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Are yez English?

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jhb171achill
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A few days to go, and this place will have no more trains. Up the line, Dunsandle will be quiet; no more will goods trains traverse Barnagh Bank or the Burma Road. Even the little town of Ardee, home of the legendary "wild man" (and in those days as drab and depressed an Irish town as you could get) will no longer have its goods train, daily, or was it twice yearly if required?

 

So here we are. I've come all this way - all the way from Dublin with my green return Almex ticket - to travel behind a G. And what do I get? A C class. An oul ordinary C, same boring oul thing I can get out to Bray any day. Another oul Metrovick. Who'd be bothered with that. Well, glass half full: they have crisps in the local bar; how's that? Gourmet food with an underage pint And new track to cover. So maybe it isn't as bad a day as I thought.

 

But a "C". Ah well. At least it's sunny and the pictures will come out well, though it's over £3 to get them developed. And a return from Connolly to Loughrea has cost me a fiver. It's not cheap being a railway enthusiast.

 

So. I had alighted in great anticipation at Attymon earlier and descended into deep disappointment in seeing our black and tan Metrovick friend, a re-engined one, B209 or 206 or something. Got the photos, I could look it up. It transpired the regular G was away shunting Tuam Beet Factory; the beet season had started.

 

It was to be thirty years or so before I travelled behind a G - at Downpatrick!

 

It was a crisp dry sunny day, but with a definite hint of oncoming winter in the cold East Galway autumn air. It's always windy about those parts, isn't it? I had been about the town, and now I sat on the station seat, pondering why they let a locomotive sit and idle for four hours or so in between taking the mixed into Loughrea and out of the place again. And there was another disappointment, an even bigger one. The train was officially mixed, but that day there happen ed to be no goods traffic in or out, thus the train consisted of the solitary passenger coach only. Ah well, times two.

 

I wandered into an office where there were several CIE staff including the driver. "Any chance of a footplate run back?" I asked. One of them looked at the others and asked me, "Are ye English?"

 

Now, I know that the English are known as hardcore gricers the world over, and fair play till them all, they are quite right. But anyone who knows me personally and thinks I sound English is as likely to assume that Queen Elizabeth 2nd is a born and bred Alabama or Inner City Limerick native.

 

"Eh, no", I responded, before summarising my past. For some reason, I sensed they didn't believe me.

 

"Do ye ever see dem Deltic locos in England?", sez on of them, explaining how impressed he was when he saw them in, eh, England. "I'm actually from here", sez I; this time thinking they now believed me. And so I wandered back to the platform, took another picture of the train from the track. I realise now I risked life and limb that day, and was lucky to escape with my life, because I stepped from platform onto track without a day glo jacket, PTS, or steel capped boots, hard hat and three-year-acquired personal safety case, specially crafted and authorised by the Grand Wizard of the Health and Safety Department, Brussels. But, survive I did. I know this because I remember what happened after my brush with death and a decent colour film exposure estimate on the track.

 

What happened next was that the train was about to go. The driver stepped up into the cab, so I thought, give it another go. "Just asking," I began. It was no use; the drived didn't want anyone up there that day.

 

Back to the coach, with its mock-leather plastic upholstered bus seats, same as Dublin buses at the time. The train pulled out, with me the only passenger and no goods on the back, and the coach and loco crashed and lurched its way along old and almost derelict track up towards Attymon.

 

As the late autumn evening sun lay low and cast dazzling glare over a river the line crossed; an image with me forever; I noticed that on the empty seat opposite me, someone had written in black biro,

 

"FAREWELL TO THE DUNSANDLE EXPRESS".

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And a postscript: the reasons they let A and C class locos idle all day or night is that once shut down they could be troublesome starting, and apparently it was believed that they used less fuel idling. And, while G haulage has become a reality at Downpatrick in recent years, C class haulage hasn't.

 

But, all good things come to those who wait. Just saying.

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JHB Nearly as bad as a Dublin man been asked in South Kerry "arru from Tralee?:-bd. 1975 brings back mixed memories doing the Leaving all those line closures, it was another year before I was working and could splash out on a rambler ticket. Except on a wild calm day its always windy in the stone wall country across east Galway and Roscommon either a South Westerly across the Atlantic or an Easterly all the way from Russia. I helped out operating the MRSI Loughrea layout at a few exhibitions about 20 years ago I always remember a German woman looking at the layout and remarking that the country around Loughrea must be pretty bleak.

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