Taking the bends out of the Gweebarra - another massive road project opens in Donegal

"This type of infrastructure is absolutely essential if we are to fully realise the potential of the Wild Atlantic Way."

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Taking the bends out of the Gweebarra - another massive road project opens in Donegal

A spectacular scene, the Gweebarra Bridge and to the right a small section of the 5.1km road network opened on Monday last. Photo Clive Wasson.

Monday last was a good day for roads infrastructure in Donegal as two massive projects, one near Ballybofey and a second, a 5.1km project leading to the spectacular Gweebarra Bridge, were opened.

On Monday evening last  Cathaoirleach Cllr. Terence Slowey officially opened the N56 Boyoughter to Kilkenny road scheme at the Gweebarra Bridge, Leitirmacaward.

This project is part of the overall N56 Dungloe to Glenties project and is the second section of the project following the completion of the Cloughbolie to Boyoughter Scheme in 2012.

Cathaoirleach Cllr. Terence Slowey with guests as he officially opens the N56 Boyoughter to Kilkenny road scheme at the Gweebarra Bridge, Leitirmacaward - Photo Clive Wasson

This road project encompasses the famous Gweebarra bends and the village of Leitirmacaward and is a total of 5.1km in length and includes a new cycle track along the entire length of the route.

Cathaoirleach Cllr. Terence Slowey said that “this road project is extremely important not just for this part of Donegal but for the entire county. The Wild Atlantic Way has been a game changer for Donegal in terms of tourism and this type of infrastructure is absolutely essential if we are to fully realise the potential of the Wild Atlantic Way.

"I am delighted to see that this project has been included in the Governments recently published plan “Building on Recovery – Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan 2016 – 2021. This will ensure that the remaining phases of the project will be funded throughout the lifetime of the plan”.

May Molloy, Pat Hanlon, Rosie Boyle, Margaret McCready, Rose Boner, Joe Gallagher and Nathan Gallagher at the offical opening the N56 Boyoughter to Kilkenny road scheme at the Gweebarra Bridge, Leitirmacaward by Cathaoirleach Cllr. Terence Slowey. - Photo Clive Wasson

“This official opening will represent the completion of the second phase of major construction works along this part of the N56 and bearing in mind how difficult it has been to secure investment and funding particularly during the financial crisis, it is truly remarkable to see the completion of these major works in just a few short years”.

This project is one of a number of Low Volume National Secondary Improvement Schemes being developed by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) along the Western Seaboard. These projects introduce a new road type – Type 3, which is a 6m wide carriageway with two 0.5m hardstrips (to reflect the relatively low traffic volumes) and an independent cycleway, and the realignment is to follow the existing road as far as possible to minimise impacts. The total project cost is estimated at €70 million.

Working on the scheme since 2010

The National Road Office (NRO) staff and consultants have been working on the scheme since 2010, the statutory processes are complete for all project phases and land acquisition is approximately 80% complete.


The first phase of this project from Cloughbolie to Boyoughter saw the removal of the Meenacarn Bends, and the completion of this second phase sees the removal of the infamous Gweebarra Bends.

Seamus Neely, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council said “when the overall project is completed it will provide a major improvement to the infrastructure of West Donegal and will be a catalyst for further economic investment in the area. This project clearly demonstrates Transport Infrastructure Irelands ongoing commitment to investing in a sustainable roads network in Donegal enabling economic development and job creation in the county”.

Kathleen Boyle, Thomas Monds, Christian Ward, Eileen Loughlin, Darby Breslin and Brendan Ward at the official opening of the N56 Boyoughter to Kilkenny road scheme at the Gweebarra Bridge, Leitirmacaward by Cathaoirleach Cllr. Terence Slowey. - Photo Clive Wasson

The next phase of the works from Kilkenny to Letterilly is currently out to tender, and it is expected that the construction will commence towards the end of this year.