Category Archives: Ireland

The Fintona Tram

The featured image above shows Fintona Railway Station from Main Street, Fintona in June 1957, (c) Wilson Adams. The image is used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license (CC BY-SA 2.0). [7]

The Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway [2] opened the railway station in Fintona on 5th June 1853. A short time after the Londonderry to Enniskillen Railway completed its mainline to Enniskillen (in 1854 [2]). mainline services were withdrawn from Fintona (in 1856 [1]), and the link to Fintona became a branch from the mainline at Fintona Junction railway station. [3] Most passenger services on this branch line were then provided by a horse-drawn tram car. [1] Since the line’s closure, the tram has been preserved at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra, County Down. [2]

Wikipedia notes that the branch line to Fintona was taken over by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) in 1883 when it took control of the Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway. [1]

The branch-line and the station at Fintona were closed on 1 October 1957. [1] The whole area comprising the Fintona Train station is now a car park and public toilet. [4]

As we have noted, “Passenger services on the half mile Fintona branch were worked by horse traction throughout the 104 years of its existence up to closure in 1957.” [4]

Timetables were worked out on what a horse could reasonably be expected to achieve. This meant that rail authorities “allowed 10 minutes for the slightly downhill trip to Fintona, and 15 minutes for the return working. Seven trips per day were scheduled in summer 1951.” [5]

The tramcar which was used for the majority of the life of the service, “entered service in 1883, had longitudinal seating, back to back on the upper deck and with seats facing each other on the lower deck. Originally the latter was divided into 1st and 2nd class, and the top deck was 3rd class. The car is estimated to have covered 125,000 miles in its ambulation’s on the branch.” [5]

“Goods wagons for Fintona were worked by a steam engine which, in later years at least, made a return trip in the morning before passenger services started.” [5]

The Line between Fintona and Fintona Junction

The first image below shows the route of the line on an extract from the GSGS maps of 1941-1943 produced by the British War Office at a scale of 1″ to 1 mile. [6] The second picture is a matching 21st century satellite image which shows how little of both the mainline and the branch remain in the 21st century.

The Fintona Branch: a map extract from the British War Office (G.S.G.S 4136) 1″ to the mile survey published 1941-1943. [6]
The location of the Fintona Branch on modern satellite imagery. [6]
A similar area on the Satellite imagery with the route of the mainline (The Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway) and the alignment of the Fintona Branch illustrated by redlines. [6])

Fintona Junction

The next image below shows the approach road to what was Fintona Junction Railway Station from the B46. Immediately to the right of this road was a level-crossing which took the mainline across the B46. The Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway ran under the location of the bungalow on the right, parallel to the station approach road.

The access road shown above now only provides access to a farm. At one time it was the public access to the junction station.

Fintona Junction Station site. The line of the railway to Enniskillin can be seen crossing the B46, Dromore Road in the bottom left of this satellite image. The line to Fintona is indicative rather then accurate. [Google Maps]
Fintona Junction: GNR 4-4-0 goods engine No.73 of Class ‘P’ stands in the bay, having shunted its train to await the passing of the two passenger trains of the evening of August Bank Holiday Saturday, 1954. [12]
A Still image from a 1950s cinefilm which shows the signal box, station sign and porters trolleys at Fintona Junction, (c) The Huntley Archives, Film No.96367. [13]

The line

AS we have already noted, the journey from Fintona Junction to Fintona Railway Station was timetabled as just a 10 minute journey. The tram was usually waiting for connections at Fintona Junction as in the first picture below.

0953-4 Horse Tram Fintona Ireland (JW Armstrong)  102
The view from the mainline of Fintona Junction Station. The tram is waiting to offer a connection for the train arriving from Londonderry, (c) J.W. Armstrong/ARPT – this link is to the image as held on Ernie’s Railway Archive on Flickr. [8]
The tram for Fintona with horse”Dick” (apparently all the horses used on the service were called ‘Dick’) waiting with the branch connection at Fintona Junction, while PPs class 4-4-0 No.44 arrives with 1.45pm Omagh – Enniskillen local train (c) L.King,5th July 1955. [4]
Fintona Junction Railway Station in April 1964 (c) Roger Joanes. The image is included here under a creative Commons Licence, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [9]

In the picture above the line can be seen to be in a shallow cutting soon after leaving the railway station. As can be seen below, this was a very shallow and short cutting.

Lookin ahead down the line from Fintona Junction in the 1950s, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
The tram transporting military personnel leaves Fintona Junction and runs along the section of track being inspected in the image above, (c) Mr Gallagher c1941-45. [4]
Now just beyond the cutting mentioned above. The line continues to curve towards Fintona, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
Leaning out of the tram window, we can see the line continuing to curve westwards, just ahead, shrubs are beginning to encroach on the line, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
This satellite image shows the current landscape around the next section of the old railway linejust south of the junction station. [Google Maps]
A hazy view from the top deck of the tram looking back along the line towards Fintona junction, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
Postcard View circa 1930 which shows the tram rounding the curve after leaving Fintona Junction Station on the way to Fintona. It is in the midst of the shrubs mentioned above, (c) Public Domain. [1]
A little further ahead along the line is again in a shallow cutting, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
The next length of the line sees the old railway leave the curve and straighten up heading for Fintona in a southeasterly direction. [Google Maps]
Over this next length of the old railway it is much more difficult to determine the precise alignment of the line. The redline cannot be taken as accurate in anyway. The vast majority of the buildings shown to the southwest of the line all postdate the removal of the old railway. [Google Maps]
The north end of Sherwood Close. The old railway probably ran approximately on the line of the green fence between the two properties shown here. [Google Streetview]
A view from the north on Ashfield Gardens. The farm access track referred to on the image appears in the bottom right of the satellite image above. It can also be seen at the top left of the satellite image below. [Google Streetview]
This final satellite image shows the approximate line of the railway as it enters the station throat and runs through to the terminus buffer stops. The station used to front onto Main Street. The area is now the premises of Lisdergan Butchery (, Eurospar and the town car park. The building which fronts onto Main Street being Fintona’s public toilets. [Google Maps]
A short distance further along the line, the land has dropped away once again and the station at Fintona is in sight, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
GNRI 1952-06-26 Fintona station 049
The view Southeast towards Fintona Station from along the line. The permanent way between the two rails is filled with earth up to sleeper level or just above to create a suitable surface for the horse. Notice how, at the point ahead, hoof marks show that the horse has avoided crossing the switch rail until the last possible moment, (c) Ernie’s Railway Archive – this link is to the image as held on Ernie’s Railway Archive on Flickr. [8]
Arriving at Fintona. The tram is a few yards closer to the station than it was in the image above, (c) David Bradley, September 1957. [4]
Closer again to the station platform now. Do not be deceived by the platform visible close to the camera, this was a goods loading point which is described on the plan below as ‘The Beach’, (c) The Huntley Film Archive Film No. 96367. [13]
We are now close-in to the covered station platform at Fintona. This a picture of the Railway Station in April 1964 a good few years after the closure of the line, (c) Roger Joanes. The image is included here under a creative Commons Licence, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [9]
A similar image to the Roger Joanes’ photograph above, this time in colour. As the vegetation encroachment is greater on this image it is probably a summer-time image. [Public Domain] [11]
A plan of Fintona Railway Station as shown on the Irish Railway Modellers Forum. It is taken from from Norman Johnston’s book on the Tram, “The Fintona Horse Tram.” [10]
Fintona Railway Station as shown at the head of this article, (c) Wlison Adams. The image is included here under The image is included here under a creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [14]
This is approximately the same view but taken in 2007. (c) Kenneth Allen. The image is included here under The image is included here under a creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [15]
Approximately the same location but this time in June 2021. The toilet block has been replaced with something which looks a little more as though it belongs in the heart of Fintona. [Google Streetview]

The Return Journey to Fintona Junction

Just a few photographs now which show the return journey to Fintona Junction.

The line’s horse stands in Fintona station ready to depat with a baggage truck and the tramcar in 1926. This consist does not appear in any other images but it is how the tram is displayed in the Museum at Cultra, (c )the Tramway and Light Railway Society. The image was seen on the Tramway Badges and Buttons website. [16]
“Dick” leaving Fintona with the 4.14pm to Fintona Junction, (c) N.W.Sprinks taken on 25th June 1952. [4]
GNRI 1952-06-26 Fintona CURC trip 052
The journey back from Fintona to Fintona Junction on 26th June 1952 (c) Ernie’s Railway Archive. This link is to the image as held on Ernie’s Railway Archive on Flickr. [8]

And finally. …

After closure of the line, Fintona’s tram was preserved and now sits in Ulster Transport Museum, Cultra.

Fintona’s tram on display in Ulster Transport Museum, Cultra. [11]


  1., accessed on 24th May 2022.
  2., accessed on 24th May 2022.
  3., access on 24th May 2022.
  5. Irish Railway Record Society; Irish Railways in Pictures No.1 – Great Northern; Irish Railway Record Society [London Area],1976.
  6., accessed on 26th May 2022.
  7., accessed on 26th May 2022.
  8., accessed on 26th May 2022.
  9., accessed on 26th May 2022.
  10. Norman Johnston; The Fintona Horse Tram; Omagh: West Tyrone Historical Society, 1992;, accessed on 26th May 2022.
  11., accessed on 26th May 2022.
  12., accessed on 26th May 2022.
  13. The Huntley Archives:, accessed on 27th May 2022.
  14., accessed on 24th May 2022.
  15., accessed on 27th May 2022.
  16., accessed on 27th May 2022.

The Owencarrow Viaduct Accident in 1925. ….

The featured image above shows the Viaduct in good condition. [7]

In the February 1963 edition of The Railway Magazine there was a letter from L. Hudlass which said: “The accident on the Owencarrow Viaduct, on the Letterkenny & Burtonport line, Ireland, of January 30, 1925, involved a westbound train running from Londonderry to Burtonport, on the Burtonport extension of the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway. The 380 yd.-long viaduct, sited between Kilmacrenan and Creeslough in County Tirconaill is in wild and open country and, on the day in question, a gale of 100mph caught the train broadside on and one carriage plunged through the parapet, pulling another with it. The couplings held and neither of the vehicles fell into the valley, but roof destruction caused several passengers to be thrown out, three people being killed outright, a fourth dying later in hospital. Being situated on a north-south section of the line, the 30ft.-high viaduct, across Glen Lough and over the Owencarrow River, caught the full force of the westerly gales. When the line was in operation a wind velocity of 60mph meant the exclusion of open wagons from the train, while a wind speed of 80mph caused the suspension of all traffic. The breach in the viaduct parapet was still visible in 1949. Other derailments due to gales gave been recorded on the west coast of Ireland.” [1]

One day, I will get round to covering the route of the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway (L&LSR) which ran from Derry to Burtonport through some of the wildest of Co. Donegal scenery.

This article is by way of a taster and focusses on an incident at Owencarrow Viaduct in the 1920s.

The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway ran from Derry to Burtonport via Letterkenny. [2]

The Owencarrow Viaduct was sited between Barnes Gap and Creeslough and was, other than earthworks, the major civil engineering structure on the L&LSR.

The Owencarrow Viaduct with a Burtonport train crossing. From an old postcard. The photographer is not known. [8]

The Google Maps satellite image and Google Street view images below show what remains of the structure in the 21st century.

The Owencarrow Viaduct in Co. Donegal. [Google Maps]
The remains of the Owencarrow Viaduct, seen from the Northwest on the L1332. [Google Streetview]
The remains of the Owencarrow Viaduct seen from the West on the L1332. [Google Streetview]

Wikipedia/Wikiwand covers the accident in a single paragraph: “Disaster occurred on the night of 30 January 1925 at around 8pm at the Owencarrow Viaduct, County Donegal. Winds of up to 120 mph derailed carriages of the train off the viaduct causing it to partially collapse. The roof of a carriage was ripped off throwing four people to their deaths. The four killed were: Philip Boyle and his wife Sarah from Arranmore Island, Una Mulligan from Falcarragh and Neil Duggan from Meenbunowen, Creeslough. Five people were seriously injured. The remains of the viaduct can today be seen from the road (N56) which carries on from the Barnes Gap on the road to Creeslough.” [2]

The scene of the accident. This picture was taken on 31st January 1925, the day after the disaster. The photographer is not known. [3]

There are a number of accounts of the accident available online which provide a bit more detail of the tragic events of 30th January 1925.

Walking Donegal looks at the event through the eyes of fireman John Hannigan who was on the footplate that day. [4] Long after that day Hannigan recalled “vividly the events of the night, the passing years ha[d] not erased the memory of the harrowing scenes or stilled the sound of the screams of agony. He still relive[d] the feeling of hopelessness he endured as he surveyed the scene of desolation in the fleeting moments, oblivious to his own danger, he scrambled over the wreck-strewn terrain to run the two odd miles to Creeslough to raise the alarm.” [4]

Hannigan was interviewed in 1984. [5] He was 85 when he gave that interview, a few years before he died in 1987 at the age of 88. Much of the text of the interview was reproduced in a Donegal Daily news item on 14th November 2019 and was extracted from a Christmas Annual published by Letterkenny Community Centre in the 1980s.

Hannigan spoke eloquently of his experience of working on the railway, first joining the staff of the L&LSR when he was just 15 years old, he was just 26 the night the train left the rails in the storm. After years of efficient service on the footplate, he realised his youthful ambition and was promoted to the position of driver the following year.

John Hannigan. [5]

Speaking of the first part of the journey from Derry, Hannigan said, “We left Derry that evening around 5.15pm, we had two wagons of bread next to the engine. They were sent out from Derry by Stevensons and Brewsters Bakeries. After that was three carriages, a first, a second and a third class, behind that were six wagons of general merchandise and the guards’ van at the end. Neilly Boyle was in charge as guardsmen who was from Burtonport, who later was a conductor on the buses.” [5]

When the train reached Letterkenny a bit of shunting was required to remove the six wagons and replace them with others. Hannigan remembered that they were using locomotive No. 14 which was a 4-6-2T and is shown below.

Locomotive 4-6-2T No 14 seen here at Pennyburn, Derry, 1931. Donegal Railway Heritage Centre (DRHC) Collection. [8]

By the time that they reached Kilmacrennan Station the wind was starting to blow hard and Hannigan and the train driver, Bob McGuinness, consulted about the state of the weather, wondering about whether it would be safe to go ahead.  Hannigan commented: “I had often gone over the viaduct in a smaller engine. We decided to proceed. Bob slowed down to a snails pace and as we crossed the bridge we did not think that the storm was all that bad.”

From Hannigan’s recollection of the evening it seems as though a freak gust of wind hit the train close to the end of the viaduct. He said:  “The carriage behind the two bread wagons was raised up on the line, it was like a hump on its back. It then fell against the parapet and the roof was smashed, two passengers were thrown out, Phil Boyle was killed, his wife was injured and died afterwards.” [5]

“A Mrs Mulligan also lost her life, they had fallen through the roof and into the river below. Another man, Andy Doogan, was found dead near the viaduct, he must have also been on the train.” [5]

As the minutes ticked by, the wind continued increasing in strength, the hostility of the gale made it hard for voices to be heard. Hannigan remembered managing to stumble across the bridge to the end of the train to free Neilly Boyle jammed against the bridge railing. He then trekked the two miles to Cresslough Station for help. “Between running, walking and falling I finally made it. On the way, I called at the homes of the two-level crossing men and brought them with me. We told John Gallagher the Station Master what had happened. Next we alerted the local guards and doctors. I got a lift back to the scene. It was about quarter to eight. A young priest, Fr. Gallagher was attending to the dead and injured.” [5]

The ‘Why Donegal?’ Facebook page carries a less personal account of events. [6] The train apparently left Letterkenny at 7:05PM. The journey to Kilmacrennan was uneventful, but “by the time they reached Barnes Gap, the driver remarked that the wind was bad. As the train approached the Owencarrow viaduct a strong gale was blowing. He slowed down to 10m.p.h. and was a few dozen yards from the Creeslough side of the viaduct and almost clear of it, when a sudden gust came so strong that it blew the carriage nearest to the engine off the rails. Two were derailed in all. One somersaulted and the roof was smashed. The four occupants of the coach were thrown through the roof into the rocky ravine forty feet below. The victims were Philip and Sarah Boyle from Arranmore Inland, Una Mulligan from Falcarragh and Neil Duggan from Meenbunowen, Creeslough. Duggan’s home was only a stones throw from the crash.” [6]

“Six of the injured were taken to Letterkenny General Hospital. Of the 14 passengers, just one was unhurt, a young woman who was flung from the upturned carriage and landed on the soft boggy soil.” [6]

The ‘Why Donegal’ Facebook page includes a few photographs of the viaduct as it remains today which were taken by Jacqui Reed.

The Owencarrow Viaduct in the 21st century (c) Jacqui Reed. [6]
The Owencarrow Viaduct in the 21st century (c) Jacqui Reed. [6]


  1. L. Hudlass; Owencarrow Viaduct Accident; a letter in The Railway Magazine, February 1963, p148-149.
  2., accessed on 30th May 2021.
  3., accessed on 30th May 2021.
  5., accessed on 30th May 2021.
  6., accessed on 30th May 2021.
  7., accessed on 30th May 2021.
  8., accessed on 30th May 2021.

Co. Donegal Railways, Ireland – Part 6 – Strabane to Letterkenny (Part C – Convoy to Letterkenny)

As we noted at the start of the two previous articles about this line, Wikipedia gives us a very short history of the line from Strabane to Letterkenny and provides a single image – the Railway Clearing House map with stations in Strabane and Letterkenny:

The Railway Clearing House map with stations in Strabane and Letterkenny. [3]

This series of articles seeks to expand our understanding of the route of the various Co. Donegal Railways through combining old images and modern views. Satellite images also give us a good understanding of what remains of the infrastructure of these lines.

The previous articles about this line which cover the length from Strabane to Convoy can be found by following these links:

A Journey Along the Line – Strabane to Letterkenny – Part C – Convoy to Letterkenny

We return to Convoy Railway Station which sits to the East of the Village. While we are waiting for our train, a railcar from Letterkenny stops at the station.

Convoy Railway Station in 1959 (c) Roger Joanes, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Railcar No. 20 from Letterkenny stops at Convoy. [14]

I have found two further pictures of Convoy Railway Station and its site in Anthony Burges’ book, ‘The Swilly and The Wee Donegal’. Both of these photos were taken in 1957 and were either taken by the author or are from his collection. [8: p34 and 35]

The second photograph [8: p35] shows the goods shed, water tower and a number of sidings, but only the goods shed was standing in 2010 when Google Streetview cameras visited the site.

Convoy Railway Station Goods Shed is shown to the right of center in this image taken in 2010 (Google Streetview).

The line out of Convoy Railway station travelling to the West crossed the R236 at a shallow angle protected by Crossing Gates. The Crossing keeper’s cottage (or Gatehouse) is still standing. It has been extended to better be used as a modern family home.

The Gatehouse and the road crossing to the West of Convoy Railway Station. The photograph looks from the Northeast, (Google Streetview).

The Gatehouse guards the route of the old railway which ran just to the right of it in this picture. The image looks from the West back along the old line. (Google Streetview).

The next image shows the centre of Convoy on a Google Maps satellite image. The approximate route of the old railway is shown as a red line running across the image.

The approximate route of the old line through Convoy (Google Maps) The location of the Gatehouse is marked close to the centre of the image. To the West, the line passed under the two bridges which I have numbered 1 and 2 in black type. Clicking on the image will enlarge it sufficiently to allow these locations to be identified easily.

Shortly after crossing the R236, trains passed under the first of two road-over-rail bridges in Convoy. This bridge carried the Letterkenny Road. The railway cutting has been filled-in and there is no evidence of the bridge in the early 21st century.

The old railway cutting has been infilled and to the West of the location of the bridge it is now used as a car park for one of the local churches. It is shown here in 2010, (Google Streetview).

This image is one taken by Kerry Doherty and kindly sent by him to me by email. It shows the same location in the years following the Google Streetview image. [6]

A short distance further along the line a bridge carried a lane heading Northwest from Convoy towards Falmore.

This first view shows the bridge parapet on the East side of the bridge in January 2010 (Google Streetview). The parapet is in a very poor condition.

This later view, a picture taken by Kerry Doherty, shows that some local pride has resulted, more recently in a cosmetic refurbishment of the old parapet. [6]

To the West of the old bridge the cutting is still infilled and no sign of a bridge parapet can be found.

Looking West along the line of the old railway from the road to Falmore in 2010, (Google Streetview).

Heading away from Convoy the line quickly turned to the North as shown on the next satellite image. It soon crossed the road to Falmore once again, this time at level. The Gatehouse for this road-crossing is indicated on the satellite image and can be seen in the Google Streetview image which follows.

The old line to the West of Convoy, (Google Maps).

Kelly’s Gatehouse on the road to Falmore. The line ran to the right of the cottage in this image, (Google Streetview).

The line now heads in a northerly direction as the satellite images show.

The first length to the North of the Gatehouse on the road between Convoy and Falmore, (Google Maps).

The second length north of the road, (Google Maps).
















The line continued in a northerly direction passing over the Cloghcore to Cornagilagh road, (Google Maps).


Further North, the line crossed the road from Cloghcore to Cornagilagh. Either side of this road, the line was on an embankment which has now been removed but the bridge which carried it over the road is still in place – an elegant small stone arch bridge bears excellent testimony to the route of the old railway. The location of the old bridge is at the point where the line (red) crossed the road (light blue) in the bottom left of the adjacent satellite image.

Photographs of this bridge follow below. Two of which are taken from Google Streetview and one sent to me in an email by Kerry Doherty. The light in his photograph shows the bridge at its best.

Very soon after crossing this bridge, trains entered Cornagillagh Halt which was only a short distance from the hamlet/village which bears the same name.

The rail-over-road bridge on the …. road. This image shows the bridge from the Southwest in March 2011, (Google Streetview).

The same bridge also viewed in March 2011 from the Northeast (Google Streetview).

A much more recent picture taken of the same bridge by Kerry Doherty. [6] Kerry comments: ‘The over bridge just before Cornagillagh halt. The embankment at either side has been taken away but the bridge has been kept..’

The next length of the old line is featured in this satellite image which shows it passing in cutting under two road bridges marked ‘3’ and ‘4’ either side of and close to Cornagillagh Halt, (Google Maps).

The road-over-rail bridge close to Cornagillagh Halt is marked on the Google Maps image as No. ‘3’. The vertical alignment of the road gives away the bridge location. The image is a telephoto lens view because of a slight glitch in the Google Streetview image sequence close to the bridge location. This picture was taken from the Southeast in December 2009 in what looks like late afternoon sunshine, (Google Streetview). This image shows the same bridge (No. ‘3’) from the Northwest just a few weeks after the image which precedes it. The road alignment changes at the bridge and on this image it is easier to see the bridge parapets,(Google Streetview).

The next few photographs come from the location of the road-over-rail bridge that I have marked ‘4’ on the satellite image. All of them were taken as part of Google’s survey in March 2011.

Bridge numbered ‘4’ viewed looking North along the road, (Google Streetview)

Then same bridge but viewed from the North on the same day, (Google Streetview).

This picture shows the formation of the old railway between the bridge numbered ‘3’ by me and bridge ‘4’, (Google Streetview).

Looking to the Northeast, the formation of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway has been overtaken by small trees and shrubs. (Google Streetview).

Kerry Doherty comments that this is a view of the bridge close to the site of Cornagillagh Halt (now impossible to photograph as its so overgrown). Pictured is former railcar driver Michael Gallen (recently dec’d, and one of the very last railcar drivers). The picture comes was taken by Dave Bell and comes from the CDR visitors guide book. [6][4]

The old railway route begins to turn North again soon after passing under the road-bridge and heads for Glenmaquin (Glerundorum) station.

Beyond the road-bridge the old formation turns to the North once again, (Google Maps).

The line South of Gerundoram Railway Station. The location of the station can still be picked out at the top of this satellite image, (Google Maps).

The adjacent satellite image shows the route of the old line to the South of Glenmaquin (Glerundorum) Station. The first location to note is the at-level crossing of a local road towards the bottom of the image. The gatehouse can be picked out just to the West of the route of the old line.

The Gatehouse (N0. 57) has been extended to make it suitable as a small modern dwelling. and pictures from Google Streetview show it in really good condition with well-tended gardens.

The line shows up as a tree-lined track crossing the road at this point. The third image below is the closest that Google Streetview gets to providing a view along the length of the line North of the Level-Crossing towards Glenmaquin Railway Station.


The old line passes to the East of the old crossing cottage (No. 57) which has been refurbished and extended, (Google Streetview). This view is taken looking from the Northwest across the line of the old railway which ran on the far side of the crossing cottage.This view shows the same location but from the road to the Southeast of the Railway Crossing. The line ran in front of the cottage in this view, (Google Streetview).Looking North along the old railway from the Crossing-keepers cottage, (Google Streetview).

A short distance further North trains entered Glenmaquin (Glerundorum) Station, shown here on the old GSGS mapping from the 1940s. …Glenmaquin (Glerundorum) Station was location close to a road junction and was framed by a road-over-rail bridge to its Northwest. [2]

Kerry Doherty has kindly provided a view across the old station site which was taken in the early 21st century.

The old station site taken from the fields to the Northwest, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6] The old platform is still clearly visible in this photograph.

Google Streetview shows that the space between the railway station and the road-over bridge is, in the 21st century, filled by a modern home. That property sits just out of view to the left of Kerry Doherty’s picture above.Glenmaquin Station, (Google Streetview).The road bridge just North of the Station, (Google Streetview).A much earlier view of Glenmaquin Railway Station which comes from the Dave Bell collection, taken from the CDR visitors guide book. Kerry Doherty’. [6]

The continues in cutting North of the road bridge at Glenmaquin Station.Cutting to the North of Glenmaquin Station. This photograph was taken from the road bridge, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6] Just out of sight the railway bridged a small river.

Beyond Glemaquin Station, the old line continued heading Northwest, (Google Maps).

After crossing another minor road the old track-bed curved round towards the Northeast, (Google Maps).

The road crossing visible at the bottom right of the satellite image immediately above was un-gated. A closer image o the crossing location is provided immediately below this text. The Google Streetview images here show an extended property based on a typical Gate-keeper’s Cottage. This location is not recorded in the Visitor’s Guide {4} as a Crossing with Gatehouse. Interestingly the cottage is sited out of alignment with the railway as the satellite image below shows.Un-gated Crossing Northwest of Glenmaquin Railway Station, (Google Maps)

These next few images are taken at the location above – all are from Google Streetview. This may well be the location of Gatehouse No. 58.

The distinctive form of a Gatehouse is visible in this photograph which is taken looking from the North, (Google Streetview).Still looking from the North, this view shows the line of the old railway. The garage to the left of the road is built over the old formation, (Google Streetview).This view shows the old formation beyond the road-crossing and is taken from close to the property in the earlier images above, (Google Streetview).

We noted in the satellite images above that, to the Northwest of the road crossing, the old line turn round to the Northeast.The next length of the line as shown on the GSGS mapping from the 1940s. [7]

We pick it up again in the next satellite image on the left. The track follows a sinuous course over the next kilometre or so, as can be seen on the next satellite image below.










These two image show the line passing under the road from Listillion to Lyons Court and then crossing the road between Listillion and Drumerdagh at Gatehouse No. 59. Kerry Doherty comments that the first of these two locations is a “bridge now filled in and the road re-aligned.”

Doherty provides two photographs from that location:

At this location the old road has been realigned when the bridge over the railway cutting was filled in. Both photographs were taken by Kerry Doherty, (c) Kerry Doherty [6]

A close-up Satellite image shows the old road alignment across the bridge. ….

The next feature along the line is Gatehouse No. 59 which is shown on the second of the two adjacent satellite images above.

Another extract from the GSGS Maps of the 1940s shows the length of the old line to the South of Gatehouse 59. [9]

Gatehouse 59 is at the bottom of this enlarged extract from Google’s satellite imagery, (Google Maps).

Beyond the infilled road bridge, the formation of the old line snaked northwards before reaching Gatehouse 59. Both the GSGS map and the satellite image above show that route. Gatehouse 59. The adjacent enlarged satellite image shows the location of Gatehouse 59 just to the North of the road at the bottom of the image.

The first Streetview image below shows the Gatehouse from the South. It is followed by a short series of views mainly from Google Streetview of the same Gatehouse. One image was generously provided by Kerry Doherty.

As the adjacent satellite image shows the old railway continued North from the location of Gatehouse No. 59. A modern bungalow and farm building straddles the old line and before it runs at the back of the gardens of a further two properties.

The first satellite image below show the route of the old railway as it begins to approach Letterkenny. After continuing North for a short distance the line turned sharply to the West running to the South side of what is today the N13/N14 dual carriageway and the L1114 local road.

Gatehouse 59 seen from the road immediately to the South, (Google Streetview).Gatehouse 59 seen from the road junction to the East of the location in 2011, (Google Streetview).A telephoto view of the Gatehouse taken more recently from the same position, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Gatehouse No. 59 seen from the Northeast, (Google Streetview).

The Strabane and Letterkenny Railway turned sharply to the left a short distance beyond Gatehouse No. 59, (Google Maps). The route is highlighted by a linear woodland which appears once the buildings close to the Gatehouse have been passed.

The old line was initially on a small embankment to the North of Gatehouse No. 59, but by the time it stared to curve to the West is was in cutting. Its route is now a linear woodland, as the satellite image above shows. I am really grateful to Kerry Doherty who visited this location on my behalf in October 2020. The next few images are taken by him.This picture is taken from the old track-bed looking towards the bridge, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6] The old formation can be seen curving to the left in this image. This is one of the more substantial structures along the length of the Strabane to Letterkenny Railway.Looking back to the South from the 3-arch Bridge, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]The substantial stone parapets belie the use of the over bridge which carries no more thana local track, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking ahead towards Letterkenny from the track carried by the old bridge, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking back towards the bridge from the old railway formation, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]The structure still retains its old number – 279! (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

Beyond structure No. 279 the old railway continued to curve round to a westerly direction and still in cutting encountered another road over rail bridge. The location of that bridge is to the right of the satellite image below.The Eastern outskirts of Letterkenny with the route of the Strabane & Letterkenny Railway highlighted in red, (Google Maps). 

The cutting at the Eastern side of the satellite image above has been partially infilled but the old bridge still has a void underneath it. Although the bridge is clearly of an age commensurate with having been built at the same time as the line, it does not appear on the 1940s GSGS map below.GSGS 1940s Map of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway on its early approaches to Letterkenny. At the western extremity of the map extract the point where the line begins to run immediately parallel to the Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway can just be seen. [10]

Kerry Doherty commented that the filling of the cutting seems to have cut off drainage runs and as a result there is a small body of water in the cutting. This does not show up on the pictures below.


The old railway cutting with the bridge just visible in the distance (Google Streetview)The bridge. This Google image shows the void underneath the structure. It is taken from the road which runs alongside the cutting (on its North side) for a short distance, (Google Streetview)This is Kerry Doherty’s photo of the bridge taken from the South side of the railway cutting in October 2020, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]This view shows the overgrown cutting looking back towards Strabane from the bridge above, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Finally at this location, another of Kerry Doherty’s photographs. This shows the route of the old railway taken from over the bridge parapet and looks towards Gatehouse 60 and Letterkenny, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking back along the route of the old line towards the two bridges shown above, (Google Streetview).A View from the old main road South showing the route of the old line as it crossed the road and a much extended Gatehouse 60 which appears to make an excellent private home, (Google Streetview). There is little sign here of the main N13 road which runs behind the trees which are just beyond property.Google Maps shows how close the Gatehouse No. 60 is to the new N13 road,(Google Maps).This view is taken from the N13 looking back along the old railway alignment towards Strabane. Gatehouse No. 60 can just be made out among the trees, (Google Streetview).Looking across the N13 and on along the route of the old line towards Gatehouse 61 and Letterkenny, (Google Streetview).

Beyond Gatehouse No. 60, the railway curved round from a Southwesterly trajectory towards the North before crossing the modern day L1114. On the way it crossed a single track lane by means of a bridge.The locations of a bridge and Crossing No. 61, (Google Maps)

Reaching the L1114 (at Bonagee Lane) the old railway was now running roughly North/South. The picture below shows the approximate alignment of the old railway where it crossed the L1114. A bungalow has now been built over the line of the old railway. The line was still on embankment at this point and a bridge took it over the L1114.The approximate route of the old railway where it crossed the L1114. A bungalow has now been built on the route of the old line, (Google Streetview).The 6″ OS Map of the location of the bridges and Gatehouse No. 61. [16]

Gatehouse No. 61 sits some distance North of the Bridge which carried the old railway over the L1114, (Google Maps).

North of the L1114 the railway alignment is not obvious. It ran 50 metres or perhaps less to the East of Bonagee Lane. Travelling North along Bonagee Lane leads to the discovery of what was Gatehouse No. 61. An accommodation lane crossed the railway at this point.

Kerry Doherty very kindly pointed out the location of the Gatehouse, without that help, I doubt that I would have located it. The building has been much extended as the Google Streetview image below shows.

Kerry missed the location himself, despite driving along Bonagee Lane from the North a few days ago. The clue is in the property name on the gatepost which can only be seen from the South and which appears in the image below.

An extended and refurbished Gatehouse No. 61 seen from the South, (Google Streetview).Gatehouse No. 61 is much extended. This photo is a 2011 view from the West on Bonagee Lane, (Google Streetview).

Kerry Doherty provided this link to the location in the archives of the National Library of Ireland – – on which at the top centre of the image Gatehouse No. 60 is visible. The two arched bridges mentioned above can also be picked out and, in the centre foreground, Gatehouse No. 61 can be seen in its original form. [17]

After Gatehouse No. 61 the old line continued North a short distance to the East of Bonagee Lane, until that lane turned from the North to the Northeast in Bonagee where Gatehouse No. 62 was sited. The crossing was known as Baird’s Crossing and the Keeper’s house can still be seen beyond the railway. It is heavily screened by trees and shrubs but can be seen from the Northeast, as the second image immediately below this text shows.The location of Gatehouse No. 62. the red line is a very approximate representation of the route of the old railway at this point, (Google Streetview).Baird’s Crossing Cottage (Gatehouse No. 62) seen from the Northeast in 2011. The original cottage has been extended at ground level. The railway ran behind the cottage in this view. Its route is over grown by trees and shrubs, (Google Streetview).

The Strabane and Letterkenny Railway crossed the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway by means of an over-bridge, (Google Maps).

Close to the final approach to Letterkenny, the Strabane and Letterkenny line ran parallel to the Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway. The point where they meet is illustrated on this GSGS 1940s map extract in the bottom right corner. [11]The two lines are shown entering the sketch plan from the right. The lighter dashes represent the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway and the heavier dashes, the L&LSR. (the North Point is at the top of the sketch map) (c) John Baird, Dave Bell, Steve Flanders & Blanche Pay. [12]A later OS Ireland Map showing the routes of the two railways. [13]

The Strabane and Letterkenny Railway approached the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway from the South at a point which appears in the bottom right of the adjacent map extract from the 1940s. The scale of the map is such that it is impossible to distinguish any indication of the track arrangement at this location and beyond towards Letterkenny.

The Visitor’s Guide to the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway [12] shows the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway running for a short distance on the South side of the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway (L&LSR), the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway is then shown crossing the route of the Lough Swilly line by means of an over-bridge and then running parallel to it into Letterkenny on the North side of the L&LSR.

That route is illustrated on the adjacent sketch Map. [12]

Other mapping suggests that the point at which the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway crossed the Lough Swilly line was further to the East, close to the point where the former met the L&LSR . This is illustrated on the adjacent later OS Ireland Map. [13]

The location of the rail over rail bridge is shown on Google Maps Satellite imagery of 2020 in the next image below.

From this point on the two lines converged gradually in both vertical and horizontal directions.

The Strabane and Letterkenny Railway crossed the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway by means of an over-bridge, (Google Maps).

I have only been able to find a couple of pictorial records of the rail-over-rail bridge myself. both of these are of a relatively poor print quality. They both appear in the same publication: The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway: A Visitor’s Guide. [12: p46]. The first shows the bridge as it was in the 1980s, the second in the years when it was still in use.

Kerry Doherty very kindly sent me a colour copy of a photograph of a S&LR train crossing the bridge in May 1959 with No. 5 Drumboe in charge of a goods train.This picture kindly supplied for use in this article by Kerry Doherty. It shows No. 5 Drumboe crossing the rail-over-rail bridge in 1959. By this time the Swilly line was already closed, (c) J.G. Dewing, Color-rail. [6]

To the West of this point the two railways passed under an accommodation road. The next photo shows the remains of the bridges at that location. The Swilly railway bridge parapets are close to the camera. The S&LR parapets can be seen in the distance with the metal fencing on the top.

The old road-over bridges on the eastern approaches to the River Swilly, looking North, (Google Streetview).  Dave Bell and Steve Flanders describe the location in the 1980s: “There is a small side road behind the filling station which runs over two bridges, carrying the road over both railway lines. The Swilly used a single arch overbridge here while, conversely, the CDR used a three-arched bridge: two smaller arches either side of the main arch.” [12:p46] The filling station is long-gone, replaced by more modern buildings alongside the N56.The S&LR railway bridge parapets can still be seen. Concrete with metal fencing is on the East face of the old bridge, Google (Streetview)Dave Bell and Steve Flanders describe the use of the bridge arches in the 1980s like this: “The present owner of the filling station has made good use of the CDR bridge by bricking up one side and building a garage against the other. In effect he now has a garage with three bays, the roof of which is actually the side road.” [12: p47] There are two pictures of the arched bays in Bell and Flanders book.Kerry Doherty also very kindly supplied this photograph which shows the arches of the old S&LR bridge inside the garage facility, (c) Dave Bell. [6]

The two railways then encountered the River Swilly and the main road into Letterkenny from the East. Twin structures carried the two railways over the river and the main road. The modern N56 main road and a large roundabout have obliterated almost all of the railway infrastructure at this location. There are some clues as to what it was like in Bell and Flanders book which was written before much of the infrastructure here had been removed. [12:p47]The modern N56 bridge over the River Swilly sits on the line of the two old railways, (Google Streetview). The roundabout ahead has almost entirely obliterated the rail-over-road bridges which carried the two railway lines over the Port Road. The only remnant appears in the next image.The North abutment of the S&LR bridge over the old road is all that remains of the two railway bridges at this location, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking back along the old railway with the remaining bridge abutment to our right, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6] 

The plaque which is visible in both these two photographs carries a drawing of what the old bridge(s) looked like.

The plaque in the images above, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]The historic OS Ireland Map extract show both of the two lines on the approach to the two Letterkenny Railway Stations which sat right next to each other at the Eastern edge of Letterkenny.. [13]The routes of the L&LSR and the S&LR shown on a 21st century satellite image, (Google Maps). The S&LR terminated in Letterkenny. The L&LSR continued further to the West and North.The Letterkenny Railway Stations. [13]

The two railway stations sat next to each other just to the East of the centre of Letterkenny. The two lines approached the stations on the South side of the R940. Their approximate route is highlighted on the Google Streetview image below.

Close to the junction between the R940 and Ashlawn the two railways ran very close to the road. Their route is now covered by the tarmac surface of the car parks of the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, (Google Streetview). The blue/mauve and red lines show the approximate alignment of the railways.

The location of the two railway stations includes the car parks of Letterkenny Shopping Centre and the bus station. Two building from the railway ear remain on the site. The old S&LR goods shed is one of these, it has been refurbished and is now called Railway House.The old S&LR goods shed has been refurbished and is now known as Railway House. This image was taken in 2017 from the R940, (Google Streetview).The same building as seen from the car park of the Letterkenny Shopping Centre, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

The old passenger facilities at the station have been converted in recent years into the town’s Bus Station. This required an extension to the building on what was the track-facing side. Kerry Doherty has generously provided three photographs of the modern building. [6]The front facade of the old Station Building, looking from the Southwest in 2020, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Inside the extension. The picture shows the old building’s Northeast facing aspect form roughly the position of the buffers stops on the old line. The platform canopy columns have been retained in the new building. The filigree detail has been retained, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking along the line of the old platform towards the Passenger Station Building. This facade is modern, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]This final present-day image was again provided by Kerry Doherty and shows the station yard crane almost swamped by vegetation, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

We finish this article with a series of pictures of the old S&LR facilities at Letterkenny.

This first image was provided by Kerry Doherty and shows the length of the station platform at Letterkenny in 1959, (c) B. Hilton, Colorrail. [6]This monochrome photograph was taken by Roger Joanes in 1959. The photo was taken from close to the Station building. The railcar is No. 14 and in the distance, under a plume of steam, No. 4 can be seen shunting the yard, (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [14]Also by Roger Joanes, the inscription states: “The former CDR loco ‘Erne’ at Letterkenny, freshly painted for preservation but subsequently scrapped. 2.4.63.” (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [14]The disused S&LR station at Letterkenny in 1963 seen from the location of ‘Erne’ (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [14]An overall shot of the Station and Goods Yard in 1959. Loco No. 4, ‘Meenglas’ is preparing to set off for Strabane in charge of a goods train, (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [14]

Donegal Railway Heritage Centre posted this next photograph on their Facebook page. In this series of articles about the Co. Donegal Railways, photographs from the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre’s Facebook page are ‘linked-to’ after discussion with and kind permission from Jim McBride.


  1. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The County Donegal Railways; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2014. As noted in my first article about the Co. Donegal Railways this was to have been my holiday reading while walking different parts of the network, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  2., accessed on 11th October 2020.
  3.,_Cavan_%26_Clara._LetterKenny_Strabane_RJD_113.jpg#/media/File:Athlone,_Cavan_&_Clara._LetterKenny_Strabane_RJD_113.jpg, accessed on 14th July 2020.
  4. The County Donegal Railways Visitor Guide to the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway is now out of print and i have not been able to find a copy.
  5. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The Lough Swilly Railway; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2017. This was also to have been part of my holiday reading, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  6. Kerry Doherty of Ballindrait very kindly sent me a series of pictures of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway route. Each of these, in this article, bears the reference number [6]
  7., accessed on 12th October 2020.
  8. Anthony Burges; The Swilly and the Wee Donegal; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down, Second Impression, 2010.
  9., accessed on 12th October 2020.
  10., accessed on 14th October 2020.
  11., accessed on 27th October 2020.
  12. Dave Bell and Steve Flanders; The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway: A Visitor’s Guide; County Donegal Railway Restoration Society; an small extract from the sketch plan on p42, rotated through 90 degrees.
  13., accessed on 27th and 28th October 2020.
  14., accessed on 27th October 2020.
  15., accessed on 28th October 2020.
  16., accessed on 10th November 2020.
  17., accessed on 10th November 2020 – a thumbnail is provided here , the full size image can be viewed by clicking on the link

Co. Donegal Railways, Ireland – Part 5 – Strabane to Letterkenny (Part B – Raphoe to Convoy)

As we noted at the start of the previous article about this line, Wikipedia gives us a very short history of the line from Strabane to Letterkenny and provides a single image – the Railway Clearing House map with stations in Strabane and Letterkenny:

The Railway Clearing House map with stations in Strabane and Letterkenny. [3]

This series of articles seeks to expand our understanding of the route of the various Co. Donegal Railways through combining old images and modern views. Satellite images also give us a good understanding of what remains of the infrastructure of these lines.

A Journey Along the Line – Strabane to Letterkenny – Part B – Raphoe to Convoy

A sketch plan of Raphoe Railway Station by Steve Flanders from the book ‘The County Donegal Railways’ [1: p43] This drawing is included by kind permission of Steve Flanders.Railcar No. 20 at Raphoe Station, heading for Letterkenny in 1959 (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) The Crossing-keepers cottage at the level-crossing to the East of the Station can be picked out to the right of the railcar. By this time, the passing loop shown in Steve Flanders sketch plan above had been lifted. [7]

Having enjoyed a stopover in Raphoe, we start the next stage of this journey back at the Railway Station at Raphoe and pick up the last image (above) from the previous article about the line:

Before we climb aboard Railcar No. 20 as it sets off for Letterkenny we look at the condition of the station site in the 21st century. The two pictures immediately below were taken relatively recently by Kerry Doherty. The first shows the location of the old station platform, the second looks from the West through the station site.

All that remains of the platform of Raphoe station. You can clearly see this shed is built on top of it (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]This picture appeared at the end of the last article about this line. It shows the site of Raphoe Station in 21st century taken from a similar position to the Roger Joanes image above. The Station Master’s House on the left is the only building remaining on the site. Kerry Doherty comments that ‘it was difficult to get a photo of the site as many lorries now occupy the yard’, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

There are also two excellent photographs of Raphoe in Anthony Burges Album of the line. [8: p32-33]

Now we set off towards Convoy from Raphoe Railway Station. …….GSGS 1940s Map of Raphoe and its Southwestern approaches. [2]The site of Raphoe Railway Station in the 21st century. [4]The route continues through Aughnakeeragh (Google Maps).

The three images immediately above show that the line began, gradually, to curve round to a Southwesterly direction as it left Raphoe Railway Station, before turning almost directly South at Aughnakeeragh.

At location ‘1’ on the map immediately above, the road turned sharply to the south so as to cross the railway on a bridge.The narrow road crossed the old railway on a stone arch bridge. The railway cutting has now been infilled and the road alignment marginally improved (Google Streetview). This view shows the approach from Raphoe.Crossing the bridge location and turning to look back towards Raphoe, this is the view (Google Streetview)

At location ‘4’, an accommodation bridge provided access across the old line.

The location of the old bridge is difficult to pick out on this image from Google Streetview.

This image, taken by Kerry Doherty from the top of the bridge at location ‘3’ above gives a better impression of the remains of the old bridge. The S&LR was in cutting at the bridge but the land drops away towards the foreground and at the point of the modern access road in the middle of the picture, the line went from being in cutting to being on an embankment, (c) Kerry Doherty [6]

As noted under the picture above, at location ‘2’, the old railway was almost at the same level as the surrounding land with cutting to the East and embankment developing to the West.A modern farm access road crosses the old line at the approximate location when natural land levels and the formation of the S&LR matched (Google Streetview).

At location ‘3’, close to Aughnakeeragh, the railway was carried over a road on a stone arch bridge.This Google Streetview image shows the bridge viewed from the Southeast.The Google Streetview image of the bridge taken from the Northwest shows it heavily overgrown by ivy.In this recent photograph, the bridge has been stripped of vegetation and is much more clearly visible, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]This Google Streetview image is taken from the road on the North side of the line, immediately to the West of the above bridge and shows the Railway embankment disturbed to allow vehicles to access land to the South.The next extract from the GSGS 1940s series of Maps shows the line to the West of Aughnakeeragh. [9]

After passing immediately to the West of Aughnakeeragh the line headed South for a Short distance before curving to the West once again.

There was an accommodation bridge which carried a lane across the S&LR at Tullyvinny. The location appears on the adjacent Google Maps extract to the Southwest of the road junction at the centre of the satellite image. The lane ran parallel to the S&LR for a short distance on the East side of the railway cutting before turning West across the line. The closest we can get on Google Streetview is shown in the first image below.

The next track to cross the line was that leading to Figart Upper Farm. The Lane appears in the bottom third, on the left-hand side of the next Google Maps satellite image below. The farm is on the left-hand side of the image close to the top.From Figart Upper Farm to Kiltole the old line was alternately in cutting and at the same level as the surrounding land but on the hill above the road which ran parallel to it to the South. An accommodate bridge over the line is marked by the black circle on the above plan and appears to relate to another structure which can be seen on the Goggle Streetview photograph below and which is taken from the road a little to the West of the accommodation bridge.A lime kiln adjacent to the accommodation bridge referred to above. It seems as though the bridge permitted access to the lime kiln.  (Google Streetview).

Very kindly, when I first asked about this structure in very early October 2020, Kerry Doherty offered to investigate. He took his camera with him as he endeavoured to walk the line from the West. He gained access to the old line through a field adjacent to the Kiltole Quarry . His first photograph shows the formation to the East of the quarry.

The formation of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway to the East of Kiltole Quarry, (c) Kerry Doherty [6]

Kerry’s trek along the line increasingly required him to struggle through bushes, small trees and thick under growth. The next picture is taken looking West from close to the lime-kiln and its bridge.

Looking West towards Convoy close to the Limekiln, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Kerry Doherty says: “It got almost impassable approaching the bridge beside the lime kiln. The bridge pillars can just be seen through the trees,” (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Kerry says: “I climbed the cutting to get a better shot of the bridge,” (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Some original boundary fencing adjacent to the bridge parapet, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Looking across the accommodation bridge and then across the Lime Kiln to the South, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]Adjacent to the Lime Kiln the two approach walls to the bridge parapet railing can be seen. That to the East is curved in plan, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

Three pictures of the Lime Kiln follow. All again taken by Kerry Doherty:The Lime Kiln from the South, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]The view from the Southwest, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]A close-up shot of the mouth of the Kiln, (c) Kerry Doherty. [6]

Immediately to the west, the road and old railway ran close together. This can be seen in this next Google Streetview image.In this picture the formation of the S&LR can be seen in the trees immediately at the back of the land belonging to this bungalow (Google Streetview).

The line ahead now approaches Convoy. Although the formation is completely lost as it crossed the site of the now defunct Kiltole Quarry. The railway station was in the part of Convoy referred to as Milltown (to the East of Convoy itself), sited just to the North of the old mills.The Village/Town of Convoy (Milltown) on the GSGS 1940s Series of Maps. [10]

Convoy on the Header National Townland and Historical Map Viewer. The route of the old railway has been imposed on the map as a thin red line. [11]The approximate route of the old line through Convoy (Google Maps). The locations of the Gatehouse and the two road over rail bridges are marked.

The closest view of the Railway Station site at Convey that is available on Google Streetview. The last remaining structure on the site is the goods shed.

Convoy Railway Station 1959 (c) Roger Joanes, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

This second length of the Strabane to Letterkenny line finishes here at Convoy, the remainder of the line to Letterkenny will follow in another post.


  1. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The County Donegal Railways; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2014. As noted in my first article about the Co. Donegal Railways this was to have been my holiday reading while walking different parts of the network, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  2., accessed on 25th July 2020.
  3.,_Cavan_%26_Clara._LetterKenny_Strabane_RJD_113.jpg#/media/File:Athlone,_Cavan_&_Clara._LetterKenny_Strabane_RJD_113.jpg, accessed on 14th July 2020.
  4., accessed on 25th July 2020.
  5. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The Lough Swilly Railway; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2017. This was also to have been part of my holiday reading, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  6. Kerry Doherty of Ballindrait very kindly sent me a series of pictures of the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway route. Each of these, in this article, bears the reference number [6] Later, and also referenced [6] Kerry scrambled through the undergrowth along the old line to find evidence of the accommodation bridge and the rear of the lime kiln.
  7., accessed on 22nd July 2020.
  8. Anthony Burges; The Swilly and the Wee Donegal; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down, Second Impression, 2010.
  9., accessed on 8th August 2020.
  10., accessed on 9th August 2020.
  11., accessed on 5th October 2020.

The Guinness Brewery Railways, Dublin, again. ….

The featured image above shows a staggering number of barrels at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin! [3]

This very short article results from some recent reading about the railways on the Guinness Brewery site in Dublin.

  • An article in ‘Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling Review’ Issue 60 Volume 8, October 2004, p134-142; [1] and
  • Paul Webb, ‘Shifting the Stout’, The Moseley Trust, Apedale, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. [2]

The Brewery in St James’s Gate, Dublin was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759, one of dozens based on the pure water available from the River Liffey. Guinness outlasted and outgrew all its competitors to become one of the greatest brewing empires in the world. 

Between 1868 and 1886 Guinness spent over £1 million on capital projects. As part of these developments, two rail systems were created within the expanded brewery site. I have covered these in some depth in an earlier article about the brewery railways. ….

Instrumental in much of the development of the brewery site was Samuel Geoghegan who was Engineer to the Brewery.

The article in Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling Review is archive material, courtesy of ‘Engineering’ magazine and the Greenwich & District NGRS. It consists primarily of a transcript of an illustrated presentation by Samuel Geoghegan which was carried by ‘Engineering’ Magazine in September and October 1888. It includes detailed drawings, engravings and photographs. Back copies of the magazine are available from Roy C. Link, Cambrian Forge, Garndolbenmaen, Gwynedd, LL51 9RX.

Paul Webb’s book is an A4 no-frills publication in basic green card cover and printed on standard copier paper but it contains a wealth of illustrations and detailed text about the Brewery and the various forms of transport, road, rail and water, that served it. Well worth the £8.50 plus postage that it cost, especially knowing that any profit from the sale supports the Moseley Railway Trust.

There are also some excellent YouTube offerings which focus on the brewery and the different modes of transport it employed. …. For example: [4]


  1. Samuel Geohegan; Tramways and Rolling Stock at Guinness’s Brewery; Narrow Gauge & Industrial Railway Modelling Review, Issue 60 Volume 8, October 2004, p134-142 (, accessed on 22nd July 2020.)
  2. Paul Webb, Shifting the Stout; The Moseley Trust, Apedale, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. (, accessed on 22nd July 2020.)
  3. This image is available from a variety of online sources including:, accessed on 22nd July 2020;, accessed on 22nd July 2020
  4., accessed on 22nd July 2020.

Co. Donegal Railways, Ireland – Part 2 – The Glenties Branch – Ballinamore to Glenties

This article covers the Western length of the Glenties Branch of the Co. Donegal Railways. The Eastern length of the branch is covered in the first article in this series about the Co. Donegal Railways which can be found at:

An extract from a larger picture (Scanned slide) (c) G Sludge (Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)). [2]

At the end of the first article we got off the train at Ballinamore station (which serves the village community of Bellanamore) and were surprised to see how spartan the accommodation in the passenger facilities was. We were even more surprised to discover that the main station building, such as it was, managed to survive into the 21st century.

We return to Ballinamore station to catch the next train looking forward to visiting the next station on the line at Fintown!

A photograph of the ‘lifting’ train at Ballinamore. After closure the line was ‘lifted’ and removed leaving in most places no more than the formation. [32]An extract from the GSGS Map from the early 1940s showing the route of the Glenties Branch from Ballinamore to Fintown. Ballinamore Station is in the second map sqaure form the right at the top of the image, to the southeast of the bridge over the River Finn. [1]

A larger scale view of the station location at Ballinamore. [1]

We can imagine hopping onto Railcar No. 6 heading for Fintown. … As we leave the ‘station’ behind we look to our left and see the station master’s house. Not large, but certainly bigger than the station facilities we have just enjoyed!

On the adjacent map extract the location of the station house can be picked out as a very slight bump on the side of the road just Northwest of the Station.

The Station House has survived and is now a holiday rental property which in 2020 has recently been refurbished.

The first picture below shows the Station House in 2020 with the old railway formation marked in red behind it. The second image is the Google Earth satellite image of the site.

The Station House at Ballinamore. [4]

Ballinamore Station House ( Google Maps).

The line continued Northwest across the road from the station to the R252 and Bellanamore Village. The image below shows that the crossing was at grade. Traffic flows were so small that it is very likely that this was an un-gated crossing.

The next satellite image shows the line heading way towards Fintown. It is followed by a Google Streetview image of the line leaving the level-crossing behind. Earthworks were minimal and its embankment was no more than a couple of feet above the surrounding land!Bellanamore Village from the South West looking across the line of the Glenties Branch which is marked in red (Google Streetview).The Glenties Branch heading Northwest from Ballinamore Station Halt (Google Maps).The line northwest of the level-crossing was on a very shallow embankment which lifted it above the boggy ground (Google Streetview). The trees in the distance mark the location of the Stranagoppoge River.

Road (R250), Rail (The Glenties Branch) and Lough Finn’s North shore rune roughly parallel (Google Streetview).

Just a short distance further along the line, trains crossed the Stranagoppoge River, a tributary of the River Finn is perhaps one of the lesser known of its tributaries and is part of the Cloghan Lodge Estate. I have been unable to ascertain what the structure of the bridge was like. The line then passed close to the South West shore of Lough Sluvnagh before beginning to turn towards the West, heading for Fintown.The Glenties Branch as it passed Lough Sluvnagh (Google Maps).Lough Sluvnagh and the route of the old railway (Google Streetview). This photograph is taken from the road South of the line.The view across Lough Sluvnagh from the R252 showing the line of the old railway (Google Streetview). I have shown the line of the railway using a very narrow red line.The location of the next road crossing to the West of Lough Sluvnagh (Google Streetview).The Glenties Line to the West of Lough Sluvnagh shown on the GSGS Map of the early 1940s. The crossing in the image above is shown just to the left of the grid line on the map. [5]Looking back along the old Glenties Branch towards Lough Sluvnagh from the road crossing (Google Streetview).Looking West along the line of the Branch. The shell of a building which was probably the crossing-keepers cottage is in the left foreground (Google Streetview).A satellite image of the approach to Fintown and its Lake (Google Maps).The road-crossing on the approach to Fintown. It appears at the extreme left of the satelite image above. This view is taken facing South across what was the old crossing (Google Streetview).The line ahead towards Fintown. This view looks from the road to the south of the crossing in a westerly direction (Google Streetview).A short distance further West the line approached Fintown and its station. This extract from the GSGS Maps of the early 1940s shows both the Lake and the town with the station sitting alongside the lake. [6]The Approach to Fintown Station. [25]The Fintown Railway. [7]Fintown Station (Google Maps).Fintown Railway Station House (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0). [13]The Eastern end of the preserved Fintown Railway in 2010 (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0) [8]The Water Tower at Fintown Station in 2010, a reminder that once the station was served by steam locomotive power (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0). [9]Fintown Station in 2007 (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0) [10]The old Goods shed and workshop at Fintown Station in 2010, viewed from the platform (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0). [11]Another view of the workshops at Fintown Station (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0). [12]Railcar No. 18 at Fintown Station Platform. [14]Fintown Railway’s Railcar approaches the station throat at Fintown Station, heading East into the station [14]The old line followed the Northern shore of the Lough along its full length. The preserved line follows the same route (Google Maps)The journey along the lakeside begins. [15]The ‘modern’ service runs between the road and Lough Finn along the full length of the Lough. This picture was taken in 2012 (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0). [16]A view of the line towards the Western end of Lough Finn taken from the R250. Just visible in this photograph is the style which appears in the following photograph (Google Streetview).Railcar No. 18 again in 2012 (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0). [17]Another view of the line from the R250. The style is now in the left foreground (Google Streetview).The R250 and the railway run parallel for quitea while alongside the Lough (Google Streetview).Road and Rail closely followed the Lough shore (Google Maps)Over halfway along the Lough now, also in 2012 (c) Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0). [18]Another view of the line and the Lough from the R250 (Google Streetview).The end of the Lough approaches (Google Maps).With the West end of the Lough in view the R250, the railway and the Lough seem to get compressed together (Google Streetview).The Glenties Branch West-Southwest of Lough Finn (Google Maps).A larger scale extract from the above satellite image showing the end of the Lough and the approximate extent of the Fintown Railway in 2020 (Google Maps).This view is taken a little to the West of the end of the Lough and the end of the Fintown Railway. The side road visible here is the road to the right-hand side of the satellite image aboveOne the satellite image above. It is taken looking South from the R250 across the route of the old line towards a modern Multi-Use Games Area. The route of the line was in cutting and the parapets of a bridge remain into the 21st century. A couple of track panels have been stored here. (Google Streetview).

West of Lough Finn, the Glenties Branch continued in a Southwesterly direction to wards Shallogan. The route of the old line is shown on the next extract from the GSGS Maps of the early 1940s which is reproduced below. The whole of the Fintown to Sahallogan length of the line is shown on the first image below. The Glenties Branch between Fintown and Shallogan. [19]The second of the two map extracts above shows the length of the line from the West end of Lough Finn to Shallogan. [20] As can be seen the line remained on the South side of the R250 along this full length. Along the length from a point a few hundred metes West of Lough Finn to Shallogan the line was on a downward grade. As the next image shows, the line was raised on a very shallow embankment in places. At other places there were shallow cuttings. Both cutting and embankments were no more than a few feet in depth or height.. and ran close to the road for much of the distance.The Glenties Branch Southwest of Lough Finn (Google Streetview).The Glenties Branch a little further Southwest (Google Streetview).The length of the Glenties Branch covered in the pictures above (Google Maps).The Glenties Branch continues in a Southwesterly direction (Google Maps)In a very short distance the R250 rejoins the route of the old railway, running just to the North (Google Maps).The Glenties Branch ran on a shallow embankment as indicated by the red line above (Google Streetview).At times road and rail were immediately next to each other (Google Maps).The fence-posts delineating the line of the railway still remain in places (Google Streetview).The final approaches to the hamlet of Shallogan (Google Maps).The first property in Shallogan viewed from the R250 (Google Streetview).Shallogan: there was a halt here which was the last formal stop before Glenties. That did not mean that you could not wave down the railcar passing you and get one anywhere along the line (Google Maps).Railway Culvert at Shallogan (Googl;e Streetview).South West of Shallogan road and rail separated once again (Google Maps).Looking East back along the line of the branch at the point where the line began to diverge from the route of the R250 and where the line crossed the River Shallogan twice in very short succession (Google Streetview).Looking Southwest from the same location. The old line can be seen curving away to the Southwest while the R250 urn further to the West (Google Streetview).The GSGS Map of the length of the line between Shallogan and GlentiesThe route of the Glenties Branch continues Southwest and will soon be met once again by the R250 (Google Maps). Just above the wooded area the first of two remaining bridges over the River Shallogan can be seen on the satellite image.The second of these two bridges is visible in the top-right of this next satellite image (Google Maps).Looking back to the Northeast along the old railway line. At this locaTion the formation is most clearly visible with significant cutting and embankments (Google Streetview).The line continues towards Glenties (Google Maps). Along this length the formation of the old railway is hidden from the road by  bushes and scrubland.

We are now on the final approach to Glenties and the old railway was travelling South-Southwest alongside the R250. The adjacent satellite image shows its course cut by a farmyard and then a road. The road crossed the line of the railway on a bridge. The first image below shows the view Northeast from the bridge looking through the farmyard back towards Fintown and Shallogan.

The second image looks forward towards Glenties. It is less easy to establish the route of the railway in this image, but it runs to the  western edge of the copse of trees.

A view Northeast along the old railway formation from a road overbridge (Google Streetview).Looking towards Glenties (Google Streetview).

Flickr has two images of this bridge taken from the fields either side of the road. [28][29]

After this the old line began to curve round to the towards the Southwest again. It encountered another road which is crossed at ground level.Looking North by Northeast along the old line towards Shallogan (Google Streetview).Looking towards Glenties at the road-crossing. The crossing-keepers house is still standing (Google Streetview).On towards Glenties (Google Maps). The formation of the old line is lost in scrub land to the South side of the R250 and cannot easily be picked out on Google Streetview.The outskirts of Glenties (Google Maps).The final few hundred metres to the railway station are covered on this satellite image and the next (Google Maps).

Level crossing with the R250 on the approach to Glenties Station. This view looks Northeast along the line (Google Streetview).Glenties Station is just ahead beyond the tree-line. This view is taken at the level-crossing location on the R250.Glenties Railway Station Building viewed from the R250 (Google Streetview).

Glenties Railway Station in 1966, (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [26]Glenties Railway Station looking towards the buffer-stops in 1966, (c) Roger Joanes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). [27]Locomotive “Foyle” at Glenties Station with Engine Driver B. McMenamin and Fireman J. O’Donnell. Photograph “From the Wilds of Donegal”, used with permission from the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre and found on their Facebook page. [31]A very grainy image showing one of the Co. Donegal Railcars on shed at Glenties, with thanks to Kerry Doherty. [32]Co. Donegal Railways Railcar 6 at Glenties, with thanks to Kerry Doherty. [32]

The location of Glenties railway Station. The station building is a B&B in the 21st century (Google Maps).

The adjacent satellite image brings our journey along the Glenties Branch to an end.

There are a few pictures of the station to follow below and a note too about an attempt to take the line on the Ardara.

The Fintown Railway has ambitions to bring its preservation line along the old trackbed to Glenties. I imagine that the events of 2020 may well have made that a more remote possibility than it was.

Glenties Railway Station Building in the 21st century. The property is now a B&B. This view is from the track-side of the station building. [21]

Glenties Station Building in the 21st century. [22]

A view along the line of the platform in 2020. [22]

The extension of the Glenties Branch to Ardara

There was once a plan to extend the line. It was a sensible plan as it would have taken the line close to the coast and to a basic harbour. It might have given the line a new lease of life. But it failed to get off the ground. [23: p38-41][24]

Ardara was 6 miles West of Glenties and had a small population of around 500 people. There had been government funding for a number of railway extensions around the turn of the 20th century. These included extensions to Burtonport and to Cardonagh. The people of Ardara felt encouraged to try to gain their own railway extension.

A vpetition was sent to the directors of the railway in 1903, which was acknowledge but then left on a shelf. After the 1906 takeover of the Company, Ardara renewed their pressure for their own extension. The reaction was lukewarm. The directors did say that if funding could be found through Parliament they would consent to run the line. After some vacillation and some minor successes in seeking funding. A grand total of £2,000 was raised!

Henry Forbes reviewed the possible extension and suggested that it might be built for around £5,000 per mile – around £30,000 overall. This meant that the promoters would need to raise around £28,000 which was far beyond their means.

Glenties to Ardara on the GSGS Map of the early 1940s. []

Nonetheless the promoters continued to pursue their goal. Patterson et al. intimate that negotiations were reopened in 1919 and again in 1922, but to no avail. The matter was raised again in 1936 when there was a possibility of peat extraction taking place using the extension for transport. This also failed to materialise. And finally, amid the post war fuel crisis. an extension was once more considered but the imminent closure of the whole branch put paid to this and any further efforts to open an extension to Ardara. [23: p40-41]


  1., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  2., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  3., accessed on 13th June 2020.
  4., accessed on 12th June 2020.
  5., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  6., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  7., accessed on 14th June 2020.
  8., accessed on 14th June 2020.
  9., accessed on 14th June 2020.
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  11., accessed on 14th June 2020.
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  18., accessed on 14th June 2020.
  19., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  20., accessed on 15th June 2020.
  21., accessed on 21st June 2020.
  22., accessed on 22nd June 2020.
  23. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The County Donegal Railways; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2014. As noted in my first article about the Co. Donegal Railways this was to have been my holiday reading while walking different parts of the network, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  24., accessed on 22nd June 2020.
  25., accessed on 22nd June 2020.
  26., accessed on 22nd June 2020.
  27., accessed on 22nd June 2020.
  28., accessed on 22nd June 2020.
  29., accessed on 22nd June 2020.
  30., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  31., accessed on 24th June 2020.
  32. After completing the first version of this article I was offered three images by Kerry Doherty of Ballindrait, Co. Donegal.

Co. Donegal Railways, Ireland – Part 3 – Petrol Railmotors

The Co. Donegal Railways were early adopters of modern technology, First, in the early 1900s, it was petrol railmotors with which they flirted. Later, they were the quickest narrow-gauge lines in the British Isles to adopt diesel railcars. This post looks at the Co. Donegal’s use of petrol railmotors! I have generally called the petrol-powered vehicles ‘railmotors’ and when I get round to looking at the later vehicles starting with No. 7, I will call them ‘railcars’!

When W.R. Lawson retired in 1910, Henry Forbes was appointed as Secretary and Traffic Manager. Forbes was an innovator. He realised very quickly that an increase in the number of stopping places would result in increased usage of the network. He introduced a number of new halts. He also introduced a number of improvements in many of the more established stations. And in a very short time he started to allow the railmotors and railcars he bought to stop anywhere on the network, not just at stations and halts. [1: p61-62]

A few years prior to his appointment, a tiny 4-wheeled railmotor had been purchased. It was just 6ft high and originally had a 10hp petrol engine. Its capacity was only 10 passengers. Because of its diminutive size, it was only infrequently used to cover passenger duties. Its main functions were the carriage of post and serving as a maintenance vehicle. [1: p60] There is an excellent study of this railmotor sitting in Stranorlar Station which was taken by H.C. Casserley. Peterson et al reproduce it in their book. [1: p114]

The Donegal Railway Heritage Centre posted a picture of the railmotor on Facebook,a long with the description beneath. [3]

”Even if this original … Railmotor … was used spasmodically, it had yielded valuable experience. In 1926, with the balance sheet insisting on lowered operating costs, Forbes decided that the time was ripe to show that his railway could give as flexible a service as the road omnibuses and a faster one withal.” [1: p60, cf. p114] It was preserved in its final version and is now housed at the Ulster Transport Museum. [4]Co. Donegal Railways Railmotor No. 1, (c) Ulster Transport Museum, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International. [5] The YouTube video below shows pictures of this railmotor in the museum at Cultra and a computer simulation of the railmotor in action on the Trainz simulation software produced by ‘ing4trainz’. [21]

Railmotors Nos. 2 & 3 which came from the DVLR. [22]

Railmotor No. 1 – A simulation by ING4Trainz. [22]

Given his experiences with the diminutive Railmotor No. 1, Forbes took a chance on a pair of Ford petrol-engined railcars. They came from the standard-gauge Derwent Valley Light Railway (DVLR) near York. They had been purchased by the DVLR in May 1924 at a total cost of £1070 with the intention of keeping the costs of transporting passengers to a minimum. “Each was built on a Ford 1‑ton truck chassis with bodywork by C.H. Roe Ltd of Leeds. Rated at 22hp, they weighed 2 tons 7 cwts, and were fitted with 17 seats.” [2] They were not popular with passengers on DVLR and were soon up for sale. Forbes bought them in June 1926 for a total of £480. By August 1926 the pair of railmotors were in Londonderry being converted to 3ft-gauge! [2]

There were a number of these railmotors, from a number of different manufacturers, in use on Light Railways around England at the time. A review of their use on the Colonel Stephens’ family of Light Railways can be found on the following link:

It is worth noting that Colonel Stephens took an interest in the two DVLR railmotors when they were put on the market. It seems likely that his expressed interest prevented Forbes negotiating a lower price for the vehicles. [1: p115]

These railmotors were usually used in pairs, back-to-back, but on the Co. Donegal Lines they were often used singly. (Although initially on the DVLR, they had been used as a pair, small turntables were installed at Layerthorpe and Skipwith in order to allow the units to be used singly.) Once available on the Co. Donegal Railways, these vehicles were “reasonably successful and lasted until 1934 when they were withdrawn from service.” [2]

Patterson et al. comment: “On the DVLR they had run in tandem, … but on the Donegal lines they were run separately. From the start, they operated regular passenger services: by modern standards they were noisy and subjected the passengers to considerable vibration, but their ability to stop anywhere was deservedly popular in a country of small farms and isolated cottages. Futhermore, the operating costs were only a fraction of those of orthodox steam trains:” [1: p60]  3.25d per mile rather than 11.25d per mile. It appears that Patterson et al were unaware of the use of small turntables on the DVLR.

I have managed to find one old photograph of this par of railmotors while in use on the DVLR at York – Layerthorpe Station. They look to be in as new condition. It has beenn impossible to establish the provenance of this photograph. [6]DVLR Railmotors in use at Layertorpe Sation near York. [6] These railmotors became Railmotors No. 2 and 3 on the County  Donegal railways.It is interesting that this photograph of one of the two railmotors (No. 2) after conversion for the Co. Donegal Railways is shown on the IRS website in an article from 1973 and it is credited to Dr. E.M. Patterson, [2] but the picture does not appear in the Book about the Co. Donegal Railways from Patterson et al. [1] … The changes are self-evident. The re-gauging to 3ft-gauge would have left the centre of gravity of the vehicle too high and as a result the body was lowered on the chassis which created a very different look. The rear wheels were almost hidden inside the bodywork.

Petrol Railmotors No. 2 and 3 were a success. Not an unqualified one, but nonetheless they resulted in a significant change of direction for the management of the Co. Donegal Railways. The future would be in the use of railcars rather than in the continued development of steam traction.

Patterson et al. comment that the alterations to the railmotors before they saw service on the Co. Donegal Railways took place at Dundalk rather than in the Northwest. They were ready for use in the Autumn of 1926. They did have some axle problems and during their lifetime saw their axles strengthened to be more in line with usual railway practice. [1: p117] But they served well until 1933 when they were beginning to be rather tired.Railcar/Railmotor No. 4 with the loco shed, water tower and carriage shed in Donegal Town, 1931. This picture was found on the Facebook group associated with the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. (c) Sam Carse and held in the collection of the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. [20]

Railmotor/Railcar No. 4 – a simulation produced by ING4Trainz. [22]

County Donegal Railcar/Railmotor No. 4, 16mm scale model for use on 45mm-gauge track, recently for sale on an internet-based sales platform. [18]

Co. Donegal Railmotor No. 4 – Model of the body shell which was for sale relatively recently on a internet-based sales platform. [15]

In 1928 they were joined by Railcar/Railmotor No. 4 which was also fueled by petrol. It was a significantly larger beast, based on a 30-cwt Ford chassis. Its size meant that it could not operate with a rigid chassis if it was to negotiate the tight curves on the network. It was therefore given a pony truck for the from axle. The vehicle was fully assembled by October 1928. Apart from some problems with its axles, the vehicle was again a success and lasted in service throughout the Second World War only being scrapped in 1947 after 19 years service. [1: p118]. There is a small scale drawing of this railmotor in Appendix 11 E.M. Patterson et al. [1: p173]

Appendix 8 of ‘The County Donegal Railways’ tells us that the petrol powered railmotors gradually gave way to diesel powered units but petrol continued to be a power source until the late 1940s. [1: p165]

We have already noted that Railmotor No. 1 was not scrapped but was eventually preserved at Cultra. Railmotors No. 2 and 3 were scrapped in 1934. They were replaced by two other units which were given the same designation. The new No. 2 was of a similar power to the one’s scrapped and arrived in 1934. It had a 22-hp engine but carried 30 rather than 17 people. It  came second-hand from the Castlederg & Victoria Bridge Tramway and remained in service until 1944 when it was converted to a trailer. It was not sold until 1961 when it was removed to Mountcharles in the South of Co. Donegal. The new No. 2 was a 24-seat railcar with a Fordson paraffin engine built in 1925 at Castlederg and referred to in the Wikipedia article about that line. [7] Although basic in design, that vehicle was capable of being driven from either end and the driver also sold the tickets.

I have not been able to find the drawings for the new No. 2, although I believe that they are included in E.M. Patterson’s book about the Castlederg and Victoria Bridge Tramway (C&VBT). [8] ING4Trainz do not appear to have produced a simulation for this railcar/railmotor either in its C&VBT guise or its CDR livery days. There is however a model of the railcar running on a layout which depicts the Castlederg terminus of the old Tramway which closed in 1933. It is a kit-built model from a Worsley Works kit, built by  Andy Cundick. [9],[10] The scale is OOn3.

Railmotor/Railcar No. 3 (new) which came from the D&BST – a simulation by ING4Trainz [22]

The new No. 3 came from the Dublin & Blessington Steam Tramway (D&BST) in 1934. It was also a larger vehicle than the old No. 3 with a passenger capacity of 40 and a 35-hp engine. The vehicle was built by the Drewry Car Co. Ltd. It arrived on the Dublin and Blessington Steam Tramway in 1926. It had two driving axles and two pony axles, and could be driven from either end. On that tramway it ran on a track gauge of 5ft 3in and so had to be converted to 3ft gauge. It operated successful on the Co. Donegal until 19….. when it was converted into a trailer and continued in active use until 19…….. “It is now the sole surviving vehicle from the old Dublin & Blessington Steam Tramway, residing at the transport museum at Cultra.” [11]

Shapways 3D-printed model of Drewry Railcar No. 3 [12]

A number of other pictures are available across the internet. There is an excellent study at [13] Some discussion about detailing of models of this vehicle can be found on the Irish Railway Modellers Forum. [14]

Railcar/Railmotor Trailer No. 5 ( and No. 2). A simulation by ING4Trainz. [22]

No. 5 in the series is a slight anomaly. The designation was given to the railmotor/railcar trailer which was purpose-built for that role. it had a 9ft wheelbase and was designed by the drawing office in Dundalk. A software simulation of the trailer has been produced by ING4Trainz. [22] The chassis was constructed by Knutsford Motors Ltd and the body by O’Doherty at Strabane. It weighed 3 ton 4.5-cwt and had sufficient room for 28 passengers. E.M. Patterson et al. say that the “trailer survived until the end of service on the CDR and was sold at auction in 1961 to Donegal Town football club, where its body was used as a cash-office. It was subsequently photographed in use as a holiday chalet in Rossnowlagh in 1965.” [1: p118] After an interesting ‘life’ out in the country it was brought down to Donegal Town Station and restored during the mid 1990s as part of exhibits at the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. It was discovered by the local photographer, the late Conor Sinclair at Doochary, near Fintown. [16]

Trailer No. 5 in the garden of the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. [17]

It was originally believed that Trailer No. 5 had been scrapped in the mid seventies but it had actually been towed to Doochary for use as a holiday home. It received a full body restoration at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland premises in Whitehead, Antrim. This included new roof timbers and felting to make it watertight. The doors have been remade using the original patterns. The restoration effort was financed with the help of an Interreg IIIA European cross-border grant. [17]Trailer No. 5 in the process of being prepared to travel through the streets of Donegal on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2019. [19]

Railmotor/Railcar no. 6. [23]

No. 6 was also a petrol railmotor, although exactly which vehicles were railmotors and which were railcars is difficult to determine as often all of them were referred to as railcars. No. 6 was built  by Great Northern and O’Doherty and came into use in 1930. It had a 32hp petrol engine and weighed 5-ton 11-cwt.  It cost £900 when new and carried a maximum of 32 seated passengers. It was rebuilt as a 4-wheeled trailer in 1945 and then sold into private owenrship in 1958 and removed to Inver. [1: p165]

Patterson et al., say that “it ran on a front radial truck, arranged for side-play of 4.5 in. to take the worst curves on the system and on a rear driving bogie. … It mainly served on the Glenties and Ballyshannon lines.” [1: p119]

Railmotors/Railcars No. 9 and 10. [23]

No. 6 was the last purpose built petrol-powered railmotor/ railcar. After it, only two further petrol powered vehicles were commissioned for the network. They were No. 9 and No.10, both were converted road vehicles. They had seen service for 3 years on the demanding roads of West Donegal and were converted at Stranolarto run on the 3ft rails of the Co. Donegal railways. They were similar in appearance to No. 4 and were powered by 36hp  Ford petrol engines. Both had a seating capacity of 20. [1: p121] No. p lasted 16 years in service and was scrapped in 1949. No. 10 was destroyed in a fire at Ballshannon shed in 1939. [1: p165] They were distinguished from No.4 by having a short body panel in front of the access doors. This can be seen on the ING4Trainz simulation above and in the picture immediately below.Railcar No 9 in the shops at Stranorlar. In 1930 the CDR acquired four Reo buses second hand from the GNR. A few years on the Donegal’s poor roads reduced them to wreaks but Henry Forbes had the two in the best condition converted to Railcars. They had 20-seat bodies and were powered by 36hp petrol engines. No.10 was destroyed in an accidental fire in 1939 but No. 9 seen here lasted until 1949. This picture was found on the Facebook group associated with the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. (c) Sam Carse and held in the collection of the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. [24]


  1. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The County Donegal Railways; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2014. As noted in my first article about the Co. Donegal Railways this was to have been my holiday reading while walking different parts of the network, but 2020 has been a strange year!
  2. R.R. Darsley; The Derwent Valley Railway 60 Years On; The Industrial Railway Record No. 51, p129-146;  https//, accessed on 28th May 2020.
  3., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  4., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  5.,_Cultra,_County_Donega_Railways_Joint_Committee_Railcar_No_1_(03).jpg, accessd on 29th May 2020.
  6., accessed on 1st June 2020. I have tied to establish copyright ownership of the image but have not be successful. The source of the image on the forum is Peter Kable, Kiama, Australia. He is no longer active on the forum. The image was posted on 26th January 2011.
  7., accessed on 2nd June 2020.
  8. E.M. Patterson; The Castlederg and Victoria Bridge Tramway;  Colourpoint, 1998.
  9., accessed on 2nd June 2020.
  10., accessed on 2nd June 2020.
  11., accessed on 3rd June 2020.
  13., accessed on 3rd June 2020.
  14., accessed on 3rd June 2020.
  15., 3rd June 2020.
  16., accessed on 4th June 2020.
  17., accessed on 4th June 2020.
  18., accessed on 4th June 2020.
  19., accessed on 4th June 2020.
  20., accessed on 5th June 2020. cf.
  21., accessed on 12th June 2020.
  22., accessed on 5th June 2020.


Co. Donegal Railways, Ireland – Part 1 – The Glenties Branch – Stranorlar to Ballinamore

My wife and I were due to take our annual holidays in 2020 in April and May. We would have been staying in Co. Donegal in Ireland and would, among other things, have explored some parts of the old 3ft gauge railways which served Co. Donegal.

Map of the Co. Donegal 3ft-gauge railway network. [25]

I have been reading through the 1948 editions of The Railway Magazine and on 16th May 2020, I found this short paragraph in the ‘Notes and News’ section of the May and June 1948 edition. Volume 94 No. 575. …

Closing of the Glenties Branch, County Donegal Railways Joint Committee

Passenger services were withdrawn on 13th December 1947, from the Stranorlar-Glenties branch of the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee in Ireland. The stations affected were Glenmore, Cloghan, Ballinamore, Fintown, Shallogans and Glenties. The branch of 3ft-gauge and 24.5 miles in length was constructed under the Light Railways (Ireland) Act of 1889, and opened on 23rd June 1894.

This seems to be far too short an obituary to the Glenties Branch. So, it seemed to me that I should start looking at the Co. Donegal Railways by looking at the Glenties Branch.

As part of my holiday reading, I had set aside the updated version of E.M. Patterson’s book about the Co. Donegal railways (which I first read as a teenager). That 2014 book has been a companion over a couple of weeks of lockdown in 2020. [3]

The Glenties Branch ran through a very rural part of Co. Donegal and seemingly stopped short of what could be considered a ‘sensible’ destination – the Atlantic Coast. Indeed it seems as though there were quite a few people in Ardara on the coast who thought that way. There was a concerted campaign over many years to get a short extension built between Glenties and Ardara. [3] But more of that later!

Grace’s Guide tells us that the line between Stranorlar and Glenties was 24 miles (38 km) long and that It opened in 1895. [2] Stranorlar and Ballybofey (located on the other side of the River Finn) together, form the “Twin Towns.” [5] It might interest you to know that there are no schools or churches in the town of Ballybofey itself, all these amenities were governed by laws during plantation times when certain Catholic buildings were not allowed within a specified range of Protestant towns. Times have changed a little now as Stranorlar has both a Roman Catholic and a Church of Ireland church. Both of the Twin Towns have their own railway station.

Stranorlar Railway Station was a junction Station with the line to Glenties branching off the Donegal to Strabane line. Ballybofey Railway Station was on the other side of the River Finn. Ballybofey Railway Station opened on 3rd June 1895 and closed on 15th December 1947 along with the rest of the Glenties branch.

Wikipedia tells us that Stranorlar Railway Station was built by the Finn Valley Railway and opened on 7th September 1863 and finally closed on 6th February 1960. “The old railway station was demolished to make way for a new bus garage owned and run by Bus Éireann. To celebrate the millennium, the old clock from the railway station was restored and installed in a new clock tower which sits at the old pedestrian entrance to the railway station yard. The town remains the main depot for Bus Éireann within County Donegal.” [5]

When first built, the station was the terminus of an Irish standard-gauge (5ft 3in – 1600mm) line which ran from Strabane to Stranorlar. It served in this form for a number of years.In 1880 work commenced on the West Donegal Railway which was built to 3ft-gauge and for a time Stranolar served in this new mixed-gauge era.In 1892, the Finn Valley Railway merged with the West Donegal Railway to form a new company, the Donegal Railway Company. The line from Stranorlar to Strabane was then reconstructed to (3 ft – 914mm) gauge. [6] Conversion took very little time as it only required the moving of a single rail and respiking of the railchairs on the smae sleepers that had been used for the 5ft 3in gauge line. As we have already noted the branch to Glenties opened in 1895.

The story of all machinations which eventually brought all these lines into the same fold is told well by Patterson, Begley and Flanders and does not need repeating here. [3]

An extract from the Ireland GSGS one inch OS Map Series of the early 1940s [4]

The station building in Stranorlar taken from the station forecourt. This image is shared with the kind permission of David Parks. It appears on his blog: Irish Postcards: [8]

Stranorlar Railway Station in 1948 (c) Wlater Dendy CC BY-SA 2.0. [7]

There are a number of excellent monochrome photographs of Stranorlar Railway Station available on Flickr on the Photostream “Ernies Railway Archive” [9] You might want to check out the links to a sample of the different images available which are included in the notes. [10-24]

The image above looks into the site of Stranorlar Railway Station from the direction of Strabane. I found it on the Irish Railway Modeller’s Forum. [27] The contributor had found it on Facebook.Railcar No 8 arrives at Stanorlar from Glenties sometime in the 1930’s. These railcars had a single front axle and a chain-driven rear bogie, and did not provide the most comfortable rides, (c) John Langford. This image was found on the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre’s Facebook page and is used by kind permission. [40]

I have recently been given access to some station plans from the Co. Donegal Railways produced by Chris Amundson. The link immediately below shows what is known about the layout of Stranorlar Railway Station in different eras.

Stranorlar, based on Ordnance Survey and numerous photographs, (c) Chris Amundson (CC BY-SA 2.0), included by kind permission . [41]

The next two images show Stranorlar in the mid-1950s and come from the blog, “Hyde Park Now!” and are, in turn, sourced by that site from elsewhere. [25] In giving permission to use these two images, londonblogger expresses concern that it is easy for the historic content of blogs to be lost or dissipated in the sharing of images. The two blogs from ” Hyde Park Now! are very much worth a visit and give a great overall context to this post which focuses on one part of the whole network. These are the relevant links: [25] [26]

Stranolar was effectively the headquarters of the Co. Donegal Railways. ‘londonblogger’ on the blog ‘Hyde Park Now!’ notes that it had “an extensive works for the maintenance of rolling stock.” [25] In the first of the two pictures above the maintenance facility is shown to really good advantage. Railcars were serviced in the buildings to the left of the image and steam locomotives to the right.The site of Stranorlar Railway Station as it appeared in 2009 – it functions as Bus Eireann’s Stranorlar Depot. None of the railway infrastructure and buildings remain. (Google Streetview).

Stranorlar to Clohan, GSGS Map of the early 1940s. [30]

The Glenties Branch set off West from Stranorlar Station with the line to Donegal bearing away to the Southwest. In a very short distance the branch crossed the River Finn.This image shows just how short the distance was from the end of the station platform, used by the Glenties Branch trains, to the bridge over the River Finn at Stanorlar. The village of Ballybofey can be seen at the top of this image. It had its own station. The image is used by kind permission from of David Parks. It appears on his blog: Irish Postcards: It was first published by ‘Aero-Views’, Dublin.  [28]

The Glenties branch can be seen crossing the bridge over the River Finn and then cuvidn around the North side of Ballybofey after having been crossed by the main road (N15) on a single-span stone-arch bridge. [28]

The Glenties Brach crossed the River Finn on a large-span truss girder bridge which sat on stone abutments.

Those abutments remain in the 21st century and can be glimpsed from the N15 as it approaches and then crosses the River Finn on its stone-arch viaduct. On the Stranorlar bank of the river, the line first passed over a narrow lane serving the river side on a girder-bridge before crossing the river. The remains of that bridge and the East abutment of the bridge can be seen on the first colour image below. You can just pick out the River Finn in the greenery to the right of the image. The stonework to the bottom right is a length of coping from the road-bridge parapet.

The Glenties Branch Bridge over the River Finn, east abutment. The picture was taken in June 2018 (Google Streetview).It is impossible to pick out the stone abutment to the West of the River Finn among the greenery on the river banks. This picture was also taken in June 2018. (Google Streetview).The view back into Stranorlar across the River Finn from Ballyfoley. The Glenties Branch Railway Bridge over the River Finn can be seen on the right of this picture [33]A postcard view of the Bridge over the River Finn (The Linen Hall Library Collection – available for sharing) [35]

The River Finn Railway bridge at Stranorlar/Ballybofey during construction of the line. The superstructure sits alongside the railway awaiting being moved into position across the river. The image is from the geocache webpage for this location. [36]


A postcard view looking back across the River Finn from Ballybofey towards Stranorlar Railway Station. Both of the river bridges are in the photograph, as is the bridge wingwall of the stone arch bridge which carried the road over the Glenties Branch. [37]

The adjacent small image shows the two River Finn Bridges (road and rail) in use. Sadly the rail bridge is only partially visible on the right of the photograph. The image is from the Facebook page ‘Ballybofey Stranorlar’. [34]

The route of the old branch-line to the Northwest of the N15 is now hidden by redevelopment. The early 1940s GSGS One-inch Map shows the railway crossing Back Road on an overbridge and then running alongside the river into Ballybofey Railway Station. [29]The approximate line of the old railway which ran across the North side of the village of Ballybofey, lifted from the GSGS Map of the early 1940s. [29]The site of Ballybofey Railway Station. This picture was taken in 2010 (Google Streetview)

At the West end of Ballybofey Station the line crossed what is now Railway Road/Beechwood Avenue on the level and then ran between Beechwood Avenue and Glenfin Street/Road (R252) parallel to the River Finn. The first length is now buried under domestic dwellings.

After a short distance the R252 (Glenfin Road) crossed the old line on an over-bridge. With the closure of the line, it became possible for a small road improvement scheme to straighten out the line of the roadas shown below.

The Glenties Branch West of Ballybofey. [31]After passing under an accommodation bridge the line continued in a westerly direction with the R252 once agin dog-legging to cross it close to the River Finn (Google Earth).

Glenmore Railway Station opened on 3rd June 1895. [32] There is no evidence of its existence in the early 21st century. The church which is marked on the GSGS Map of the early 1940s is still standing to the West of the old road junction. The railway passed to the South of the Church between it and the R253. I have shown the location ringed in red on the satellite image immediately above. The R252 curves through what would have been the station site. there would have been a level-crossing and the point above where the line crossed the old road (marked with a break in the red line).Looking East from the R253 adjacent to the churchyard at Glenmore in July 2011 (Google Streetview).The line of the old railway is so much easier to determine when the boundary walls still remain in place. This view looks to the West from the old road junction, again in July 2011. Glenmore Church can be seen on the right (Google Streetview).Cloghan Railway Station was a couple of kilometres South of the Village with the same name. The old railway turned gradually to the Northwest as it approached the station, still following the River Finn. The old station building retains the designation Station House although it is in the Townland of Gortiness. It has been extended along the line of the old platform tp the Southeast.This postcard view of Cloghan Station is a colourised monochrome image. It is taken from the Southeast. The station building can be seen on the left of the image and the road bridge can be seen beyond the platform. Permission to include this image was very kindly given by David Parks. It appears on his blog: Irish Postcards: [8]This view shows the old Station House which is in cream at the centre of the picture. It is taken from the road bridge shown in the postcard view, looking Southeast along the route of the old railway line. The line is marked by the line of bushes running towards the Station House (Google Streetview).The old Station House at Cloghan Railway Station. The image comes from June 2011. The first three windows from the left on the 1st floor were part of the original building. The extension is on the right (Google Streetview).

From Cloghan Railway Station the Glenties Branch turned North, crossing the River Finn twice as shown on the adjacent extract from the GSGS 1940s Map and continued up the Finn Valley. The next three photographs show the route of the line at the road bridge marked at the top of the map extract which was about a kilometre South of the village of Cloghan.

The first is a view on Google Streetview which is taken from just to the West of the the River Finn road bridge at the top of the adjacent map extract. The road alignment on the extract needs verifying. It seems as though the position of the railway was a little closer to the river.

The second image is a close up satellite view from Google Maps which has had the old railway route at its centre.The old road alignment is marked by the cartographers who have provided the road overlay to the satellite images associated with Google Maps. Teh road used to turn sharply to the South after crossing the river to a point where crossing the line was possible. It is not clear whether this was a bridge or a level-crossing.

I have been unable to find photographs of the two bridges over the River Finn. Nor are there any photos of the road crossing point near the top of the satellite image.

The next image shows the Glenties Branch alignment through this area. The red line, again, show the route of the railway.

The next map extract is at a smaller scale and shows the route of the old line to Ballinamore. The valley of the River Finn turns once again to the West after passing Cloghan village and the railway remained on the West and then South side of the river.

These next two satellite images follow the old railway route along the West side of the River Finn before it turns to the West again.

The first runs across open fields alongside the River Finn. The second continues in the same vein. At around the half-point of the satellite image extract a farm access track now uses the old railway formation as it travels North.

The first landscape image below is another satellite image which shows the gradual change of direction of the old line as it swung round towards the West. The next, illustrates the condition of the railway formation in 2009, At that time the gravel surface had newly been relaid. Further to the North the track shows up as having been tarmacked in 2009.

A sequence of photographs from Google Streetview covers the next few kilometres of the old railway. Various dwellings have been built since the closure of the line which have the old railway formation as their only access route.

A good number of these homes appear to have been constructed since the turn of the 21st century.

Eventually the tarmacked length of the old formation ends where the old railway crossed another road. A satellite image follows the Google Streetview photographs and again picks up the line close to that road crossing.The last Streetview photograph above shows the point at which the old railway formation meets what is now a local road. If the road had been present during the life of the Glenties Branch, this would have been a level crossing probably without gates. However the GSGS map (see below) does not show a road at this location in the early 1940s. The Glenties Branch continued westward on the South side of the River Finn. There was a need for a significant number of culverts to allow land drainage to reach the river. They show up particularly well of the extract from the GSGS map above.Ballinamore Station Building in 2010 seen from the R252. It is difficult to imagine a more remote location for a Station Halt nor a more run-down, but still standing, corrugated iron building. As we can see in the last picture of this article, the platform face still remains! (Google Streetview)Ballinamore Station Building! It was still standing in 2020 as can be seen on the Satellite image above. This picture was taken in 2009 (Google Streetview).

Ballinamore Railway Station opened in June 1895 and closed in December 1947. [38]

Former Ballinamore County Donegal Railway Station, June 1990 – The photographer says, “Miles from anywhere, not a house or tree in sight. Once the haunt of snub-nosed diesel railbuses. Ballinamore station, opened in 1895 was about half way between Glenties and Stranorlar on the CDR County Donegal Railway.” (Scanned slide) (c) G Sludge (Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)). [39]

The location appears for a few seconds in “Off The Beaten Track – Stranorlar to Glenties in Donegal.”

We have reached the end of this first part of the journey from Stranorlar to Glenties. It is hard to think of a worse place to stop and we only do so because it is roughly at the half-way point on the journey to Glenties.


  1. The Railway Magazine: ‘Notes and News’; May & June 1948 edition. Volume 94 No. 575, p202.
  2., accessed on 21st May 2020.
  3. Edward M Patterson (original author), Joe Begley & Steve Flanders (authors of additional material in the Revised Edition); The County Donegal Railways; Colourpoint Books, Newtownards, Co. Down 2014.
  4., accessed on 21st May 2020.
  5., accessed on 21st May 2020.
  6., accessed on 21st May 2020.
  7.,_County_Donegal_Railways_Joint_Committee,_1948_(geograph_5307210).jpg, accessed on 21st May 2020.
  8., accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  9., accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  10. – CDRJC Stranorlar, goods entering from Strabane 1958 (c) Henry Emeleus/ARPT, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  11. – Stranorlar 1957, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  12. – CDRJC Stranorlar Railcar No. 19, 1958 (c) Henry Emeleus/ARPT, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  13. – CDRJC Stranorlar just after closure 1960, taken from the Eastern approach from Strabane, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  14. – CDRJC ‘Erne’ on shed at Stranorlar in 1958 (c) Henry Emeleus/ARPT, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  15. – Class 5 on shed at Stranorlar in 1958, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  16. – CDRJC Stranorlar in 1958 (c) Henry Emeleus/ARPT, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  17. –  0956-3 Railcar Stranolar station (c) J W Armstrong/ARPT, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  18. – CDRJC Stranorlar station, Railcar No. 19 arrives from Donegal in 1958. The former Glenties platform is in foreground (c) Henry Emeleus/ARPT, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  19. – goods wagons outside the General Store at Stranorlar Railway Station in 1957, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  20. – close-up of the plaform canopy columns at Stranorlar Railway Station in 1957, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  21. –  CDRJC Stanorlar Railcar No. 19 on Killybegs service on 8th July 1956 (b726), accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  22. – colour image of Stranorlar Railway Station in 1958, taken from the Southwest, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  23. – CDRJC_Stranorlar: Railcar No. 18 on the turntable in 1958, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  24. – Stranorlar Railway Station Footbridge. Picture taken in May 1963 after closure of the line, accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  25., accessed on 23rd May 2020. The map of the network was in turn sourced from Twitter:
  26., accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  27., accessed on 23rd May 2020.
  28., accessed on 24th May 2020.
  29., accessed on 24th May 2020.
  30., accessed on 21st May 2020.
  31., accessed on 26th May 2020.
  32., accessed on 26th May 2020.
  33., accessed on 26th May 2020.
  34., accessed on 26th May 2020.
  35., accessed on 24th May 2020.
  36., accessed on 26th May 2020.
  37., accessed on 26th May 2020. (A subsequent internet search to find this image only produced a similar but watermarked version of the photograph.)
  38., accessed on 28th May 2020.
  39., accessed on 29th May 2020.
  40., accessed on 15th July 2020.
  41. Chris Amundson has been working on a series of large scale map plans of the Co. Donegal Railway Stations. He has very kindly allowed me to link to that work. (

The West Clare Railway – Part 8 – A Miscellany

One Person’s Identification with Miltown Malbay

A friend has sent me a copy of an old book by Gabriel Vaughan entitled ‘My Affair with Malbay’. [10] It is an anecdotal history of the western part of Co. Clare centred on the life and times of a series of generations of The Vaughan family. It has one chapter devoted to the West Clare Railway. [10:p26-36]

Gabriel Vaughan’s father, Paddy Vaughan, worked on the railway. Family life revolved around the station at Miltown Malbay. Gabriel Vaughan says:

“It was almost impossible for me to miss the train at 8.56 a.m. when going to school in Ennistymon every morning. Dad knew the benefit of the proverbial saying “Go to work or school on an egg.” A good breakfast was sacrosanct and I also had to be in time for the train. So often the refrain would go like this: “hurry up, take your time, and eat enough”. Sometimes the train would be held for me for a minute or two until I had safely boarded the train. Other times, I was put into the guard’s van with a mug of tea and a few slices of bread. No way was I going to miss school. Thanks Dad!

On one or two occasions when the porter Tommy Honan was absent and my Dad had slept it out, the train, after passing the Flag Road gates, could be heard from a distance, whistle blowing urgently, alerting the station master to have the gates across the line opened.

The train approaching Miltown in the morning carried a lot of girls from Doonbeg and Quilty going to work in The Malbay Knitwear Factory and was called “The Glamour Express”.

I had a privileged ticket because my father worked for the West Clare Railway Company and I travelled first class to school. Often the only other passenger with me was the local Protestant Minister, Rev. Cannon Elliot travelling up to Ennistymon to greet his flock there. Although he was a kind gentleman, I did not find it easy to converse with him.

Jackie Fox together with his horse called Friday, was the local carrier of goods from the railway station to the town. Every young boy in the town rode on his cart from time to time. A low sized good-humoured fellow was he and strong as an ox. Flour was then delivered in sacks weighing 280 lbs but this enormous weight proved no obstacle to Jackie as each sack was deftly swung onto his cart. I remember walking with Dad down Cloonboney way, when for the first time I heard peals of thunder. This noise, strange to my ears, was explained to me by my father, as Jackie unloading firkins of Guinness for subsequent delivery. Guinness was then delivered in wooden casks, the iron or aluminium lung had not yet arrived on the scene.” [10:p26]

“The railway station was a centre where the youth of the town gathered to play. The boys playing cops and robbers would split into two groups. One group had to seek the other in different hiding places throughout the station and lock them up in prison, cattle wagons being our “Mountjoy”. The hero was the lad who surprised the prison guards and released the prisoners, thus the game lasted longer. In the station yard we had a large flat concrete area, a disused cattle pen and we erected a tennis net made up of two poles and a rope. Mo Connolly, the American tennis star was our idol of the time.

When my father went fishing in the evening, we had a “swimming gala” in the water tank perched 20 feet on top of the engine shed. The tank was about 30 feet long by 12 feet wide and held about 10,000 gallons of water which was pumped up from Cloonboney river just 500 yards beyond the distant signal on the line to Lahinch. Needless to say there were wigs on the green when my father found out what was happening in his absence.

As well as tennis and swimming, other sports such as, running, jumping, golf and baseball were organised in the environs during the summer holidays. A novelty for us was playing baseball and this was made possible by Richard McMahon’s ball and bat sent to him by relatives in America. Paddy Griffin who lived on the Lahinch road near the White Strand, fell down between two wagons and managed to rip a bad gash in his thigh.

One day my brother Michael was heard screaming way down town by the local Garda Sergeant who post haste got on his bicycle and went to the station to investigate. Michael had been sitting on the track when Tommy Honan changed the points to be ready for the evening train. Luckily for Michael his position was about 2 yards from the tip of the points so no damage was done. It could have been very serious, as it was, he escaped with only a bruised backside.

I can remember one fatal accident that occurred on Sunday the 25th August 1946. The unfortunate train driver Patrick O’Neill was killed. Early that day he was the driver on a “Special” to Lahinch, probably for Garland Sunday, a locally observed former pagan festival, now extinct. The light engine … was driven on its own to Miltown to be turned on the turntable for the return journey to Ennis later that evening from Lahinch. Patrick O’Neill who came from Limerick may not have been familiar with the layout of Miltown railway yard. When reversing past the points to drive off to the turntable, he had his head out the right hand cab window, not realising there was only 8 inches clearance between the engine cab and the goods store wall. He was squashed between the engine and the goods store gable wall. It was a horrific accident. Dad had gone to Ennistymon for the day not being on duty, and was immediately summoned by the Gardai to deal with the horrible stiuation.” [10:p27]

“As it happened, Tom Reidy, another driver was a passenger to Lachich that day and he was contacted and brought by road to Miltown to act as relief driver.” [10:p28]

Vaughan goes on to discuss some of the history of the line which we have dealt with elsewhere. He makes reference too to the Percy French song ‘Are Ye Right There, Michael?’ and then goes on to say:

“Why the line, one of the best loved of all the distinctive Irish narrow gauge railways, should have closed is a mystery. It’s chronic unreliability, perpetuated by Percy French’s song was a myth. In fact the line by today’s standard, was as well engineered as any in Ireland. It was well maintained by the staff, with no rubbish strewn about the line. Unfortunately, it lost money and in 1960 losses amounted to £23,000. In all my years travelling on The West Clare Railway, I have to say, it may have been colourful for all the wrong reasons, but it mostly ran on time.

In the summertime they put tourist or saloon coaches on the line, these were panoramic coaches with large glass windows to allow for maximum viewing of the scenery. They are now all the rage with European railways … The West Clare tourist coaches, of which were four, were all constructed on six wheel bogies, in Ennis between the years 1905 and 1906. Each coach had seating for 32 passengers.

I remember early morning “specials” leaving Miltown at about 7.30am. These “specials” transported hundreds of matchgoers to Ennis, and pilgrims to Knock and to Croagh Patrick, who of course transferred at Ennis to the Great Southern Railway Company to finish out their journey.

Some say it’s a pity that the line wasn’t constructed in standard gauge instead of narrow gauge. This would have done away with the necessity of trans-shipment of goods at Ennis. The Swiss who are acknowledged expert rail builders have no problem conforming with both gauges. Their solution is to transfer the narrow gauge wagons, intact onto broad gauge bogies. Imagine all the work involved in transferring beet from one wagon to another at Ennis, for trans-shipment to the Tuam or Carlow sugar factories. A proposal was made in 1936 to widen the gauge from 3 feet to the standard 5 feet 3 inches, but this came to nothing despite much debate which carried on until the 1940’s. I think £23,000 of a loss in the 60’s was not an enormous loss to bear.

The fact that C.I.E. scheduled buses to leave Kilrush and Ennis at the same time as the train, did not help either. The door to door deliveries by ever increasing numbers of lorries, owned by the manufacturers of goods and providers of services, seemed more efficient than deliveries by train and horse cart by the local carrier. The outcome of all these changing trends, was that the business community did not give enough support to their railway.” [10: p31]

“At this time it was normal practice for maintenance at the stations to be carried our by a pool of C.I.E. tradesmen based in Limerick or Ennis. Picture the scenario, a burst pipe in Miltown has to be repaired. A plumber would leave Limerick at 9 a.m. and connect with the 11 a.m. West Clare at Ennis, arriving at Miltown at noon. After a long and slow trip from Limerick, tea is first the order of the day naturally. Work would begin at 1.30pm and cease at 3.30pm in order to wash and shave for the trip home on the 4 o’clock train. Of course if it were a big job the trades men stayed over- night in the town. Economy how are you? I could not understand the logic of it. For years my Dad tried to rectify this wastage of time and money by C.I.E., by getting this maintenance done by local tradesmen. It worked eventually when they saw light at the end of the “tunnel.” Actually we had no “tunnels” on the West Clare line! There is no use in crying over spilt milk!

Because Miltown was once a terminal station on the West Clare Railway, provision was made for engine drivers to sleep over- night at the station and so a bedroom and kitchen was provided for them. During my Dad’s term at Miltown there was no need for this facility, the line having been extended as far as Kilkee and Kilrush. The kitchen continued to be used to make that extraordinary, wonderful sweet tea in a billy-can by various tradesmen. A small double-sided tin containing on the one side tea and on the other side sugar was emptied into the boiling water in the billy-can together with milk. The ensuing beverage was out of this world to us as youngsters. Potatoes were often half boiled by us also in the billy-can and with a pinch of salt and lump of butter, those potatoes tasted far superior to anything cooked at home.

The bedroom, which at this stage was rough and ready was used to store the turf which came from Shragh bog. The wagon of turf arrived at Miltown station on the up-line on the 3.35 p.m. goods train. All hands were on the platform in a mad scramble to get the wagon emptied of it’s fuel before the passenger train’s arrival at 5.30pm.

The Shragh bog yielded sods of turf that were really massive, some were 4 inches square by 14 inches long and had to be broken with a hatchet in order to fit into the grate of the stanley range. In a way it was like the steam engine, as one had to have a really hot fire going, to get enough heat in the oven for baking, so you had to be a good stoker as well as a good cook. This breaking of the turf was one of the Saturday morning chores to be done by either my brother Michael or myself.

During and immediately after the 2nd World War, spare parts for the engines as well as fuel were in short supply. The steam locomotives were “rag order” for want of spending a bit of money on them. About this time saw anthracite for the first time being used on the locomotives. We called them “duck eggs” because of their shape.” [10:p32]

“In 1945, C.I.E. had taken over responsibility for The West Clare Line from The Great Southern Railway Company. A report first published in 1948 (Milne Report)  gave the hint of possible closure of the West Clare branch of C.I.E. The closure was postponed and it was decided to modernise the roIling stock by dieselisation. This took place between the years 1952-1955. First to appear were 4 diesel rail-cars which resembled buses on railway wheels, and these were augmented by 3 diesel locomotive for goods haul. Thus, the West Clare was the only narrow-gauge railway in Britain or Ireland to be fully under diesel power.” [10:p32-33]

“I remember going for a trial run on the first railcar that was delivered. The railcar was driven by an engineer from Dublin, a Mr Curran whom Dad thought was going to derail the “blasted” thing it was going so fast. It handled very well and did not derail. About the age of ten or twelve, I often  stood in the cab of the goods engine when the fireman, Joe Carmody was shunting and I remember the driver, John Hartney taking a break for his cup of tea. On the railway line down to Clonbony river having passed the distant signal, I would turn the wheel for reverse, ease the regulator gently forward to open and so begin shunting. Of course I threw the few shovels of coal into the firebox as well as helping to take on water, for they were all thirsty “old ladies” as locomotives were called.

I “worked” with Micko Conway and his gang of permanent way men, picking weeds and general cleaning up for a period of a few months after school in the evenings. Every Friday, I queued with the men for my wages. Dad had my name pencilled into the wages book, and paid me the wage of 6d a week, for which I was very grateful. I honestly believed I would not get any “wages” if I did not put in my stint with the men.

Generally the trains ran on time but from time to time the odd cow straying onto the line delayed us. It was deemed necessary to monitor wind speed in areas exposed to Atlantic gales. An anemometer was erected at Quilty for the purpose of measuring the wind velocity. If it exceeded 60 miles an hour, only stock that was ballasted could run. If winds were over 80 miles per hour, the trains were stopped. Ballasting took the form of large concrete slabs placed under the seats to weigh down the carriages. A gale of 112 mph was reportedly recorded here in January 1927.” [10:p33]

One evening, the 5.30 p.m. train approached the spot now occupied by the Rinseen Ambush Monument, a carriage door opened and a baby left on the floor near the door tumbled out. The distraught mother had to endure the next five minutes until the halt of the train on its arrival at Miltown station, where she reported the accident, was comforted by fellow passengers as she waited in agony for Dad and his search party to return. An hour elapsed and the party returned with the baby. As luck would have it, the baby, having fallen into a clump of bushes, luckily escaped with only minor superficial scratches and was re-united to the loving arms of its mother, no doubt to be minded and cosseted for the rest of its life after such a scare.” [10:p33-34]

“Amongst the droves of boys who went to “The Brothers” by train in Ennistymon for their daily dose of education, admittedly there were some adventurers in the bunch. I recall Eugene who could change carriages by walking on the running board outside the carriage while the train was in motion. Invariably this would happen on leaving the station at Ennistymon before the train had time to pick up speed. To the best of my memory none of the school-going boys had an accident except Paddy Griffin whom I previously mentioned.

One day I had the desire to be as good as the big boys and try my hand at smoking. I bought ten Woodbines to smoke on the way home on the train. Knowing I had about half an hour to experience the joy of being grown up, like the big boys, but there was one snag, I had to have them all smoked before I got home. In the process I got violently sick having almost “eaten the packet.” That experience cured me of the desire to smoke and thankfully I have never smoked since.

Dad was well liked by the travelling public and went out of his way to accommodate everybody especially those with sparse means. One old lady who travelled to Ennistymon to visit the dispensary and collect her pension used to sleep in one of the waiting rooms overnight because she was afraid of missing the train. A breakfast of tea and bread was often provided for her by Dad.

The senior schoolboys when they got good jobs on leaving school, were often canvassed later by Dad for private insurance. I remember being told after landing my first job to take out life cover but not to stretch myself. That I did, taking out a policy for £300 over a period of 30 years, a princely sum no doubt. The insurance inspectors who came from the Norwich Union Head Office in Galway were always remarking on Dad’s knowledge of the whereabouts of every man, woman and child and even the animals. They would jokingly say, that if he did not know where two bonhams (baby pigs) came from, he knew what creel they came from.” [10: p34]

“Michael Tynan, father of Maureen Ryan (nee Tynan), Ennis, and my father both worked in the Limerick Goods Department of G.S.R. and both applied for the position of Station Master in Miltown. My father got the position, but shortly after Michael Tynan was appointed to Kilkee.” [10: p34-35]

“Miltown Station, in common with all other stations on the West Flare did not have a telephone line to the outside world. Telephone communication only existed between stations, and only very important calls were made to Kingsbridge as this entailed making a trip to the local post office, which was run by Mrs Hynes.” [10: p35]

Gabriel Vaughan concludes:

“On January 31st 1961 the last train returned to Ennis, driven by Paddy Hanrahan whom at the time was I think one of the younger drivers on the line and so ended a history of 76 years. It was a very sad day for all Clare people and is looked back on with great regret. The much loved West Clare had a very short life and was mourned by many. It served its people well and I, like many others, retain many happy and much cherished memories of the West Clare. What a tourist attraction even a section of the restored line would be today!. Full marks to the Moyasta group headed up by Joe Taylor who intends restoring a section of the line.

It was sad indeed to come back from Switzerland in January 1961 to witness the end of an era – the closure of The West Clare Railway after 76 years.” [10: p35]

In reality, all of these rural lines had no long-term future once the motor-car and larger road-going vehicles began to hold sway. Co. Clare was still losing population and emigration was increasing. There was just not enough traffic and the line was eventually and inevitably closed on January 31st, 1961. [18]

Locomotives and Rolling Stock

The original estimated cost of the West Clare Railway was £176,000 which included £23,000 for rolling stock and repair shops. The Grand Jury allocated £170,000 and the Board of Works reduced the element for rolling stock and repair shops to £21,000. At ratepayers insistence the Privy Council then reduced the overall budget to £163,500.

The original estimate for the South Clare Railway was £127,300 which included £10,000 for rolling stock and repair shops. The Grand Jury and then the Privy Council whittled the principal sum down to £120,000. [1]

The net effect of this pairing back of the budget was the need for the board of the company to cut back investment on the infrastructure and rolling stock.

The issue was further exacerbated by some of the financial constraints placed on the operating company by the legislation under which the lines were built. The two companies ” were not allowed to issue fresh capital or to borrow money not form a reserve fund and carry forward from one half year to another. If a profit was made in one half year and a loss in the second half of the year they were not allowed to put profit of one against loss on the other. Expenditure incurred in increase to rolling stock, renewals or improved facilities at stations had to be charged to working expenses of the half year in which they were effected. This finally led to such an absurd position that the Treasury saw the force of objections to it and they agreed to a certain sum being put aside each year towards renewals. A further provision and the one that caused the most controversy was that each year was divided into two portions and returns had to be made for the half years ending on 30th April and 31st October and the profits, if any, divided equally between the Treasury and the Company. If, however, there was a loss in any half year’s working although there may have been a profit in the other half year, the Treasury was not liable for their share of the loss and unfortunately for both railways there was what was termed a fat half year and a lean half year.” [1]

When assessed by the Railway Commission (1906-10), net receipts since the opening of the line were about £24,200, net expenses were about £20,300. A balance of around £3,900 should have gone to the relief of the guarantee, but owing to the provisions above, the Treasury receive a figure of £12,000 and the County Council carried a debt of £8,000. [1]

These factors meant that the amount of rolling stock needed for the effective operation of the line had to be significantly reduced. The planned repair depot had to be abandoned and repairs had to be undertaken elsewhere. The result was a 25% increase in repair costs and a much longer period of downtime associated with each repair. The effect of all this was an over use of stock and reduced life-spans for locos and rolling stock. [4]

It was originally intended to purchase totals of rolling stock across the two companies of:

18 third class coaches
8 composite coaches
3 first class coaches
6 brake vans
2 horse boxes
28 open wagons
43 covered goods
40 cattle wagons
17 ballast wagons
3 timber wagons

This level of provision was not actually reached until 1913. [5]

Until then, wagons were in short supply which led to a loss of revenue in the conveyance of turf, slates, kelp and livestock. There were also disputes with various individuals over the deterioration of goods left too long awaiting transport. [5]

Carriages were also in short supply particularly for excursion traffic in the summer months.

Passenger traffic in the first year of operation of the South Clare Railway, across the two companies was about 177,800. Five years later it was 201,000 and by the turn of the century it was around 211,000. The gradual increase in traffic volumes continued to a peak in 1908 of close to 236,300. After the war traffic levels were much lower averaging around 100,000. Numbers declined significantly in the GSR era and only saw an increase when the CIE adopted diesel working in 1952. [5]

In the year immediately prior to the introduction of diesel traction only 41,000 people were carried. By 1960, this has risen to around 120,000. [6]

Goods and minerals traffic reached its peak in the 5 years before the Great War, averaging, in those years, around 45,000 tons. Livestock carried peaked in the first 10 years of the 20th century at an average of over 40,000 tons. [7]

Steam Locomotives: There were a total of nineteen steam locomotives which worked on the West and South Flare Railways between 1886 and 1956. “Twelve were purchased by the West Clare Railway, four by the South Clare Railway, two came under CIE auspices from the Tralee & Dingle section, and one was a contractor’s engine.” [12] Loco 3C, Ennistymon, ex-Works. [19]

When writing in 1994, Patrick Taylor continued: “The average age of the steam locomotives when withdrawn was 40 years, but one had a very short life of only 13 years, and another lasted only one year longer. Two were still working after 64 years, when the system changed over to diesel. All were six-coupled tank engines, and with but two exceptions, originally carried both number and name. One has been preserved at Ennis.” [12] It remained at Ennis until 1996.Above, locomotive Slieve Callan on a plinth at Ennis Station. In 1996, in dramatic circumstances, the 40-tonne Slieve Callan was lifted off this plinth at Ennis railway station despite the efforts of protesters and taken to Moyasta in West Clare. [16][17]

Adjacent, locomotive No. 2C at Ennistymon in 1940. [20]

It appears that a contractor’s engine was not a six-coupled but a four-coupled engine. ‘Sponden’ was owned by Murphy’s contractors. It was built in 1878 at the Hunslet works in Leeds. Its original owners were Benton & Woodrow Contractors of Audenshaw, Manchester. This is a local connection for me, writing as I am at the moment in Ashton-under-Lyne. This loco arrived as deck cargo at Kilrush on 26 the April 1891, to assist on the construction of the South Clare line. previously, Murphy had been using one of the West Clare Bagnalls and continued to do so occasionally throughout the construction of the South Clare. [14]

Chapter 7 of Taylor’s book on the West Clare Railway [13] describes the locomotives on the West Clare in great detail. It would not be appropriate to reproduce that detailed work here, the book is easily purchased secondhand via a variety of sources.

Diesel and Other Traction: It has been suggested that the “West Clare had a self-propelled inspection car. However, the Great Southern Railway introduced one in 1925, and followed this with two passenger carrying railcars in 1927.” [12] It was the early 1950s which saw a major change in traction on the West Clare – three diesel locomotives and four diesel railcars were purchased by the CIE. These were:

3386 diesel railcar by Walkers of Wigan 1952.

3387 diesel railcar by Walkers of Wigan 1952.

3388 diesel railcar by Walkers of Wigan 1952.

3389 diesel railcar by Walkers of Wigan 1952.

F501 Bo-Bo diesel locomotive by Walkers of Wigan 1955.

F502 Bo-Bo diesel locomotive by Walkers of Wigan 1955.

F503 Bo-Bo diesel locomotive by Walkers of Wigan 1955. [3]

Before focussing on diesel traction it is worth giving some thought to petrol! Proposals were considered in West Clare days to make use of ‘motors’. These came to nothing, although late in January 1907 estimates were obtained for a motor and parcels van. In 1927 the GSR authorised the purchaseof two petrol cars for the West Clare section. They initially intended these to be 25-30hp but this was increased after advice from their builder to 40-45hp because of the gradients on the line. The cars were ordered from the Drewery Car Company Limited (Order No. 2800 of 20th April 1927), but were made by Baguley Engineers Limited of Burton-on-Trent, through a working agreement between the two Companies. These four-wheel cars were numbered 395 and 396. [15]The Drury Petrol Railcars (above) entered service for the GSR in October 1927 and ran the Kilkee branch services on the West Clare section until they were both withdrawn in 1936. They were transferred to the GSR works at Inchicore in 1939 and scrapped in 1943. [21] No. 396 is shown above at Kilkee in around 1930. The crew are Frank O’Brien and M. Jinan © A.W. Croughton, Real Photographs. [28]  The adjacent image shows the excellent model made by Dirk Shrapnel for the Trawbreaga Bay Light Railway. [21]

The Walker Bo-Bo Diesel locos: These locos became the standard motive power for goods trains in the last years of the West Clare Railway and could also be seen at the head of mixed/passenger services. “These Córas Iompair Éireann (CIE) 501 Class locomotives were built in 1955 by Walker Brothers Limited of Wigan, Lancashire for use on the narrow gauge (3 ft or 914 mm) lines on the West Clare section of CIÉ. They were small diesel mechanical locomotives, of 0-4-0+0-4-0 wheel arrangement. Controlled from a central cab the locomotives had two Gardner engines of 224 hp (167 kW), one under each end casing, driving through a fluid coupling and Wilson gear box the inner axle of the opposite bogie, through a spiral-bevel-reverse and reduction gear box. Unusually the locomotives were driven from a seat mounted sideways to the direction of travel giving a clear field of vision both ways by a mere turn of the head. The locomotives were fitted with vacuum brakes, emergency braking coming from a “deadman’s” pedal, one at the driving position and two others, one mounted on each side of the cab. When used on freight services their maximum speed was 40 kilometres per hour (25 mph), but with an overdrive fitted, released by a key, this was raised to 51 kilometres per hour (32 mph) for passenger trains.” [22]The F501-503 Bo-Bo series built by Walker Bros of Wigan. The drawing was undertaken by Ian Beattie and first produced in the Railway Modeller Magazine, (c) Peco Publications Ltd. [30]

“They were originally numbered C31-C33 in the West Clare steam locomotive series, but were subsequently renumbered into the diesel locomotive series as F501-F503. They were withdrawn in 1961 when the West Clare lines were closed and stored at Inchicore Works for seven years. The Isle of Man Railway made an offer for the locomotives which was rejected by CIÉ who subsequently made less money by selling them for scrap in 1968.” [22]Above, F502 at Ennis in 1962. [22]

Adjacent, F503 (c) Colour-Rail. [23]

Below right, all three locos F501 to F503 at Inchicore in 1966. They were broken up in 1968. (c )Peter Excell.[24]

J. Scarisbrick Walker and Brothers of Pagefield Ironworks, Wigan were iron-founders and general engineers. The company was founded by J.S. Walker in the 1870s and later joined with his two brothers, T.A. & E.R. Walker to form Walker Bros. (Wigan) Ltd in 1880.

About twenty steam locomotives were built. The company subsequently manufactured diesel railcars. [26]4mm model of Walker Diesel as used on the West Clare Railway built from a Worsley Works NG kit by Robin Winter. [8]A similar model of F501. [23]

The “three diesel locomotives were put into service to haul goods,turf, beet and livestock trains, and finally eliminate working. When passenger traffic was heavy, as on Fair days for example, they were also employed on passenger and excursion trains, and a small fleet of locomotive hauled coaches were retained for this purpose.” [31]

Walker Railcars: The four railcars in use on the West Clare were designed and built by Walker Bros (Wigan) Ltd. The same company supplied railcars/railmotors in a variety of gauges around the world. These included 40 railmotors supplied to Victorian Railways in Australia. [27]On 24th June 1959, two diesel railcars sit at the junction station at Moyasta. The one on the left has travelled from Kilrush, that on the right from Kilkee [11] Railcar 3389 at Moyasta in 1960 (c) Roger Joanes. [24]

The railcars were powered by “a Gardner 6LW diesel engine, driving through a ‘Don-Flex’ plate clutch, four speed Meadows gearbox, and thence through a Hardy-Spicer propeller shaft, to a Meadows worm gear final drive gearbox, on the rear axle of the bogie, the two pairs of wheels being coupled by conventional coupling rods. The bogies had inside frames.” [29]

“Each car had a maximum speed of 38.5 mph in top, 23.8 in third, 14.2 in second and 8.3 in first gear, the engines developing 107 bhp at 1700 rpm. Except at very slow speed (7 mph), the cars would work forwards only.” [29] New turntables had to be installed to turn the railcars. “Heating was from the engine cooling system, and this was the first time West Clare passengers had anything better than simple footwarmers. The cars weighed 11 tons in working order, and were capable of hauling, when necessary, a standard passenger coach, and a lightly constructed four wheel luggage car.” [29]Walker diesel railcar No. 286 – renumbered 3386 before entering service. The picture was taken during the final preparations for the railcar to be shipped from Inchicore to Ennis (c) Patrick Taylor. [29]

Carriages: for the opening of the West Clare Railway, “thirteen … coaching stock vehicles were purchased from the Bristol wagon & Carriage Works Company of Lawrence Hill, Bristol oder, which in its entirety was left in the hands of William Martin Murphy, as had been the case with the locomotives, consisted of three composites, six thirds and four brake vans. The original passenger carrying  coaches were six-wheelers, 30ft long and of James Cleminson’s patient, with the three sets of wheels and axles mounted on separate trucks, the central one of which was given considerable side play, being mounted slides. This truck was connected to its outer sisters by radius rods, themselves being pivoted about their centre. … There were only three other narrow gauge railways in Ireland that used the principle, the Ballycastle, West Donegal and the Londonderry & Lough Swilly, and only the latter continued to purchase such vehicles after the West Clare; doing so as late as 1899. After 1894, although continuing the use of six-wheelers, the West Clare abandoned building on the ‘Cleminson’ principle.” [32]

“The livery of the coach sides was green and the roofs white, the West Clare heraldic device being displayed in gold leaf on the second and fifth doors of the thirds, and the second and fourth of the composites, and on each door the class was clearly denoted. On the panelling between the roof, and the doors and windows, immediately under the cant rail, the words West Clare Railway appeared.” [32]

Of the four brake vans, two were 30ft long with an under-carriage to match the six-wheel coaches, and two were four-wheelers.

As the latter years of the 19th century unfolded, it became clear that the passenger stock needed to be augmented. Eight additional items were ordered. Five arrived before the South Clare was opened, three after. The first five consisted of two thirds, one composite and two brake vans. The remaining three were two composite coaches and one third.

For the South Clare, six more carriages were purchased. All coaches came from the Bristol company and apart from their lettering were almost identical to those built for the West Clare.

About the turn of the century, around the time Grand Juries gave way to County Councils, there were complaints about inadequate provision for excursion traffic. The Metropolitan Carriage & Wagon Company were commissioned to build two coaches. These were the last ordered from outside contractors.

In 1904, the Company workshops in Ennis were commissioned to build a brake-third and one third class coach. In 1905, a further three coaches, two thirds and a first, were commissioned. Ennis completed all five coaches in a little under 15 months. [33]

In 1909, Ennis built another six-wheel brake van, this time for use on ballast trains. In 1910, two more brake-third were built. “In addition, … two service vehicles were built at Ennis. … In 1905, four wheeled brake van No. 12 was rebuilt as a cattle wagon, taking a new number, No. 93, in the wagon list. A new No. 12 in the coaching stock list was built at Ennis. … In 1908, the other four wheeled brake van No. 2, was rebuilt as another wagon, and took the No. 143 in the wagon list. The new No. 2, also a four wheeler, … was a Directors Inspection Saloon.” [34]

“For the remainder of it independent existence, the railway had 38 coaching stock vehicles, but it was common practice at times of heavy demand, race meetings and the like, to provide additional seating in the brake compartments, and sets of forms were kept for this purpose.” [35]

When the Tralee and Dingle closed to passenger traffic in 1939, the GSR moved 12 bogie coaches to the West Clare. They were number 39C to 50C respectively. The bulk were third class coaches.

In 1951, when CIE introduced diesel railcars, three coaches, Nos 46C, 47C and 48C were converted at Inchicore into railcar trailers. They were given old omnibus bodies and had electric lighting fed from a 12V battery. Three four wheel light weight luggage vans were also built for use with the railcars. These were given Nos 187C, 188C and 190C. [35]

In 1953, the Tralee & Dingle closed completely and two brakevans arrived on the West Clare from the Tralee & Dingle. In 1954, two West Clare coaches were transferred to the Cavan and Leitrim (Nos. 42C and 52C. In 1957, 18 vehicles were withdrawn. In 1958 brake vans Nos 38C and 41C were withdrawn. In 1959, three four wheel vehicles and brake No. 36C were withdrawn. Further minor changes occurred before full closure of the West Clare in 1961, specifically including the transfer of two coaches from the Cavan & Leitrim (one of which was 42C). [36]6-wheel tourist coach No. 35 [9]1:22.5 model of West Clare Railway Brake Van 17c. [2]1:22.5 model of West Clare Railway Bogie- Coach No. 42c. [2]

Wagons: The wagon stock for the opening of the line was also ordered by Murphy and supplied by the Bristol Company. [36] 65 wagons were ordered (15 low side open, 25 covered, 10 covered cattle, 12 ballast and 3 flats). Ten wagons were ‘convertible’ which meant that they had an open centre-portion to the roof which could be covered by canvas.

For the opening of the South Clare in 1892, the Bristol Company supplied a further 21 wagons (6 convertible and 15 cattle). [36]

The next increase in stock came in 1899, when 10 covered wagons were supplied by the Bristol Company. With the opening of the workshops at Ennis, wagon construction started. The first wagons were built in 1902 (6 large open wagons suitable for cattle and turf. In 1904, a further 17 wagons  were built for the cattle traffic. Then, one covered cattle wagon in 1905 and two large open wagons in 1907. In 1908, six luggage vans were built for passenger trains and a further cattle wagon was provided. In 1911, another six covered goods wagons were built. Then six open coal wagons in 1912 and a further 5 covered wagons. In 1913, the last batch of wagons was built while the Company was independent – 10 covered cattle wagons.  [37]At Ennistymon on 28 July 1952, locomotive No 9C is on the 9:58 am goods from Kilrush with a typical rake of wagons. The loco is taking water. Driver Tom Reidy is on the engine, (c) C.L. Fry. [38] 1:22.5 model of West Clare Horsebox No.28c. [2] 1:22.5 model of West Clare Railway open Wagon 134c. [2]1:22.5 model of West Clare Railway open Cattle Wagon 79c. [2]

The GSR closed the Ennis workshops soon after it took over the West Clare. Between 1925 and 1929, 46 wagons were withdrawn (15 covered, 10 cattle, 19 open, 1 flat and 1 timber). 50 new wagons commissioned from Inchicore started to arrive on the West Clare in April 1929. These were 17 covered, 15 cattle and 18 open wagons. After the closure of the Cork & Muskerry in 1934 13 open goods wagons were transferred to the West Clare – the first foreigners! These had non-standard couplings and so were semi-permanently coupled in rakes. [39]

On closure of the Cavan & Leitrim in 1959, 25 wagons arrived on the West Clare, 18 open and 7 covered. All surviving wagons were scrapped on closure of the West Clare, with the exception of a few sold to Bord na Mona. [39]


  1. Patrick Taylor; The West Clare Railway; Plateway Press, 1994, p53.
  2., accessed on 10th July 2019.
  3., accessed on 10th July 2019.
  4. Patrick Taylor; op.cit., p55
  5. Ibid., p57.
  6. Ibid., p58
  7. Ibid., p59.
  8., accessed on 10th July 2019.
  9., accessed on 10th July 2019.
  10. Gabriel Vaughan; My Affair with Malbay; ColourBooks Ltd, 2000.
  11., accessed on 10th July 2019.
  12. Patrick Taylor; op.cit., p77.
  13. Ibid., p77-122.
  14. Ibid., p107.
  15. Ibid., p111.
  16., accessed on 12th July 2019.
  17. (2nd July 2009), accessed on 12th July 2019.
  18., accessed on 12th July 2019.
  19., accessed on 12th July 2019.
  20., accessed on 13th July 2019.
  21., accessed on 16th July 2019.
  22., accessed on 16th July 2019.
  23., accessed on 16th July 2019.
  24., accessed on 5th May 2019.
  25., accessed on 16th July 2019.
  26., accessed on 16th July 2019.
  27., accessed on 16th July 2019.
  28. Taylor: op.cit., p111.
  29. Ibid., p124.
  30. Ibid., p119.
  31. Ibid., p117.
  32. Ibid., p123.
  33. Ibid., p128.
  34. Ibid., p132.
  35. Ibid., p134.
  36. Ibid., p139.
  37. Ibid., p143.
  38. Ibid., p60.
  39. Ibid., p148.

The Cavan and Leitrim Railway – A Miscellany.

A. ‘The Cavan and Leitrim Railway’ at Dromod:   is the preservation society hoping to create a line between Mohill and Dromod along the C&L’s old route. Over the years, that society has seen some great successes. Most recently, the bringing back to steam of the locomotive ‘Nancy’. The preservation society asked me to include the adjacent pictures in this post.

The first view shows the station in the late 1950s, (c) J.P. O’Dea. [4]

The second is taken  after the station buildings had been renovated in the early 1990s, (c) C&L 1992. [5]

That below shows the station from the West, (c) Jonathon Clinton 2019. [5]One early success, alongside the renovation of the station building, was the rescue of the engine shed and water tower. This picture shows …….. (c) Philip Bedford March 28th 2019. [5]‘Nancy’ beside the water tower, (c) D. Connolly. [5]‘Nancy’ at Dromod Station platform, (c) Jonathon Clinton 2019. [5]

Wikipedia says: “The privately owned Cavan & Leitrim Railway is based in the former Dromod Station, in Co. Leitrim. There is a transport museum, with narrow-gauge trains of several gauges, buses, planes, fire engines and artillery guns from World War I and World War II. …….. With the help of volunteers trains are run on a short section of line. The Avonside steam locomotive “Nancy” was rebuilt at Alan Keef in Wales where it first steamed on 23 March 2019 after twenty years of restoration work. [6] The locomotive was shipped to Dromod where it now resides.” [7]

Best contact details:   

Address:      Clooncolry, Drumod, Co. Leitrim

Tel:                071 963 8599




B. Belturbet Heritage Railway:  the heritage centre in Belturbet sits at what was an interchange between the Cavan and Leitrim Narrow Gauge Railway (3ft) and the Great Northern Railway which was Irish standard gauge (5ft 3ins). The Great Northern (GNR) branch connected to Ballyhaise on the Clones to Cavan line. The Cavan and Leitrim (C&L), at Dromod, connected to the Midland Great Western Railway (MGWR) mainline from Dublin to Sligo. The line was extended to Arigna in 1920 in the form of a roadside tramway. [3]

The centre was once Belturbet Station and shared by the C&L and the GNR. It has been significantly refurbished from an overgrown and dilapidated state in the 1990s to a modern well equipped centre in the 2010s.[3]

The station buildings lay derelict for almost 40 years until the Belturbet Community Development Association purchased the entire 10 acre site in 1995. The buildings had during that time served as farmyard buildings and had been subjected to the effects of weather, fire and theft. They were subsequently refurbished to the original state with great attention to detail gained by reference to original plans drawn on silk. [3]

The original/restored Station Buildings include:

  • Main Station Building and Station Master’s House
  • Platform (Roof totally replaced)
  • Great Northern Railway Goods Shed (Extension added to the original building. Attempts had been made to remove part of the original building for safety reasons prior to restoration)
  • Cavan and Leitrim Railway Goods Shed (Effectively no restoration needed)
  • Engine Shed
  • Water Tower
  • Transhipment Shed

The Main Station Building contains a museum hosting an interesting collection of railway memorabilia and audiovisual footage of the Cavan and Leitrim railway and the restoration of the station itself. [3]The Great Northern Railway Goods Shed serves as a 120 person capacity conference hall and is used for business, social, sport, leisure and educational/training purposes. The Goods Store/Visitor Centre has  meeting & conference room facilities for rent. [3]The refurbished Station-house is on the right. The main GNR station building is directly ahead of the camera. [8]

Contact Details:     

Address:    Railway Road, Belturbet, County Cavan

Tel:      086 069 9749



C. Locomotives

An order was placed with Robert Stephenson & Sons of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1886 for 6 railway engines. The order was later extended to 8 locomotives. Four of these engines were fitted with condensing apparatus and modified for working on the tramway. The original order valued the locos at £1,100 each. The modifications cost £38 per engine. [1: p81]

“The first of the eight was delivered at Belturbet specially early, in May 1887, for the use of the contractor. With the exception of the second engine (which came to Dromod in June) all the engines reached the C&L via the GNR, the deliveries continuing until early in 1888.” [1: p81]

All the engines were 4-4-0Ts with stovepipe chimneys. The firebox crown sloped down towards the back of the engine to avoid the danger of uncovering on steep banks. The cabs had round front spectacles and rectangular ones at the back. The back also had an opening door to a height of 2ft 11ins which was used for coaling. Cowcatchers were provided and each engine carried as large headlamp. Probably all originally had a sloping cover below the smokebox door (as retained by No 3 till 1925) which was removed early on to make room for jacks and tool-boxes. [1: p82-83]

All the engines had the same dimensions. They weighed in excess of 25 tons and had makers’ numbers 2612-2619 in order. The last four were intended for use on the tramway and were externally quite different. Skirts were fitted over the wheels to 4in above rail height and extending the full length oif the frame. The back weather boards on the cxab were cut away arvthge csides and the forward facing spectacles could be opened. [1: p83]

Unusually, the tramway engines had a set of duplicate driving gear. This meantvthat the driver had full control of the engine while always being able to watch the road ahead. Flanagan says that “this provision of two sets of controls was unique, on Irish railways at any rate. As supplied, the tramway engines had the cowcatcher and the head-lamp at the back end and when the makers chose to photograph one of these as a mainline engine the catcher and the lamp were reversed and the U-pipe and exhaust-vent of the condensing gear, as well as the skirts, were removed. All engines ran in conflict with the 1884 Order in Council which specified a maximum axle-loading of eight tons.” [1: p83]The two different incarnations of the tramway engines. In the first picture we see the manufacturers photograph of No. 5, ‘Gertrude’ fitted as a mainline engine in 1887. It was then converted back so as to be supplied to work on the tramway. The tramway version is shown in the second picture above and has the cowcatcher and headlamp fitted behind, or in effect in front of, the cab. These engines were designed to be driven cab first. [1: between p100 & p101]Loco No. 8, Queen Victoria) heads an up coal special past Drumcong Post Office in 1957. A very photogenic location! [1: between p100 & p101]No. 3, Lady Edith in 1903. [1: in between p100 & p101]

The engines were named after the company directors’ daughters with the exception of one engine which was named for Queen Victoria. A variety of modifications were made to these engines over the years. These are all detailed by Flanagan [1: p84-89] and those details do not need to be repeated here. Nonetheless, despite modification,these engines struggled to cope with the heaviest livestock and excursion traffic of the early 1900s and by January 1904 the C&L was looking for a more powerful loco. The specification called for an 0-6-4T locomotive. Robert Stephenson and Sons tendered the lowest price of £1750 and promised delivery within 18 weeks. They were given the work. The order was placed on 7th July and the engine was tried on the line in steam on 28th October of the same year. [1: p89]

As soon as No. 9,’King Edward’, arrived it became the pride of the C&L fleet. It was considerably more powerful than the rest of the fleet, being able to take 24 wagons of cattle to market. However, it became a ‘white-elephant’ because its long rigid wheel-base tended to spread the running rails. A variety of different things were tried to address this but the ‘King’ continued to spread rails on tight curves. Eventually, it came to only be used in exceptional circumstances. “in December 1922, the board decided to offer it for sale. However, it was reported in 1923 that nobody was interested, and after that the ‘big engine’ spent most of its time at Ballinamore, leaving only for a very occasional jaunt on the main line. ” [1: p91]0-6-4T locomotive No. 9, ‘King Edward’ in ex-shop condition in 1904. [1: between p100 & p101]

The company considered buying other locos but it was some time before other engines were employed on the network. “The next ones to run on the line were ‘foreigners’ the tow hired by the Ministry of Transport in April 1920 for use in the conrtuction and working of the Arigna Valley Railway. Transferred temporarily to the C&L, they were originally Nos. 1 and 2 of the Ballymena, Cushendall & Red Bay Railway. Built at Black Hawthorn in 1874 and 1875 respectively, they were renumbered on various occasions, becoming 101A and 102A of the Northern Counties Committee in February 1920. … These little engines were very popular on the C&L and were amazingly sturdy machines. Probably as a result of excessive use on the C&L, their condition in June 1921 was poor and it was ordered that they be returned to the NCC at the end of Control. They returned north in November 1921 and were not used again. ” [1: p94-95]One of the two foreigners , No. 101A from the NCC was originally a Ballymena, Cushendall and Red Bay Railway engine. [1: between p100 & p101]

By the summer of 1924, No. 8 was no longer Queen Victoria. The name had become synonymous with colonial rule and after one false start the name plate was removed and destroyed. [1: p97]No. 8, Queen Victoria without her nameplates, pictured in 1924. [1: between p100 & p101]

Engine Livery: the basic C&L livery was dark green with lining consisting of “a three-quarter inch band with a much thinner line inside. The band was generally red and the line white but, depending on the taste of the locomotive superintendent or the painter, there were variations. For example, No. 7 had a red band but a black line, while the band on No.8 was yellow and the line light blue. Lined parts of the engine were the front and side of the tanks, the cab panels and back, and the sides of the cylinders. The smoke-box and the cover over the cylinders were in variably black.” [1: p97-98]No. 2, Kathleen in 1933 prior to its regular use on the Arigna Tramway. Flanagan says: “The engine has the flat Hunslett dome cover and is fitted with smoke-box lubricators.” [1: between p100 & p101] Two views of a model of No. 2, Kathleen in 00n3. This model was produced from a kit from Backwoods Miniatures which has been modified including a scratch-built rear cab sheet as the one in the kit was for the era prior to Kathleen being fitted out to run on the Arigna tramway. The original loco still exists at Cultra. These pictures were found on the website of Chester Model Railway Club. [16]A typical Arigna Coal train modelled in 00n3 with Kathleen at the head, also . [16]No. 4, Violet in 1932. Flanagan says: “The step on the [front of] the side tanks was a feature of this engine for a long time.” [1: between p100 & p101]This image of No. 1, Isobel is taken in 1931 at Dromod MPD and mirrors pictures above from the preservation era. [1: between p100 & p101]

At the amalgamation heavy excursion traffic was a thing of the past and the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland  was depleting the cattle traffic. However, the Arigna Coal traffic was substantial and growing steadily. Modifications were first made to the remaining members of the existing fleet of locomotive (1925). Heavy repairs were undertaken at Ballinamore until around 1932, after which such repairs were undertaken at Inchicore Works. Regular repairs kept 4 of the original 8 locos in use but their overall condition was deteriorating gradually and by 1951 no further havey repairs were undertaken. Flanagan says that “At the closure, the four remaining C&L engines were very run down. As the line was lifted, No. 8 was cut up in the shops in Ballinamore. The lifting of the Dromod line was done with Nos. 2 & 4, and in February 1960, No. 4 was cut up at Dromod. After a long wait, No. 2 was brought by road to the Belfast Transport Museum, where it no rests. The remaining engine, No. 3, was shipped to America by the Lady Edith Society.” [1: p116-117]No. 2, Kathleen at the Ulster Transport Museum, (c) Skimann . [9] Three shots, video stills of Lady Edith on shed at Pine Creek Railroad, New Jersey in 2017. [10]

The Lady Edith Society was a consortium of New York area railroad enthusiasts–Edgar T. Mead, Jr., Oliver Jensen and Roger E.M. “Frimbo” Whitaker. They pooled their money and in 1959 shipped to the U.S. the Lady Edith, a second locomotive, a passenger carriage from the Cavan and Leitrim, and later they were joined by a goods van and a brake van from the West Claire Railway. First displayed at Pleasure Island Amusement Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the equipment was moved to Freehold, NJ, then to Allaire in 1965. Lady Edith first steamed on 16th June 1966. It was serviceable up until around the millenium when it became apparent that the front flue sheet was too thin for safe operation. An $11,000 repair was put on hold when New Jersey adopted new regulations. [11]

The second locomotive was the former Cavan & Leitrim, ex-Great Southern Railway, nee-Tralee & Dingle 2-6-2T No. 5, which was brought over in 1959 to go to Edaville. Instead, it went to the Steamtown collection in 1961. It remained part of the Steamtown collection until 1986. In that year, it was purchased from the Steamtown Foundation and repatriated to Ireland by the Great Southern Railway Preservation Society, Ltd. It operated for a time on a restored section of the T&D between Tralee and Blennerville. [11] However, that heritage line is currently not operational and No. 5 sits unused on the Tralee & Blennerville Railway. It has not worked for some years now.Above, Loco No. 5T is at Creagh on the afternoon Arigna train. [1: between p100 & p101].

In the adjacent image, which was frequently seen on postcards, No. 3T sits at Creagh on another Arigna bound train. [3]

Locomotives from Down South!

The Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway (CBPR) closed in 1932. Four of its engines, built in 1900 by Neilson and Company, were 2-4-2T locos. They had maker’s numbers 5561-5564 and CBPR Nos. 4-7. By the middle of 1934 all four engines had been repaired either at Cork or Inchicore. The locos were renumbered Nos. 10L – 13L respectively and  arrived at the C&L in August and September of 1934. No. 11L did not last long and was scrapped in 1939 at Inchicore. After experimentation it was determined that these locos were not suited to the Arigna Extension. No. 13L was laid up at Inchicore in 1951 and scrapped in 1954. The two remaining CBPR locos lasted until the end of the C&L and were cut up in 1959. [1: p117-119]

The GSR considered supplementing C&L motive power with locomotives from  the Tralee & Dingle Line, the West Clare Line and the Schull & Skibbereen Line. All would have been within the loading gauge and turntable lengths. The most suitable proved to be those from the Tralee & Dingle Line. Four engines were sent from the Tralee & Dingle Railway (T&D) to the C&L. They came in numerical order over a period of 16 years.

“The first to come were Nos 3T and 4T in late 1941. The former was a Hunslett 2-6-0T of 1889 (maker’s number 479) and was one of the original T&D engines, having been delivered early to Robert Worthington for use in construction work. … This endine (and all other T&D engines except No. 4) was fitted with Walschaert’s valve gear. … The second engine to come in 1941, No. 4T, was … built by Kerr, Stuart & Company (No. 836) in 1903. it was a 2-6-0T to a standard maker’s design and resembled other engines supplied to various overseas railways. … It was not until 1949 that No. 5T went to Inchicore Works, … en-route to the C&L. On 10th November the following year, it was sent to Ballinamore to begin a nine-year spell of heavy duty. … Generally similar to No. 3T, it was a larger engine – a 2-6-2T – with longer boiler and firebox. Made by Hunslet in 1892, its number was 555. … No. 5T has a cow-catcher but this gradually worked loose and had a tendency to stick on the points. When this … happened one day in Drumshanbo yard the catcher was … removed for good. … The last of the Dingle engines, No. 6T, was identical with No. 3T in everything except age. However, as built (in 1898, Hunslet No. 677) it had no tramway fittings. … No. 6T … came to Inchicore and was condemned in March 1957 but was immediately reprieved  for the C&L coal traffic and went into service shortly afterwards. It ran the greatest mileage of all on coal specials, 1,312 miles in four weeks of April-Mat 1958.” [1: p120-122]

“On closure of the C&L, Nos 3T and 4T (with 10L) were used on the Belturbet lifting and were cut up on completion of the task; 6T (and 12L) went to the Dromod end and were also scrapped. 5T alone survived, being shipped to America.” [1: p122]

6T was the last steam locomotive in steam on the original C&L. 6T went on to haul lifting trains into 1960 and was scrapped in March. It seems as though 5T did operate at Blennerville in the States but is currently in pieces having not steamed in 10 years. [28]

D. Rolling Stock

Carriages: In 1886 the Company instructed the engineer to prepare specifications 8 composite, four third-class carriages and 6 brake vans. The carriages were to be long bogie vehicles. Automatic vacuum brakes were to be used.

In January 1887 the tender from the Metropolitan Carriage & Wagon Company in the sum of £10,554 was accepted and the chosen carriages were 40ft in length by 7ft in width and ran on two four-wheel bogies with 2ft diameter wheels.

The seating arrangement was “longitudinal, slatted, wooden seats in all third-class sections, and similar, black, leather-upholstered seats in the small central smoking first-class sections of the composites. The non-smoking firsts had swivel armchairs on one side and fixed armchairs on the other, dark blue upholstery being used. The accommodation was fifty in the thirds, thirty-four third class and fourteen first-class (six smoking) in the composites. The carriages weighed 7 tons 12cwt.” [1:p148-149]

Externally, “the overall painting was red-brown and there was a fine red line around the windows and panelling. Midway along the waist panel there was a gold transfer of the letters ‘C.L.& R.Ry’ and below was the number. They had open platforms at the ends, though the roof extended the full length of the frame. Protection was afforded by railings. … Lighting was by oil, with four lamps in each third and five in each composite, and the windows were fitted with blinds. No permanent form of heating was provided and in December 1887 two-dozen copper foot warmers were ordered. … In the early days … the foot-warmers were filled from large iron kettles … purchased by the traffic manager in January 1888.” [1: p149]C&L Loco. No. 5 on a board inspection train at Belturbet in the early 1900s. I guess that the bogie coach at the rear of the train would at least have had some first class accommodation! [1: between p100 & p101]

“The first coach, a composite, was delivered in July 1887. … The chief complaint made was that rain had freely found its way inside the coach and the locomotive superintendent was instructed to make a thorough inspection. He reported that the workmanship might have been a bit better in some respects but that, on the whole, the coach was fairly satisfactory. ” [1: p149]

Steam heating of the coaches was considered on a number of occasions but was not fitted. Internal alterations saw the removal of swivel chairs and their replacement with longitudinal bench seating in 1903. It was soon realised that the original coaches had a surfeit of first-class accommodation. It was decided in 1891 to convert two composites to thirds, however the work was not carried out until mid-1899. A third conversion was made in 1907. The possibility of adding a lavatory to No. 11, which was then being modified, was considered and rejected because the cost of £35 6s 6d was considered to be far too high.

“As traffic built up over the years, the carriage stock proved insufficient for the heavy demands made on it. Things came to a head in 1909 and it was then proposed that two new carriages be bought, but the plan had to be withdrawn  in the face of opposition from the council directors.” [1: p150] Further please were made at intervals for an increase in the number of carriages, but to no avail. The C&L made no further additions to is carriage stock.

“Very shortly after the formation of the GSR, plans were drawn up for a standard coach for all the acquired narrow-gauge lines. It would have been 40 ft long and 6ft 11 ins wide with longitudinal seating for 34 third-class passengers. There were to be two four-seater first-class compartments, the central one for smokers. Electric light was planned and entrance would be gained from inward-opening side doors at each end.” [1:p151] These plans came to nothing.

After an attempt at re-panelling of two C&L coaches both deteriorated rapidly, one was scrapped, the other was return with a replacement body made up of “two ‘N’-class single-decker bus bodies joined together in the middle, the original bus entrances being kept and new, similar ones provided opposite. … In appearance, the bus-coach was quite smart at first but it had some very distinct disadvantages. The roof leaked badly, there was no heating, … and although battery lighting was provided it was necessary to send the batteries to the Broadstone to for recharging.” [1: p152]Coach No. 7 of the C&L was re-bodied with a pair of bus bodies shunted together. [14]

Of the remaining two untouched coaches, the first was allowed to rot away until closure, the other, “a composite, was hauled into Ballinamore shops in 1958 and given a completely new body. It was second-class only and extended the full length of the frame, the familiar end platforms disappearing and inward-opening doors being provided instead. The edns were blocked off and there was no access from the next vehicle.” [1: p152]

“In 1954, the CIE made an effort to relieve the situation by giving the line its first ‘foreign’ coaches – two from the West Clare, though originally of Tralee & Dingle origin.” [1: p152]

Flanagan provides a full list of all the C&L carriages: [1:p153-154]

No I Composite: Derelict in GSR livery in Ballinamore to 1958. Then rebuilt in C&L shops as all-second. Transferred to West Clare in June 1959 and used in traffic and later as P.W. sleeping-car on lifting train. Body sold to Bord na Mona in Bellacorick, Co Mayo.

No 2 Composite: Converted to third 1900-07; written off 1950.

No 3 Composite: Converted to third 1900-07; written off 1950.

No 4 Composite: Sent by GSR to Inchicore for repairs; came back with ‘cardboard’ sides. Very little used on return. Frame again sent to Inchicore 1951 but scrapped there.

No 5 Composite: Converted to brake-composite 1945-6 and painted green. Panelling later covered with painted sheet aluminium. On closure sent to Dromod and later brought to Belfast Transport Museum.

No 6 Composite: Converted to brake-composite 1950. Little used at end (No 5 was regular tramway carriage). Body sold to Gaelic Athletic Association 1959 and now in use as changing-room at sports-field in Ballinamore.

No 7 Composite: Sent to Inchicore with No 4 by GSR. Also little used on return. Frame also sent to Inchicore 1951 for new body. Returned December 1953 as `bus-coach’. New body all-second. On closure, sent to Dromod and fittings removed. Sold to Bord na Mona in Lanesboro’, Co Longford.

No 8 Composite: Converted to third 1899; written off 1943.

No 9 Third: Written off 1943.

No 10 Third: Written off 1950.

No 11 Third: Lasted till closure (then scrapped) but, although used in 1949-50 period on tramway, had been derelict for years.

No 12 Third: Written off 1943.

Coach No. 12 was a third class coach. It is shown here newly repainted in 1931. [1: between p100 & p101]

In 2019, Flanagan’s list needs to be reviewed in the light of 50 years of further developments ….

Coach No. 1: Flanagan says that this was on the West Clare Railway for a short while. I have not been able to follow up on the subsequent history and demise of the coach. Worsley Works makes a kit of this coach and carry a picture of it circa 1959 in West Clare colours.Model of Coach No. 1, kit by Worsley Works, built by Simon Starr. [15]

Coach No. 5 (‘6’):  is shown in this early postcard from what was the Belfast Transport Museum. The card was part of a restoration appeal in the early 1960s. Have they got the number wrong? Or did Flanagan?cl-belfast-transport-museum-appeal-pcIn the days before the new Irish Transport Galleries were built at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in Cultra, the collection was housed in a cramped old warehouse in Witham Street, Belfast. The carriage featured in this early 1960s card of Witham Street has since been fully restored and is on show at Cultra.