Money from the EU and the Celtic Tiger Economy lead to an explosion of road building, with a slew of new motorways being built mainly radiating out from Dublin. Each one reduced travel time...so for example it was possible to travel from Dublin to Belfast easily under two hours.
Motorways may have increased the speed of travel, yet they are incredible bland and on long trips seem to be unending boredom. There have been attempts at artwork and sculpture along them...some better than others...my current favourite is the one on N7 at Naas of a large sphere that looks to be in motion and is painted with a road pattern...I think its called perpetual motion.
The development of motorways have also rescued some small towns from being choked with traffic, and changed often how they feel and function. Sometimes the diversion of traffic is celebrated as the town is freed but also lamented through the loss of business, as cars and vans zoom down the motorway. The M1 was recently changed, as when first built it was decided not to have any stopping places partially to reassure existing businesses that they wouldn't lose too much trade...but having driven that road regularly, I never ventured in to the small towns just off the road for fuel or food. But then they added four new service areas- two going north and two for those going south. Suddenly these are busy places with fuel, coffee shop and fast food. The last time I stopped here was the day of rugby match in Dublin and the service area was filled with Ulster rugby team supporters, the staff struggling to cope with the hundreds that filled the place.
Motorways are not exciting places to driving...they provide a quick way of travel, but if I have time I much prefer the older routes with interesting twists and turns, the small towns and scenery that the motorways don't provide.