Rails Through Connemara: The Galway-Clifden Railway

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Rails through Connemara – The Galway-Clifden Railway is a very detailed look at the circumstances surrounding the formation of the Galway-Clifden Railway in Co Galway, Ireland.

The town of Clifden and the city of Galway are the two main settlements in Connemara, a remote area of western Ireland where the population was badly hit by the Great Famine in the 1840s. As the area recovered, the first railway arrived in the area, built in August 1851 by the Midland Great Western of Ireland Railway Company it connected Galway and Dublin. The idea of a railway line connecting Galway with Clifden was considered a priority and over the next 30 years many routes were proposed and at one point a tramway was even considered. A proposal was eventually approved and in 1881 the route of the railway was finally agreed upon, but the MGWR was reluctant to invest money on the scheme with little chance of a return. It was the 1889 Light Railway Act (Ireland), which permitted state financial support for railway projects that had little prospect of profit, that finally enabled the MGWR to build the line.

The line opened in 1895; due to the route chosen it did not benefit from many freight workings, so advertising was aimed at the tourist market. There were eight stations on the line Galway, Moycullen, Ross, Oughterard, Maam Cross, Recess, Ballynahinch and Clifden, then in 1898 a halt platform was created at Recess to service an hotel that MGWR owned.

The tourist trade was flourishing and in 1903, the Midland Great Western Railway started to run a summer season direct service from Dublin to Clifden, complete with dining cars. The goods side was also growing well and in 1905 when Marconi had a scheme to build a ‘Wireless Telegraph station’ near Clifton equipment was transported by the railway.

World War I and the Irish War of Independence had a detrimental effect on the railway, in May 1921 the Government of Ireland Act was passed and Ireland was partitioned. Along with the formation of the Irish Free State came the Irish Civil War and damage to the line led to the railway shutting for seven months. At the end of the civil war the condition of the railway was poor and competition from road traffic meant the railway, as with many other small railways, was struggling financially. In 1925 the government amalgamated all the railways which ran wholly within the Irish Free State to create the Great Southern Railways. The line continued to run for another 10 years before the decision was made to cease operations and close the line.

Chapters cover:

  • The setting: Early plans and proposals
  • Construction and opening of the railway
  • Descriptions of the route
  • The MGWR Years 1895-1925
  • Under Great Southern Railways management 1925-1935
  • Train Services
  • Mishaps and Incidents
  • Working the Line
  • Locomotives and Rolling Stock
  • After the Railway closed: Roads and Greenways
  • Road Services
  • The Midland Great Western Railway
  • The Corrib viaduct and other bridges
  • The Shantalla siding
  • Tourism and the Recess Hotel
  • Traffic Statistics 1929
  • Some staffing details
  • The Ulster & Connaught Light Railway
  • The Marconi Railway, Clifden
  • The Galway & Salthill Tramway Company

The illustrations comprise of maps, tickets, photographs of stations, trains, a variety of other types of vehicles, signals and various other railway paraphernalia.

150 black & white Illustrations. 192 pages.

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