It was a dull Friday afternoon in mid June 2005, when DH and I were exploring locations along the Cork Road (Dublin to Cork) between Mountrath, Co Laois and the top of Ballybrophy Bank.
We’d stopped in sight of the tracks on a lightly traveled dirt road, and were cleaning the car, when off to the east we heard the distant drumming of a class 071 in Run-8 (full throttle).
Irish Rail’s class 071s are mid-1970s era EMD diesel-electrics, built with Dash-2 technology and powered with 12-cylinder 645E3 (turbocharged) engine. Their sound is distinctive.
I grabbed my Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). As the Friday-only ‘Down Kerry’ (Dublin Heuston to Tralee) came into view, the sun peaked out from a thick overhead cloud-bank. Irish Rail 072 was driven by Irish Rail’s Ken Fox, who recognized us and gave a few friendly blasts of the hooter (horn).
As the train passed on its ascent toward Ballybrophy, the sound intensified—a characteristic of the doppler effect. We could hear the aged EMD until Ken shut off at the top of the bank—several miles distant.
At first glance this view from November 8, 2005, might appear to be an ordinary container train.
It is not.
During its final season carrying sugar beet, Irish Rail took the tops off some 40ft container and fitted them to bogie (8-wheel) flat wagons to haul beet from Wellingtonbridge Co. Wexford to the sugar factory at Mallow, Co. Cork.
These unusual freight haulers were known as ‘bogie beet wagons’, since Irish Rail’s traditional beet wagons were rigid-base four wheelers.
In this photograph at dusk, a laden sugar beet freight reverses into Limerick Junction, having just come up the line from Waterford that crosses the Dublin-Cork main line at grade (to the right of the signal cabin).
The locomotive will cut off and run around the train in order to proceed to Mallow. This was necessary because there was no direct chord at the Junction to facilitate a direct move. The lights at left had been installed to make it easier to reverse the train at night.
I exposed this photo on a tripod using my Contax G2 Rangefinder with 45mm lens using Fujichrome Sensia slide film. I scanned the slide with an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.
When Irish Rail’s Rotem-built 22K series InterCity Railcars (ICRs) were new, they briefly carried set numbers in a painted round circle on the right front above the coupler and adjacent to the headlights. This has been called the ‘green golfball.’
This identification practice was frowned upon and most of the circles were removed after a few months.
Set 7 survived longer than others.
On the evening of December 31, 2009, I made a visit to ‘The Box’ overlooking the wall at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin, where I made this image of ICR set 7 in dramatic winter light using my then new Lumix LX3.
Last night, I found this photo while searching for something else obscure and thought it would make for an interesting Tracking the Light post.
And it’s a was a very good Friday too. Years ago, Good Friday was a busy day on Irish Rail and there was lots to garner a photographer’s attention.
In addition to Railway Preservation Society of Ireland steam excursions, and ‘extra’ Friday-only passenger trains, Irish Rail tended to operate a lot of daylight freight.
So on the morning of March 29, 2002, Hassard Stacpoole and I joined Paul Quinlan at Kildare for a foray to Cherryville Junction (where the Waterford Line joins the Dublin-Cork mainline) and spent the day rolling by the parade of trains.
I made most of my photos on Fujichrome slide film, but also exposed a roll of Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film in my Contax G2 rangefinder with a yellow filter. I processed this in Agfa Rodinal Special (mixed 1-32) for 3 minutes 45 seconds at 20c.
Then after 18 years in an archival box, yesterday I decided to scan a few of the photos for presentation here.
What may have passed as ordinary in 2002, now looks fascinating.
How a year goes by! November 4th last year sticks in my mind as one of the best nights for rainy night photography in a very long time.
I’d caught up with fellow poor-weather nocturnal photographers, Jay Monaghan, Paul Maguire and Kevin O’Brien at Drumcondra in Dublin to catch the elusive Irish Rail ‘HOBS’ (ballast train) hauled by General Locomotives diesel 075.
It was cold and sluicing rain.
After catching the ballast passing Drumcondra station, we nipped across town by rail to Sandymount, where we waited in the rain for another shot.
Working with my Fujifilm XT1 I made these memorable images.
Now, armed with Iridient X-Transformer, I went back to last year’s success and re-interpreted some of my favorite images from that damp Irish evening, which now seems so distant.
Tracking the Light Publishes Daily!
[Note: my intent was to publish this on November 4, 2020, but when composing the post I accidentally posted it immediately. My efforts to reschedule the post had the net effect of disrupting the link. So I’ve reposted it this morning (Tuesday November 3).]
On the morning of 23 November 2004, I exposed this photo of a pair of Irish Rail bo-bos (class 141/181 General Motors diesels) shunting sugar beet wagons at Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford, Ireland.
This was a typical scene made a bit mystical by a thick layer of fog.
To accentuate the effect of the fog and compress the elements in the scene, I worked with a 180mm Nikkor prime telephoto lens fitted to a Nikon F3 camera.
My film choice of the day was Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100).
I scanned this slide yesterday using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 digital scanner and processed the hi-res scan with Lightroom to scale the image for internet presentation and make minor adjustments in the color balance and contrast.
Between 2000 and 2007, I made more than 1,000 images of the Irish Rail weedspraying train on its annual campaign around the system.
In my early days focusing on this one of kind train (there have been many weed spraying trains, but this one was unique!), I aimed to catch it in unusual places.
On this day in April 2000, I was traveling with intrepid photographer Mark Hodge, and we drove cross-country from Tipperary to County Limerick to intercept the train on the then rarely-traveled Foynes Branch.
Later in the morning, I caught the train coming off the branch at Limerick Check.
The day was wet and dark, but I’m very glad I exposed these photos, despite the fact that over the coming years I made numerous sunny day views of the train.
My Irish friends might wonder, since Irish Rail class 201 number 204 in unlikely to have ever reached Enfield, County Meath on the Sligo Line—although the older C-Class diesel with the same number probably did pass that point (before my time).
Amtrak F40PH-2 204 almost certainly passed Enfield, Connecticut on the former New Haven Railroad’s Springfield-New Haven Line, a route now described as the ‘Hartford Line’. While I have various photos in the 1980s of the 200-series F40PH-2s, it is unlikely that I have a photo of 204 at Enfield.
Then there’s an extremely remote possibility that I have a photo in my collection of a Boston & Albany 4-4-0 with that number passing Enfield, Massachusetts on the Athol Branch. I’ll have to review my B&A roster to confirm they actually had a locomotive with that number and if it ever ran up the branch.
How about Guilford Rail System’s high-hood GP35 204 working the Maine Central with MABA at Enfield, Maine?
Regular Tracking the Light readers might understand my connections to this engine.
(It’s a sister locomotive to former Maine Central 216 that now resides at Conway Scenic where I now work.)