Naas celebrates 30th anniversary of Ireland’s first motorway

Pat Cleary, Liam Carroll, Declan Loakman, and Brendan Ryan who were part the Kildare Co. Co. Road Design Team in 1983 pictured with Peter Minnock, Director of Services Kildare Co. Co. on Friday, October 4, in Aras Chill Dara at the Reception to mark the 30th anniversary of the opening the Naas By-pass in 1983.                                      Photo Tony Keane.
Thirty years have passed since the by-pass of Naas was officially opened to much fanfare not to mention a degree of relief.

Thirty years have passed since the by-pass of Naas was officially opened to much fanfare not to mention a degree of relief.

The road was opened in October 1983 by the then Tanaiste and Kerry Labour Party TD Dick Spring and then Kildare County Council chairperson, the late Patsy Lawlor, mother of current FG deputy Anthony Lawlor.

The project cost a relatively modest £18m. (or €22.86m.) for an 8 kilometres - or 5 miles - stretch of motorway.

Some 30% of the cost was paid for by the EEC (European Economic Community) which has since evolved and enlarged into the EU.

A decison was taken by Kildare County Council not to impose tolls on mototists for using the new motoray to avoid the bottleneck that was Naas. Traffic from all points south arrived through the town en route to Dublin and back again.

Unlike today, when many elements of major infrastructuaral projects are contracted out to private consultants, the entire project was designed in-house by Kildare County Council staff and among those closely associated with the work was Richard (Dick) Burke, a Naas resident and senior engineer who had experience of motorway construction porjects in the US and the UK.

Mr. Burke and retired council staff members like Gerry Ward (Co. Manager), John Carrick (Co. Engineer) and Niall Meagher (Co. Architect) attended a function marking the 30th anniversary of the opening of the road on Friday at Aras Chill Dara.

Kildare Mayor Mark Wall said the motorway was “the first step in a motorway system which today links all the major cities in Ireland.”

Naas Mayor Emer McDaid said: “We can only imagine the chaos and congestion we would have in Naas today if the motorway did not go ahead.”