March Newsletter 2011April 1st, 2011
Newsletter March 2011
I wonder if our colleagues in other heritage organisations rue the fact that they have to borrow, steal or beg so much of the equipment that they want to use and display. Not for us the luxury of ordering stock “off the shelf” when the items wanted went out of production years ago. Such are some of the problems being overcome by the engineering staff of the WCR as they work to improve the track in the excellent weather that we are enjoying at the present time. Jackie and Stephen together with Mick MacMahon, his son, another Mick, and grandson are beavering away re-laying the track but finding that 2 types of rail and chairs were used when it was initially laid and which are not entirely compatable. Notwithstanding the time lost in having to overcome this difficulty, much of the running line has been much improved with new ballast, greased fishplates and tighter joints. Final alignment will be done when all rail has been re-laid and Jackie estimates that this could be completed this week if the weather stays kind.
Earlier this month, Jackie was awarded the National Heritage Award for his restoration of No5, “Slieve Callan“. This prestigious award was presented to him at a ceremony in Dublin. Jackie remains modest about the medal but the recognition at National level of the railway’s achievements is welcome indeed.
St Patrick’s Day was celebrated by showing the railway’s fire engine (The Nubian Major ex-Shannon Airport R4) in both the Kilkee and Kilrush parades. Indeed, the engine was the first vehicle leading the whole of the Kilrush Parade. We had much fun in the cab playing with the engine’s alarms, particularly in front of the organising Gardai.
On 3rd March, the engine was steamed for the first time this year for the benefit of the Clare Tourism providers a coach trip was organised to help give heritage operators in Clare an overview of all the other attractions in the county. Feedback from their visit has been very positive indeed and can only bode well for the number of visitors later in the year. What was equally pleasing was that the engine has wintered in its shed in first class condition with no broken pipes or any other fault despite the harshest winter conditions for at least 10 years. Furthermore, the track improvements that had been completed by this time were very noticeable from the footplate (especially over the points) and the smoother run made the trips much more enjoyable.
We may not be running the steam engine at regular intervals yet and Jackie has not made any decision as to the dates of timetabled running as yet but that does not mean that we will not run the engine if given notice of a dozen or so visitors by appointment, as it were. We are expecting visits of such soon and are only too happy to accommodate them. If you plan to visit sometime this summer (and we sincerely hope you are) then do not hesitate to contact us and find out either when we expect to be running or when you would like a group booking to run by steam