M32 Malahide Road

Where is it?


It headed eastwards from the junction of the M50 and M1.

Can you show me that on a map?

Of course!

What makes this a pathetic motorway?

Oh, where to start?

Get on with it!

Firstly, it was a secretive motorway - you won't find many maps of Ireland with M32 on it. One or two, however, do exist...

Why not?

Because it was almost always marked as "N32". Oh yes, and the signage said "N32" as well.

In fact, the signage was generally all over the place!

So why "M32" then?

Because it's under motorway restrictions.

OK then, show me the documentation!

I can't.

Why not?

Motorways in the Republic work differently to those in the UK.

How's that then?

The N32 was a new build road called the "Northern Cross Route Extension". The Northern Cross Route itself is the M50 from J6 to J3 across the north side of the city. The N32 is legally defined here.

That document refers to the N1, which under Irish law, which has no such thing as a motorway order in the manner of the UK, so all motorways are legally defined with an N number, M numbers only appear on maps and signs, not in the legislation. A ministerial order can be applied to any road prohibiting certain classes of traffic, defacto creating a motorway.

There are no "motorway regs end" signs as you approach the roundabout at the eastern end, so you could carry on down the N32 and believe you're still bound by motorway regs. All in all, a very strange and confused stretch.

What is certain is that the roundabout belongs to the M1 (even though it runs beneath it) according to the signs and consequently is under motorway regs and the N32 leads inescapably to this roundabout. The roundabout definately doesn't belong to the N32 as the marker posts show!

Ah, I see.

That's only the half of it.


Yes, it's single carriageway as well.

And it just links two roundabouts...

And it's called "Malahide Road"!

That's rubbish!

Yep, told you so!

Oh, and there's something else too.


It no longer exists.

Hang on a minute. You just went on for ages about how this secretive motorway really does exist, and now you're saying it doesn't.

Yes, that's right. It did exist - right up until 28th February 2012.

On that date, Ireland did a mass renumbering of roads in the Dublin area, and one of the casualties was the entire N32, which meant that the M32 went too.

So, what is it now?

Well, the documentation (S.I. No. 53/2012 — Roads Act 1993 (Classification of National Roads) Order 2012, if you really want to know...) tells us that the N32 is now defunct, and is now the R139.

However, a close look at the documentation shows that the N50 description includes:

TURNAPIN (and including link road to R139)

Which rather implies that the former M32 is now a spur of the N50 - though whether it is still a motorway is in question, as normally in Irish SIs, motorway sections are described in CAPITALS, the N50 (which certainly used to be entirely motorway) does not have all its length described in capitals - even sections that quite definately are motorway.

So, it's pretty clear that the old M32 is still interesting - as either it's a single carriageway motorway spur of M50, or its the only part of N50 that isn't a motorway. The only question remains - is it still a motorway or not? It certainly doesn't inescapably lead to a motorway as you can go all the way around the roundabout with the M1. But then that never stopped the M32...

Can I see some photographs?

Go on then!...

Can I comment on this motorway?

Of course! Contact me and I'll put them here!

Have any other visitors commented?

PJ Pleydell-Stedman is to the point:

Being from Ireland, we consider it to a big joke of a motorway.

Mark Woolley's been looking around him:

I was in the Dublin, Haddington road branch of Europcar on Sunday 23rd April, and was looking at the Dublin & surroundings map on the wall (Ordnance Survey of Ireland).

Having previously visited this website, I checked out how the N32 was marked, and low and behold, the part from the M1 roundabout to the Conshaugh Road roundabout was marked in blue!

I didn't note the issue or version of the map, but if anyone is passing by, pop in and have a look!

Conal adds some information:

There is in fact more recent legislation concerning the N32.

See PDF at: http://www.transport.ie/upload/general/7616-0.pdf - for the Roads Act 1993 (Classification of National Roads) Order 2006

Motorway sections of national roads are detailed in capital letters. Sure enough, the N32 is listed as beginning at the M1 at TURNAPIN.

Also interesting is the note at the beginning of the PDF. I had assumed motorways in Ireland could only be part of a national primary road, but apparently they can be part of a national secondary road, or even a regional road.

And another Irish correspondant adds:

Regarding the piece about the M32 in Ireland, Its never called the M32 and never shown as such on official maps. Having said that I have seen an older official ordanance survey map of Dublin from about 5 years ago which designates it as the M32 in blue. It seems even the Ordnance Survey people arent sure about this one!

Luke Williamson has been observant [March 08]:

In the 2006 Ordnance Survey Ireland map of Dublin, low and behold, on the M50 map, the M32 is actually numbered and marked in blue.


Malahide Road




620 yards

600 m


post 1996



Map Links:

Present Day Map

All photographs in this section
© Philip Murphy, without whose help this feature would not have been possible.
Used with grateful thanks