Supplement to e-BLN 1260 BLN Pictorial 10 July 2016
For our second visit to Ireland we leave the railtours behind and look at both currently open locations and a few of the many closed lines of which traces,
more or less obvious, can still be found. All the pictures in this issue were provided by Nick Jones, and our thanks are due both to Nick for his generous
provision of photographs, and to Richard Maund for a great deal of help with information both historical and current, without which your sub-Ed, despite
his best intentions, could have left you either uninformed or misinformed in quite a number of respects.
As in the previous issue of BLN Pictorial, you can get to each picture by clicking on the page number to the left of the captions, and return to the captions
by clicking near the bottom left of the picture. On the last page are two maps showing the Irish rail system as it was in 1906, and approximately a century
later; you can get to the maps from any picture by clicking in the bottom right hand corner, and back to the picture by clicking on the camera symbol on the
7. The photos have been arranged as a (very roughly) clockwise tour, starting where we left off at the end of the previous issue, Carrick-on-Suir on the
Waterford-Limerick line. Facilities here have been reduced by the removal of the passing loop, though the signal cabin remains in use on the now
isolated platform 2 to the left, a siding has been retained, and the station building is intact. This photograph, and the following two, all show views
looking east towards Waterford from an eastbound train and were taken on 21 July 2015.
8. Clonmel, 13 miles west of Carrick-on-Suir and the last crossing point before reaching Waterford. Train staffs are exchanged, apparently under the
supervision of our Editor! A branch north to Thurles, on the Cork main line, veered off to the left, beyond the cabin (CP 9 Sep 1963, CA 27 Mar 1967) .
9. Another 24 miles west , the exchange was made at Tipperary. The line has light traffic with only two passenger services each way, and no Sunday
service. The first railway in Ireland to be authorised by an Act of Parliament was the Limerick and Waterford on 31 May 1826, but this was never built.
The railway we see today is the Waterford and Limerick, authorised by an Act of 21 July 1845 , and OG from Limerick to Tipperary 24 April 1848 (OP 9
May 1848). The remainder of the line to Waterford was completed in stages, finally Waterford being reached on 11 September 1854.
10. Limerick Junction, where the Waterford-Limerick line crosses the Dublin-Cork line on the level just north of the station, necessitating reversal of trains
in both directions to reach (westbound) or leave (eastbound) the platform at Limerick Junction. Until 1967 both north and southbound trains on the
Dublin Cork line also had to reverse to reach the long island platform. The photo is taken looking north on 20 July 2015, from about where the South
cabin used to be, across the track to the right, and shows the shortened through platform, with the car park to the left replacing the 'Waterford bay'
and part of the platform and of the line originally passing to the left of the station building. Joe Coleman's article in the Journal of the Irish Railway
Record Society (IRRS) of October 2013 (http://goo.gl/Rckco8) gives this explanation (comments in italics reflect additional information which has
come to hand): "What was unique about the Junction was the fact that all trains had to approach the platforms by reversing. Major track work
eliminated this practice for Dublin and Cork trains when facing crossovers were installed to the mainline platforms in 1967 [first use was on 9 May
1967], when the Limerick-Dublin direct curve [Kyle Crossing – Milltown Crossing] was also opened to [goods] traffic [on 16 October 1967 -
passenger opening, apart from a special on 21 July 1968, was on 16 September 1968]. The north end of the single mainline platform was Platform
1 and the south portion Platform 3. The Limerick bay, opposite Platform 1, was Platform 2. The Waterford bay, Platform 4, was opposite Platform
3. Until [spring 2006, some] Waterford-bound trains continued to use Platform 4 via the back road behind the station building, this requiring a
reversing movement in both directions (i.e. to and from the bay). Platforms 3 and 4 were later demolished, the crossover from Platform 3 to the
Up main was removed, and the site converted to a 200 space car park. The previous Platform 2, originally the Limerick bay, is now designated as
Platform 2 for part of its length and Platform 3 for the remainder, to allow distinction between trains when a Limerick and Waterford service are
present at the same time."
11. From Limerick Junction, InterCity trains run to Cork, whose through platforms, 4 and 5, are covered by this airy curved overall roof, seen on 20
July 2015. The view is looking east (towards Cobh), with the rear of a train arrived from Dublin which is one of IÉ's Japanese-built 22000 class
'InterCity Railcar' units, this particular one being in a 5-car configuration. The station, properly known as Cork Kent since 10 April 1966, was
opened on 1 February 1893, as Cork Glanmire Road. Built on a curved line linking two previously separated railways, it replaced the earlier
separate termini of the Great Southern & Western Railway (GSWR) ) (opened 3 Dec 1855 but itself preceded by one at Victoria or Blackpool -
north of the tunnel - to which Cork’s first regular public train service started 29 Oct 1849) and the Cork & Youghal Railway at Summerhill, opened
30 Dec 1861 – although similarly preceded by temporary stations), which had been taken over by the GSWR in 1863. Curiously Glanmire Road
does not appear on the 1906 map, being located between Rathpeacon and Tivoli.
12. An array of semaphore signals graces the eastern end of Cork Kent station on 20 July 2015. Trains leaving in this direction take the former Cork &
Youghal Railway route which divides at the junction immediately after Glounthaune station, the original Cork & Youghal line continuing east
towards Midleton and the later Cobh (formerly Queenstown) branch heading south to its terminus at Cobh.
13. Glounthaune looking east on 20 July 2015, with the junction of the Midleton (formerly to Youghal) and Cobh lines visible just beyond the platform
end. Note the signal cabin, now out of use, unusually built in to the centre of the station building. The junction alignment reflects the importance
of the expanding port at Cobh towards the end of the nineteenth century, when the Cobh line became effectively the main line, with the original
line to Youghal being the 'branch'.
14. Midleton, currently the end of the reopened section of the Youghal line. The line was opened to Youghal on 23 May 1860 and CP 4 February 1963,
although timetabled Sea-Breeze Excursion service ran each summer until 1979. The last passenger departure was a Knock pilgrimage special on 17
May 1987; the line was retained for general goods traffic until 2 June 1978, after which only seasonal beet traffic ran until 30 August 1982. The line
has never been legally abandoned although it was formally 'taken out of traffic' on 31 Aug 1988 and several miles of track were lifted between
Midleton and Youghal in 1992. Midleton's last train was a special for a Gaelic Athletic Association match in 1988, but in 2005 under the 'Transport
21' initiative, its planned reopening was announced and on 30 July 2009 the station reopened as the terminus of the Cork Suburban line, complete
with park & ride facility. This photograph, taken on July 2015, shows the view towards Youghal; the signal cabin is out of use.
15. Cobh station, formerly Queenstown, now reduced to a single platform. Opened in 1868, to replace the original station (nearer Cork) which had
opened 10 March 1862 and CG 3 November 1975, its heyday was in the early part of the twentieth century when Queenstown was a calling point
for transatlantic liners. Even so, it still hosts 'Cruise Liner Specials' shuttle service to Cork for passengers of visiting cruise liners, as on 15 and 27
June and 9 July 2016! It remains well known as the final port of call of RMS 'Titanic' on 11 April 1912, the landing point for survivors of the RMS
'Lusitania' sinking on 7 May 1915 and the embarkation point for many thousands of Irish emigrants to the United States. As well as the trains, the
station now houses the Cobh Heritage Centre.
16. Moving now from the south coast to the west, we find Tralee at the end of a long 'branch' (if an InterCity line can be called that) from Mallow on
the Dublin-Cork line. This GSWR line was completed on 18 July 1859. Since 1966 it has been Tralee Casement - suffixed (on 10 April of that year, like
all the main IÉ stations) after leading figures in the campaign for Irish independence which culminated in the establishment of the Irish Free State
on 6 December 1922, and ultimately the Republic of Ireland on 18 April 1949. The wooden trainshed is in very good condition although track within
it has been lifted and trains now terminate just outside. The layout was rationalised and platforms extended at the Mallow end in 1979.
17. The disused former GSWR signal cabin at Tralee, which was taken out of use on the morning of 10 February 2005 in preparation for resignalling of
the Tralee line (the Mini-CTC scheme came into effect from 25 February 2005). The Edward Street level crossing (for some unaccountable reason,
Google Maps calls it Riverside Drive) was formerly on the photographer’s left, the station itself to his right. The photograph was taken on 22 July
18. From Tralee a short branch ran to the small fishing port of Fenit. The line was O 5 July 1887, CP 31 December 1934, then ROP for regular summer
Sunday excursions, worked by the Cork – Tralee regular train from Sunday 21 Jun 1959 until it last ran at the end of summer 1973, and finally CG 2
June 1978. Following closure track was left in place and it became the subject of an unsuccessful heritage railway scheme. The line is now in the
process of being converted into a footpath/cycleway as is evident in this photograph from 22 July 2015, which shows the point where the branch
crossed Edward Street just after leaving the station precincts. Just beyond the stretch in the photograph the trackbed has been covered by a
supermarket and car park, but resumes beyond them. The signal cabin in the previous picture is just behind the photographer and the trainshed is
just beyond the signal cabin.
19. From the railway enthusiast's perspective, Tralee is probably most famous as the eastern terminus of the Tralee & Dingle Light Railway. This 31 mile
3' gauge line ran most of the length of the Dingle peninsula, with a 6 mile branch to Castlegregory on Tralee Bay on the north coast of the
peninsula. Opened on 1 April 1891 for regular traffic after a special train the previous day, it was a lossmaker from the start and eventually, faced
with road competition, the main line CP and the Castlegregory branch CA, from 17 April 1939. Regular goods services continued until 10 March
1947, then monthly cattle trains until final closure from 1 July 1953. A 3 km stretch of the line was reopened in 1993 from Blennerville towards
Tralee, with a completely new alignment and terminus at the latter, (special trains 27 & 29 August 1992, public “demonstration runs” 1, 2 & 3 Jan
uary 1993, regular service from 1 April 1993) as a heritage line with a somewhat chequered career until summer 2006; after that, it ran for only a
few weeks in Aug 2009 and has since lain moribund. but is currently closed. Preservation efforts continue, however, under the auspices of the
Tralee & Dingle Railway Preservation Society whose web site is here, and the Tralee & Blennerville Steam Railway Group here. Meanwhile, Nick
Jones's photograph shows the overgrown track at the River Lee bridge just west of Ballyard Road on the outskirts of Tralee on 22 July 2015 looking
west. The bridge and track here are on the new build section – the 'heritage' line does not join the original T&D alignment until a short distance
west of here.
20. Another picture of the 1992-built Tralee & Blennerville Railway: this is its completely new northern terminus, Ballyard, adjacent to the Aquadome in
Tralee, looking east on 22 July 2015. This site is well off the original T&D alignment, which crossed the River Lee just west of the new line and ran
northwards through a station located at the head of the Basin before turning east to a terminus near the GSWR's Tralee station.
21. The GSWR's North Kerry line (O 20 December 1880), connected Tralee to Ballingrane, some 54 miles to the north-east, where it joined the Limerick
& Foynes Railway. The North Kerry line was CP 4 February 1963, and ceased to be a through route when regular freight traffic between Ballingrane
and Listowel ceased from 2 December 1974. However Limerick remains busy with lines radiating to Waterford (and Cork) via Limerick Junction,
Dublin, and the route via Ennis to Galway, reopened between Ennis and Athenry from 30 March 2010. The photo shows DMU 22137 (again) at the 4
-platform Limerick (suffixed Colbert from 10 April 1966, although it doesn't say so on the station signs) terminus. Along with other major IÉ stations,
this can be viewed in Google Street View. The photograph was taken looking east from the stop blocks, on 19 July 2015.
22. The heavily overgrown track of the Foynes line, looking north from the Roxboro Road overbridge, curving towards its junction with the main line at
the oddly named Limerick Check. This was the site of a small 'halt' not used by the public, where tickets would be checked (hence the name) prior
to trains’ arrivals at Limerick, in the days before barrier collection. On the other side of the Irish Sea these halts were generally known as ticket
platforms. The Limerick Check cabin is still active and can be seen in the picture; it's the small grey 'shed' centre right of the picture, above the red
van and Portakabin. Limerick (west of the Castlemungret cement factory connection) to Ballingrane (and Foynes) was busy with imports and
exports including oil for the cement works at Castlemungret in late 1960s, coal and oil to Ballina between 1985 and early 1999. Other shipment
traffic over the branch – which had included grain and molasses – tailed off, and the last commercial traffic was a movement of molasses on 30
October 2000. The last railed movement over the Foynes line seems to have been an engineer’s inspection car on 9 January 2003. The line was
blocked in 2004 at Limerick Check by a dumped track panel, and severed beyond the site of former Cement Factory Jn. (the cement factory branch
since 1968 had run independently from Check cabin). The statement in the working timetable which implied that the branch was still accessible, to
engineer’s trains, at least as far as Ballingrane, was not finally removed from the working timetable until the issue dated 18 October 2010. The track
to Ballingrane and Foynes has been kept in place with a view to possible freight services to the port at Foynes. In 2015 the Limerick Post reported
that vegetation clearance was in progress to allow assessment of the viability of reopening the line for freight, a concept which is supported by the
Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC), operators of Ireland's second largest port. The Foynes line is still technically open, and its reinstatement is
included as a 'target' in SFPC's 'Vision 41' (http://goo.gl/8S8PKk - 12 MB download), a 30 year development plan for the port.
23. Just how 'technically' the Foynes branch remains open is apparent at this level crossing! Tarmac covers the track at the Childers Road crossing in the
Rathbane area of Limerick.
24. A branch off the Foynes line at Cement Factory Junction, Rosbrien (visible on Google Street View here), was built in 1956-57 (OG 1 October 1957) to
serve the Irish Cement works at Castlemungret, south west of Limerick. A short history of the branch (and indeed, both the branch and its history
were short!) is included in Joe Coleman's article on the Limerick area in the IRRS Journal of October 2013 which can currently be found on line here.
By 1968 the line from Limerick Check to Rosbrien had been doubled. This was done in two phases: Limerick Check – Foynes Jn 11 August 1968, and
Foynes Jn – Cement Factory Jn 11 December 1966. From the latter date Cement Factory Jn ceased to be a physical junction, so that the
Castlemungret branch was worked as a long single line all the way from Limerick Check with intermediate connections, subsequently removed, at
Foynes Junction and Rathbane. A casualty of the 2008 economic collapse, regular traffic ceased in 2009; the last outward cement train ran on 10
December 2009 to Waterford, returning empty a week later, and the last inward shale train ran on 18 December 2009 from Birdhill (Kilmastulla).
The approach to the factory at Castlemungret can also be seen on Street View, here. The photograph shows the Castlemungret branch on 22 July
2015, just west of the former Cement Factory Jn.
25. The junction between the Claremorris and Athlone lines just north of Athenry, looking north east towards Dublin on 19 July 2015. The Claremorris
line, now severed here, diverged to the left just beyond the point where the double track (a long loop through Athenry's platform 2) now ends.
26. A view of Athenry station looking south west on 19 July 2015. The level crossing beyond the station allows Google Street View to oblige again with a
close-up of the signal cabin and loco shed, and looking in the other direction, a view of the junction of the lines to Limerick (curving to the left
behind the signal cabin) and Galway (straight on).
27. The shortened platforms at Kilkenny, on the Portarlington-Waterford line. History has treated this station rather unkindly. It started life as the
terminus of the Waterford & Kilkenny’s line from Thomastown GSWR's line to Waterford when it was extended south from Carlow, opening on 12
May 1848 (it reached the outskirts of Waterford in 1853). Next on the scene on 14 November 1850 was the Irish South Eastern with a line from
Cherryville Jn via Carlow, sharing the W&K line from Lavistown Jn (other than between 1867 and 1979 when two parallel tracks existed over the
section), into their own platform at the dead-ended Kilkenny station. When the line was extended to Waterford in 1853, Dublin trains had to
reverse at Kilkenny. Finally, the Kilkenny Junction had arrived from Maryborough (now Portlaoise) via Abbeyleix on 1 March 1865. In 1878 the line
from Kilkenny to Portarlington opened, making Kilkenny a through station and providing an alternative route to and from Dublin which didn't require
reversal. This state of affairs continued until closure of the Portlaoise line from 1 January 1963 rendered Kilkenny a terminus again. A north-south
curve was opened at Lavistown on 25 March 1996 allowing container trains to and from Waterford to bypass Kilkenny. Apart from 'one off' specials,
passenger use was limited to Christmas shopping excursions for the 1997 and 1998 seasons, a summer Saturday train for 2003 season - and finally by
one regular weekday train from 30 Nov 2009 (see PSUL).
28. The last of Nick Jones's photos, taken looking east on 21 July 2015, shows the unusual gantry signal cabin at Waterford Central, where the location of
the station between higher ground to the north of the River Suir, and the river itself, puts space at a premium. It was taken out of use on 31
December 2013 following the partial collapse of the nearby rock face of Misery Hill, which overlooks the station, and the signalman was re-located to
a Portakabin. Some layout alterations were later made and finally, from 7 June 2014, Waterford Central Cabin was formally closed (as was the
temporary Portakabin), whereupon the last remaining regular use of Absolute Block working on IÉ using Harpers Block instruments was withdrawn
between Waterford West and Central cabins. Control of the Waterford East signalling (from Waterford to east of the Barrow Bridge including access
to Belview Port) was transferred to Waterford West cabin.
The links below will take you to online maps and views of the relevant locations which will open in your browser. 'GM' will take you to Google Maps, 'OSM'
to OpenStreetMap, 'SV' to Google Street View (where available) or 'AV' to Google Earth aerial view. Mobile device users, please note that a large volume of
data may be downloaded!
7 Carrick-on-Suir GM OSM SV 15 Cobh GM OSM SV 23 Rathbayne LC GM OSM SV
8 Clonmel GM OSM SV
9 Tipperary GM OSM SV 16 Tralee Casement GM OSM SV 24 Castlemungret branch GM OSM AV
10 Limerick Junction GM OSM SV
11 Cork Kent GM OSM SV 17 Tralee Cabin GM OSM SV 25 Athenry jn for Claremorris GM OSM SV
12 Cork Kent GM OSM SV
13 Glounthaune GM OSM SV 18 Tralee Fenit branch GM OSM SV 26 Athenry station GM OSM SV
14 Midleton GM OSM SV
19 Tralee R. Lee bridge GM OSM SV 27 Kilkenny MacDonagh GM OSM AV
20 Tralee Ballyard GM OSM SV 28 Waterford Central Cabin GM OSM SV
21 Limerick Colbert GM OSM SV
22 Limerick Foynes Jn GM OSM SV