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February Newsletter

February 14th, 2011

50 Years On


            On 31st January 1961, CIE closed their West Clare Railway operation even cancelling their last train to avoid demonstrations. On 31st January 2011, the newly constituted West Clare Railway Co Ltd began re-laying track along the old track bed between Moyasta and Kilkee – perhaps the best way to mark a fiftieth anniversary and demonstrating at long last a timely reminder that the poor and often wrong decisions of politicians can be reversed. Hope remains eternal!

            Using rolling stock once owned by Bord na Mona and itself put by for scrap but restored by the WCR, re-gauged track panels were laid on the re-graded track bed for 450 yards on the first day by the owner, Jackie Whelan, and his son Stephen, ably assisted by Mick MacMahon on the digger and his son, another Mick, voluntarily giving of his time. Russell Donovan later came to fine-tune the alignment. It is to be hoped that an extra train can be run this summer season along the new stretch of line into the scenic beauties of Poulnasherry Bay. When linked to the existing line by the road crossing, the running line available to the steam engine will have been doubled and the interest to passengers more than trebled simply by the wonderful views opened up.

            And then, just one week later, a footbridge removed from the Dublin/Belfast main line was delivered to Moyasta for re-erection at a yet to be decided location but certainly as a part of the new museum complex shortly to be built. Certain “wags” have asked why a bridge has been brought to a bogland location but there is no doubt that the sight of signals and a footbridge makes a site totally redolent of a railway and the bridge will prove to be a landmark drawing in the visitors as well as providing a superb location from which to take unusual photos.

            From the aspect of heritage in today’s society, the arrival of this bridge is important. The bridge was to be listed as an ancient monument by the local planners but CIE were able to show that it would be given to a heritage society for restoration and use so the planners permitted its replacement accordingly. May such enlightened decision-making continue.