M2 (Northern Ireland)

The M2 is the main road north from Belfast, carrying traffic from the city to the north and north-west of the province. Thanks to the geography of the city - constrained by the mouth of the Lagan to the east and the steep hills to the west - all traffic heading even vaguely in this direction is concentrated on the M2, which splits and branches several times as it gets further out. At the Belfast end, there are five lanes in each direction, but spurs and side-roads take their share of the traffic and before long it's a two-lane motorway in open countryside.

Most people in Northern Ireland are unwilling to allow road numbers to interfere with their driving. As a result, the M1 is "the motorway" and the M2, having been completed a year or two later in 1966, is "the new motorway" (though really, it depends who you ask: some people deny this completely).

The "new" motorway is central to NI's motorway network (what there is of it). There are only two motorways it doesn't encounter. Of the ones it does, two are direct continuations and the other two are entirely undeserving of their own numbers.

The M2 is now permanently split in two: filling the gap between its two sections is the A26, which has been upgraded and dualled, making any M2 completion plans redundant. Don't hold your breath for the final section to its intended destination of Coleraine either.

Some of the M2's junctions are worth closer inspection. J2 is now a fearsome knot of sliproads but began life as a simple fork, while J1b is the only motorway junctions in the whole of the UK where you can exit from the motorway, but once you've done so, you can't get back on. Junction 7 used to be the same way, but the missing entry sliproads were provided in 2008.

Start
Belfast
End
Ballymena
Passes
Antrim
Length
23 miles
Open Junctions Section
1966 J2-4 Greencastle → Sandyknowes
1969 J10-12 Ballymena Bypass
1971 J5-7 Templepatrick → Dunsilly
1973 J1-2 Belfast → Greencastle
1975 J4-5 Sandyknowes → Templepatrick
1993 J7 Crosskennan Junction

Exit list

Junction   Northbound               Southbound  
12 Coleraine
Ballycastle
A26 (A44)
Ballymena
A26



A26
NORTH



A26
(A44)
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
11 Ballymena
Broughshane
A42
Cushendall (A43)
A42
(A43)
A42 Ballymena
Broughshane
A42
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
10 Larne
Ballymena
A36
A36



A26 (M2)
A36


Larne
Ballymena
A36
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
   
M2 follows A26 for 10 miles
 
M22 J1 Antrim
A26
Londonderry
M22 Link


M22

A26
A26 (M2)
Antrim
A26
Londonderry
M22 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
7 Antrim Area Hospital Antrim Area Hospital
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
6 Antrim
B95
B95 Antrim
B95
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
5 International Airport
Larne
Templepatrick
A57
A57 A57 International Airport
Larne
Templepatrick
A57
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes  
Services Templepatrick
LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
4 Larne
A8(M) Link
Newtownards
Glengormley
A6
A6 A8(M)

B90

A6
Larne
A8(M) Link
Newtownards
Glengormley
A6
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
2 Carrickfergus
Whiteabbey
M5 Link
Whitewell
Rathcoole
A2
A2


A2

M5
Greencastle
Carrickfergus
A2
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 5 lanes 1 mile, 5 lanes
1 Duncrue Ind. Est.
Belfast Harbour Est.
Shore Road
Liverpool & Heysham
Vehicle Ferry
Fortwilliam
A2
(A2) Ferry Duncrue Ind. Est.
Belfast Harbour Est.
Shore Road
Liverpool & Heysham
Vehicle Ferry
Docks (N)
Fortwilliam
A2
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 5 lanes 1 mile, 5 lanes
1B (A2) Docks
City Centre
A2
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  4 lanes
1A N/A A2

A12

A2







M3
SOUTH
Belfast (E)
Newcastle
City Airport
Bangor
M3 Link
Belfast (W)
The WEST
The SOUTH
A12 Link (M1 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Mark Dillon, Gareth, Wesley Johnston and Jonathan for information on this page.