Tag Archives: #Irish Rail

Blast from the Past; Vintage Chrome at Manualla Junction

Part of the reason for our recent trip to Ireland was to retrieve my belongings that have been stored there since the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was our third trip across to Ireland since April 2022. This time around we filled several more suitcases with my things. This included an estimated 8,000 of my color slides, 1,000 hand made black & white prints, a tripod, a Nikon F3 camera and my prized Nikkor f2.0 35mm lens, plus some books, notes and memorabilia.

Since returning to Pennsylvania, I’ve made a project of scanning many of the slides that I brought back. Among the gems I collected is this view I’d exposed of the Ballina Branch train at Manulla Junction on 1 May 2006 with GM 071 class diesel number 075.

This photos made extra special for me because during our wanders around County Mayo in March we caught a sister 071 locomotive 074 leading a timber train at this same location. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2006-2024-changes-at-manulla-junction/

1 May 2006; Manualla Junction the way it used to look before the mini-CTC project of 2007 altered the track and signaling. Exposed on Fujichrome using a Nikon F3 with 105mm lens.

Relics at Ballina

On our recent trip to Ballina, Co. Mayo, we paid a couple visits to the Irish Rail Station.

I remember photographing the 2800-series railcars when they were lifted off the boat back in 2000.

What really caught my attention was the 1990s-era Irish Rail sign, which for me was a pleasant reminder of years gone by when every station on Irish Rail had a similarly styled sign.

Exposed digitally with a Nikon Z7-II with a 24-70mm lens set to 32mm.

Victorian Train Shed

The magnificent curved train shed at Cork’s Kent Station makes for a classic environment to photograph modern trains.

Irish Rail runs frequent services from Kent Station, with an hourly scheduled service to/from Dublin, most of which serve platform 4 below the train shed.

During our recent travels around Cork, Kris and I paid several visits to Kent Station and were offered tours by our friends at Irish Rail.

Working with my Nikon Z7-II, I made these photos at the station aiming to make the most of the curved Victorian train shed, both as subject and setting.

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Materials Train at Drumcondra

In mid-October, I made a brief stop at Irish Rail’s Drumcondra station on Dublin’s North Side to photograph locomotive 074 leading a laden materials train toward the North Wall.

The sun and clouds cooperated nicely, and I made these digital photos using my Nikon Z6.

This was a fortuitous catch for me as I only had a few minutes to invest before moving on to my next objective. There were times in years past that I may have invested hours to catch an obscure railroad movement, so it was satisfying for me to see this relatively elusive train without much of a wait.

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Athenry at Dusk

It’s been more than 23 years since my first visit to Athenry, County Galway.

On that day, my objective was to see an Irish Rail cement train (traffic long gone), and visit the signal cabin (which was then an active block post and interlocking. I was there the day it closed in May 2003.)

Last month, on our way back from Maam Cross, Kris and I were delivered by road to Irish Rail’s Athenry station. It was wet and windy. We had a half hour to wait for the evening Galway-Dublin train to arrive.

During the interval, an Irish Rail 2800-series railcar on its way from Galway to Limerick arrived to make its station stop before changing directions to head down the Western Rail Corridor.

I made this selection of action photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera set at high ISO (between 8000 and 12000).

This two-piece 2800-series railcar had just arrived from Galway.
The Galway-Limerick railcar has the ‘feather’ to take the switch for the Western Rail Corridor toward Ennis and Limerick.
The evening Galway-Dublin train approaches Athenry.

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Compare: RAW versus Camera-Profiled JPG

On August 28, 2014, I made this photo of a down InterCity Railcar on Irish Rail’s Quad Track near Clondalkin in west suburban Dublin.

I was photographing with my Canon EOS7D fitted with a prime f2.8 200mm lens.

I had the camera set up to simultaneously expose a Hi-Res RAW and a color-profiled JPG file using the Canon pre-programed ‘Standard’ setting. (Recorded to the file as ‘sRGB IEC61966-2.1’)

Normally, I’d make adjustments to the RAW file.

In this case, I’ve opted to display the two files without adjustment for point of comparison.

Canon JPG with camera ‘Standard’ color profile: ‘sRGB IEC61966-2.1’
Canon camera RAW (CR2 file).

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Inchicore in the Details

Last month I was invited on an official tour of Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works. I joined a small group of journalists preparing a feature on the upcoming 175th Anniversary open house that occured about 10 days later (after I returned to the USA).

On my casual walk-around I had the opportunity to chat with a variety of Irish Rail employees and retirees.

In addition to some photos of locomotives and railcars, I made numerous vignettes of the shops and the details thereof using my Lumix LX7.

In a future post, I’ll include some more of the locomotive photos.

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Three DARTS at Blackrock.

Monday, 25 April 2022, we had the sun, the sea and the DART!

Working with my Lumix LX7, I made these view of Irish Rail’s DART serving the station at Blackrock in Co. Dublin.

This is the oldest suburban railway in the world: the old Dublin & Kingstown opened for business in 1834.

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Irish Rail at Islandbridge Junction—25 April 2022

Yesterday, I returned to my old location at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin for the first time since November 2019.

Although I’d made countless photos here over the years, it was nice to be back at this once familiar place again.

The procession of passenger trains was certainly down from pre-Covid times, but in the course of about half an hour I photographed five trains passing through the junction.

I made these views using my Lumix LX7 and processed the Lumix RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.

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Ballast Crossing the Liffey a Dozen Years Ago.

I was still new to the concept of digital imagery on 22 April 2010 when I made these views with my old Lumix LX3 of an Irish Rail ballast train running around at Platform 10 at Dublin’s Heuston Station.

This view from the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel was just a short walk from my old apartment at Islandbridge. The dust in the air was the result of a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

The old four-wheel ballast wagons were nearing the end of their days in permanent-way traffic.

In just a few days, I hope to be able to make a modern day view from this Irish vantage point. Fingers crossed.

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Stacumni Bridge Two photos a year minus a Day.

I visited Stucumni Bridge on the Dublin-Cork line on March 9, 2016 and March 8, 2017.

On both visits I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 to photograph Irish Rail trains on the quad track.

I only noticed the succession of dates when preparing this post. Kris said, ‘That’s really cool, you should include both photos.

I think it’s interesting that I selected a similar focal length and angle for both images.

The1020 down Heuston Station to Portlaoise train passes Stacumni Bridge on March 9, 2016.
Irish Rail’s UP IWT Liner with Container Pocket Wagons on March 8, 2017.

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Up IWT Liner-Five Years Ago

It was a typical overcast afternoon in Dublin on March 7, 2017.

I was in position above Irish Rail’s Phoenix Park Tunnel on Conyngham Road, not far from my bus stop.

Not far off camera to the right was the location of the Islandbridge apartment where I resided on/off for 15 years when visiting in Dublin.

Working with my first Lumix LX7, I made this image of Irish Rail’s UP IWT Liner from Ballina.

The RAW file was a little on the dark side, so I adjusted the image using Lightroom. I lightened the shadow areas, while working with the ‘Select Sky’ feature to hold detail in the sky area.

Not long after exposing this photo, I walked down to Ryan’s pub on Park Gate Street to meet some friends for a pint.

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Nine Years Ago-Irish Rail Pan in Blue Light

On the evening of February 25, 2013, I was walking along the wall on the St. Johns Road in Dublin. There’s a low spot where a few stones have been dislodged, and it was here I peered over the wall.

A Cork train was heading down road behind 201-class 219. Working with my old Lumix LX3, I exposed this pan photo.

Irish Rail 219 departs Dublin Heuston Station on February 25, 2013.

The original file was a bit dark, so I lightened the camera-RAW file using Lightroom and scaled it for presentation here.

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Irish Rail 201 framed.

In May 2001, I stood on the old footbridge at Irish Rail’s Kildare Station and framed an up-road train using the bridge’s lattice iron-work .

Irish Rail locomotive 213 (of the 201 class EMD diesels) led Mark III carriages. At the time this was about as common as one could expect for an Intercity passenger run.

Now, the Intercity MarkIII carriages are long gone, and old 213 is among the 201-class diesels stored at Inchicore.

I made the square image with my Rolleiflex Model T. Kodak 120-size Tri-X film processed in a customized mix of Ilfotec HC developer.

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2001 Sunset at Heuston Station

On an evening in Spring 2001, I made this monochrome silhouette at Dublin’s Heuston Station using my Rollei Model T. The photo brings back memories of another time.

The place has much changed in the intervening 21 years since the click of the shutter.

This shows Irish Rail class 141/181s working as shunters, a practice that ended about a dozen years ago when locomotive hauled consists were phased out in favor of modern self propelled Intercity Railcars (ICRs). Among the other changes: the platform arrangement was altered and extended, while the trainshed roof restored.

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Orange Railcars at Connolly Station

In May 1998, I stood at the south end of platform 5 of Dublin’s Connolly Station where I made this view of 2600-series diesel multiple units as they accelerated away from the platforms toward Tara Street on the Loop Line.

I was working with my Nikon F3T loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100).

At the time the 2600s were a common sight in Dublin.

This photo reminds me of my first impressions of Dublin and how much has changed since 1998.

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Guinness over the Liffey

July 2005. The view from my old flat at Islandbridge in Dublin.

Irish Rail 165 leads an evening Guinness Transfer over the RIver Liffey heading into the Phoenix Park tunnel toward Dublin’s North Wall.

I made this image on Fujichrome using a Nikon with a 180mm prime telephoto.

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Manulla Junction—May 2002

2002 was a productive year for my photographic adventures.

Working with my Contax G2, I exposed this sequence of black & white photos on Kodak Tri-X at Irish Rail’s Manulla Junction in County Mayo.

This isolated station served as the transfer point for passengers traveling on the Ballina Branch.

In the the long view, the Ballina branch train can be seen to the right, with the Westport-Dublin train on the left.

Leading the Dublin train is Irish Rail Class 201 #215.

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Wicklow Silhouette

On 3 April 2002, I traveled from Dublin to County Wexford on the morning train.

My friend and fellow railroad photographer, Hassard Stacpoole, and I were headed to Wexford town to intercept one of the last bag cement trains that was being unloaded there.

Once common, by mid-2002 Irish Rail’s bag cement runs were on the wain.

At Wicklow, our train paused in the loop to cross an up passenger train on the Dublin & Southeastern route.

Exposed on 35mm Kodak Tri-X using a Contax G2 rangefinder camera.

When our train paused at Wicklow Station made this view of a lattice-mast semaphore, which at the time was still in use to protect train movements.

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Sunset at Duncormick, Co. Wexford

In July 2003, I exposed a single frame of 120 size Tri-X looking toward the old Duncormick Station on Irish Rail’s lightly used South Wexford line.

I’d processed the film in Ilfotec HC shortly after the time of exposure. The other day I scanned this photo along with other images on the roll.

Working with Adobe Lightroom 5.0, I made use of the ‘select sky’ feature under the ‘New Mask’ option (located at the righthand side of the control panel and indicated with a pixilated circle icon) to make the sunset sky more dramatic.

Previously, I would have achieved a similar effect by creating a linear gradiation mask to make my adjustments.

The advantage of the ‘select sky’ mask is that it neatly segregates the sky area from the rest of the image and allows for a cleaner adjustment while requiring less work on my part.

In this case, to make the sky appear more dramatic, I used the ‘clarity’ slider, moving to the right (+) which increases the constrast without a substantial loss of detail.

Below are both the unaltered scan of the original black & white negative, and my adjusted version. In addition, I’ve included a screenshot of hte Adobe Lightroom control panel.

Unadjusted reversed scan from the original 120-size black & white negative. This was scaled for internet presentation.
Adjusted scan with ‘select sky’mask feature used to improve the sky contrast.
Adobe Lightroom 5.0 control panel. Notice the position of the Clarity slide while in the ‘create new mask’ -‘select sky’ mode.

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Beware of Trains

In July 2003, I made this 2/14 inch sqaure black & white photo at Limerick Junction, Co. Tipperary using a Rollei Model-T twin lens reflex.

Working with a relatively slow shutter speed, I allowed the train to blur as it passed the signals at the Dublin-end of the platform.

At that time Limerick Junction was controlled by a mix of tradititional mechanical signals and more modern color lights.

The sign makes the photo.

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On This Day in 2009

November 13, 2009, I was experimenting with my then new Lumix LX3 digital camera.

Standing at ‘The Box’ at Islandbridge Junction, I exposed this sequence in RAW format using the 16×9 aspect ratio of passing Irish Rail trains.

Locomotive 175 worked a wagon transfer from Inchicore towing a pair of the 2001-built Talgo container pocket wagons (CPWs).

It was one of only a scant few photos that I made digitally of an Irish Rail Bo-Bo at work. Most had finsihed by the time, yet old 175 survived.

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Window on Killarney

September 30, 2016, on the advice of Ken Fox, I traveled to Killarney for an unusual convergence.

Rail Tours Ireland’s Emerald Isle Explorer and the Belmond Grand Hibernian—Ireland’s only two high-end tour trains were both scheduled to arrive at Irish Rail’s Killarney on the same afternoon.

I made my photos and then returned to Dublin on-board Irish Rail’s regularly scheduled train that was worked with one of the common Hyundai-ROTEM Intercity Rail Cars (ICRs).

I made this view on board the ICR using my Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens loaded with Ilford HP5 processed.

I processed the film in Kodak HC110 mixed 1-64 with water at 68f for 4 mins. Later I toned the processed negatives in a Selenium solution mixed 1-9 for 9 minutes. This last step boosted the highlight detail to give a silvery glisten.

Negatives scanned with an Epson Perfection V600 flatbed scanner.

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The DART—April 2003

In April 2003, I was traveling on rail-tour returning to Dublin from Belfast, when I made this pacing view of an Irish Rail DART suburban electric train rolling along on an adjacent track.

I was working with my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 28mm Zeiss Biogon, and loaded with Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film.

This is among the photos that I intend to present tonight (October 21, 2021) to the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts at Malden, Massachusetts.

By working with a comparatively slow shutter speed, I was able to convey the sense of motion.

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Two 201s Together

Under normal circumstances, Irish Rail operates its class 201 General Motors diesel locomotives singly.

Such was not the case three years ago, when on 23 September 2018, photographer Jay Monaghan and I had the rare privilage of picturing a pair of 201s together at Dublin’s Heuston Staton on a train that had just arrived uproad from Cork.

I made this view using my Lumix LX7.

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Grand Hibernian—17 September 2016

Five years ago, I was poised at the army bridge near Mosney over the old Great Northern line to photograph the, then new, Belmond Grand Hibernian on its run from Dublin to Belfast.

This luxury tour train made weekly tours of the Irish network in season.

Irish Rail class 201 number 216 was painted to match Belmond’s train set, and was routinely assigned to the train.

Belmond’s choice of a dark navy blue made for challenging photos in conditions other than bright sun. In photos, this shade of blue often appeared almost black, and when lightened using post processing software tended to shift green.

In this view, I selectively lightened the front of the locomotive, and applied minimal lightening to the shadow areas of the entire scene. I’ve attempted to retain the true color of the train as best I can.

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Room with a View

Irish Rail class 141 number 167 glides over the River Liffey at Islandbridge, Dublin.

I made this view from my old apartment at Islandbridge in December 2005.

Although I had just recently purchased a Canon EOS3, I was still working with my old Nikon F3s, which is what I used to expose this view on Fujichrome.

At the time there were still a number of class 141/181 General Motors diesels working for Irish Rail.

Over the years, the trees and other obstructions gradually hemmed in my view of the tracks, so that by the time I left more than a dozen years later, it was more difficult to obtain an uncluttered photo of a train crossing the Liffey from the apartment.

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Empty Beet on the Barrow Bridge:

On December 28, 2005, toward the end of Irish Rail’s final beet season, I stood on the western shore of the Barrow, where I aimed a Nikon F3 fitted with a 180mm f2.8 lens and loaded with Fujichrome toward the multiple span Pratt truss that crosses the river.

NI Railways 112 (on loan to Irish Rail) worked east across the span at about 5mph with a train of four-wheel empty beet wagons.

Last night I scanned the nearly 16-year old slide using my Epson V600 scanner at relatively high resolution (3200 dpi) then imported the resulting TIF file into Lightroom.

The RAW scan exhibits a minor red tint. To compensate I made a variety of changes. First I moved the black point to the limit of data loss with the aid of the histogram. This adjusted the tonal range of the slide, then I worked with green-magenta and blue-yellow color correction sliders to balance the color, while paying close attention to hue in the shadow areas. 

Finally I made some nominal contrast and saturation changes to make for a more pleasing image before outputting as a medium resolution JPG  crafted for optimum internet presentation.

Below is the unadjusted JPG along with my final adjusted JPG for comparison. Since every computer screen is slightly different and provide varied interpretations of my images.

the proof of  success for my adjustments may be in the color prints that I have yet to make.

This is a JPG made from the unadjusted TIF scan. Notice the slightly red hue and a lack of a rich black tone.
This is the scan following adjustment.
Screen shot of the Lightroom work window.

In addition, I’ve also included a screen shot of the Lightroom control panel so that you may see how I’ve moved the sliders to improve the scan.

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Kent Station, Cork—April 2002.

On a day trip to Cork City (Ireland) in April 2002, I made this photo using my Contax G2 rangefinder on Kodak Tri-X.

I had the camera fitted with a 45mm Zeiss lens. Key to the image tonality was an orange filter, which gives the photo a contrasty snap with lots of texture in the sky while lightening the rendiition of the shade of orange paint on the class 201 diesels.

Kent Station, Cork, Ireland, April 2002.

I’d processed the film using a custom mix of Ilfotec HC.

To scan the film, I used my Epson V600 flatbed scanner with Epson Scan 2 driving software. I made nominal adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Sligo Timber at Enfield

I made thousands of photos of Irish Rail operations on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). Typically, I had the film processed at Photocare on Abbey Street in Dublin.

In this photo, exposed on a summer Saturday, Irish Rail class 071 number 083 roars up-road at Enfield with a laden timber train. The signalman hands the staff to the driver. The staff authorized the train movement over the section (in this case Enfield to Maynooth).

This image was made was in the final years of traditional electric train staff and semaphore operation on Irish Rail’s Sligo Line.

I’ve been gradually archiving my Irish Rail slides by scanning them at very high resolution, typically between 3200 and 4800 dots per inch, saving the file in TIF format.

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Irish Rail’s Class 121—The locomotive itself!

In October 2002, I exposed this black & white photo of Irish Rail ‘s class 121 that was in the dead-line at Inchicore in Dublin.

Although I have hundreds of photos of the 121 locomotives at work on Irish Rail, I never witnessed the first of the class at work.

This historic locomotive was cut up along with many other 121s in early 2003.

Exposed on black & white film using a Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.

Brian Solomon is traveling ‘off the grid’ for the next few days.

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Irish Rail Glounthaune—April 20, 2015

Six years ago on this day I was visiting Cobh Junction at Glounththaune, Co. Cork.

The Irish Rail station at this suburban Cork village continues to make good use of its classic footbridge, of the sort once common to stations across Ireland.

In recent years many of the old lattice-construction foot-bridges have been supplanted by massive modern structures that lack the simple elegance and basic utility of the old bridges—many of which remain in place as unused relics.

Working with my first Lumix LX7, I made these photos of the footbridge and Irish Rail 2600-series railcars that work suburban services that pause at Glounthaune on their way to and from Cork to outlying stations at Cobh and Midleton.

The Lumix LX7 with its Leica lens and cleverly designed imaging system produces extremely sharp photos with great depth of field.

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Views from the Train—April 10th, 2016.

Five years ago, I traveled on the second leg of a two-day Irish Railway Record Society diesel rail tour. We had laid over at Killarney, and in the morning a select portion of the group made a round trip to Tralee and back, before heading eastward for a circuitous trip back to Dublin.

It was a gray Irish day, raining and spitting snow.

Ken Fox was our driver from Killarney in the morning, and Class 076 was our locomotive.

Traveling on the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Cravens carriages afforded me some great views from the train as we made our way through the lush Spring countryside.

These digital images were exposed using my Fujifilm XT1.

Departing Tralee, Co. Kerry for Killarney.
Approaching Farranfore, Co. Kerry it began to snow . . .
Looking west at Limerick Junction. This scene is much changed today, as a second mainline platform has been added along with a massive modern overhead bridge.
Approaching the home signal for Tipperary on the way to Waterford.
View from the the train near Clonmel, County Tipperary.

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This Day EIght Years Ago!

It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since I made the sprint from my old apartment at Islandbridge in Dublin to the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel on the Conyngham Road to catch the elusive HOBS on its run toward Dublin’s North Wall yards.

As previously covered in Tracking the Light, Irish Rail’s modern ballast train is known by its initials HOBS, which stands for High Output Ballast System.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D digital camera, I exposed this sequence of images as the train accelerated around the bend at Islandbridge Junction. Old Irish Rail 074 was in the comparatively short-lived silver, black & yellow freight livery.

April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.
April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.

April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.

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Roscrea at Dusk

On the evening of November 27, 2003, I used my old Contax G2 rangefinder to expose this Fujichrome Sensia color slide of Irish Rail’s Nenagh Branch train departing Roscrea, County Tipperary.

This was toward the end of regular locomotive hauled trains on the branch. A few weeks later Irish Rail’s 2700-series diesel railcars would assume most of the runs on this branch, although locomotives with sets Cravens carriages would still occasionally make an appearance on the line into 2004.

Contax G2 with 45mm Zeiss lens.

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