More Adventures with the Ash Train!

Tuesday last week, my arrival at Sallins, County Kildare by Irish Rail suburban train was merely a jumping off for a much more productive photographic endeavor.


So Tuesday last week, I met fellow photographer Aiden McDonald outside Sallins and traveled by road for another visit to Bord na Mona’s Lanesborough narrow gauge network. This was my fourth foray in 2019 photographing on this wonderful industrial railway, and my second in less than a week.

My first visit to Lanesborough was more than six years ago and of all the Bord na Mona systems, it is my favorite.

We lucked out and met the empty ash train immediately on crossing the line near Derraghan More, County Longford.

It was bright and sunny and followed the train all the way back toward the Lough Ree Generating Station.

This was just the warm up and for the next six hours we were treated to almost non-stop action on one of Ireland’s coolest little railways.

A meet with a pair of empty trains returning to the bog for reloading.

Sadly this is an Indian Summer for the system, both literally and metaphorically. Word to the wise: time is running short.

Photo adjusted with digitally applied ND Grad using Light Room. A bit heavy handed here by my normal standards of adjustment, but possibly necessary for a more successful image.
Leading the ash train was one of the last locomotives on the Lanesborough system still working in the older Bord na Mona paint livery. This photo also benefits from wee bit of digital adjustment to the sky.

These photos were made using my FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

3 comments on “More Adventures with the Ash Train!

  1. David A Cook on said:

    ‘COOL’ is certainly the word! Fascinating, too. In Summer 1956 my Dad got a single bell (‘Call attention!’) from Dr. D.B.MacNeill at Southampton University, then the news that most of the Irish narrow-gauge, except the Co. Donegal and the West Clare, was about to close. Our pilgrimage only covered the Co. Donegal (and little did I know it but my wife-to-be was a wee babe-in-arms in Stranorlar!), the Cavan & Leitrim (ever ride a steam-hauled coal shifter on the open platform of the saloon used as the caboose??), the Hill of Howth Tramway, AND the amazing Sligo, Leitrim, and Northern Counties (the latter 2 were not narrow.) As we left Ireland that summer, DPM’s ivory hunters were close behind! It sounds as if ‘They haven’t gone away, you know!’
    So yes, folks, if the ivory hunters are coming, get to Lanesborough QUICK! They are merciless.

  2. Hello Tom,
    Those are all very good questions. An accurate detailed response would require more time and research than I can devote to it at the minute. As far as the ash train goes; the short answer is that it runs from an ash hopper at the plant to ‘ash cells’ several miles away, and typically runs a couple of times a day.

    In Tracking the Light I intende to focus on the photography rather than on the technology and the details behind traffic etc, which are topics I typically research and comment on in my Trains Magazine editorials. At some point soon, I hope to touch upon the Bord na Mona, since it is one of my favorite photographic subjects.

    Sorry I cannot give you the thorough response you are seeking at the moment! The word to anyone interested in seeing Bord na Mona’s narrow gauge trains is get out there and see them now, don’t wait.
    All the best,
    Brian Solomon

  3. I have enjoyed all your posts on the unique Irish narrow gauge lines, and find the Bord na Mona operation fascinating. I’ve gone back through all your posts on this line and cannot find an explanation of the ash trains – specifically where the ash is taken and what happens to it. I assume the ash is not just dumped in the areas where the peat has been harvested, but that may be wrong. Please clarify.

    Also, you say that time is running out to see this operation. Why is that? Is the generating plant being converted to a different power source, or is it being closed? If closed, why is it being closed? Are the peat bogs almost all harvested?

    Curious . . .


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