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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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Watt a Shock: Sutton

Nearing the end of my day-excursion stopping at the stations along the way to Howth, the calm twinkling sea guided my train into Sutton railway station.
An unassuming building, Sutton Station is a simple white-washed, single-storey Georgian example of functional symmetry. The projecting iron and wood (not glass) veranda jaggedly but gracefully sweeps towards the building mirroring the ironworks’ curves. The ‘GNR’ emblem finishes the company's decorative addition.
Opened as Baldoyle & Sutton in 1846, it was renamed Sutton in 1901 until 1916 when it was renamed as Sutton and Baldoyle. It reverted again to Sutton in 1935. The footbridge is a modern replacement of the original lattice-girder design favoured by the GNRI and its chief engineer, William Hemingway Mills.
Shown above is that the station building was originally natural stone colour, and not white. I particularly like the woman being asked by two(!) uniformed conductors for her ticket on the platform, which is obviously …

Paradise Lost: Howth Junction and Donaghmede

Alighting onto a post-apocalyptic concrete and steel abyss I surveyed the mesh of stairs, like an Escher lithograph, leading everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. “Where am I?” asked a bemused elderly lady I had stepped onto the platform with: “Howth Junction”. “Oh dear”.

Oh dear indeed. Where is the front of this ‘station’? I refuse to call it one: it is merely a set of stairs and a lift. Following signs to the exit I’m greeted with a dystopian Alice in Wonderland prospect of turning left into a car park and right along an overgrown, dirty footpath. I choose the latter; at least it might lead somewhere.

Dodging filth like the mad hatter, the elegant brick gables, stone lintels and terracotta chimney stacks of the former station master’s house can be spied amongst a wilderness of ivy, grass and razored-fencing. Forlornly neglected, the graceful merging of Classical pediments and Romanesque arched windows with Victorian brown and red brick creates an almost chequer-board effect. Brick…

Fire in the Disco! Raheny Station

Danger danger! High voltage! Such is the message I am greeted with when trying to catch a glimpse of the original Raheny station building. Electric Six aside, a fire has not happened here (to my knowledge) although the barbed fencing suggests the risk of one is not far off. Discos on the other hand, have.

A Georgian two-storey building, the station entrance at street level is interesting in that it drops to the basement at platform level. Rather than placing a single-storey station and having to dig a sloped entrance, passengers could make their way to the train via internal staircases – much cheaper.
Residential in appearance, its symmetry and gabled central front doorway reveal its function as a station; key features such as these demonstrate the emerging architectural ‘idea of a railway station’. Opened on 25 May 1844 on the original Dublin and Drogheda Railway (to become Dublin and Belfast Junction Railway and then GNRI), a plaque surreptitiously displayed in the left-corner of th…

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…