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Flann O’Brien

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Galteemore
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Like many an Irishman, I have only discovered the depth of my culture when exiled from it. I have recently taken to reading O’Brien, and discovered that he published a notable series of railway related articles as part of his humourous column. The articles are fascinating as they reveal a real knowledge - or at least acquaintance with - railway terminology, such as cutoff workings and Walschaerts. Quite what Irish Times readers made of it is not clear. Anyone else come across it? He even describes the DSER as ‘the most ruffianly railroad concern ever  to exist in any country’ ….sorry @KMCE

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  • Galteemore changed the title to Flann O’Brien - Myles Na Gcopaleen
5 minutes ago, Galteemore said:

Like many an Irishman, I have only discovered the depth of my culture when exiled from it. I have recently taken to reading O’Brien, and discovered that he published a notable series of railway related articles as part of his humourous column. The articles are fascinating as they reveal a real knowledge - or at least acquaintance with - railway terminology, such as cutoff workings and Walschaerts. Quite what Irish Times readers made of it is not clear. Anyone else come across it? He even describes the DSER as ‘the most ruffianly railroad concern ever  to exist in any country’ ….sorry @KMCE

Yes, he was indeed extremely knowledgeable about the engineering / operational aspect of steam locomotives. I wonder if he knew Cyril Fry!

 

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59 minutes ago, jhb171achill said:

Yes, he was indeed extremely knowledgeable about the engineering / operational aspect of steam locomotives. I wonder if he knew Cyril Fry!

 

Can always imagine him writing a Fry- inspired verse for his famous poem…

 

When the brass is cut 

Yet the loco you’ve made

Looks nothing like the plan,

There’s still a way to redeem the work -

a pint of plain is your only man.

 

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As a lifelong fan of Flann O'Brien /Myles NaGcopleen and someone with an interest in Railways you only have to read some of his stuff about the railways to realise this was someone with slightly more than a lay persons knowledge of the railway and the working of steam locomotives .

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  • Galteemore changed the title to Flann O’Brien

One such piece is as follows 

RAILWAY STUFF

I WAS WATCHING the goods the other evening making its way to Wexford, rather like an old buffer of 89 en route to the post office for his pension. Could we not erect some ironical memorial in tortured steel to the wretched man who 'designed' the under-boilered, over-cylindered atrocity that was yanking and bashing those trucks?

When younger and less wise I wrote to the former Dublin South-Eastern Railway outlining a modest proposal for fitting their locomotives with thermic syphons. This device protects the crown sheet and, of course, considerably advances the effective heating surface.                                                                     'Dear Sir-The General Manager directs me to state that the enclosed diagrams, which bear your name, have been found in this office and are returned herewith. Please note that this Company cannot accept responsibility for such documents.'

Heigh-ho for power-operated fire-doors, mechanical stokers and a300 Ibs steam pressure. I heard of a high-up railway technician who was, appropriately enough, killed at a level crossing by one of his own 'trains'. He thought the train was past because he saw its tracks. Bah!

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