What he says

The Slugger O’Toole blog has an excellent post about the DUP’s sweetheart deal to keep the Tories in power in the UK in relation to infrastructure in Northern Ireland. If you want the executive summary, just look at the maps in their post – it says everything that I could say about the tribal politics of HM Colony NI.



A lighthouse is a dedicated structure designed to emit a beam of light at pre-defined intervals, to aid shipping by warning them of the presence of obstructions to navigation. Historically, lighthouses were manned with keepers living either in the cramped quarters of the lighthouse or in adjacent employer provided housing. All lighthouses in Ireland are now automated with remote monitoring undertaken by an attendant.

In Ireland, apart from some harbour installations, lighthouses are operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, an independent, all Ireland body, with 63 lighthouses plus further navigational aids under their control.

The oldest operational lighthouse in the world is at Hook Head in Wexford and is 800 years old. The lighthouse at St. John’s Point was once painted (badly) by playwright Brendan Behan, resulting in a complaint from the principal keeper to the Commissioners about him.

Signal cabin

A signal cabin is a central control point for signals and points on a railway line. Early signalling was very primitive and uncoordinated. Over time, the control point for these was consolidated into one building to deliver more effective control. This also allowed for the interlocking of signals, which is where a signalman cannot move certain levers in the lever frame which would display signals which conflict with each other, or with the direction of points on the track.

The standard signal cabin design is a two storey structure, which allows for an elevated view of the area under its control from the upper floor. The lower floor is used to accommodate the mechanics and interlocking of the lever frame and for storage. Most signal cabins are standalone structures but in some cases, they are integrated into the station building.


A weighbridge is an industrial sized scales used to determine the quantity of material in a vehicle for charging purposes and can be adapted for either road or rail use. The general principle is that a vehicle is weighed when empty and again when full and the difference is the weight of the underlying material.

They are extensively used in the extractive industry, in the milling industry and anywhere it is common to sell material by the tonne.  They are also used to determine motor taxation for certain commercial vehicles, with recognised weighbridges designated for this purpose.

Whilst modern weighbridges tend to be functional in design, historically, weighbridges were ornate structures, usually of metal construction, with the manufacturers name cast therein. A weighbridge will usually be accompanied by an associated building which contains the equipment for reading the weighbridge output.


A roundhouse is a type of locomotive shed which can be found in use on some railways. Most locomotive sheds are rectangular in shape, but in locations where space is constrained, a roundhouse may be used. The design of a round house is akin to a cutaway section of a doughnut, not usually more than 180°, with tracks perpendicular to the rear wall, converging on a central turntable, via which, access to the railway network is provided.

In Ireland, there have been roundhouses at Broadstone Station (Dublin), Portadown, York Road (Belfast) and Clones. The latter is extant as attempts by the army to demolish it with explosives failed. It is not in railway use as the railway line it served closed in 1959. There was also a roundhouse in the Guinness Brewery to house the locomotives on their industrial railway.


140 word explanations

The genesis of this idea was a Facebook post of A.N. Other that a (real life) friend of mine commented on (thereby bringing it into my Facebook feed) whereby he has been commissioned to write a series of 150 word articles about nature for the Times in Ireland (that would be the Murdoch publication as opposed to the old lady of D’Olier Street (or Tara Street as it is now)).

I will be publishing a series of 140 word posts explaining some aspect of industrial heritage as it pertains to Ireland. The first post will appear tomorrow.

Ulster Canal Greenway

The Fermanagh Herald reports positive news – we don’t have to wait for Brexit to kill off the “restoration” of the Ulster Canal.

Waterways Ireland are now pushing ahead with the Ulster Canal greenway, which is the way of delivering most of the benefits of the “restoration” of the Ulster Canal, but at a far lower cost as it doesn’t involve restoring the canal.