Tipperary should build a heritage train route for tourists, mirroring the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ on the west Coast, suggests one of our readers.
On Saturday 19th July some 300 excursionists, many from overseas, enjoyed a circular itinerary of South Leinster and Munster by chartered train organised by the Irish Railway Records Society and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, writes Hugh M. Finlay.
“The itinerary comprised – Dublin to Waterford via Carlow and Kilkenny and then across the rich Golden Vale via Carrrig-on-Suir, Clonmel, Cahir, Bansha, Mullinavat and Tipperary Town to Limerick via Limerick junction.
“We returned to Dublin via Ballybrophy and onwards home to Dublin Connolly by the little used Phoenix Park tunnel. Our journey along the quiet rural railways in the Golden Vale traversed bow-string bridges, viaducts in cut blue limestone. We alighted at quaint stations built in the ‘gas-pipe gothic style’ beloved by the intrepid Carlow-born engineer William Dargan. We enjoyed delightful glimpses of semi-ruined Norman Keeps and Cistercian monasteries, the magnificent Cahir Castle, and charming gothic revival churches designed by the Irish architect John Semple at Cahir and Bansha.
“As we travelled sedately along the Golden vale, the afternoon sun lit up the Comeraghs, Knockmealdowns, Galtees, and Slievenaman mountains and the large herds of cattle grazing in rich pasturelands.
A memorable and stress-free day to gladden the heart. Sadly it is feared that the Waterford through to Limerick Junction section of this most scenic of Irish and European cross-country lines is threatened with closure and neglect. Surely the local communities and development agencies can be motivated to follow the example of their inspired counterparts on the western seaboard who have initiated the Wild Atlantic Way and the Great Western Greenway cycle experiences. There are many successful tourist centred railways that can provide a model of good organisation and robust local and volunteer engagement, the Forest of Dean Railway in England and the popular summertime excursions from Anduze to Saint Jean du Gard in the remote French Cevennes. A ‘Golden Vale Railway Experience’ involving selected stop-overs and hotels could be the equal of any of the above and bring welcome benefits to a treasured but lesser known tourist destination,” added Mr Finlay.