At a snail’s pace to Dublin Airport

Snail mail

Sir, – Brian Cullen asks (Letters, February 21st), “If a snail had started crawling from the airport to the city centre 20 years ago, would it have reached there by now?”

This is a tricky question to answer with any degree of authority. Estimates of garden snail speed vary. The fastest one-off measurement is just over eight metres an hour but the best empirical data for horizontal travel over “rough ground” is around three metres an hour. Further uncertainties are caused by constraints on snail activity due to day length, low and high temperatures, wetness, drought, whether they are following another snail and a propensity to take frequent rests or to have sex. I estimate that a snail might only be active for around 1,000 hours a year. A snail could travel around three kilometres per year and, hence, on the basis of the distance between Dublin Airport and the Natural History Museum being 13.4km, it might take four to five years. Potentially, the humble garden snail could make the round trip twice in 20 years.

While snails can be trained to follow a route, solitary snails are not noted for their navigation skills outside their own neighbourhood. Their lifespan is also limited so any snail attempting the airport route is likely to end up lost and then dead.

Snails and people, however, should be enthusiastic about any attempt to link the train network and the airports, especially if this does not depend on fossil fuels, in view of the potential savings in carbon emissions of millions of car journeys to and from the airports annually, increased connectivity of people across Ireland and internationally, and the improved environment around north Dublin. Surely, a no-brainer, even for a snail, which is a no-brainer. –Yours, etc,



(Emeritus Professor of Animal Ecology,

Queen’s University Belfast),


Co Down.

Sir, – Last week, I needed to travel from my home which is a 40-minute drive from Dublin Airport to catch an early-morning flight.

I would have liked to use public transport until I consulted the Transport For Ireland app, which informed me the only public transport option available to me was to leave my home at 10.50pm the day before my flight.

Dublin will soon be the only capital city in Europe which doesn’t have a rail link to its airport.

A spur off the Dart line would appear to be a more cost effective and expeditious way of serving the airport and, unlike MetroLink, many of us would probably see its realisation in our lifetime. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.