The Emerald Isle Express is an annual tour train operated Rail Tours Ireland in cooperation with Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society Ireland.
I had advanced notice of this year’s schedule and planned to catch it running along the Irish Sea south of Dublin on its way down the old Dublin & South Eastern route toward Rosslare Europort.
I rode the DART electric suburban train to Dalkey then hoofed it out toward Sorrento Point, where my planned location turned out to be fouled by undergrowth and related shadows.
‘Uh oh.’ Time to move to plan B.
More walking brought me to this footbridge between Dalkey and Killiney.
Although supremely picturesque, the maze of direct current overhead wires and related masts make finding a suitable angle difficult.
I wanted to include more of the Irish Sea to the right of the train, but putting the train too far to the left didn’t really work as an effective composition. Ultimately I settled on a more conservative angle. Soft sun helps reduce the distraction of the wires.
A minor disappointment; I’d hoped that Irish Rail engine number 071 (in bright orange heritage paint) would lead the train. Instead, I settled for that old stalwart; Irish Rail engine 078.
Back then, Irish Rail operated three daily ammonia trains between Marino Point, County Cork and Shelton Abbey near Arklow, County Wicklow. These were tightly scheduled and normally operated with the common 201-class General Motors diesels.
I was tuned into these trains, and made an effort to catch them in interesting locations. The traffic ended with little warning in 2002, so the photos I made are now prized images!
In addition to color slides, I exposed thousands of black & white images of Irish railways on 120 size film between 1999 and 2005 (and a few here and there since).
Most of these photos have never seen the light of day. This rare photo of the Ammonia train was just one of several exposures I made on that bright May afternoon in 2001.
Why didn’t I make a color photo? And who said I didn’t? Must color and black & white be mutual exclusive? Why not make a color photo and convert it later? Why color anyway?
I’ve often worked with multiple formats at the same time. Black & white has a number of advantages and I’ve long prided myself on mastering this archaic image-making process.