Thursday, 30 August 2018

An Irish Interlude

"So what is his latest excuse for lack of progress on Rails Round The Rectory
and The Eaugate Light Railway?"

Well, apart from the mysterious appearance of even more chickens in the garden, and a major reorganisation at work, the biggest non-modelling reason has been my first cycling holiday for three years. In fact, now I come to think of it, my first holiday at all since India two years ago.

There were two peripheral "visits" to narrow gauge sites. Once again I passed through the bus station at what used to be the Ennis terminus of the West Clare, and in theory, I cycled along the route of one of the two narrow gauge railways, indeed, the only railways, on Achill Island.*
The quartz quarry on Achill Island
This was the least interesting of the two. It was gravity and horse worked, running from Achill Quartz Quarry to the pier at Darby's Point**. I say in theory because although the quarry was visible I couldn't discern any trace of the route itself, nor even say with confidence where it reached the sea.

Getting to Achill Island involved three days of cycling from Clonbur, a few miles from Galway, and up the coast to Westport. Westport has several attractions of note, including a 15" gauge railway in the grounds of Westport House and several brilliant pubs and restaurants. For model railway enthusiasts the name will be familiar from Iain Rice's plan for a model of Westport Quay. In his usual way, he paints a picture of a wild and desolate place where he spent his honeymoon.  In recent years the site has been built over and is hard to recognise from his description, but the route from the Quay to the junction at Westport station forms part of the Great Western Greenway which continues on to Achill Sound, just one bridge short of reaching Achill Island itself.

On our rest day in Westport, as well as visiting the aforementioned pubs and restaurants, I walked the Quay line. It loops far south of the town through open countryside.

The next day we cycled along the main part of the route, and I've got the T-shirt to prove it. At times the greenway diverges from the railway line, but the route was usually still in view. The further we went the more bleak, wet and windy the landscape became. This, remember, was in August.

And the photos reflect the weather.
The steam era engine shed at Westport

Current end of the Quay branch

Looking from the site of Quay station to where the quay sidings started. There were goods platforms here, I think.

Westport House Railway

Many of the bridges still exist. Soon after here the line begins to get more wild

Newport Viaduct

A train passing by must have been really exciting if you lived here

It really is bleak

On the outskirts of Mulranny

A distant view of Croagh Patrick

Mulranny Station

360 degree panarama

Achill goods shed

Achill station

*Typically, having struggled to find historic maps of both Achill Island and Westport before the trip I found reliable sources almost as soon as I was back. Had I had them in advance I would have taken some very different photos.

** At least it ran to Darby Point according to Beaumont's definitive text. The historic maps seem to show it didn't.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

A Prelude to an Irish Interlude

CIE 071 class EMD JT22CW series diesel-electric 073 waits patiently at Westport Station whilst pit props are loaded. Behind it is the remaining spur of the line to Westport Quay