When going to collect Mother’s First Car my parents drove off sitting side by side.
When they returned they would be in convoy.'

(Open Road, Stephen Kirk 2005)


As one of the most car dependant societies on earth Ireland has managed, until recently, to function without a motorway network. This study began as an attempt to understand how the recent emergence of a motorway culture in Ireland would alter society and the perception of self. To do this, I wrote two contrasting narratives.

One records a recent journey along a motorway. The events described act as primers for the investigation of theories and phenomena associated with motorways but also serve to root the investigation in contemporary Ireland. The second narrative is autobiographical.
It seeks to demonstrate the importance of the road in my early life and charts experiences preceding and following the purchase of my mother’s first car, exploring the effect of mobility on a perception of self and the world at large.

It became apparent, through these narratives, that Ireland’s desire to construct a motorway network, and to construct it now, is a manifestation of a marked change in the Irish psyche. For now it seems clear that Motorways, and the desire to build them, can now be understood as an affirmation of Irish confidence in globalisation. I hope that this study has demonstrated that it is informative to look at the personal and the colloquial for insight into the abstract and global.

Download 'Open Road'