Skip to main content


Welcome to Irish Railway Architecture

Irish Railway Architecture is a collection of images, histories, stories and discoveries of Ireland's railway architecture.

Posted one stop at a time, it is part of doctoral research into the architecture of the Great Northern Railway in Ireland. Find out more

Join the journey! 

Recent posts

Scrum Diddly Donabate

Having waited patiently at Malahide for my train, the pangs of hunger started. Ah yes, the perennial problem of this station spotter: nibbles. Donabate needed exploring first, however.

As the double-doors of the train carriage beeped to a close behind me, I rather wish I’d brought a bonnet as the delightfully early-Victorian station and its surroundings came into view. Edith Nesbit would feel right at home. First to delight was the GNR signal cabin standing on the platform, with its red brick base and barricaded windows. Why must all of the former cabins now look like nuclear bunkers? At least Buildings of Ireland has it correctly dated to c.1900.
A skip along the platform brings me to a GNR waiting shelter, again it unfortunately stands in a state of dereliction, its glass missing, now covered with boards, and even an iron gate blocking its entrance. It looks more like a jail cell than a passenger convenience.
Adjoining the cell-sorry-shelter is another bunkeresque remnant, this time…

A Treat at Malahide

More delays than the Dart have held up this blog post. From lectures, essays, archive cataloguing, research trips, to driving around Northern Ireland searching for stations, I haven’t had the time to just sit at my computer and do what I enjoy the most: look up stuff on the internet. Let’s get back to our day of exploration heading up to Drogheda, next stop: Malahide.

A real GNR treat, Malahide’s station is polychromatic perfection with the stamp of the company’s engineer in chief, William Hemingway Mills, every-which-way the eye turns. The station building is yellow brick, with red and black brick string courses paralleling across true and semi-arch window and door frames. All single-storey, the various rooms align along the platform in symmetrical cohesion.
Alighting from my (not delayed) Dart train, my first treat is the original signal cabin located on the western platform. Fenced off with grates on the windows, it’s not particularly alluring, but the moulded bargeboards and supp…

Pausing at Portmarnock

A bright, blustery day in November whipped me up on the DART to Portmarnock. A quick nosey at the station and off to the Velvet Strand trĂ¡ for gasps of fresh winter air were the planned order of the day. 
Alas, this was not to be. The brutalist cement and steel manifestations of station furniture, none of it looking particularly convivial, greeted my arrival. “Oh, it’s one of those non-station stations”, I thought, disheartened.
The station as a stop on the original Dublin and Drogheda Railway line was opened in 1844. But any physical manifestation of Victorian architecture was not to be found. The gale-force bleakness of the day did little to quell my sense of fruitlessness, and so after wandering around the surrounding roads and carpark, the irony of signage for ‘Station House’ and ‘Station Manor’ bedecked upon new and under-construction residential estates when the station didn’t actually exist was not lost on me. The archetypal castellated stone walls of the GNRI are seemingly al…

Up to Drogheda

Following my summer jaunt along to Howth, the next leg of my journey follows the original Dublin-Drogheda route constructed by the eponymous railway company before being taken over by the Great Northern Railway. I’ll give some history here and then each future post will be about each station as we head up to Drogheda.
The Dublin and Drogheda Railway Company (DDR for short – I don’t want to keep writing it in full!) was formed following advocacy in 1835 from Thomas Brodigan of Pilton House near Drogheda. He was made a Freeman of Drogheda in October 1836 following months of wrangling in the House of Lords, before the DDR was given Parliamentary approval on 13 August 1836. Brodigan was somewhat of an adventurer, undertaking his ‘Grand Tour’ travelling to Spain, Italy and the Middle East between 1845-6. But back to Leinster.

The route of the DDR was contested (hence the parliamentary wrangling) by a splinter group who wanted the line to run inland from Dublin to Navan and then north to Ar…


Following festive frolics, a dose of a head cold and a birthday (ugh), it’s time to get back to the good stuff: blog posts! So let’s get back to my day of station-spotting which concluded at Howth.

Dublin’s riviera promised sunshine, a beach, cliffs and overpriced seafood. The perfect end to a perfect day out.

Having only seen the Georgian front of Howth Station (I got the bus here a few months back), my eyes deceived me by delivering me to a Mills-style GNRI station, complete with yellow, red and black bricks, as per my first true love, Dundalk.
But it was not a mirage. Lurking behind tourists I waited for the platform to clear, camera at-hand ready to snap as-empty-a-platform-as-possible on a busy sunny August Bank Holiday Monday. Taking a photo of the somewhat weed-covered brickwork, a tourist-lemming appeared at my elbow with an irritating ‘cer-chik’. You can turn that sound-effect off, y’know. He beamed at me and shrugged before walking off and taking a picture of his shoes. At l…