In my Grandfather’s time

A girl in 3rd class wrote about her Grandfather who was a signalman.

In my Grandfather’s time….Claremorris and Ballinrobe Railway by L. B.

 Claremorris Railway Station opened in 1862. Plans were drawn up in 1872 to run a line from Claremorris to Cong, but these came to nothing.

The Ballinrobe and Claremorris Light Railway Company Limited was formed in 1884.  The cost of the line between the two towns was estimated at £70,000.

The Midland Great Western Railway agreed to operate the service provided they received a 50% stake in the company.

Work began in May 1891. Over 800 men worked a 72 hour week for 14 shillings wages.

Ballinrobe station

On Tuesday November 1st 1892 the line opened. The first train to Ballinrobe, called “The Bat” was driven by Owen Malone.

Ballinrobe was a popular base, and it was a great facility for the local community. It was also popular for visiting tourists, sightseers, anglers etc; as well as outgoing passengers.

There was regular transfer of tourists and VIPs from the station to Ashford castle. Among these was the visit in June 1912 of The Prince of Wales, who later became King George V of England. Pictures of this visit can be seen in Ashford Castle.

The  Ballinrobe railway branch served the community well. It had probably the largest movement of livestock of any station in the west. It also handled cement, coal, flour, beet, pulp, timber, and fish. Live eels from Des May’s eel fishery were sent on the 10:10 morning train, to arrive in London the following morning.  Ballinrobe town deliveries were done by horse-drawn float.

In October 1959, notices appeared in the daily papers announcing that after December all services on the Claremorris / Ballinrobe branch would be discontinued. This announcement resulted in many protests. Public representatives and local traders gave their support, but their appeals to the Government were rejected.

During the station’s operation there were no major accidents or fatalities. At the time of its ending, there were total staffs of 16 employed on the branch. The Station Master was Bill Clinton, (probably no relation of his more famous namesake), The station closed on December 31st 1959,   when driver Jack Monaghan, fireman Hughie Dawson and guard Mick Higgins brought the last train to travel the almost thirteen mile journey from Ballinrobe to Claremorris.

On that night, (New Years Eve) there was a farewell get together for the staff, in the Railway Hotel, Ballinrobe, where there were many fond memories of times past and it was filled with nostalgia.

So ended the rail method of travel between the two towns. This rail route was one of the last to be built in the 19th century, a century which saw the birth and rapid expansion of the railway system.  It was the end of an era.

The Claremorris Signal cabin opened in May 1941, replacing two previous boxes.  The bilingual nameboard on the signalbox was a popular feature in Ireland.  My grandfather worked on the railway and he worked in this signal cabin.

From outside, the box didn’t look very large, but it had  a 66-lever frame, and was one of the largest lever frames in operation  in Ireland.  There were a few spare levers, too.

 Grandad used to pull the levers, but these levers are not in use anymore.

That time it was a much busier station but now some of the lines are closed.

Her grandfather at work as a signalman

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