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Model Railway Planning Irish style



I have been kicking around ideas for a layout for a good few years, but always seem to have moved just as I got things started. I have reasonable space in a convert garage 18X10 for a layout in OO or N, but a bit tight for anything other than a small terminus to fiddle yard effort in 21mm gauge.


Having dabbled I American modelling I wanted something interesting to operate than watching trains go round and round or a loco shunting a small terminus. Although I prefer the Midland the Burma Road & North Kerry keep cropping up.


If I was still working in N I would probably go for an American style walk around possibly multi-level scheme with several stations modelling the main line from Patrickswell through Newcastle to Abbeyfeale.


Given space and time working in 4mm a remote county station with a simple track layout would be a better proposition, Barnagh fits the bill in terms of simplicity and remoteness with a few interesting twists that lifts it out of the ordinary.




Barnagh was the highest point on the CIE system at the summit of a steeply graded (by Irish standards) sections from Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale. Train loadings were severely restricted over Barnagh a J15 was allowed 40 wagons from Limerick to Newcastle but 25 Westwards to the summit with similar restrictions on East bound trains from Abbeyfeale.


The yard at Barnagh was designed so shunting could take place clear of the running line and allow loose coupled goods trains to be remarshaled if it as necessary to divide a heavy goods train and "double the hill" if a banking locomotive was not available.


Curiously the A, B & C Class diesels were similarly restricted to 25 wagons but this was eased with the introduction of the 30T brake vans in the 1960s.


Run-aways were a potential problem and all loose coupled goods were required to stop and "pin down" the brakes on at least 10 wagons (more in bad weather) before descending the hill in either direction.


The North Kerry line seems to have been reasonably busy up to the Emergency with 3

Limerick-Tralee, 1 Limerick-Abbeyfeale return passenger trains, a daily goods, plus overloads and specials. Through trains were worked by J15s with ex WLWR & GSWR 4-4-2T & 0-4-4T on the Abbeyfeale service.


Most passenger trains on secondary lines conveyed urgent van traffic, the Abbeyfeale passenger train may have acted as an overload for the daily goods moving traffic between Newcastle and Abbeyfeale and saving on the cost of having a banker and loco crew available in Newcastle.


Next step might be to look at some of the bigger stations on the North Kerry


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You mention that your available space is reasonable for OO but tight for 21mm. This leads me to ask about minimum radius for 21mm gauge based on your experience. This is something I have often wondered about.

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You mention that your available space is reasonable for OO but tight for 21mm. This leads me to ask about minimum radius for 21mm gauge based on your experience. This is something I have often wondered about.


The minimum radius depends on track standards 3' seems to be about the minimum for OO wheel track standards, in S4 you pretty much have to work to scaled down prototype radius Templot starts blinking if you go below 4'


Diesels and bogie stock are fairly forgiving but bogie and outside cylinder steam locos can be a challenge because of reduced side play in chassis and tighter clearances.

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Really interesting - presumably the new North Kerry book will help. Must get myself a copy!

Newcastle West has always fascinated me. Always liked the idea of a 'terminus junction' because it expands operating potential. How easy is it to get hold of station track plans? Bet there are many tempting possibilities.

Think 21 mm gauge would be wonderful, or 10.5 for that matter. Will look forward to hearing how things develop

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