Thanks a million JHB - I really appreciate it!
the whole thread is brilliant.
I'm looking out the window here just north of my adopted home of Limerick -watching Storm Hannah relentlessly strip away the blossoms and embryonic fruit off the Pear, plum and apple trees in the back garden....................they were doing so well up to now !! . If you are heading out tonight on the roads - be careful - this Hannah one won't be taking prisoners.........
that said - with a gin and tonic in hand - Im not stirring for the night - and I'll be reading this thread as long as the electrics hold out!
There is something near magical and massively evocative about all those timetables JHB - those early ones are works of art in themselves- I hope you have a designated good home for them when your time with them is done. It would be a terrible shame to see documents like that lost or in the hands of somebody who places no value on them.
I guess what really hits me going down the lists of long closed stations on long closed lines is that its only the bones of 60 years since the majority of them closed for good - it might aswell be 360 years ago for all they matter or are remembered today. It's a view into a totally different way of life in a totally different Ireland than today - its an irony that the world of 1961 in Ireland would be have been far more familiar to my great grandfather who died in 1942 than to myself who was born 30 years after - this country has utterly transformed in the last 50 years and our railways and our attitude to them reflects that.
The Railways were an intrinsic and vital part of daily life in lifetimes of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. From tales of my Great grandfather smuggling guns from the Asgard down to the volunteers in Carlow and Kilkenny in the coal tender of the daily mixed goods from Kingsbridge in 1913, getting arrested at Palace East by the British Intelligence as he did a legger on Easter Monday 1916 ,and participating in a bit of auld "vandalism" to the Engine shed and points in Ballywilliam in the early 20's. My grandmother taking the daily train to Goresbridge from Borris for music lessons with the Nuns in the Convent there and my dad and his friends who used to bum lifts on the beet trains to Bagnalstown and Carlow for hurling games in the winter time. My mum was from Waterford - so we were constantly regaled with tales of the much loved Tramore train where she would go out to the resort, go on the amusements, go swimming, buy lots of ice cream and take the train back to the city and still have enough change out of two pence to buy a bag of chips on the way home!!!...............my childhood is filled with memories of tracing the track of the old line all the way down to New Ross in the back of the car,straining to see up to what remained of New Ross Station if we were stopped to let a fertilizer train pass at the bridge - dragging my Grandfather to the station in Waterford to watch the trains go by and standing transfixed in the garden of my aunty's house near Stradbally as the Dolomite trains passed by on their way to ballinacourty......................its all gone now - in the case of the Bagnalstown to Palace east - its like it never existed in the first place apart from the viaduct in Borris and some overgrown undisturbed cuttings here and there......for now
For those of us who live outside Dublin, and to a lesser extent Cork and Belfast ........the railways have totally lost their relevance to our lives - its an era that has passed on. There is no big baddie to point the finger at - outside of the assassination of the GNR in the late 50's up north( that was just plain wrong ) the railways decline in rural Ireland is a result of the way the people of rural ireland have chosen to live their lives and carry out their business...better roads , better and more reliable automobiles along with containerisation etc etc played a big part in that - the railways just weren't needed anymore when you could just jump in your car and go anywhere at anytime - likewise when you can ship your goods from one destination to another in one go at any time that suits - why go through the whole rigmaroll of goods sheds and loading and unloading etc etc............Personally - its sad to see a way of life coming to an end like that - but the samething is happening in town and villages right across the country now as the shops close down as the discounters move in and online shopping takes precedence - everybody says its really sad and something must be done - but their spending habits would tell a different story..................the number of family businesses going to the wall for the chance to buy discounted chainsaws along with cheap avocados every 6 months will be a tale for ages in decades hence..........
Anyhoo - after that tangent into social history ( you'd know I was a history grad back in the day!) - back to choo-choos - What was a shame was the rapid selling off of the land and permanent way of all those closed down lines in the 60s and 70's - and the utterly derelict state of much of the infrastructure left behind. I know a lot of folks here take to the drink when the word "greenway" is mentioned around here. ......but lets have a reality check lads - the lines that are shut are never coming back - outside of the greater Dublin suburban area - there will be no new railway lines in Ireland again - the re-opening of Midleton and particularly Ennis to Athenry were Celtic Tiger Freak moments - never to be repeated - looking at the next 20 years - if the existing network minus Limerick junction to Waterford and Limerick to Ballybrophy, is retained - it will be some achievement - the 2 Tipp branch lines will be gone within 10 years - there might be an extension of the dunboyne line and more light railways in the Dublin area - and the Tipp branches will be put out to grass to pay for them -but thats it - the best the rest of the network can hope for is retention of what is there and maybe - with European funds - electricification of Dublin - Dundalk and Dublin - Cork.
So how to keep the memories of the closed lines alive - Greenways would appear to be the answer - the Waterford Greenway is superb - its a real pity that the same didn't happen to all the closed lines in the 60's ..........Bagnalstown to Palace east thru the rolling valleys under the Blackstairs would have been a magificent route - likewise the Shillealagh line in Wicklow, the West Cork lines , the Kerry Lines , not to mention Connemeara and Clare ..........and the list goes on and on - the alignment preserved and the history held on to. When I was a kid - you could jump over a gate and go rambling thru the countryside and fields without a care in the world..........nowadays, in a time of insurance claims and rural hysteria over crime - you take your life in your hands doing the same - Greenways are popular because they are becoming part of the few places where us landless citizens can take a walk or cycle in the countryside without fear of being knocked down or accused of trespass...........and the tourists love them. The Trains that ran on them are never coming back - lets preserve their echoes as best we can.
Im rambling on now - time for another drinkie, another peruse thru those magnificent timetables and dream again of beet wagons, Cattle wagons and how to replicate Limestone stonework in the 00 world!