Gallery Post 2: Looking Back on Irish Railways 1998-2003

Mechanical lower-quadrant semaphores protected the line at Athenry, County Galway in February 1999. New signaling installed with the Mini CTC program replaced semaphores on the Galway line in Spring 2003.

During the past 15 years I’ve witnessed a complete transformation of Irish Railways. Virtually no aspect of the network has been free from change. My fascination upon setting foot in Ireland in 1998 was the extraordinary combination of vintage American-made General Motors diesels, British-style mechanical lower-quadrant signaling, steam-heated carriages, vacuum braked freight trains, not to mention the friendly staff. I owe my ability to have made an extensive documentation of Irish railways to the excellent hospitality and generosity of the Irish Railway Record Society, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI), and, of course, the staff at both Irish Rail and NI Railways/Translink. Presently, I’ve been going through the first five years of my 35mm slides for the program I’ll present to the Irish Railway Record Society at its Heuston premises in Dublin at 7:30 pm on November 8, 2012. Titled “Ireland from an American perspective; 1998-2003,” this will feature some of my favourite colour work from an era now ten years gone. In examining hundreds of images, I’m reminded just how much things have changed. Below is just a sampling of the pictures I plan to present; all were exposed on Fuji slide film largely with Nikon 35mm cameras.

A signalman works the lever frame at Waterford Central Cabin in June 1998.

Now the site of Celtic-Tiger era apartments; in July 2001 this was the busy North Wall freight yards in Dublin. Virtually nothing in this view remains today.

An empty passenger train crosses the viaduct at Laytown in August 1998.

Irish Rail 182 leads a shale train at Birdhill, County Tipperary on May 28, 2001.

An Irish Rail liner approaches Claude Rd, Dublin on a warm evening in May 2000.

Former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) 4-4-0 Slieve Gullion works an RPSI special at Connolly Station, Dublin in May 2001.

A short train of empty beet wagons crosses the Taylorstown viaduct on its way to Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford on December 8, 2001.

Only a stone’s throw from the Point Depot; in August 2000 new DART suburban electric multiple-units are being delivered at Dublin Port

A sunny morning on December 10, 2001 greets Irish Rail 166 with a bag cement train at Thurles, County Tipperary.

An RPSI Strawberry Fair Special on the Dublin & South Eastern route near Rathdrum in July 2001.