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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

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Recent posts

Mystery of Killester

Apologies for the absence – Athens called and archaeology of the Classical kind took over my thoughts (and baklava, yum!). But Monastiraki Metro Station’s (opened 1895) mirroring of the rounded arcade of the opposite Tzistarakis Mosque (built 1759 and now a museum) and the looming Parthenon (started c.447 BC) provided me with the picture-postcard of architectural and engineering metamorphoses from the ancients to the present-day.

The marblesque magnificence of Greece may seem completely unconnected to Ireland, but key features from Classical architecture crop up in all kinds of places, especially Irish railway buildings. Symmetry, pointed pediments and squared-functionality can be found in workshops, for example. The ‘Parthenons of Practicality’ perhaps? Or perhaps I need to calm down.

Unfortunately my jaunt to Killester Station left me with no architectural references as the former station no longer exists. It is on record as being opened in 1845, closing two years later and reopenin…

Better Together - Clontarf Station

Knowledge exchange. Basically pseudo-academic lingo for telling each other stuff. My last post about Clontarf Station resulted in some fantastic photographs and information shared with me that I would love to share with you. (Maybe read the original post first to know what on earth I’m going on about).

Firstly, thank you to Colin Hedderly who sent wonderful photographs. The first is of the smaller ‘brutalist’ bridge which Colin suggested may show start of renewal because of the train and taking down a piece of the parapet. Ciaran Cooney's EireTrains website also states that the bridge was renewed in 2000s (brutalist version methinks) replacing the original 1850s incarnation. Perhaps this photograph shows the original bridge was already replaced? Or was it just the parapets? 
I also like the ‘Reliable Shoe Repairs’ kiosk to the bottom-left of the bridge. Maybe the bridge needed a bit of ‘cobbling’ together, eh? 
Keeping with the original Clontarf Station, Irish Rail Archives Tweeted…

Clontarf Station

Deadlines aplenty and blog posts not. So busy am I enriching my knowledge that I have neglected yours. But soft, what enlightenment beyond yon window breaks? My findings about Clontarf station, obviously.
To begin, the current Clontarf Road DART station is not located where the original station was. The original GNRI station, along with its platforms and station master’s house, lie further north of the current site on Howth Road. It is now a private residence, so discretion must be applied to its current residents.
The single-storey station building is of the archetypal pre-GNRI style of red-brick main with yellow frames and quoins. Built as part of the Dublin and Drogheda Railway (DDR), it opened on 25 May 1844 and finally closed on 3 September 1956. The entrance is a gabled wood and glass projection, and it is worth noting two out of the three south-facing windows have twin-arches.

The yellow semi-architrave window frames can be seen glowing through the ivy in the adjoining two-store…


Pringles, skittles and a ham sambo: check. Camera, phone, pen and notepad: check. Steely determination: let's see.

This August bank holiday weekend marked the official start of my station spotting. Or, for the sake of sounding like a researcher proper, industrial archaeological fieldwork. There is more to my journey of discovery than nipping out of the carriage for a few moments to snap the front and side elevations of a railway station.

For sometimes the station doesn’t actually exist. It’s been demolished, replaced by a metallic non-entity as per the DART stations which provided my modus transportus (sorry), or perhaps the original station is located at a completely different location than at the one which currently operates, albeit serving the same locality under the same moniker. Then there are the railway cottages, station masters’ houses, train sheds, engine sheds, electricity generating stations (yes, actually) and of course, beloved signal boxes. The majority of these are …

Mooving On

As I sat eating a Solero outside Mullen's bar in Cootehill, Co. Cavan, my mind wandering to the potential architectural treasure I was about to encounter, a cry from a discernible gentleman in a passing car of ‘gevas a lek!’ shattered me back to reality. Time to move on.
Taking the road to Bailieborough I stopped after a five minute march, seeing the high-speed road curve ahead of me and the pavement disappear. “I’m not risking my life for a stat-” and there it was to the left of me, tucked away discretely with the later addition of the manure-soaked aptly-named Station Road Mart plonked where the tracks used to be. Cootehill railway station.
Designed by William G. Murray and built for the Dundalk & Enniskillen Railway Company in 1860, the station closed to passengers and goods in 1947, finally closing forever in 1955. The station’s gothic splendour lifts its small stature to higher levels (perhaps it’s growing to escape the neighbouring cow pats), with exquisite hammered st…

Trains and Boats and Planes

Burt Bacharach provided the soundtrack, industrial technology provided the means. For I now have my car in Ireland, thanks to the wonders of transport (and an obliging father who drove the eight hours to Holyhead, myself providing the much required navigational assistance. And Haribo).

My first leg required a coach from Dublin to the airport and an even shorter flight on Ryanair to lovely Luton. Thameslink shuttled me (via the blasted Luton Parkway shuttle bus – don’t even get me started) to my home town, with footpower completing stage one. 
For stage two, the wheels on my car went round and round, nearly all day long, following the A5 road built by Thomas Telford, who designed the London to Holyhead, and Howth to Dublin roads respectively (steam ships used to dock at Howth). Irish engineer, John Macneill, worked with Telford on this road for ten years and upon Telford’s death was appointed the engineer-in-chief for this project: unfortunately Macneill’s contribution is often overlook…

Magic Miles

The search for ‘GNRI’ on eBay has become an addiction. Postcards, books, pamphlets, posters; all have become must-haves in my quest for railway smarty-pants-ness.

My current favourite is a 1935 travel guide written by J B Stephens entitled, Magic Miles in Ireland, Great Northern Railway. I’m imagining myself as the hard-working colleen Deco-esquely depicted on the front cover, arms akimbo, ready for action. Except she was probably patronisingly expected to peel potatoes, whereas I have my own crops to harvest in the form of endangered railway paraphernalia.
Indeed, being a female in a largely male-dominated field of railway enthusiasm provides me with an interesting perspective, one which wishes to challenge the notion of woolly-headed trainspotters, and not only through my presence but for the men themselves.

I have been honoured to meet civil and mechanical engineers, financial directors, librarians, project managers, train drivers, station managers, heritage officers, professors, w…