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

Click a section name to see its full details, or click a map symbol on the right to see all motorways opened in that year.

Completed Name Start End
Greencastle - Sandyknowes J2 Greencastle J4 Sandyknowes Chronology map for 1966
Ballymena Bypass J10 Larne Road J12 Teeshan Chronology map for 1969
Templepatrick - Dunsilly J5 Templepatrick Steeple Road Chronology map for 1971
York Street - Greencastle J1A York Street J2 Greencastle Chronology map for 1973
Sandyknowes - Templepatrick J4 Sandyknowes J5 Templepatrick Chronology map for 1975

Exit list

Symbols and conventions are explained in the key to exit lists. You can click any junction to see its full details.

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 A36
Ballymena A26
A26



A26 (M2)
A36


Larne A36
Ballymena
A26
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 B532 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
A2










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.

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