Coming to terms with a motorway drive to Tuam

The Galway version of 'Spaghetti Junction where the intersection of the M6 and the M17/M18 takes place.
The Galway version of 'Spaghetti Junction where the intersection of the M6 and the M17/M18 takes place.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There was something vaguely ‘not right’ about a journey I made last Thursday night, following another vain attempt to replicate the strokes of Michael Phelps at the Tuam Swimming Pool. Five minutes later, after a short trip out the Galway Road, I was confronted with the sign ‘Motorway Ahead’ and after a brisk left turn, there I was, heading for Annagh Hill, Ballyglunin and Abbeyknockmoy on a pristine section of the M17 motorway.

It really was a kind of a ‘pinch me’ time. Could I really be driving out from Tuam on a motorway and the evening before could I have made the journey out from Galway to home along the M6 and the M17 carriageways.

One of the most unusual aspects about the first trips along new sections of motorways is that most of the drivers tend to be cruising along at around the 100kph mark, having a good ‘gawk’ at the new road and the landmarks along the way.

Things admittedly were a little bit brisker on Friday morning when I made the journey back into town via the M17 and M6, with more minds focused on the working day ahead rather than enjoying the novelty experience of driving on the new road.

Through all our rollercoasters rides with the Celtic Tiger and the ensuing crash that nearly floored us all, one lasting legacy from our overall increasing property has been the improvement in our roads network.

Now, from the middle of County Galway, where my humble abode lies, I’m just a motorway journey away from Shannon Airport, Limerick and Dublin as well as all the other locations that lie in-between.

There are many of us who often had to make that shortish journey between Tuam and Athenry over the years, who cursed every turn on that winding and poorly maintained stretch of roadway, especially if the trip had to made on a wet winter’s night.

Only last Saturday, when I had to do one of those routine parental collections in Loughrea, there was quite a shock after departing from the motorway and then heading down the Tuam Road from Athenry as the rain lashed down on blackened slits of a country road.

Okay, there are those people who tell me that motorway journeys can tend to be boring, and while there is a kind of controlled monotony about such trips, I will take them any day to a dangerous country road where one slip-up can potentially result in a serious collision.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.