M1 (Northern Ireland)

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Route of the M1 (Northern Ireland)

Completed in the 1960s and not changed much since, the Northern Ireland M1 is a mostly two-lane affair that stretches to nearly 40 miles — the longest stretch of road of this standard in the province.

It has numerous missing junction numbers, intended for the various expansive motorway plans that the Northern Ireland Assembly had, almost none of which saw light of day once Westminster took control again. Among these are two junctions for the M11, which would have started on the M1, headed around the north of Lisburn, and then crossed it again to go south, and one for the M8, intended as a southern bypass of Belfast.

One missing junction is now missing: it's been used for a new junction that wasn't on the original plans. Number 8 was for the M11 to cross, before heading south to the Irish border. It's now been taken up with a new cheap-and-cheerful exit for the A1, with the original (free-flowing) junction half-closed and now used to access a retail park, mostly. This seems to sum up the development of Northern Ireland's motorways.

Perhaps the most astounding testament to those failed motorway plans is the footnote that the M1 is the only NI motorway that was actually finished to its intended length.


Start Belfast (A12)
Finish Dungannon (A4)
Passes Lisburn, Craigavon, Portadown
Length 38 miles
Connects to M12, A12

With thanks to Wesley Johnston, Jonathan and Colin for information in this section.