Local History Society Goes Trainspotting

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Wow, what an incredible evening last night, when we welcomed Joe Coleman, author of Falling Gradient: Limerick’s Railway Connections to tell us more about the Killaloe railway line and station which was located across the river in Ballina. We started a little late, as we were struggling to seat the nearly ninety attendees who came! As soon as everyone was comfortable though, we settled in for a treat, as Joe showed us an impressive slideshow of historic images of trains, rails, stations, staff, and members of the travelling public from all eras.

Joe covered the establishment of the railway system, and the private companies who began it. He spoke about their relationship with the steamship companies on the canals, and later, the bus services. We travelled with him right back to the early nineteenth century and learned about Charles Bianconi’s public transport business. The Killaloe line was a branch off the Limerick to Castleconnell line (incidentally, Castleconnell railway station is celebrating its 160th birthday this summer!), and ran commuters out to Ballina, and tourists out a bit further to the pier head there. The pier head has since been submerged by the raising of the water level with the Shannon Scheme in the 1930s, but Joe was able to show us a remarkably rare photograph of what it looked like before then.

The level of audience engagement in this lecture was amazing, and the talk was more like a conversation, with many people sharing their stories of trains past. It all contributed to a really special evening. We would like to thank Joe wholeheartedly for sharing his knowledge and expertise so generously with our community.

Falling Gradient is sold out everywhere, but you can access it from any library. If you are local, Killaloe library will order it in for you so that you can read about some of the topics that Joe raised last night. Joe’s next book, Breaking Rapids, is a historical miscellany spanning a thousand years, and will be released on 21st September this year, so keep an eye out! He has given us a sneak preview of the content relating to Killaloe and Ballina, and it looks like being a great read!

We would like to thank the current owners of Killaloe Station House for attending, and for issuing a general invite to anyone interested in local rail history to see the house. Killaloe Station House these days is a wonderful guesthouse – check out their website here, and think of them if you have relatives coming to stay! Thank you too to Wood and Bell Café for providing us with this beautiful historic venue for our speakers, free of charge as always.

Our August lecture will be on 22nd August. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

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