Ahead of this week’s European Council meeting, Morning Ireland's Cian McCormack travelled along the border from Dundalk to Donegal to find out whether the approaching reality of Brexit - and its potential consequences - have crystallised in people’s minds.

This three-day journey through border towns and communities reveals concerns over the known knowns, known unknowns and the unknown unknowns of Brexit.

At every stop a common theme is echoed by the people living along the border. They are unsure about the impact Brexit will have on their lives, and hope it will not take them back to more difficult times when travel between North and South was complicated - and sometimes slow. 

Beside a water fountain near the Courthouse at market square in Dundalk, my journey opens with a meeting with Darren Crawley - a senior manager of the logistics and transport company McArdle Skeath. 

Darren says Brexit could have an affect on manufacturing industry. He explains: "Fifteen months ago Article 50 was triggered. Yet is still has to be clarified about how it is going to affect the supply chain.

"We would be very naive to think that it is not going to affect Irish manufacturers and ultimately affect companies like McArdle Skeath.

"We are going to be the people who are going to have to logistically work out how products are to get to the end destination."

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Paddy Malone of Dundalk Chamber of Commerce says businesses are unsure about the future. He emphasises the uncertainty, especially for workers crossing the border to get to work every day. 

"We’ve gone nowhere because the UK government still doesn’t know what Brexit means. It has been extremely frustrating with business trying to plan for something that we have no idea about what is going to happen," warns Paddy. 

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My next stop is county Tyrone at Ballygawley. 

It’s from there that Wayne McCaffery commutes everyday. 

The 30-year-old father travels from his home to Combilift in Monaghan. A tenth of workers at the company travel from north of the border every day. 

He brings his 15-month-old daughter Erin Rose so he can drop her off at her crèche along the way. His wife Alicia stays at home to mind newly born Annie who was born one month ago. 

The threat of a hard border could make him re-evaluate his job and whether to look for another one. He says a hard border could add an extra 50 minutes to his daily commute. In that context, he will have to considerate finding a new job north of the border.  

Stopping at the border at Aughnacloy, McCaffery recalls a time when the customs posts were in place. 

"My father is originally from Fermanagh. My mother is from the south. Whenever we used to go around to my father’s home it used to be a nightmare," he explains.  At the customs points "they used to pull us in - I remember my wee sister and my wee brother being took out of the car just to be searched". 

He adds: "Sometimes it could take five minutes, sometimes it could take 15 – 20 minutes."

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Wayne reaches work at the recently opened  €50 million, 40 hectare, combilift factory, on the outskirts of Monaghan. There its managing director Martin McVicar says the threat of Brexit initially struck fear in to his workforce. 

Martin says: "Following the Brexit vote in June 2016 we found it more difficult to recruit employees in Northern Ireland in this hinterland area because they were concerned about what the border might look like and what restrictions be imposed.

"But, thankfully last November-December there was an agreement between EU, UK and Ireland that there would be free movement of people north and south and free movement of employees.

"That has given our employees at least very considerable amount of consolation in that sense. But none of us know what the border will really look like when the Brexit takes in to affect."

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This series was broadcast on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1. You can listen to Cian's report here:

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