Community College and Tidy Towns Celebrate Castleisland’s Railway History

Putting the final touches to ‘The Train’ – Steam Locomotive 90 – the original of which was built in Inchicore for the Castleisland Railway Company in 1875. The project is a joint venture between Castleisland Tidy Towns and Castleisland Community College marking over a century of railway service in Castleisland from 1875 to 1977. Kneeling from left: Anne Marie Callaghan, Gabriele Voveryte, Gemma Burke, Kyle O’Connor, Katelyn Brennan, Joan Segura Santori, Hubert Turkiewicz, Aridas Budrys and Brandon Allen. Standing from left: Hannah Trautvetter, Alannah Butler, Joanna Browne, Siobhán O’Donoghue, Laura Twomey, Miriam Bohlert, Julianne Murphy, Kelsey Horan, Robbie Carroll, Leah O’Connell, Donnacha Mc Sweeney, Sheila Hannon, Castleisland Tidy Towns and Aidan Joy, teacher. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Sheila Hannon, Castleisland Tidy Towns and Castleisland Community College teacher, Aidan Joy with their joint venture, railway memorial on the site of the old railway yard. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Transition Year students of Castleisland Community College, their teacher Aidan Joy and Sheila Hannon and Mary Walsh of Castleisland Tidy Towns are on track with their joint venture of reviving the 100 year history of the Castleisland Railway Station.

Engine No. 90

A model based on engine number 90 was created by the students at the college and is now situated at the site of long disappeared Castleisland Railway Station.

The Castleisland Railway Company was set up in 1872 as a result of local concerns that this thriving market town was bypassed by the Killarney/Tralee railway line.

Branch Line

A full-gauge branch line was authorised and a 4.5 mile branch line was soon constructed.

The first train left Castleisland on 6th September 1875. The Castleisland/Gortalea line holds a unique place in Irish railway history as it was the first ‘light’ railway line in Ireland.

A specially designed vehicle which combined both engine and coach was used in the early years.

The Great Fairs

It was capable of drawing up to 30 cattle trucks for the great fairs which were held in the town.

After the Great Southern and Western Railway Company took over the line in 1879 two more of these special vehicles were added.

All three were numbered 90, 91 and 92. Both passenger and goods services continued until January 1947.

On Short Lines

From 1957 the line was worked by a small four-wheeled Deutz diesel locomotive (No. G602) made for use on short lines. However, the decline of the fairs and competition from road freight resulted in a decline in rail traffic. The decision to close the line was made in November 1976 and the final blow was dealt in January 1977.

The Castleisland Community College Transition Year students built the train using Forest Stewardship Council (FCS) pressure treated timber which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.

Eco-Friendly Labels

The FSC does this by setting standards on forest products, along with certifying and labelling them as eco-friendly.

The wheels of the ‘train’ were donated by Tom Murphy’s Garage, Farranfore whose daughter Julianne is presently in Transition Year with her sister Rachel in second year.

The wheels were cross braced in metalwood by welding a steel bar across them for support. The front barrel planter was donated from Christopher O’Sullivan’s family farm in Currow.

Christopher a student in fifth year delivered the train from the school to its present position.

Old Goal Post Anchors

It is fixed to the ground using the school’s old goal post anchors that are no longer needed with the school now having a brand new AstroTurf pitch instead.

A sign with the history of the railway station is presently being designed by Castleisland Tidy Towns and will be placed beside the train.

Aesthetic Addition

The train is certainly adding to the aesthetics of the town, the town’s history and to promote FSC wood and paper.

Check out the FSC logo when buying any paper related items e.g. photocopying paper, envelopes and kitchen roll.

Well done to all involved agus mar a deireann an seanfhocal ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine,’

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