I drove down to Loughrea from Dublin on the 23rd, then into Galway and back on Christmas Eve and back East on St. Stephen's Day.
It was dark heading down but I thought the new road was very smooth.
The speed limits either side of the tollpike are set much further away than other schemes. The limit drops to 80 about 150m before the toll 1km ahead sign, and then drops to 50 before the plaza widens out.
As has been mentioned the layby before the N65(Loughrea) junction is right at the advance signage for the junction. This is symmetrical, as heading east there is a layby at the signage fro the same junction. This is probably a screw up. on the continent these'd be on the more sensible side, i.e. after the junction.
The new N65 has a few bends at the start and then is fairly straight. There are 2 staggered junctions before the loughrea bypass. These are signed for the local townlands, several of the people in Loughrea hadn't ever heard of them, but they are linking very minor roads, Boreens really. This section has a hard shoulder all the way, barring acceleration/deceleration lanes at the junctions.
Approaching the rab on the Loughrea bypass is a little wierd at first, the exits are all on the diagonal from the new N65 section and signed Bullaun, Portumna, Loughrea, Gort.
Portumna direction is signed N65, Gort direction is signed N66.
The Gort exit off the rab is signed for Gort and Kilcreest, nary a sign for Craughwell, which is wierd. Kilcreest is smaller than Kilrickle.
It's far quicker for traffic to go through the centre of Loughrea, than take the N66 route, which goes to the west end of the Loughrea bypass, back east to the town and then out by the lake towards Gort again. There is a plan to extend the loughrea bypass from it's west end to across to the existing N66. This will be faster alright.
Heading to Galway on Christmas Eve, the road was fine, even though the temp was -7, there was no worries with traction as the dry cold left most of the salt doing it's thing.
The signage before the N18 junction is wrong, it's green before the motorway ends. And the signage approaching the Douiskea rab is misleading. It shows two lanes, one for the rab and one for the slip left. but the 2 mainline lanes go to the rab and a slip lane goes left, needing an unexpected lane change, and a short enough merge onto the old DC heading to the Galway clinic rab.