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90 Years After Closure The Train Is Back In Carrigaline!

Sculpture unveiling and much more on Culture Night

Writes Leo McMahon

The Carrigaline choo-choo made a most welcome return to the town on Culture Night, September 23rd with the unveiling of a magnificent train engine sculpture next to the railway embankment at Bothar Guidel junction.

Initiated by the local Tidy Towns and funded by Cork County Council, the sculptor was Fountainstown based Mick Wilkins, whose much admired Carrigaline Pottery sculpture was unveiled in the Owenabue parklet on Culture Night 2021. Next to the train sculpture is a display board by (Peadar) Drinan Arthouse, Carrigaline with information and photos supplied by local historian Joe Healy.

The half life-size sculpture commemorates the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway (CBPR) that was extended from 1903 to 1932 to serve Carrigaline and Crosshaven.

A welcome was extended by Tidy Towns chairperson Liam O’Connor who paid tribute to fellow sub-committee members Betty O’Riordan, Claire O’Mullane, Barry Cogan, Joe Healy and Mick Wilkins who duly unveiled the train.

Liam thanked Carol Conway, Shane Piper, his predecessor Pat O’Sullivan and staff of the council’s Carrigaline Municipal District, Tidy Towns volunteers (several of whom wore stunning period costumes for the occasion supplied by Eva May Vintage, Glanmire) and stewards. He also acknowledged the presence of Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney TD and local councillors Seamus McGrath, Jack White, Audrey Buckley and Ben Dalton-O’Sullivan.

Joe Healy gave a most interesting brief history of the train service which ‘during its relatively short existence was so important to the growth of Carrigaline and district’ and paid tribute to Liam, Betty and Maura Allen for initiating the heritage project and all others associated with it. He also acknowledged the late Sean O’Mahony whose 1993 book ‘The History and Folklore of Carrigaline’ was an invaluable asset to his research.

Liam O'Connor, Chairperson of Carrigaline Tidy Towns & Tony O'Sullivan, at the unveiling of the Bóthar Guidel Platform & train installation, Carrigaline Culture Night, 23rd September 2022. Photo Siobhán Russell

The CPBR he said, opened in 1850 as far as Passage West and construction by around 600 men on its extension to Carrigaline and Crosshaven began in 1897. It involved a tunnel to Glenbrook and the Cut ‘n; Cover at Monkstown.

There were nine bridges between Raffeen Bridge and the Crosshaven Road, Carrigaline These included Waterpark Bridge, a steel girder single span over Church Road (of which there is no photographic record and only the northern abutment remaining) and Owenabue Bridge over the river which was known as the Black Bridge. The approach to the town was through what today are Herons Wood and Bridgemount estates.

Construction of Carrigaline Railway Station (near St Philomena’s Place), he stated, began in 1900. It had an island passenger platform and a subway link to Station Road. The station opened on June 15th, 1903. The line managed to survive damage inflicted during the troubles of 1919-1923 but competition from private bus companies and freight road traffic resulted in decline. Despite many protests, Great Southern Railways closed the section from Monkstown to Crosshaven 90 years ago on May 31st, 1932. The station at Carrigaline served for many years as district courthouse.

‘Thankfully, some traces of the old railway line (much of it a greenway) still exist. Meanwhile, this replica sculpture will stand the test of time and continue to remind us of a unique period in history of this locality’, said Joe.

Further information is contained in a free booklet by Tidy Towns and compiled by Joe who initiated a special exhibition about the railway earlier this year at Passage West Maritime Museum.

Speaking to The Carrigdhoun Newspaper, Mick Wilkins said having thoroughly researched the subject, he kept true to tradition by sculpting an entirely steel train engine with everything rolled, riveted and bolted. It is based on 242T engine with two lead wheels, four drive wheels and two tail wheels and a tank containing its own coal box. The replica Neilson & Co Glasgow engine would have served the line.

The attendance included Tidy Towns volunteers and Tom and Marie Hanlon, Old Waterpark who tend a lovely garden on the other side of the railway embankment where the sculpture is located.

The train engine unveiling was one of many highlights of a very successful Culture Night of free events co-ordinated by the council with local volunteers in which it truly ‘CarrigAlive’!

There was talk by Oceans 7 swimmer Stephen Redmond, international music and dancing at the bandstand and a Pop-up Gaeltacht from Carraig ag Caint in the park; an outdoor gallery along Main Street, Carrigaline Pipe Band, a music trail, lace and other artistic displays in the parklet, drama and Irish traditional music in the library, a community ceili in the GAA pavilion, an exhibition by Owenabue Arts Collective based at The Gallery, Bridge House; workshops and much more.

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