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I was flicking through the most recent uploads on the IRRS Flickr, mostly 70's and 80's stuff. Some incredible photos, but utterly depressing, in terms of what's been lost. The network has never been more rationalised in terms of actual points and rails. It's no longer the "old" railway

So, I thought, that it's maybe time to tell the stories that have been locked under the "30 year, or maybe 40 year rule"

Here's one

I was coming out of Connolly on a Sligo, a 071 , the driver was one of the Connolly Specials, (I'll explain that if this topic ever gets further)

Anyway, we were coming into Enfield, when, he casually mentioned " You ok taking the staff" now I'd done it in Maynooth, so I was looking at him a bit strange, and I'd been swapping staffs since I was a kid, so of course I nodded ok. "Sound so, I won't bother braking", I thought he was taking the piss, but he wasn't, we swept into Enfield at 70mph, I was looking at the signalman, he was looking at me, and all I was thinking was that If I miss this, it's a long walk of shame back. 

Anyway I nailed it, we were approaching Killucan and our hero decided he wasn't going to brake here either, wasn't my problem this time, so he tore through the platform, dropped the staff and I heard the clatter of the staff hitting the window, followed by an absolute volley of fucks. " He pulled it back, the bastard" He had grabbed it by the skin of his fingers, the signalman had had enough and taught him a lesson.

You don't get this level of entertainment anymore on an ICR.........

 

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One more,

Back in 1982, I was going into secondary school, so for some unknown, bonding reason, my dad decided that myself and himself should do a few days away in Dublin. We had a great time. (Now my dad was a loco driver, and had spent some time in Broadstone, as a fireman, he absolutely loved the place, spent a lot of his time running goods from Liffey Junction down to the yards, and horseboxes to the RDS, he also worked the Meath branches. He always said that on his first day in Broadstone, a Dub said to him, "we don't work here, so don't you start")

I lived in a railway house, eight foot from the rail, I'm third generation railway so I had started to get a serious interest in railways. Anyway we  had done the museums and gallery's, but we ended up chasing trains and eventually we landed in Greystones.

A couple of trains went by, both whose drivers saluted my dad,  one was an fert, I cant remember the other. By this stage I was hopping from leg to leg, I was realising I was a track hound.

 " Did you know those guys, dad" "Yeah, sure I used to work with them" The hopping increased.

The stationmaster/checker came out "railway" was the answer, no bother, a family.

Next thing, the down Rosslare arrives in, a big welcome for Dad, we hop into the cab of an A Class, we went down to Wicklow, I think, the checker tried to look for our tickets whilst we were crossing over into another A class, our driver took serious insult at this and declared to my dad that If I'd hadn't been present that he'd have told him exactly what he thought of him.

Anyway, we went back through the tunnels, and through Bray, and back into Dublin, our driver showed Dad how CTC worked and he rang them as a test. He dropped us in Connolly and I'll never forgot his kindness, he was real old school railway.

(Many years later, my Dad and myself were watching the evening news, and they had a piece on the new Lord Mayor of Dublin, Dermot Lacey, my dad turned to me and said "do you remember the trip up from Wicklow well, that was his father, Tommy")

We wandered down to North Wall via Newcomen Junction, there were at least three A class hauled liners about to head out,  dad knew the first driver, had a great chat, all I remember is that that that the light was on over the fuel tank, we wandered into the yard, a security guy in a van stopped us, "railway" kept him happy, dad had a chat with him, off he buzzed, about half a hour later, we were completely lost, dad had driven wagons into the point depot itself but he was befuddled with the new layout.

The security lad in the van reappeared, we hopped in and he brought us to the gate, he told us some great yarns on the way.

Now remember, my dad never wore a hi vis in his life, I wear one now going for a walk, changed times

I miss the old railway.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, bufferstop said:

I was flicking through the most recent uploads on the IRRS Flickr, mostly 70's and 80's stuff. Some incredible photos, but utterly depressing, in terms of what's been lost. The network has never been more rationalised in terms of actual points and rails. It's no longer the "old" railway

So, I thought, that it's maybe time to tell the stories that have been locked under the "30 year, or maybe 40 year rule"

Here's one

I was coming out of Connolly on a Sligo, a 071 , the driver was one of the Connolly Specials, (I'll explain that if this topic ever gets further)

Anyway, we were coming into Enfield, when, he casually mentioned " You ok taking the staff" now I'd done it in Maynooth, so I was looking at him a bit strange, and I'd been swapping staffs since I was a kid, so of course I nodded ok. "Sound so, I won't bother braking", I thought he was taking the piss, but he wasn't, we swept into Enfield at 70mph, I was looking at the signalman, he was looking at me, and all I was thinking was that If I miss this, it's a long walk of shame back. 

Anyway I nailed it, we were approaching Killucan and our hero decided he wasn't going to brake here either, wasn't my problem this time, so he tore through the platform, dropped the staff and I heard the clatter of the staff hitting the window, followed by an absolute volley of fucks. " He pulled it back, the bastard" He had grabbed it by the skin of his fingers, the signalman had had enough and taught him a lesson.

You don't get this level of entertainment anymore on an ICR.........

 

Classic. 

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My Grandfather on the mothers side was a Broadstone driver but had passed away before I was even a twinkle in my fathers eye. There is always an inclination to view the past through rose tinted glasses times were pretty hard in GSR days my mothers family had to give up their railway house in Great Western Square when my grandfathers health collapsed and he was no longer fit to drive in the early 30s, though my mother had fond memories of Broadstone including her Tomboy younger sister falling off the railway wall and rolling down the embankment towards the line as she waved to her father as he was arriving with a train and trips to the Pay Office with her fathers Pay Check to collect his wages when he was away in Galway or Athlone. The family seemed to holiday in Athlone or use a privileged ticket to visit Skerries on the GNR.

Although our family drove everywhere and did not use the railway during my childhood, I had a lot of memories of the Meath Road during the 60s from Sunday afternoon walks and my fathers fishing trips in the area, even walking a section of line before the track was lifted on the Drumree-Kilmessan section and explored the remains of the line when I got a car in the 1980s.

Perhaps some day I will actually get around to building a Meath Road layout after 40+ years false starts.

 

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  • 7 months later...

Back in the day, I must have wandered down the platform in Heuston, and asked a driver, how he was fixed.

Long story short, I was sitting on an 071 on a Mk2 set heading to Galway, the driver was a Connolly special, we were absolutely tearing through the Curragh, before he started braking for Kildare, we were still hammering along, and he said to  me " the brakes are bit a soft".

I was about say it to him, when  he looked at me with absolute horror, "It's a fucking vac braked set" The hammer was dropped, and we set back and awaited the inveitable.

We stopped with about two coaches on the platform, people got on, and we took off again. 

Like I said, you won't get that entertaiment with an ICR set.....................

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Great thread with some fascinating stories! We had no railway connection in my family. My dad worked in the bar/pub industry and mum was the homemaker. But I grew up facing the railways and that's where my interest started! My uncle lived in Kilcock, and I would spend my Summers on the farm. Kilcock had the railway, and a station, and most importantly, a signal cabin! So in the Summer of 1972 I started off my railway odessey as a young teenager in the cabin, learning about signalling, single line workings, bell codes and mechanical staff exchange!! Frank, Ned and Paddy were the three signalmen at the time. The cabin was open 24/7 and if memory serves me correct, Maynooth was closed at night/weekends with the long section from Clonsilla to Kilcock (open to correction on this one!). Frank was a nice but stern man! I was with him in the cabin one day, and we had a train in the section coming from Enfield heading to Dublin. He was only a few minutes away. I had been practicing many minutes before that, setting the down points for the loop and main road, setting the locking bar etc. The points lever could be a difficult enough lever to pull/push depending on distance. Anyway the road was set correctly for this up train in the section (interlocking would simply not allow you to set the road incorrectly). I noticed that the up starter, which was high up on the bank, was only partially 'off' unlike the previous times. This could have happened due to a problem with the crossover! I brought this to Frank's attention. Well. it was like WW3 had started!! Frank didnt know whether the train has passed the up distant or not, and mechanical snatching was in operation anyway, so he would be coming through at 70 mph, and the staff was set!! Quick as a flash, Frank slammed back the distant, home and starter levers, slammed back the locking bar lever, slammed back the down crossover lever, remade it, not happy, remade it again and then remade the road! Pulled everything off and the up starter dropped nicely!! Panic over! I had a Sony cassette recorder at the time and I have a lovely tape of an evening spent in that cabin with Ned. The phone conversations were great. Signalmen were always trying to 'push' the train down the line to the next station into the loop to cross another train! In those days with so many trains running you were guaranteed a crossing. Around that same period, I recollect Sean Regan, was doing relief in Kilcock, and was badly injured when the snatching arm broke on a down train and it struck him on the body (he had been waiting under the stairs apparently). He was out of work for a long time. Anyone familiar with the concept of having ' a spare staff' in the cabin??

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It's the middle of the dark days of the "troubles", maybe 1976-ish, when bomb scares, as well as REAL bombs were an almost weekly occurrence.

I was returning to Dublin on the "Enterprise". It must have been mid-winter as it was dark at Central Station in Belfast, and there was a line of buses for Dundalk. The line was closed somewhere between Portadown and "the border". No local trains beyond Lisburn. We were to be bussed to DDK where we would get on a scheduled local which would be held for us. Naturally, half a dozen tired-out Laminates and Park Royals, and a spluttery genny van were of much greater interest to me than a Mk 2 set of either NIR or CIE ownership.

I got off the bus in Dundalk and just happened to be the first one into the carriage - a 1904-series laminate brake. I sat down and immediately noticed a suitcase-type bag tucked under the table! I don't think I've ever moved so fast..........

I got out and told a man in CIE uniform that there was a "suspicious package" under the table and showed him where it was. He stared suspiciously at it. I expected him to start waving his arms and yelling for everyone to get out of the station RIGHT NOW!

But - he stared harder - poked it with his foot, and then gingerly lifted it and carried it off the train.........!

Had that been what I thought it was, and what it often actually was, both that adventurous railwayman and I plus bits of the train and GNR architecture in the station, would have been splattered in tiny messy bits all over Dundalk........

(The haulage was a 141, and he went like the wind! Great run, once we DID get going!)

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5 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

It's the middle of the dark days of the "troubles", maybe 1976-ish, when bomb scares, as well as REAL bombs were an almost weekly occurrence.

I was returning to Dublin on the "Enterprise". It must have been mid-winter as it was dark at Central Station in Belfast, and there was a line of buses for Dundalk. The line was closed somewhere between Portadown and "the border". No local trains beyond Lisburn. We were to be bussed to DDK where we would get on a scheduled local which would be held for us. Naturally, half a dozen tired-out Laminates and Park Royals, and a spluttery genny van were of much greater interest to me than a Mk 2 set of either NIR or CIE ownership.

I got off the bus in Dundalk and just happened to be the first one into the carriage - a 1904-series laminate brake. I sat down and immediately noticed a suitcase-type bag tucked under the table! I don't think I've ever moved so fast..........

I got out and told a man in CIE uniform that there was a "suspicious package" under the table and showed him where it was. He stared suspiciously at it. I expected him to start waving his arms and yelling for everyone to get out of the station RIGHT NOW!

But - he stared harder - poked it with his foot, and then gingerly lifted it and carried it off the train.........!

Had that been what I thought it was, and what it often actually was, both that adventurous railwayman and I plus bits of the train and GNR architecture in the station, would have been splattered in tiny messy bits all over Dundalk........

(The haulage was a 141, and he went like the wind! Great run, once we DID get going!)

Thank God you lived to tell the tale....and write excellent books!

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Did Frank work Maynooth in the late 80's, it must be the same man, because this has always stuck in my head, I was coming into Maynooth on a down Sligo, the driver said to me, "will you change that with Frank, but make sure you don't hit him with it", I was looking at him, thinking was the hell was he on about. Anyway I always liked to drop a staff out of courtesy, near to the signalman as I swapped. I dropped it right on Frank's feet, and he gave me a look that would have made Medusa blush in shame. I turned to the driver and I said apologetically, "I think I tapped his toes"  He sighed "Frank's a briar but he the only one that stands up for himself"

Sorry about that Frank, if you're still alive, you're a mighty age........,👍

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 12/11/2021 at 8:47 PM, bufferstop said:

Did Frank work Maynooth in the late 80's, it must be the same man, because this has always stuck in my head, I was coming into Maynooth on a down Sligo, the driver said to me, "will you change that with Frank, but make sure you don't hit him with it", I was looking at him, thinking was the hell was he on about. Anyway I always liked to drop a staff out of courtesy, near to the signalman as I swapped. I dropped it right on Frank's feet, and he gave me a look that would have made Medusa blush in shame. I turned to the driver and I said apologetically, "I think I tapped his toes"  He sighed "Frank's a briar but he the only one that stands up for himself"

Sorry about that Frank, if you're still alive, you're a mighty age........,👍

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1396_001 edit 1.jpg

I dont know the answer bufferstop but I'll find out! That's a shot of Frank (Bohan)'s back in Kilcock in the early/mid 1970's if thats any help!

Edited by fishplate7
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( I wrote this and I was going to delete it several times, and then I thought, well fuck it, it's a badly written snapshot of a railway that's vanished, but it's what it is)

 

It was the summer of 88, I had done the Leaving Cert, I was heading to the boat, not that I had realised it at that stage, but my options were limited.

I'd got a place in Trinity but without a grant, so that was that. I was pulling pints in London in September, but in the meantime....

I wrote off and got a footplate pass, it arived with a instruction to buy a ticket, some chance!  I headed off with a couple of change of clothes, the working time table, the weekly circular and a hazy plan.

When you look back now, it was ridiculous,  no phone, no idea where I was staying, no prebooking, make it up as you went along. I didn't have a high viz vest during all of this......

It was absolutely massive craic.

To this day, I have no idea of trains or loco numbers. I just hopped on locos. The memories are getting a bit blurry now but the following are brief vignettes

I do know that I absolutely hammered the system, and that without exception, as soon as they knew you were railway, the drivers treated me like family. They were great men.

I spent a lot of time on Dublin - Cork, well, why wouldn't you?, 071's absolutely flat out, I think I did it return 2/12 times or 3 times in one day. I did the dog on it to be honest, I remember at one stage that I fell asleep on one loco and banged my head against the side window. The company was brilliant though. A 071 cab is tight but you always felt at home.The one down side of the 071/141's was that you couldn't see the speedo unless you actually stood up and stood at the drivers shoulder. and unless you were invited, that would have been ignorant beyond belief, so a lot of journeys were spent with one cheek of your arse sitting on the edge of the seat, whilst trying to casually glimpse at the speedo.

There was one particular Cork driver, a great character, I really enjoyed his company. he used to point out one particular signal (around Thurles?) that he called The Morning Star because it was so visible from a distance. He had red rosy cheeks, (maybe someone like Tom Ryan will remember him?). When I did the route again a couple of years later, I asked about him and I was told that he had been retired early with a heart issue. I still don't know his name but he was just a great character, the kind of man, you'd love having pints with.

Spent nights in Cork, drinking Murphys, chasing Cork women, and off again in the morning, without a care in the world.

I did the run to Cobh, out in a 80 class, it was a one man cab on the run out, so I came back with the most depressed driver that I ever encountered. There was no second man seat, so I spent the run sitting on an upturned Club Orange crate. I had the utmost sympathy for the driver having to spend the entire day driving such a heap of shite.

I remember doing Kingscourt ( some uneartly hour out of the B&B,) Foynes, and down the Wexford road, where the loco failed and we had to switch. Doing Waterford to Rosslare , and nailing the staff at Abbey Junction whilst going full tilt. Doing the full runaround at Lim Jun whilst doing the Waterford and taking the staff at the crossing at full whack and wondering why the driver had so much trust in me...

Nicky Moore and Tommy Blackwell..... think Nicky was coming down into Connolly from the North. Mighty men.

Dropping my wallet under a 071 in Athlone and having to crawl under the bogie whilst the driver waited. And destroying my tshirt in the process with axle grease. 

Doing the ton with Fran, the archetypal Dub, on a up Galway/Westport. He was such a Dub that he'd make Ronnie Drew look like a imposter, had the beard and all. We were still accelerating when he had to notch back, otherwise, he reckoned CTC would be ringing him! He was informing me and inviting me to look at the speedo at the same time. Great character, never saw him again.

Meeting Paddy Buckley on a run from Portarlington to Cork, he was hugely proud of the fact that his son, John, played senior hurling for Cork, I was trying to play a bit at the time, so happy days, he mentioned in passing that he had been involved in testing the 071's on introduction and that he had done 112mph on them.

Cyril Ryan, in Limerick, I can't remember what train we were on but he was playing full back, for Patrickswell ( I think) in hurling at the time, we got on well!

I was standing on the platform in Drogheda at one stage and the down Belfast liner stopped on the platform, I asked and was given the nod, the driver laughed and said the only reason they stopped was that  they were told to check the tail lamps. (they were fine), some  great yarns on the way into Dublin. CTC were told not to stop the liners on the approach to Dublin, under pain of death, because they would get ravaged, especially the kegs! (Harp coming from Dundalk)

I remember trying to find accomodation in Talbot St in Dublin on a Saturday evening, booked out, not a hope, so I took a bus to Heuston, anyway hopped on a 071, could have been the 1930, and landed in the real capital three hours later, straight into a B&B on Glanmire Road, and out for pints!

Going through Howth Juction on a 121 and getting stoned, (same happened in Liffey Junction, think it was an 071). Never liked riding the 121's around Dublin, you always felt like you were a sitting duck

Spent a good bit of time down and up to Waterford a couple of days, one of the Waterford drivers was a real gentleman, he was heading towards retirement, and all I remember was that he wore black glasses, but just a pleasure to spend time with, and chat about railways.

In and out to Galway, Mattie Wall and John Foy, The Athlone drivers, including PJ Browne and PJ & Mickey Milton and more that I've shamefully forgotten.

And of course, Phelim and Finbarr in Westport, the finest of men.

The more I think about it, that was 33 years ago, any driver in his  50's or 60's then, well you can do the maths.

I have no idea of how many days I did on this trip or how many miles I covered. I did another tour in 1990 and I did the guts of 3,800 miles in 10 days, but that included a lot of branch lines. I actually took notes that time, but no photos.

I've forgotten much more that I've remembered, but, as Liam Clancy used to sing, "Ah those were the days, my friends, those were the days"

( I just realised that I omitted the Connolly Specials, as fine a bunch of characters as ever rode the rails, but worthy of a book in their own right!)

 

( I also know that there has been incredible speeds mentioned about 071's down the years, I've heard some very "interesting"  stories from involved characters, heading towards improbable figures, but that was the unprompted figure that I was told by Paddy)

 

Edited by bufferstop
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Yes please do: we must be about the same age. I used to get a few 111 class cab rides on the Enterprise back in the day. I well recall the swaying over the points and the acceleration noise…. The crews were ex GN men, and with semaphores at Poyntzpass still, you got at least a little of the sense of how it was….

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9 hours ago, bufferstop said:

( I also know that there has been incredible speeds mentioned about 071's down the years, I've heard some very "interesting"  stories from involved characters, heading towards improbable figures, but that was the unprompted figure that I was told by Paddy)

I had several footplate runs in the 1970s and 80s where speeds well in excess of what official decreed as appropriate were achieved. One was about 1980/1 on a down train between Templemore and Thurles with an 071 and about ten bogies. He was trying to catch up a bit of time - we had left Heuston some minutes late. We hit 88 mph, and later on sent a stray sheep into orbit.....

When the DDs and 201s were brand new, I had a run on the Enterprise in the cab one time (only). Between Dundalk and Drogheda was largely newly relaid - tip-top order. Yer man notched up and away we went; 105 mph. I'm not sure what the limit was - but it wasn't 105!

Senior recalled a teenaged run on the Schull & Skib in one of the four-wheel coaches. The track was so bad and the coach was swaying about so much, he ended up being sick over the end balcony!

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30 minutes ago, jhb171achill said:

I had several footplate runs in the 1970s and 80s where speeds well in excess of what official decreed as appropriate were achieved. One was about 1980/1 on a down train between Templemore and Thurles with an 071 and about ten bogies. He was trying to catch up a bit of time - we had left Heuston some minutes late. We hit 88 mph, and later on sent a stray sheep into orbit.....

When the DDs and 201s were brand new, I had a run on the Enterprise in the cab one time (only). Between Dundalk and Drogheda was largely newly relaid - tip-top order. Yer man notched up and away we went; 105 mph. I'm not sure what the limit was - but it wasn't 105!

Senior recalled a teenaged run on the Schull & Skib in one of the four-wheel coaches. The track was so bad and the coach was swaying about so much, he ended up being sick over the end balcony!


 

that was some going, never mind going 105MPH, you would not catch many in the cab today. I don’t see myself hopping into the cab of a mk4 Dvt Dublin bound!

 

Ahh that’s the good old S&S for ya. To be fair if you tried to travel between schull and skibbereen in 2021, the pot holes would have you sick out the window 🤣

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A fault of some locos, sadly - the handsome ex MGW D6 4-4-0s could shake your teeth out.
Bill McDonnell highlighted a few faults on the B4 ‘Bandon tank’ such as the wheel    splasher adjacent to the cab doors which caused many a nasty fall. The locos were also prone to jump out of gear in reverse - drivers used to purloin signal box lever collars to lock them in place. The cramped nature of the cab was down in large part to the lack of stowage - which meant that the loco consumables such as oil were jostling for room with the crew’s personal effects. 

Edited by Galteemore
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22 minutes ago, Galteemore said:

A fault of some locos, sadly - the handsome ex MGW D6 4-4-0s could shake your teeth out.
Bill McDonnell highlighted a few faults on the B4 ‘Bandon tank’ such as the wheel    splasher adjacent to the cab doors which caused many a nasty fall. The locos were also prone to jump out of gear in reverse - drivers used to purloin signal box lever collars to lock them in place. The cramped nature of the cab was down in large part to the lack of stowage - which meant that the loco consumables such as oil were jostling for room with the crew’s personal effects. 

I always wondered about those splashers. They take up half about the door, nasty drop for anyone who takes a mistep

 

At least they had a nice colour interior 😅

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I was in Sligo on a runabout ticket once. I had travelled back in the cab of 135, I think, piloting another 121, a few weeks earlier, so I thought I'd do the same again. It was a beautiful warm sunny summer evening, probably 1975 or 1976, and I went walkabout in Sligo. Too young for bars, and only £5 in my pocket, so walking about was the order of the day - and back to the station.

JUST in time to watch the tail light of a Dutch van disappear off the end of the platform. No money for food or an overnight, and my aunt ready to collect me at Amiens St. in pre-mobile days..... so I rang her from the station landline and told her I'd make my own way.

The mail was due to leave, I think about 7 or 7.30pm. 

One side-corridor brake standard - and old 1951 Bredin-design CIE coach, plus mail vans. One old GSR one, one CIE one, and 2 or 3 tin vans. I've an idea there was a BR van on it too - by far the newest thing. Can't recall the haulage, but probably a 141.

There was one other passenger, a lady who got off at Collooney. Then just me. It crawled and swayed along, stopping everywhere for five minutes or more, crossing here and there with at least one long wait (Longford?). It appeared into Athlone about 11pm.

I was exhausted. I was told the train would be here an hour as it had to await the up Galway, so I wandered about the station, over the tracks and all without fear of dayglo jackets, PTS, uproar and prison, or steel-capped boots........ Eventually the up Galway mail hove into view and I transferred to that. The only passenger again, it seemed. The train left at midnight and would be due in Connolly about 1 am.

So I settled across the seat for a sleep. It was an old laminate.

Next thing a tall man in a long almost ankle-length coat walked past me; another passenger!

And then he walked past again, then again in the other direction. He had a large bushy moustache, through which he incessantly mumbled incoherently. Up and down the one carriage about ten times, as we passed along the Midland main line via Moate. Then he sat down opposite me, continuing his mumbling and not acknowledging me (thankfully). I'm trying to sleep.

The train guard came along, looked at me and nodded, then looked at Mumbling Moustache and said something to him which I did not catch, but did not sound complimentary; I got the impression that he knew him.

I got to Amiens Street, and walked back to Ballsbridge - a fair oul hike. It probably took me until about 2.30 am.

I later discovered that my travelling companion was well-known on the railway, and I've a notion someone told me that he would turn up on IRRS tours from time to time(!)....................but that was the Sligo mail story, anyway. Hard to think it's almost fifty years ago.

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I'll share mine, not as long or exciting, but one which inspired me to ask for a train set for Christmas that year!

My grandfather worked the railway from the 70s to the late 90s, he helped to pull up the line from Dublin-Navan in '06/'09 (greatest mistake he would often mumble, even into his twilight years with dementia. Through his connections still within the network, he got us on a working to Platin Cement Drogheda in the cab of an engine, now, young me was unable to take in all the details, but i remember gawking up at this giant, awe inspiring orange machine, caked in the oil and grease only an Irish locomotive can apparently accrue, and i distinctly remember believing this engine was black. Pointing the black engine out to my grandfather got a chuckle, and he corrected me, "This one, is in fact Orange, the days of black engines are long done and dusted". I remember being lifted into the cab of this engine, and being amazed at the complexity of the engine, and how one man could figure it all out! but i was shown the most important piece of equipment. without which, this train could not function, and the piece that i would be in charge of, The horn! and let me tell you, i mastered that horn! that engine was probably sent to Inichore to get the horn refurbished after i was done! But it was an amazing experience, one I'm proud to have had. And i remember walking through the yard with no hi-vis on any of us, Im not sure that would fly anymore, so i feel very lucky and privileged to have had the experience i had! My poor mother spend an age chasing us in the car!

 

Another one is the sleeper incident. and lets just say, most of my grandfathers sheds are built from IE sleeper and rail from Irish Rail, triggering an investigation as to why there was a tow truck laden down with sleepers leaving a yard. (not into my grandfather, but into the purported seller of said sleepers mind you). We're still getting great use out of those sleepers!

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  • 3 weeks later...

In this day and age, children are watched and not let out of their parents’ sight.

Sixty years ago life was simpler.

I recall being “brought to work” by senior on several occasions. One involved a visit to Foyle Road in Derry (GNR side) where I observed raindrops leaking through the platform roof - it was bucketing down - and Strabane - with me free to wander from one end of Strabane to another and play on the north signal cabin steps. Playing on Dr Cox’s Donegal stuff.

Stranorlar, where the track had just been lifted and I spent the time running up and down the footbridge, still in situ, spanning two lines of sleeper marks in the ground. I think there may still have been some rolling stock in a siding.

Killybegs just after the track was removed. The station remained 100% intact, and the overall roof used as a fish box store. The STINK!!!

Another was in Westland Row, where a large black diesel (C or A, I suppose) was idling in what I suspect was one of the old Kingstown mail bay platforms. “Stay there!”, I was told, and I did until retrieved at what seemed like an age later.

Kildare signal cabin was another, and probably my earliest memory. A train swooshed through, of green carriages.

”Stay there till I come back!”

Portadown, as what I believe was a Warrenpoint train came and went - “Jeep” 2.6.4T in charge. The throaty roar of AEC railcars.

Lisburn signal cabin, where I was offered biscuits by the signalman, as another Jeep simmered outside with a ballast train. 

A friend handing a can of shandy to the driver of a “Jeep” on a ballast train….

“Don’t move. I’ll be back in a few minutes!”

A GNR 0.6.0 in Lisburn, simmering in the back platform, on a Belfast local. The crew invited me onto the footplate to look, but “Stay where you are” occupied my mind.

Adelaide loco depot. Coal smoke in the air, weeds between sleepers, rusty wheel sets from scrapped BCDR & GNR coaches in a long line.

”Stay there till I come back!”

In the back seat of the car outside Dungannon station, seeing a signal arm over the wall and wondering if it would move, like you could make the ones on my first train set move up and down.

”Don’t move from here”……. 

Great Victoria Street, awaiting my aunt off a Dublin train. Smoke, steam, 207 Boyne, aunt.

”Stay where you are”….

I’m bored sitting in this station. How much longer will he be?

Edited by jhb171achill
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's the time of year for remembering those that have gone before, so here goes....

I grew up in a railway house, my bed was and still is about 8 foot from the nearest rail. It was a former station and gate crossing.

That meant milesmen! Our house straddled two lengths , which totalled about 6 miles each. 

Milesmen were a special breed, they were out in all weathers, their only protection were heavy yellow oilskins, which wasnt exactly Goretex.

So, they took refuge in every gatehouse, whether sun or hail. The kettle would be on and the craic would start. Remember, none of the gate houses had public phones then, just the railway phones which connected both the adjacent cabins and gatehouses in between.

I grew up with them coming into the house, with a quick knock on the door, like members of the family. Depending on which way they were going, you could depend on them like the clock.

Of course, that led to me heading out with the "mobile" gang when there was a bit of relaying going on. I well remember them jacking up sleepers and panels, and getting me to stick my hand under to unscrew the tang from the bolts. I was about 7 or 8 at the time. I must have driven them demented in hindsight!!

They were always full of great stories, whether railways or otherwise, and you'd always be listening to the gossip. One of the really great milesmen, was Bill Gannon, a beautiful ballroom dancer. He used to regale us with stories about Paddy Gorman. Paddy was very reclusive, living in a former gate cottage that covered a black gates into a bog. Anyway, Bill's unofficial duties included calling into Paddy every day, doing a few messages for him and shaving him twice a week. I'm not sure did he ever see anyone else during the week.  When Paddy died, the railway wasted no time in levelling the house, and now if you didn't know, you would have no idea it ever existed. Rest in Peace, Bill, a gentleman.

And, then there was Paddy McAndrew.

I dont know what age was Paddy. Maybe in his 40's. he was a wiry man, with sallow skin, burnt with the seasons, and long sideburns. I was only a small child at the time, maybe 5 or 6. Paddy had inordinate patience with me. he used to draw faces on my hardboiled eggs. And used to bring me out looking for mushrooms in the adjoining fields. He was such a gentle man. My parents loved him and I loved him.

I was way too young to understand the concepts of depression or loneliness, but Paddy must have been consumed by them. He was living on his own in a rundown bedsit. I'm not really sure whether he had any family.

One morning, he was coming out on his length, when he heard the morning goods coming, and he laid his head on the rail.

It's been decades since, and I'm getting old. But as long as I draw breath, Paddy, I'll remember your kindness to a small boy.

May God be as gentle to you as you were to me.

 

 

 

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Back in the day, when I needed a haircut as a child, you'd think it was a simple job of driving into town and going to the barbers. Eh, no.

It entailed going up on the evening passenger from Westport with my dad driving, getting off the loco in Athlone Midland, walking across the bridge, ( whilst the train subsequently passed you, -no high viz here-) down the bank, into a housing estate to the home of the Garavans.  Paddy worked in the job, Maureen was born in our home house, and the daughter, Geraldine, was a teenage hairdreser. Haircut done, we sat around the house, loads of tea, treated like royalty.The finest of people.  And eventually, we headed back to the station to take the Night Mail home.   Almost invariably an A class. I can still feel the oil and grease, the trobbing of the engine and the half lighting  on the loco even today. 

There was one night when I was sitting on the seat, when Dinny Minogue arrived up. I think he was a Loco Inspector from Ballina. He didn't blink a eye at a 10 year old sitting on a footplate  after 1am. He insisted that I sit back down on the seat, and stood for the whole journey, chatting to my dad. A proper railwayman. My dad had great time for him.  ( Now that I think of it, I don't know what he was doing on a night mail and can't remember how he was getting to Ballina, from Claremorris, but that was the railway then, a 24 hour job)

 

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I remembered recently, a most unusual incident.

About 25 years ago, I was up in the National Museum, doing a bit of non railway research with a colleague, who was an archaeologist. We were looking at a very localised area, and seeking whether any finds from the area had been submitted to the Museum. At the time, nothing had been digitised, and all the records were still catalogued in paper files. So we were given free reign for the whole catalogue. I strayed a bit from the brief. There were some quite incredible stories between people that had found very valuable artefacts and their interaction with the museum

I found my granddad's submission to the museum, which he found whilst he was digging turf (it's railway related but not related to this story).

Anyway, by complete accident, I came across quite an unique file.

Back around 1965-66, a milesman doing his length, between Balla and Claremorris, in Brize,(on Balla bank) spotted a artefact on the side of the line. It turned out to be a pewter jug. Now , luckily enough, he was fascinated enough, that he didn't throw it into the bushes, but he put it in his bag and brought it back to base. They were intrigued enough to send it off to the National Museum where they identified it as  a medieval jug from around c.14th century. And it's still in the reserve collection today. 

So, how did it end up on the side of the track? Well the only logical explanation, that I can advocate, is that it was part of the quarrying operation in Lecarrow, survived the quarrying process, landed in a ballast wagon with about 10 tons of stone, survived the unloading and ended up on the side of the track where a man with sharp eyes spotted him.

As an aside, my colleague knew the person in charge of the vaults, so we got down there and we got a look at the jug. It wasn't exactly the Ardagh Chalice, but still, it had an amazing story. I ended up with free reign of the place whilst they were chatting. I remember opening one particular cupboard, and it was full of bog butter, over 2000 years old. (I had seen, whilst a kid,  a newspaper report, of some men finding some in the bog and spreading some on soda bread and eating)  To this day, I regret not sticking my finger in and having a taste....

Edited by bufferstop
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  • 3 months later...
Posted (edited)

Back in the day, my Dad was a mighty man for growing vegetables. He grew them along the track. About 4 to 6 foot from the rail. Beds of spuds, carrots, onions, gooseberries, strawberries, you name it, he grew it.

His only worry every year was the weed sprayer, but as long as he knew that the regular driver was driving it, he'd relax, the man knew every garden on the network, an absolute genius. I can't remember his name, but he was a legend.

I was working in the garden one day with Dad, I  was about ten or eleven, even then I was wondering how the hell I was going to remember how to do the beds, and grow vegetables when I grew up. 

028 sailed in light, it stopped and the crew had the craic with Dad, and toddled off, we resumed digging, about 20 minutes later, 028 reappeared. The crew were looking for a key for the next level crossing. It was locked against the railway, because they weren't expecting an LE, and had probably gone into town, and there was rudimentary communication in any case.

There were a few fucks exclaimed and a key exchanged, and off they went again. 

I never saw 028 in service again, but she's always lodged in my mind.

Today, I look at where Dad grew vegetables along the track, and there's trees growing in the same place, and I shake my head in admiration and disbelief. His generation were truly a rare breed.

Edited by bufferstop
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought of another memory.

The County Donegal had just closed. Senior was about the area - I don't know why, as I have no recollection of any holiday in that area until i was about 8, and this was earlier. I had been brought along, as I often was, to give my mother a bit of peace.

We visited Stranorlar. I can remember standing on the footbridge and looking down to the main platform, where they appeared to only recently have lifted the track, as nothing was growing there due to thirty years of diesel dripping onto the "three-foot". There was a wagon parked over the far side too, which I looked at, and noticed weeds beginning to grow around its wheels. Unknown to me there was a railcar there too - I must have seen it but don't remember. Same day we went on to the GNR's Foyle Road terminus in Derry, where Senior showed me a great big crack in the concrete ground on the platform where a few years earlier a steam loco had been set to crash into it by persons of a paramilitary disposition up the line.........

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Posted (edited)

I used to travel once a month from Limerick Junction to Dublin during 1978/79. During that time breakdowns and delays were not uncommon. I noticed that there was always an engine standing on the siding at Limerick Junction ticking over and wondered why so!!. Well on one dark wet evening I plucked up the courage to ask one of the staff why. The response was very reassuring. He said that "It was the backup engine in case any of the Dublin Cork trains broke down". I replied "O that is a good idea, but why is the engine running all the time?" He said " If it stopped we would never get it started again".

Edited by Thomas
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