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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

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…

Statues of Empire

Last Sunday I attended a symposium at Dublin Castle about the life and works of John Henry Foley, the sculptor responsible for the omnificent statue of Daniel O’Connell, as well as many other salutes to British military accomplishments. I learned a lot. Including that the last vestiges of this Empire have not been totally eradicated from these shores, and no, I don’t mean Northern Ireland.
Unfortunately the after-taste of the day was not one of Foley’s achievements but rather that of the Empire, and in particular Ireland’s, and I quote, “pettiness” at their destruction and removal.

The IRA blew up Foley’s equine statue of Gough in Pheonix Park in 1957. Sighs of dismay and tuts of disapproval at republican plebeianism emanated around the room, as too did a proud announcement that Gough, the man decapitated, was in fact... dramatic pause… related to an attendee's family’s inherited estate! Guffaws of joy erupted and I wondered which century I had been transported back into. I was re…

Preparations and Presentations

My journey of discovery into Irish railway architecture started in Dundalk. From my initial alighting at the station to wanderings around the residential streets and former GNRI engineering works, I was captivated by the clear architectural communality one railway company had managed to create.

Writing my master’s dissertation about this architecture, I was then honoured to receive the Association for Industrial Archaeology’s Dissertation award in 2017. Here’s a geeky picture taken after the industrial archaeologists’ conference dinner – home by 11pm, what a party!

Becky Haslam (L) Dr Marilyn Palmer (C) Siobhan Osgood (R)
Heartened by this I was determined to take my research further. I feel like there is so much of railway architecture in Ireland that is undiscovered, forgotten or undocumented – and I’m talking at a national level here, local enthusiasts have really made up for the shocking shortfall in national appreciation for this area of Irish industrial history. This actually ma…

You Don’t Stop Talking…

On Thursday 12 April I gave a guest lecture to members of the Irish Railway Record Society (IRRS) at Heuston Station, Dublin, about the architecture of the Great Northern Railway as demonstrated at Dundalk. This was followed by another hour of questions and discussion with the audience after a much-needed tea break!

Buildings featured included Dundalk Station, houses at Demesne Terrace, Ardee Terrace and Brook Street, as well as key buildings at the old engineering works: the boiler shop, works offices and goods stores. Each showcase the core architectural features used by the GNRI: black, red and yellow brick-accenting – I call it ‘brick-branding’ – arched and curved window frames and ocular pediments.

One very interesting development was following my suggestion using evidence from the IRRS archives that the original ‘old station’ at Dundalk was to the east of the Dublin-Belfast line. Ciaran Cooney followed this up with a digitised OS map in University College Dublin archives clear…

Join the Journey

Welcome to my first post!
A quick introduction: my name is Siobhan and I’m researching the architecture of the Great Northern Railway in Ireland. About me
Across its original network the GNRI has some of the finest examples of railway architecture. This includes stations built of yellow bricks, red bricks, in cottage-styles, and with Italianate towers – sometimes all at once!
The GNRI had one of the most architecturally dominant engineering works in Ireland located in Dundalk. It is an array of vast workshops and offices, and still stands today. Read my article in Architecture Ireland to find out more about it.
Then there are the residences for employees. Housing across the GNRI also used the same designs of stations, as seen at station masters’ houses, residential terraces and larger, semi-detached houses.
Join the Journey
This blog, along with its Twitter and Instagram accounts, is a journey. And every journey needs a beginning. This is my beginning.
As the weeks and month p…