Tag Archives: bog railway

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.

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Blink of Sun at Derraghmore; Cosmic Moment on Bord na Mona.

The forecast had been for rain. And rain it did, as it often does in the Irish Midlands.

Paul and Jay Monaghan and I had been exploring Bord na Mona’s narrow gauge network centered on the Lough Rea generating station, but had taken a break to photograph Irish Rail.

We spied clearing in the afternoon sky, so resumed pursuit of the narrow gauge. Soon we found a pair of empty trains returning to the bog for loading.

At the level crossing in Derraghmore, County Longford the clouds parted and we made sunny images of the diminutive trains as these crossed the road.

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Black & White on the Bog.

On Friday, 15 February 2019, during my visit with Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe to Bord na Mona’s operations at Lanesborough, I worked with three cameras to document operations.

My FujiFilm XT1 and Lumix LX7 were for exposing colour digital photos, while I employed a Nikon F3 to make classic 35mm black & white images.

I processed the film yesterday using custom tailored formulas.

The first roll was Ilford HP5 that I’d bought a couple of days earlier at John Gunn’s Camera on Wexford Street in Dublin. I processed this using a two stage development, starting with an extremely dilute solution of Kodak HC110 (roughly 1 part developer to 250 parts water) which used as presoak. The weak developer helps activate the chemical reaction and improves shadow detail without overdeveloping highlight areas.

The second stage of development involved Ilford Perceptol mixed 1-1 with water and heated to 71F. Based on past experience, I left the film in the developer for 12 minutes, then stop bath, 1stfixer, 2ndfixer, pre-wash, hypoclear, main wash (10 minutes) and final rinse in distilled water.

After drying, I scanned the negatives with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and touched up the scans using Lightroom.

Stay tuned for more photos from the Bord na Mona!

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Sun on the Bog; Nice Light on Bord na Mona—February 2018.

This is a follow-up to Friday’s post:

February 2018 Foray into the Irish Bog in search of Narrow Gauge freight. [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5jR]

The Irish Midlands are famously cloudy.

However, when the evening sun shines it makes for some wonderful photographic opportunities.

In February, Denis McCabe and I waited out the clouds, and caught two pairs of laden Bord na Mona trains in bright sun.

These images were exposed near Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

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More Adventures with Ireland’s Bord na Mona—September 2013.


Shannonbridge and More!

Last week, Mark Healy and I made a foray into Irish bog lands searching for narrow gauge peat trains operated by Bord na Móna  (Peat Board). We’d been watching the weather closely and tried to time our visit for a bright clear day.

We got it wrong. Despite a rosy sunrise in Dublin and generally good forecast, we faced fog, cloudy and just general overcast in County Offaly.

After more than a half dozen visits to this rarely photographed industrial railway, I thought I was beginning to have an understanding of their operations.

I got that wrong too! While, we’d photographed a dozen trains by the end of the day, actual operations were quite different than what I expected.

Bord na Mona
Trailing view of Bord na Móna’s Shannonbridge empty ash train returning to Shannonbridge, County Offaly, Ireland. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Bord na Mona
Laden peat train near Shannonbridge, September 2013. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.

Laden trains approach Shannonbridge. Canon EOS 7D photo with f2.8 200mm lens.
Laden trains approach Shannonbridge. Canon EOS 7D photo with f2.8 200mm lens.

Initially we worked the lines radiating out from Shannonbridge. Our first train was the ever-elusive ash train. That was a bonus for us. After about five hours, having photographed several loaded and empty trains, we decided to head east toward Edenderry, which is the focus of another of Bord na Móna’s networks.

On the way we stumbled upon an obscure Bord na Móna operation. Driving east on highway R357 east of Cloghan, Mark noticed a level crossing. “Hey! There’s a pair of trains.” I mistook these for trains heading to Shannonbridge

My error was corrected when we chatted to one of the drivers. Turns out these were empty trains heading out loading to bring peat to the Derrinlough briquette factory. Just dumb luck to catch this operation.

Level crossing gate.
Closing the level crossing gates on Ireland’s R357 east of Cloghan, County Offaly. Canon EOS 7D 7D photo with f2.8 200mm lens.

Rare photo of briquette train.
A Derrinlough-based Bord na Móna train near Cloghan, County Offaly. Canon EOS 7D 7D photo with f2.8 200mm lens.

Bord na Mona.
A Derrinlough-based Bord na Móna train crosses highway R357 near Cloghan, County Offaly. Lumix LX3 photo.

Bord na Mona
Trailing view of Derrinlough-based Bord na Móna trains near Cloghan, County Offaly. Canon EOS 7D 7D photo with f2.8 200mm lens.


We finished the day inspecting operations near Mt Lucas and Edenderry. Pity about the lack of sun.

I’ve dealt with Bord na Móna several times in previous posts.

Gallery 8: Irish Bog Railways—Part 1Irish Bog Railways—Part 2 February 16, 2013Irish Bog Railways—Part 3, March 2, 2013Irish Bog Railways—Part 4, August, 2013; and Bord na Mona’s Ash Train.

Tracking the Light posts new material daily. Please spread the word and share Tracking the Light with anyone who may enjoy seeing it!


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Bord na Mona’s Ash Train

An Elusive Catch.

For me anyway! On Saturday, August 3, 2013, I scored a few photographs of Bord na Mona’s ash train on the move near Shannonbridge, County Offaly. (Yes, and by the way, that’s ash train, and not ASH TRAY. Just to clarify.)

Bord na Mona, ash train.
Bord na Mona’s laden ash train works east from the West Offaly power station at Shannonbridge. The ash train carries waste ash (left over from the burning of peat) for disposal back into the bog. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Now, someone at Bord na Mona might read this and say, “Elusive ash train? Why that’s scheduled to run every day at 2 pm.” Or, perhaps, it is scheduled to run every third Saturday after the first full moon on months that don’t end in ‘R’. (But, none-the-less, scheduled).

Irregardless, so far as I was concerned, photographing the ash train on the move was a real coup! In the last year, I’ve made a half dozen ventures to photograph Bord na Mona’s narrow gauge lines, this was the first time I’d seen an ash train on the move. Certainly, I’ve seen them before, just not rolling along out on the road.

Bord na Mona, ash train.
Trailing view of Bord na Mona’s ash train near Shannonbridge. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Bord na Mona, ash train.
The laden ash train roars along at a walking pace near Blackwater. Lumix LX3 photo, contrast modified in post processing.

Yet, I’d call it elusive! It’s all a matter of perspective. More on elusive (or at least unusual trains) in future posts.

Incidentally, unlike elusive trains, Tracking the Light regularly posts new material almost every day! So, to use an obsolete cliché, stay tuned!

Bord na Mona, ash train.
Bord na Mona ash train near Blackwater, August 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.



Irish Bog Railways—Part 5, August, 2013

Photographing Irish Bog Railways.

In a follow up to yesterday’s post, here’s a few more images from my early August adventure with Ireland’s Bord na Mona narrow gauge. I was working with three cameras: my Lumix LX3, my Canon EOS 7D digital SLR (single lens reflex) and my Canon EOS 3 35mm SLR.

Since it will be a while before the slides are processed, all the images here are from the digital cameras.

Irish Bog Railway
Under showery skies, a Bord na Mona train heads out across the bog for reloading. Canon EOS 7D.

Irish Bog Railways
Loading of a Bord na Mona train. Canon EOS 7D.


Bord na Mona
Road bridge over the Bord na Mona double track line near Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Bord na Mona
Bord na Mona track laying machine and an empty train. Lumix LX3 photo.

Bord na Mona
An empty Bord na Mona train returns to the bog for reloading. Lumix LX3 photo.

Bord na Mona
Peat hoppers and the harvested peat bog near Shannonbridge. Lumix LX3 photo.

Maintenance train with sunny skies and weedy tracks. Lumix LX3 photo.
Maintenance train with sunny skies and weedy tracks. Lumix LX3 photo.

Bord na Mona
Empty train growl along the bog. Despite their small size, Bord na Mona trains can be heard a long way before the arrive. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Bord na Mona
Laden Bord na Mona train under a textured sky. Soon it will rain. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I’ve found my visits to photograph the Bord na Mona railways exceptionally rewarding and productive and I look forward to more photography trips in coming months.

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Irish Bog Railways—Part 2 February 16, 2013

Ireland’s Bord na Móna  (Peat Board) was the topic of my post, Gallery 8: Irish Bog Railways—Part 1 in November 2012. Yesterday, February 16 2013, I made another exploratory trip into the bog. Where previous investigations focused on operations at Edenderry, County Offaly, this trip was to the network that serves the Lough Ree Power Station along the River Shannon at Lanesborough, County Longford. Among the peculiarities of Bord na Móna’s narrow gauge operations are its temporary sidings laid out on the bog for the purpose of loading trains. Until put in place, these tracks resemble those of an oversized model railway and are in fixed sections held together by steel sleepers (ties), and often stacked in piles awaiting installation. The bog itself is spongy and wet, thus ill suited to permanent infrastructure. Since temporary track is only used at very slow speed for short periods of time, niceties normally afforded railway lines, such as grading, leveling, and drainage, aren’t considered.

wavy tracks
Bord na Móna feeder for temporary track near Mt Dillon, County Longford; exposed with a Canon 7D with f2.8 200mm lens; ISO 400, f4.5 1/640th second.

This telephoto view exaggerates the undulating quality of a roadside Bord na Mona spur used to access an area of bog ready for harvesting. This particular section of track may be left in place for years to tap short-lived harvesting spurs.

This photographic adventure is among my works in progress; I plan to display more images of Bord na Móna in upcoming posts.

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