Site Updates

Update to Gazetteer

I have gotten around to checking and doing a minor update to the gazetteer – at the moment, railway stations only, but I plan on expanding this to other IH features.

As this latter will take time, it is important to have the current gazetteer working correctly. In addition, I have made some minor updates to the maps (changed the Derry map to reflect the re-opening of Waterside station in 2019, added Pelletstown in Dublin and Bilberry on the Waterford and Suir Valley Railway).

I have also gone through my personal photo collection and added a photo for each station where I have one in my possession. Recent photo additions include stations on the Macmine Junction to Bagenalstown line with those on the Tullow branch and Kilkenny to Portlaoise to be added this week.

There are still 680 sites with no photo out of 1,227. Of these, 312 are in Northern Ireland (issues with driving a Republic of Ireland car down country lanes and taking photos of random buildings). I hope to reduce the number of these over time.


The History of Irish Lights

The above titled online talk will take place on 5th October 2021 from 18:30 to 19:30.

Registration is free but required at this link.


Deviation of rivers in railway building

When railway lines were being constructed (primarily in the mid to late 19th century), the issue of how to deal with water bodies, rivers in particular, was one that engineers had to deal with.

For a straightforward encounter with a river heading in a different direction to the line of railway, a bridge was the obvious solution. However, where a river or stream ran roughly parallel to the proposed railway and cut back and forth across the route, this would require multiple bridges. In such a case, deviating and canalising the river to a dedicated channel on one side of the railway would potentially be a better option. In the case below, by canalising and deviating the river, 4 bridges are avoided.

Diagram of river pre and post deviation to allow for railway building
Pre and post deviation of a river to allow for railway deviation. Copyright Ewan Duffy 2021

There were many such cases of this practice – one that I have become aware of when researching something else (the location of Sparrowsland temporary terminus – see post below) was the deviation of a stream adjacent to the site of the temporary terminus.

Unfortunately, 2 of the 3 online map sources that I used to determine this don’t allow deep linking, never mind embedding – as such, cannot be reproduced here.

The three sources are: (use co-ordinates 696460,631312) (no search facility that I am aware of – the location is immediately west of Macmine in Wexford. The site does display the same co-ordinates as used by but with no way to directly go there)

Googlemaps – embedded below:

Looking at the googlemap image above, the dark line running roughly left to right across the centre is the stream in question.

Reverting to the oldest map of the area – the 25″ OS map on, there is a clear u bend in the river east of the road running north – south (roughly centre of the image above). This is odd, because if you overlay the earlier (pre railway) 6 inch map on this on the site, the river was straightened out east of this point to allow the railway to be built. Why they left this bend rather than canalising the river and reducing the need to buy an awkward peninusla for a location that was only ever going to be a temporary terminus is lost to time.

Moving on in time, from the Googlemap image above (and the modern day map on, the bend in the river is gone (see image above). However, there is an interesting aspect connected with this. The website (showing parcels of land registered with the Land Registry) clearly shows the adjacent property with a site boundary following the original river line – complete with bend. The land occupied by the railway is not on the Land Registry* and is not specifically delinated, except by exception (i.e. other sites being registered marks it out by being what is left). As such, it would appear that the railway company did buy this piece of land, including the peninsula up to the original river boundary but deviation of the river since has isolated it.

* There are two parallel systems of land ownership registration in Ireland – the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds. An analysis of this is beyond the scope of this site – however, it is sufficient to note that land on the latter, when sold going forward, will move to the former and will also then appear as a delineated site on the website. In fact, when I sold my previous house in Celbridge in 2018, the property underwent this transfer – I had to pay for a 5 minute job involving a “surveyor” with one of those laser distance measuring devices to take 3 or 4 measurements around the property boundary. I understand that the purchaser of the house had it worse, as they had to pay a more substantial fee to the Land Registry to formalise the transfer!

As for the question why isn’t the railway site on the Land Registry? When the railways were closed, if the land was sold in full compliance with transfer rules (this is a can of worms beyond the scope of this post), this was in the days before the process of transferring property to the Land Registry and as such, the land would not be on the Land Registry until sold again.

It may also still be in CIE “ownership” but with squatters rights having being ceded to adjacent landowners. A full paper could probably be written on these issues.

History Locations

Sparrowsland, Co. Wexford

Sparrowsland was a temporary terminus on the line from Palace East, short of the DW&WR railway line at Macmine (which became Macmine Junction when the line from Palace East finally connected).

By looking at the 25 inch OS maps online, I have figured out where this was and have added a page to the Gazetteer reflecting this.

IH News 2021

Community archaeology in Tyrone

The BBC has a video report on a project in Newmills, Co. Tyrone, involving the local community, including children, in conducting an archaeological dig at the site of a former mill.


Athboy – then and now

I am going through my old photos and came across one of the former loco shed and water tower at Athboy, Co. Meath, taken in 2000:

Athboy Co. Meath
Water tower and Locomotive shed
Athboy Co. Meath, Water tower and Locomotive shed, copyright Ewan Duffy 2000

The site has since been adaptively reused as housing – see Google Street view below:


Sean Heuston Memorial, Phoenix Park, Dublin

I only recently found out about this, notwithstanding that I live only a couple of miles away (always the way that you don’t visit something on your doorstep).

In the People’s Garden section of the Phoenix Park (south east corner of the park), there is a memorial bust to 1916 volunteer Sean Heuston, after whom, Heuston Station is named.

Sean Heuston Memorial
Phoenix Park, Dublin
Sean Heuston Memorial, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Copyright Ewan Duffy 2021

Straffan Station

I was out and about today to get a photo of the site of Straffan Station for the Gazetteer. Whilst the station has long since disappeared, when driving by the former station road entrance, I noticed a railway cottage remaining that I had never spotted before:

I can’t show the photo I took as my camera has since died and I don’t have a memory card reader.

IH News 2021

Fire in historic Dun Laoghaire Station building

I missed this one when it happened – on 25th July 2021, a fire in the kitchen of Hartley’s restaurant in Dun Laoghaire (located in the former Dublin and Kingstown Railway terminus) broke out, closing the restaurant that was due to reopen.

I hope that the building will be retained and restored.

IH News 2021

It is not just Irish Rail

One of the ongoing issues faced by Irish Rail is bridge strikes – primarily caused by overheight lorries hitting railway overbridges.

A substantial number of railway overbridges are height restricted, unlike modern day road over road bridges, hence it is not often that you hear of a bridge strike that is not railway related.

Today, we have such an event – a lorry carrying hay hit the new road overbridge on the Naas bypass carrying the Sallins Bypass over the N7.