ASKEATON residents are determined to prevent any downgrading of the railway line which links Limerick to Foynes through Askeaton.
And they have pledged to continue their campaign to stop the removal of the railway crossing gates just outside the town.
“If they go, there is no chance of the railway opening,” Carmel Ryan, who is secretary of the Station Road Residents Association said this week. The association was formed last month after workmen, who had been observed measuring and taking notes at the gates, told one resident that the gates and signals were to be removed.
Almost 30 people attended a meeting called to discuss the matter and, says Ms Ryan, voiced their opinion very strongly that they did not want to see the railway crossing become derelict as had happened at other stations on the line. Neither did they want to see the crossing tarmaced over as had happened on the Childers Road in Limerick.
But despite their request for clarification on the matter from Iarnrod Eireann, the association has heard nothing.
Limerick County Council conservation officer, Tom Cassidy, who was asked to intervene in the matter has similarly been left in the dark. Last month, he told the Limerick Leader he had written to Iarnrod Eireann’s division engineering section but has not received any reply.
It is Mr Cassidy’s belief however that should Iarnrod Eireann wish to remove the gates it would require planning permission. In his opinion, the gates are an integral part of the curtilege of the station house, which is a listed building.
Meanwhile, the Station Road residents are hoping to cast their net further and link up with rail enthusiasts in the area to discuss further action.“We have no intention of giving up,” Ms Ryan said. The station house and crossing and the Dunworth family which has been associated with it over decades, are very close to people’s hearts, Ms Ryan added. “It’s a beauty.”
The association also believes the line, and therefore the crossing, need to be preserved. “We believe the rail line is of far greater benefit to Iarnrod Eireann as a working line,” Ms Ryan continued, pointing to the fact that it links Foynes to Limerick and to the rest of the country. “There is huge potential. The concerted opinion of the group was that if good business acumen were applied, many business ventures could be identified such as a transport museum,, steam rail holiday, coffee shops and cafes in the station houses or surrounds.” Their campaign continues.