Tracking the Light on the Beet—11 December 1999.

On this Day Sixteen Years Ago:

The millennium was coming to a close. I was just back in Ireland after a few months wandering. I arrived by ferry from Holyhead the night before.

The short days of winter offer moments of stunning low sun against what can often be a stark Irish environment.

It was the height of Irish Rail’s annual sugar beet campaign, so Denis McCabe and I headed first for Wexford (Wellingtonbridge to be specific) then worked our way west, finishing the day at Clonmel, County Tipperary.

Although, we come for the sugar beet, a side attraction were a pair of timber trains that were unloading there.

I was working with three cameras. One was a Nikon loaded with Ilford HP5. Ironically, most of those black & white photos have been squirreled away in my files for the last 16 years.

Ilford HP5 is a great film and offers excellent tonality on stark winter's days.
Ilford HP5 is a great film and offers excellent tonality on stark winter’s days.

Here’s a sample of what I did that afternoon at Clonmel. Pretty neat in retrospect, however, what was more significant for me photographically was that this trip inspired a half-decade of intensive photographic adventures to document the sugar beet campaign.

Irish Rail class 071 engine number 076 lead a loaded sugar beet train at Clonmel.
Irish Rail class 071 engine number 076 lead a loaded sugar beet train at Clonmel.
The old four-wheel sugar beet wagons were a fascinating subject. They looked positively ancient, even back in 1999!
The old four-wheel sugar beet wagons were a fascinating subject. They looked positively ancient, even back in 1999!
Looking west at Clonmel.
Looking west at Clonmel.
At that time only one passenger train a day served the old station. The staff inside suggested I take the bus!
At that time only one passenger train a day served the old station in each direction. Someone inside suggested I take the bus!
In the sidings off in the distance were two timber trains.
In the sidings off in the distance were two timber trains. One is hiding behind the signal cabin.
A pair of venerable GM diesels shunt a timber train at Clonmel. Don't travel there today and expect this sort of action, you'll only be disappointed. (Although the cabin remains active).
A pair of venerable GM diesels shunt a timber train at Clonmel. Don’t travel there today and expect this sort of action, you’ll only be disappointed. (Although the cabin remains active).

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2 thoughts on “Tracking the Light on the Beet—11 December 1999.”

    1. On the day in question, I arrived and departed by road in an auto. On various occasions I’ve taken the train, some with better views that others. On one occasion, on very wet and rainy night about ten years ago, I was forced to endure the bus because the train coiled up at Limerick Junction. (more specifically the Limerick Junction to Limerick train coiled up, and so the Waterford train was co-opted to work the Limerick and the Waterford passengers (including the train crew) had to take the bus (poor show).
      BS

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