Club will be well signposted.
Finally, you can travel further north again, taking the exit for the A28/ Newry/ Downpatrick/ A25. You will then follow signs for the A25, passing through Rathfriland, Kilcoo and then you will reach Castlewellan. You then take the A50 towards Newcastle.
Keep in mind that traffic through Newry and Newcastle will be very busy on the days during the Irish Open.
Travel as though you’re heading to Dublin via the respective motorway, whether that is the M7, M8 or M9. Upon reaching the M50 via J9 Red Cow, you will then travel northbound to J3 M1, where you then join the M1 itself and then follow the instructions as listed above.
Taking the M6 towards Dublin, motorists traveling this route have a few options. The fastest option in terms of time would be to travel on to Dublin via the M6 and M4 as far as the M50, joining at J7 Lucan. You then travel north on the M50 to J3 M1, where you then join the M1 itself and then follow the instructions as listed above.
Your second option is to travel east on the M6 as far as J4 Tyresslpass, where you exit onto the N52 Tullamore/ Ardee Rd and head northbound to Ardee, where you join up with the N33/ M1 Link Rd. You then join the M1 and then following the directions listed above.
Alternatively, you could turn off the M6 at J10 Ballymahon, on the Athlone Bypass stretch of the motorway and then take the N55 Athlone/ Cavan Rd towards Cavan, onto Castleblayney (via the R188, R190 and R183). From Castleblayney, you will travel to Dundalk via the N53, joining the M1 at J17 Dundalk. Travelling northbound onto the A1, you then following the directions listed above.
From Sligo Town, travel east on the N16 via Manorhamilton and onto the A4 as far as Enniskillen. You then continue along the A4 through Lisbellaw, Fivemiletown, Ballygawley and Moygashel. At Moygashel, you merge onto the M1 eastbound towards Belfast. At J6, take the A49 exit to Lisburn/Saintfield/City Centre. On the roundabout, take the 4th exit onto Saintfield Rd/A49. Continue travelling south as far as Ballnahinch, where you will join up with the A24 through Drumaness, Seaforde, Clough and Dundrum, where the road merges into the A2/ Dundrum Rd. After approx. 10km, you will be turning left onto Merrion Ave, at which point you will have reached the golf course.
Galway to Royal County Down Golf Course: Approximately 3hrs 50mins
Sligo to Royal County Down Golf Course: Approximately 3hrs
Limerick to Royal County Down Golf Course: Approximately 3hrs 50mins
Cork to Royal County Down Golf Course: Approximately 4hrs 15mins
Waterford to Royal County Down Golf Course: Approximately 3hrs 20mins
The rather handy news for those driving to the Irish Open is that there will be free Park & Ride facilities in operation. This should also help alleviate some of the delays around Newcastle.
There will be two off site car parks open to the public. The first is at Donard Park, which is the Blue car park. It’s located at the southern end of Newcastle with users of this car park then having to walk for 10-15 minutes from the car park through Newcastle town to the event.
The second car park is Northfield, which is the Yellow car park. Located on the northern end of Newcastle, on Castlewellan Rd, the free shuttle bus service will run every 5 to 10 minutes from the car park and then drop people off near the A2/ Dundrum Rd jct, where there is then a five minute walk to the Welcome Pavilion of the Irish Open at the course.
|Day||P&R Operating Hours|
|Wednesday||0715 – 1800|
If you don’t want to make the drive to Royal County Down, there are a number of options open to you.
Translink will be running special services to the event from Thursday 28th May until Sunday 31st May. The buses will run through the following towns: Portadown, Lurgan, Lisburn, Magherafelt, Cookstown, Dungannon, Bangor, Newtownards, Coleraine, Ballymena, Antrim, Derry, Strabane, Omagh, Larne and Ballyclare. You can book tickets online at www.translink.co.uk/irishopen
Translink will also be running additional Ulsterbus services between Belfast and Newcastle from Tuesday 26th May to Sunday 31st May with buses running half hourly during peak times.
If you’re travelling from Dublin, there is an hourly service (X1) from Busáras in Dublin City which connects with Ulsterbus Goldline Service 240 in Newry Buscentre which in turn then takes you to Newcastle.
If you’re getting a private bus to the event, keep in mind that all private buses will be directed to a coach park on Dundrum Rd in Newcastle. There will then be a 5 minute walk to Royal County Down.
NI Railways services will run as normal during the Irish Open. With the trains arriving in Newry, you will then need to make your way to Newcastle.
Whether you’re getting a train with NI Railways or the Enterprise service from Dublin, the easiest thing to do is to exit at Newry and then make your way to Newcastle with Ulsterbus. A special coach service will be in operation from Newry Train Station to Newcastle Bus Station. When you arrive in Newcastle, you’ll then have to either walk or get a taxi to the golf course.
Again, see here for more.
Main Image Credit: Timo Newton-Syms. Used under CC licence.