Castleconnell rail line hosts journey back in time to mark 160 years

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Mayor James Collins with Castleconnell Tidy Town members John and Linda Hardiman, Mike and Margaret Freeney and Pauline Bradshaw Picture: Gareth Williams / Press 22

Mayor James Collins with Castleconnell Tidy Town members John and Linda Hardiman, Mike and Margaret Freeney and Pauline Bradshaw Picture: Gareth Williams / Press 22

CASTLECONNELL Station went back in time to mark 160 years of operation on Tuesday night.

A special train came from Colbert Station to Castleconnell where many of the guests dressed like the days of old. More passengers then boarded the train for a trip from Castleconnell to Birdhill and back.

Love Castleconnell, Castleconnell Tidy Towns and Irish Rail worked together on the novel birthday idea.

At Castleconnell there were speeches from the Mayor of Limerick City and County Council James Collins; Margaret Freeney, Castleconnell Tidy Towns, and railway historian Joe Coleman, who gave details of the vibrant history of the railway in Limerick.

Children were entertained by a face painter and balloon modeller and local musicians played for  the crowd. Members of the  Castleconnell Historical Society dressed up in period costume to mark the occasion.

The Limerick and ‘Castle Connell’ Railway was the third railway line to be built in the Limerick area and opened for business on the morning of Saturday, August 28, 1858. The other two lines were Waterford to Limerick, opened in 1848, and the Limerick to  Foynes route which  commenced in 1856 / 1857.

A spokesperson for Iarnród Éireann said: “Castleconnell at that time was spelt as two words and the new line diverged from the Waterford and Limerick line at Killonan, and ran over relatively easy country for 5 and a half miles to the new terminus and completed at a cost of £25,000. 

“The journey time was just 15 minutes, in both directions, serving three stations, at Killonan,  Annacotty and Lisnagry. There were three trains each way seven days a week, with accommodation for first and third class passengers. This was part of a line that eventually became the direct line between Dublin and Limerick as an alternative to the earlier route via Limerick Junction,” said a spokesperson.

Today six services a day call at Castleconnell and three to Limerick and three to Ballybrophy, which connects with the line to Dublin.

Speaking at the event, Noreen Clohessy, district manager said: “Being rail connected offers great quality of life and economic benefits for towns such as Castleconnell and I and my colleagues are delighted to provide the services”.

Nicky McNamara, of Love Castleconnell, said: “There is great history and heritage attached to Castleconnell Railway Station and we are proud to be celebrating its 160 years.”

John Hardiman, of Castleconnell Tidy Towns, said what started as a Tidy Towns project to improve the appearance of the railway station turned into a broader community effort to celebrate its 160 years.