Preserving Our Railway Heritage

Recently, I have been working to identify how we can preserve our railway heritage and attract more heritage rail tours to our county. My own family worked for CIE for decades and throughout my life I listened with awe to stories about steam powered travel from Cork to Fenit, or from Tralee to Dingle.

As we collectively pursue greenway development along old rail lines, it is important that these pieces of our industrial heritage are not forgotten.

Enabling Heritage Rail Tours

Tralee’s Casement Railway Station is host to the only locomotive turntable on the Tralee line. Any steam engine travelling to Kerry at present must be turned in Limerick Junction and travel in reverse to Kerry. For the engineers who drive the steam trains, this makes driving the train more difficult.

North Kerry Railtour (1972) - (Courtesy Whitehead Railway Museum)
North Kerry Railtour (1972) – (Courtesy Whitehead Railway Museum)

To enable more heritage rail tours to Kerry, the turntable must be made available. The rusted rail wagons which prevent access to the turntable are now being removed. Irish Rail are also due to assess how much work is needed to make the turntable operational. It has lain idle for decades and, while hardy, may require funds to make it available to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland and other heritage rail operators.

Preserving Railway Heritage on Greenways

Old signal pole near Rock Street on the Tralee – Fenit Greenway
Old signal pole near Cahermoneen on the Tralee – Fenit Greenway

Through my work with Tralee Tidy Towns, I have sought funding to restore the two old signal poles on the urban section of the Tralee – Fenit Greenway. The signals are in poor condition at the moment and have been neglected for years. We need to do better for this stretch of the greenway as it is presently an unpleasant, hemmed in, corridor with low perceived safety.