The Branch Line Society


Island of Ireland III Day 2
Friday 4th May 2018

Report by Geoff Treby

Today was an out and back trip from Dublin Connolly to Sligo (135½ miles each way) with a couple of stops on the return - or so we thought! Travelling on a very good value group ticket, the party met by the barriers at 07.45 and made for P7 where the unit was in platform with the signal set. This first Sligo train of the day, the 08.00, left on time and took the booked PSUL route to Newcomen Jn (the only passenger train booked to use the 'Down & Up Newcomen' curve). The party then settled down for an enjoyable three hour trip to Sligo mostly through sparsely populated countryside with occasional small towns and bogs. Leaving Dublin the sun tried to break through the clouds and these conditions stayed with us all day.

I had not been to Sligo for over twenty years (pre-Quail - and it is still 'Quail' too! - Feb 2004 now very out of date, hint!)) and the moves at each passing point were of interest. For the record the journey was via Maynooth P1, Enfield left, Killucan left, Mullingar P1 (where the Athlone line was still connected but, of course, very rusty), Edgeworthstown right, Longford P1, Dromod left, Carrick-onShannon right (not on Quail) and Boyle P1. There was great interest and excitement at Kilfree Junction (112m 42ch) as the track bed of the closed Ballaghaderreen branch was spotted. This was repeated at the interesting Collooney Jn and Carrignagat Jn area. Sadly the line to Claremorris is now lifted and the large sign about reopening of the Western Corridor here has gone. At Sligo, we took the right track to allow the Dublin train to depart via the loop (which our train had been booked to use). Only P1 (right on approach) is now in passenger use and the station is quite high up above the town although the overall roof is no more. We had two hours until 13.00 to wander around the town; I went to Tesco.

The party (less one) at Sligo P1 (which used to be the departures platform) from the buffer stops looking towards Dublin. The Middle Road and ex-P2 (formerly the arrivals platform) are right.
[© Ian Mortimer 2018]

Some made a thorough exploration of the former Sligo Quay branch (CG 11 Dec 2008; CA 4 Mar 2010) which is intact for 440yd to stop blocks before the first underbridge (Finisklin Rd) and can stable up to 8-cars overnight. At one time wagons of grain were unloaded from the bridge by spout directly into road vehicles below. Further along much of the track to the former Belfast Quay Container Terminal is intact as is the overhead gantry there but not at the Cement Terminal. There used to be a Guinness Siding on the northeast side, an Oil Siding to the southwest and also timber traffic. Track was even found in Deepwater Quay (a road) past the container terminal on the line to a further oil terminal etc.

Back at the station (where three more units stable overnight in the left hand former 'arrival' P2, the middle road and P1 - formerly the departures platform) the turntable was intact but securely fenced off with disconnected track on it. Saying goodbye to Sligo participants wondered how many years it would be before their next visit and headed for Ballymote, but not via the loop, despite requests made to railway staff - a missed opportunity again. At Ballymote, the closed (due to the poor state of the track) 7¼" miniature was visited, adjacent to the station. The group wandered around the site and found the loco and rolling stock locked in a purpose built shed, only just identifiable from the bogies. Talking to a young mother with her daughter in the park, the line had not operated for about 5 years.

Meanwhile a cunning plan had been concocted, to stray from our itinerary and try for the missing loop. The 13.52 was taken back to Sligo, returning just 73 minutes after we had left! The silver tongue of Kev asked the driver if Sligo loop could be arranged with the signaller. A round of applause and cheers went around the front carriage as we achieve the desired move! The locals looked puzzled and were even more so when it was explained. Another hour in Sligo followed with a celebratory Guinness.

It was déjà vu leaving Sligo for Dromod and the highlight of the day, the Cavan & Leitrim Railway, (3ft gauge) where we were not disappointed. Our hosts Michael Kelly andPhilip Bedford greeted us, providing a stock list showing where each loco was. With over 60 across the area in various conditions, this was invaluable. There was much more to see including sections of gliders and airplanes, hearses, boats, fire engines, ambulances, buses, old cars etc in fact you name it… nothing is ever turned away.

Everyone shoehorned into the coach at Dromod (C&LR) platform which was hauled by an ex-Bord na Móna loco to the end of the half mile line just before Clooncolry crossing, back to the platform and then shunted into the depot yard.

Time for a wander and make use of the stock list. Meanwhile trips ran over sections of 2' gauge, riding on three Hunslet locos coupled together. Various other lines were made available using pedal power with a couple of velocipedes. This includes lifting one machine to the other end of the yard and moving the former Great Northern Railway Gardner motor coach in front of the original engine shed (with rides for those interested) out of the way. With everyone satisfied and an hour before the train back to Dublin, most made their way to the 'Copper Still' for a drink and/or some efficiently produced and served hot food. A few dynamic members squeezed in a one mile velocipede ride as well. Our hosts, Michael and Philip joined us a little later for a well earned pint after the railway shut for the night, of course. An excellent end to our superb visit. This location is very recommended and (from TripAdvisor, Facebook and the Website) does provide public trips again.

The journey back to Dublin was on the booked suburban unit with plenty of seats available and a refreshment trolley provided. The party was split up on the train, which was full of lively characters on their way for a night out in the capital. The return route was via the same side of the loops as before. The only variation was running via North Strand and ending in the short Connolly P1. An excellent day thanks to Kev Adlam and helpers. Participants said their goodbyes and drifted off into the night.

'Standing room only' on the 2ft gauge at Dromod.
[© Ian Mortimer 2018]

In the opposite direction a pump trolley and (left) a three-wheeler; the 5' 3" gauge Sligo line Dromod station is right with the original Cavan & Leitrim engine shed and water tower background - left of centre background.
[© Ian Mortimer 2018]

A 3ft gauge peripatetic Gricycle made for two… showing what fun modern BLN fixtures can be and ideal for reaching ends of lines. This track leads to the engine shed (behind the photographer). The single decker (right) had been moved to clear it (giving two chances for participants to have a ride as it was driven back afterwards). The water tower (left) behind the signal box remains is on the 5' 3" line. The Cavan & Leitrim 3ft gauge running line is left with the Dromod station off left.
[© Ian Mortimer 2018]

The end of the end of the half-mile 3ft gauge running line just before the former Clooncolry level crossing, the buffer stops are bottom left, looking back towards Dromod.
[© Ian Mortimer 2018]

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