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!  Dundalk Station, facing South. Copyright Irish Railway Architecture
Recent posts

Cathedrals of Power

 The iconic beauty and heritage of industrial power stations  The current (2021) discussions again about the potential demolition of the Poolbeg Chimneys in Dublin reminded me of an essay I wrote for my master's in 2016. It discusses the architectural designs of famous power stations at Battersea, Bankside (Tate Modern), and the Poolbeg Chimneys.  Poolbeg Chimneys, Dublin from Sandymount: Osgood, S., 2016 There's lots of useful historic information about the Poolbeg Chimneys, their closure and near-demolition as well as a theoretical discussion of the term 'icon' applied to these power stations.  I have made it a PDF here available for free download:  Siobhan Osgood, Cathedrals of Power, 2016   Please feel free to read and share, but if you do want to use anything from it, don't be a plagerism plonker: credit me, Siobhan Osgood, and any of the sources used within.  Note: I have edited it slightly but please do bear in mind its date: some information about the herita

Velvet Strands at Laytown

 A beautiful sunny afternoon heralded my arrival at the seaside station of Laytown. Alighting from the train the light bounced off the ice-cream yellow paintwork on the former GNR wooden station building.  Originally opened in 1844 by the Dublin and Drogheda Railway, Laytown promised “celebrated Velvet Strands” and it is not difficult to see why: the station is raised above its nearby coastline, offering views across the southern bay to the hinterland of Braymore Point, whilst Bettystown’s strand, famous for horseracing, is located to the north.   The station built by the DDR still stands, now a private residence, as the two-storey rendered house to the entrance of the car park. Although recorded as built around 1847 by Buildings of Ireland, the Dictionary of Irish Architects records an entry in the Dublin Builder from 1865 where a “new station and two workmen's houses recently erected by Dublin & Drogheda Railway Co.”. The architect is unknown, but it can demised that this mor

Up for the Chop at Gormanston

Delayed by Covid-19 lockdowns, I finally made a site visit to Gormanston one cloudy afternoon last year when freedom was temporarily restored. What greeted me was enough to elicit social distancing long before any state intervention.  For alone now stands the final cube of the original GNR wooden station which once served Gormanston. Dilapidated, peeling, unsure of its purpose, the remnants seemed to encapsulate the mood of a nation coping with a pandemic.  Gormanston was originally opened as part of the Dublin and Drogheda Railway line in 1845, and had a new station, waiting shelter, station master’s house and signal cabin constructed by the GNR. The design for the wooden station, as it used to stand, was similar to the next stop on our journey, Laytown, which was built in 1899, and so Gormanston was probably built around the same time.  Historic pictures, and those from as recent as 2003, show an intact station, cottagesque in design, but self-contained, functional and fit for purpos

Spinning at Balbriggan

Recovered from my rather cranky experience at Skerries , my eyes are rewarded and my heart gladdened on the approach to Balbriggan. Arriving from the south and entering the station over John Macneill’s viaduct, a neat, contained lump of a station reassures me as I alight. Designed by George Papworth for the Dublin and Drogheda Railway (DDR) and built in 1853, Balbriggan railway station is a single-storey H-plan brown brick affair, with flanking Romanesque arches. The current stairway from hell take me across the tracks and provide a sweeping view of the beach and harbour, as well as a stairway to heaven: the former piers for the original footbridge. The beats to Talking Head’s Road to Nowhere start bubbling in the back of my mind. Beside the station building and its adjoining flightless steps stands the hammered stone and red brick base of the former, seemingly unadaptable, water tower. A more sympathetic contemporary alteration in the form of glass sliding doors announce

Returning from the Regatta: Skerries

Recovered from my sugar crash at Rush and Lusk , the Dart chugged along to my next destination: Skerries. Opened along the Dublin and Drogheda Railway route in 1844 and built in 1852, my arrival wasn’t exactly the wedding feast at Cana. Resembling a recession-hit local shop, the grey shutters told me the station building was not open for business despite it being 2.30pm on a Monday. Dismayed, I strolled along the platform to snap the signal cabin – we all know the GNR standard at this point – which still retains its solitary position and exposed brick-base (albeit painted a lurid shade of 1990s magnolia). Its wonky name-plate was beginning to feel like a metaphor for the station. Opposite stands a graffitied goods shed, its sliding door missing and the arch-entry blocked up. It is an interesting example which strays from the GNR standard ocular pediments and polychromatic yellow accents. With a diamond-cut pediment and protruding castellated ends, it more resembles a Game of Thro

Sugar Crash at Rush and Lusk

The sugar-high from Donabate spurred me on to my next stop: Rush and Lusk. Sounding like an overpriced bar of soap, the railway station serves the villages of Rush to the east and Lusk to the west. Perhaps they should merchandise some station-scented bars? The station opened on the original Dublin and Drogheda Railway line in 1844, though I am hesitant in saying that the station and its buildings were constructed at this time. There are features of pre- and post-GNR architecture, so I am more inclined to view Rush and Lusk as a composite of eras and companies. Rush and Lusk Station, January 1982 by Colm O'Brien Stepping onto the platform my first whiff of GNR architecture manifests in the signal cabin. Now subsumed by the platform, it once stood on its own, the gobbled-up lower-storey demonstrating the familiar semi-arch brick entry base and slatted-wooden top. Again painted a forlorn-grey (it is out of service) archive photographs show a once handsomely functional cabin: E