The main purpose of the planning exercise was to see if it was feasible to fit an American style walk around design layout inside an 11'x17'6" garage. The idea definitely seems feasible in N and just about possible in OO though probably better off in American N or HOn3 given the amount of rolling stock building required for an Irish layout of this nature.
In 21mm gauge it seems to be basically own to a simple through station on a continuous run or a U or L shaped terminus to fiddle yard effort, the larger radius curves required by the finer scale standards basically eat up space. It is sometimes said that it is easier to build a double than a single track layout in a small space, I have slightly modified Patrickwell as an example of a small but operationally interesting station for a continuous run layout in 21mm gauge.
The station was on a gentle curve in a plain but visually attractive setting with a natural viewing point from the south with the station building and signal cabin in the background. Patrickswell was the junction between two single lines where the line to Croom and Charleville (The Cork Limerick Direct) diverged from the North Kerry. The two single lines ran side by side westwards from the station for approximately on mile giving the impression of double track, at the eastern end of the station a headshunt to the goods yard trailed back on the up side towards Limerick also giving the impression of a double line.
The track layout was extremely simple with 3 points a crossover between the Croom line and The North Kerry and a siding trailing back from the headshunt to a loading bank, in later years the home of a crippled CIE brake van and an ex GNR covered goods wagon.
In GSWR days the signal cabin was on the South side of the line opposite the junction crossovers, but replaced with a standard GSR concrete hipped roofed cabin further west on the platform following Civil War damage. At some stage a second crossover existed which allowed trains from the Croom line to run directly to the headshunt and the goods yard also had a second siding. These appear to have been lifted at some stage before the Croom line closed in 1967.
Although simple a layout based on Patrickswell could be interesting to operate mainly for through train operation than shunting, with trains operating along the single line from Limerick in prototype fashion before diverging onto the North Kerry or Croom lines or even using the double crossovers to allow double line operation between Limerick and Patrickswell or watching trains go round on a double line.
In the diesel era the Croom line was an important freight link between Cork and Limerick for a regular overnight goods and cement specials until Limerick Junction was re-modelled in 67, Patrickswell seems to have been busy as a block post and used for crossing oil and mineral trains during the Foynes freight boom era of the 60s 70s closing in 87. Although no loop was provided the layout was signalled to allow trains from Limerick to run directly onto the stub of the Croom line or from Ballingarne onto the headshunt at the Limerick end. The first train to arrive would presumably do the shunt, with the second running through.
Modelling the steam era would involve a lot of scratch or kit building the SSM GSWR 101, 6w coaches and whitemetal wagons would be a good start, the pre-amalgamation era has developed something of a cult following in the UK with Paul Greenes S Scale GSWR layout and the WLWR in 7mm with Richard Chowns Castlerackrent system and David Walkers Killanney.
A pre-amalgamation Patrickswell with GSWR green locos and purple lake coaching stock contrasting with WLWR Crimson Lake and well maintained infrastructure, would make an interesting contrast with contemporary gritty reality of modelling.
The final instalment of the saga will look at a number of options for a model based on Fenit hopefully including the pier line possibly with a little touch of Torpoint or Craig.