Our wide selection of books on the subject of Irish railways.

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Great Northern Railway Of Ireland Road Motor Services 1925-1958

Sam Simpson £21.00

Any reader who thinks that this book may not contain much of interest to the railway enthusiast should think again, as the fortunes of the GNR(I) road motor services were inextricably linked to the those of the parent railway company. Sam Simpson describes in detail the effects on the GNR(I) and on its employees of partition in Ireland, the 1933 strike, competition with private companies, World War 2 (known as the ‘Emergency’ in the Free State), and the growth of private car ownership in the 1950s. There is a chapter on the company’s innovative railbuses, built at the GNR(I) works in Dundalk, where road buses and lorries were also built. The comprehensive appendices give details of the company’s fleets of buses, lorries and other vehicles, bus companies bought by the GNR(I), and the routes of all road services. The author’s extensive research has resulted in a book packed with information and it is a  real eye opener to those who thought that the GNR(I) just ran trains.

 Hardback, 30 x 21 cm, 47 colour & 134 b&w photos, 224 pages.

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How Railway Workers And Dockers Defied An Empire - The Irish Munitions Embargo Of 1920

Peter Rigney £5.00

The Irish munitions strike is one of the most important, yet neglected, episodes of the War of Independence and Peter Rigney's book has redressed the balance. He shows how ordinary railway workers and the wider trade union movement used civil resistance to bring the British war effort to a virtual standstill for much of 1920. It is essential reading for every future historian of the period and will inform the general reader's understanding of the times.

Paperback 15 x 21cm, 10 illustrations, 1 table, 1 map, bibliography and index, 58 pages.

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Rails to Achill – a West of Ireland Branch Line

Jonathan Beaumont £10.95

If you travel from Westport in the west of Ireland from Westport through Newport and Mallaranny to Achill Sound today, here and there you will see overgrown sections of railway embankment, bridges and a couple of tunnels, as well as the magnificent stone viaduct across the river in Newport. These are the surviving remnants of the old Achill line (now a popular greenway) - a branch line built at the close of the 19th century to help develop the area and link it with the outside world.

It proved to be a great social and economic asset to this area of County Mayo, but traffic never consistently reached the levels originally anticipated, and the last train ran in the autumn of 1937 - a mere 42 years after the line had opened. Since then, trains have operated from Dublin just as far as Westport, which is now the railhead for the area. This is the story of the ‘Achill Railway’ - described by travellers at the turn of the 20th century as ‘one of the most scenic railway journeys in these Islands’.  The book also includes the history of the Westport Quay line and of two short lived mineral lines on Achill Island.

Paperback, 21 x 15 cm, 130 b&w photos, 25 drawings, 160 pages.

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Saga By Rail : Ireland

James I.C.Boyd £16.95

James Boyd recounts his travels to the far flung outposts of the Irish railway system, starting in 1933, mainly but not exclusively on narrow gauge lines. His destinations included Ballyclare, Ballycastle, Buncrana, Burtonport, Strabane, Killybegs, Tynan, Arigna, Kilkee, Dingle, Valentia Harbour, Bantry and Skibbereen. The author is one of the few enthusiasts known to have travelled on the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway to Burtonport before the line was cut back to Gweedore in 1940. His travels often included footplate rides and his tale of travelling on the monthly Tralee to Dingle cattle trains, with worn out rolling stock and overgrown track, is hair-raising to say the least. James’ often humorous accounts of his journeys encompass stations, signals. rolling stock, scenery, railway staff and passengers from what is now a distant era.

 Paperback, 24 x 17 cm,  295 b&w photos, 288 pages

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The Giant's Causeway Tramway

John McGuigan £15.95

Written by RPSI founding member, John McGuigan, and first published in 1964, this new edition comprises the original text but the book has been redesigned. New photographs have been added to bring the number of illustrations to 67 in total. In his preface the author recalls his childhood experiences of riding the toastracks on this narrow gauge railway from Bushmills to Portrush. A talk he was to give in 1948 caused him to talk to the tram crews and managers on the world’s first hydro-electric tramway. The book comprises eleven chapters covering the early days, operation, the First World War, the Second World War and after. Lack of maintenance meant that by 1949 the track was in very poor condition. This, combined with a growing overdraft, meant closure was inevitable and the assets were sold off piecemeal until 1952 when the company could be wound up. Eight appendices detailing locomotive, rolling stock, tickets and fares etc. tell more of the story.

Paperback, 21 x 15 cm, 67 b&w pictures, 6 maps, 1 diagram, 120 pages.

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Smoke Amidst the Drumlins - The Cavan and Leitrim Railway in the 1950s

Anthony Burges £6.00

The front cover picture of this book captures the atmosphere of the narrow (three foot) gauge Cavan and Leitrim Railway – a train pulls away from Mohill station and over a level crossing. Behind a closed gate wait a postman with bicycle and a farmer with his donkey and cart. The railway was steam hauled for its lifetime and, in later years, it acquired locomotives from the Cork, Blackrock and Passage and the Tralee and Dingle Railways.  Coal traffic from Arigna mine (one of the few in Ireland) sustained the railway until closure in 1959.

 Paperback, 20 x 24 cm, 61 b&w pictures, 1 map, 64 pages.

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Horseshoes and Trolley Poles - Fintona and Howth trams in the 1950s

Anthony Burges £6.00

If they had survived, they would make wonderful tourist attractions today. The Great Northern Railway (Ireland) operated both the horse drawn Fintona Tram (closed 1957) and the electric Hill of Howth Tram (closed 1959). This book is Anthony Burges’s pictorial record of both systems in everyday use when public transport was still popular due to low car ownership. Anthony’s pictures capture the atmosphere of the 1950s.  Do you remember the days when suitcases had no wheels?

Paperback, 20 x 24 cm, 56 b&w pictures, 2 maps, 63 pages.

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Horseshoes and Trolley Poles / Smoke Amidst the Drumlins

Anthony Burges £10.00

Horseshoes and Trolley Poles - Fintona and Howth trams in the 1950s

Smoke Amidst the Drumlins - The Cavan and Leitrim Railway in the 1950s

Order both books together - see individual book entries for full information.

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Irish Narrow Gauge Album

Michael Whitehouse £25.00

In writing this book, Michael Whitehouse has delved deep into the family archive established by his late father P.B. ‘Pat’ Whitehouse. The book includes the work of many other well-known names such as W. ‘Cam’ Camwell, Henry Casserley, A.W. Croughton and Ron Jarvis, who revel in the joys of a visit spanning the fifty year period from circa 1910 to around 1960 and mostly to the remoter parts of the country. We will reach such remote outposts as Kilkee and Kirush on the West Clare Railway, Castlegregory and Dingle on the Tralee & Dingle, Schull and Skibbereen, Coachford and Donoughmore on the Cork & Muskerry, and Crosshaven on the Cork, Blackrock & Passage in the Republic of Ireland, along with the Listowel & Ballybunion and Guinness Brewery systems. And in Northern Ireland, to Carndona and Burtonport (Londonderry & Lough Swilly), Glenties, Killybegs and Ballyshannon (County Donegal), Arigna, Dromod and Belturbet (Cavan & Leitrim) and Maguiresbridge and Tynan (Clogher Valley), as well as the Giant’s Causeway Tram. Each pictorial chapter is accompanied by an historic essay from a well-known railway historian, in a style that harks back to the original narrow gauge albums compiled by Pat Whitehouse and others in the 1950s and ’60s.

Hardback, 28 x 22 cm, 258 b&w photos, 224 pages.

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The Bessbrook And Newry Tramway

A.T. Newham £10.95

First published in 1979 and unavailable for decades this little book has been reformatted as a landscape book. This new format does justice to the excellent photographs. The Bessbrook & Newry Tramway was a narrow gauge line operated on the hydro-electric principle and built to transport coal and flax from the Newry quays to the Bessbrook Spinning Mills, finished goods in the reverse direction and mill workers. It opened in October 1885 and closed in January 1948. This little book is packed with information including the background to construction and opening, equipment, description of the line, operation (and mishaps), rolling stock, tickets and closure. Four maps and gradient profiles are also included. The back cover features a photograph of tramcar No.6, which is currently under restoration at Whitehead.

Paperback, 17 x 24 cm, 35 b&w photos, 52 pages

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Irish Railways, Locomotives, Multiple Units And Trams

Robert Pritchard £18.95

The complete guide to all locomotives, multiple units, coaching stock and trams of Irish Rail, Northern Ireland Railways and Dublin Trams (Luas). Contains complete fleet lists of all stock in traffic plus technical data for every class. The Belmond Grand Hibernian Luxury Train, preserved locomotives and railcars and on-track machines are all included along with details of museums and museum lines open to the public. Detailed maps of the railways of Ireland are also included. As well as fleet information, Irish Railways contains a general overview of how the Irish railway networks operate, with details of passenger services, railfreight, urban rail networks and proposed future developments. Useful information about rover tickets and links to useful websites are also included. This new edition of Irish Railways incorporates all the changes that have taken place since the previous edition was published in 2013. If you want to find out where, in Ireland, you can find a former BR Southern Region Cig EMU, just buy the book! 

Paperback, 21 x 15 cm, 71 colour photos, 4 maps, 96 pages

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County Donegal by Rail in Colour

John Langford and Neil Tee £18.00

A hardback book of colour photos taken of the railway by John Langford, who visited the line during the summer of 1959, having heard it was to close and wishing to record its activities. A number of these pictures have been published before in various places, but this special collection has never before been published together. There are 75 colour photos each of which has been carefully and informatively captioned using John’s notes taken at the time. This all-colour photographic collection gives a unique flavour of the line in its last year of operation showing both steam and diesel trains, passenger and goods, and stations and countryside.

Hardback, 22 x 28 cm, 75 colour photos, 1 map, 80 pages

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Irish Traction Iarnród Éireann

Colm O’Callaghan £14.99


Over the years, the Republic of Ireland’s railways have fascinated rail enthusiasts. This was mainly due to underinvestment in the system from Iarnród Éireann and the Irish government, which left many lines and locations still very much in the past as far as infrastructure was concerned, giving them a certain appeal to British rail fans. This eventually changed from around 2005, when long overdue investment began to materialise. This book documents the last years leading up to this change.
It shows the rolling stock and infrastructure that was on offer throughout the Iarnród Éireann system, featuring Class 071, 121, 141, 181 and 201 American-built locomotives, various BREL-built coaches and Spanish and Japanese-built diesel rail cars. Also featured are the many freight services that operated in the country, including beet, Guinness, cement, timber, lead and zinc ore and liner trains

Some of the locations illustrated can no longer be covered, including Adelaide freight depot, the Kingscourt branch, Mosney station, Sligo Quay, Tuam, the Foynes branch, and the South Wexford line

Paperback, 23 x 17 cm, 183 colour photos, 96 pages

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Be Careful, Don’t Rush

Celebrating 150 Years of Train Travel between Holywood and Bangor, Robin Masefield £8.00

This book’s title, Be Careful, Don’t Rush, is a play on the letters BCDR as in Belfast & County Down Railway. The book celebrates 150 years of train travel between Holywood and Bangor. The stories of the line’s construction, its impact on the two towns, its locomotives and operation, and the lives of its builders, passengers, and staff are fascinating. In later years, this was the first route in these islands to be operated entirely by diesel railcars.  Despite attempts to close it, the Bangor line remains open, beautiful and successful.  The book vividly records the reminiscences of many local residents. It will appeal locally and widely, to those with an interest in social history, railway connoisseurs and those who live along the line.

Paperback, 21 x 30 cm, 35 colour, 125 b&w photos, 160 pages.

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The Tracks of my Railway Years, Volume 2

Roy Carlisle £15.00

Roy Carlisle’s ‘The Tracks of My Railway Years, Volume 2’ takes over where Volume 1 finished in terms of Roy’s personal railway experiences, illustrated by (mainly) his own photographs. One of the later chapters brings us to railways in exotic locations such as Kuala Lumpur, the Cape of Good Hope and San Francisco. However, the bulk of the book is firmly located in Ireland since the 1970s, with exotic locations such as Barn Halt on the Larne line, Ballykelly Airfield and Fenit, County Kerry!

As with Volume One, Roy intersperses pictures of everyday railway scenes with historic photos and those of preservation activities. RPSI members will be pleased to see the first ever Portrush Flyer in Portrush in 1973. The Downpatrick and County Down Railway, the Fintown Railway and the Donegal Heritage Centre at Donegal Town are given extensive coverage.

Roy used a magazine article, which featured his grandfather who drove trains around Clones, as the basis of a chapter on the ‘Bundoran Express’ called ‘The Partition Express, 1948’. Some of the customs arrangements, such as locking in passengers who have been customs examined, border on the horrific.

If you get nostalgic for views of MED railcars on the Bangor line, Belfast Transport Museum in Witham Street, CIÉ A class diesels, Castlerock station with semaphore signals or RPSI steam trains with wooden body coaches, this is the book for you.

Paperback, 26 x 21 cm, 434 colour and 155 b&w photos, 3 maps, 256 pages

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The Tracks of my Railway Years, Volume 1

Roy Carlisle £14.00

This book is subtitled ‘A personal Journey on Irish and UK Railways from the 1970s’.  It could also be subtitled ‘All those things which so many enthusiasts remember but so few photographed’. In the early 1970s, Roy set about recording the contemporary railway scene, mainly in Northern Ireland but with interludes throughout the island.

The early railtours of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland with wooden body coaches are featured, particularly the Portrush Flyer from 1973 onwards. Forgotten gems include Barn and Eden Halts on the Larne line, Limavady Junction, Ballymacarret Junction, the original Great Victoria Street Station in Belfast, the Ardee branch, the Sligo Quay branch and Rosslare Harbour station. The full range of motive power of the period is covered – remember NIR’s fleet of three Diesel Hydraulic locomotives? CIÉ motive power is well illustrated due to an extensive visit to Inchicore Works, Dublin in 1975. Roy brings his story up to date with some steam activity in England and with a recent visit to the new Bellarena station – evidence of the railway revival which we are enjoying at present.

Paperback, 28 x 21 cm, 275 colour and 123 b&w photos, 1 map, 179 pages

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Henry Eoghan O’Brien, an Engineer of Nobility

Gerald M. Beesley £15.00

Henry Eoghan O’Brien, one of the 20th century’s earliest proponents of mainline railway electrification, was born in county Dublin on 24th August 1876. He was in the 30th generation in line of succession to Brian Boru, High King of Ireland (1002-14); a great-grandson of Sir Edward O’Brien, 4th Bart Dromoland; grand-nephew of Sir Lucius O’Brien, 13th Baron Inchiquin; and first cousin of Sir Murrough Wilson, deputy chairman of the London & North Eastern Railway.

H.E. O’Brien was educated at Eton and the Yorkshire College of the Victoria University (Leeds). Following training with Kitsons of Leeds and the Dublin Wicklow & Wexford Railway, he entered the service of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in 1898 as a pupil of Sir John Aspinall and became Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer in 1910. He was subsequently appointed Electrical Engineer on the London & North Western Railway following its merger with the L&YR in January 1922; a position that he retained with wider responsibilities when the grouping of 1923 resulted in the formation of the London Midland & Scottish Railway. Due to differences of opinion that arose in regard to long-term motive power policy he retired from the LMS at the end of January 1925. Service during the First World War with the Royal Engineers and at the Ministry of Munitions saw him rise to the rank of Colonel. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the DSO in the 1918 New Year’s Honours.

Paperback, 24 x 16 cm, 3 colour and 100 b&w photos, 7 maps, 241 pages

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Railways In Ireland, Part One (Second Edition)

Martin Bairstow (Great Northern, Sligo-Leitrim, Lough Swilly, County Donegal, Cavan & Leitrim, Clogher Valley, Castlederg & Victoria Bridge) £17.95

This book is a new edition of one which was originally published in 2006. This second edition has been enlarged and many new photographs have been added, mostly previously unpublished. There is a brief history of each of the companies covered with notes on traffic carried and motive power used. The concluding list of opening and closure dates conveys just how much of the once extensive railway system in the northern part of Ireland has been lost. The stunning front cover photograph of GNR(I) V and VS class locomotives double heading a train at Dundalk in evening light will make you want to buy a copy.

Paperback, 24 x 18 cm, 20 colour & 202 b&w photos, 7 maps, 128 pages.

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Parting Shot – railway photographs from 1964 to 1973

Norman Johnston £16.00

Norman Johnston is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost railway historians, who has meticulously photographed and recorded the changing world of Irish railways from the early 1960s.

This book draws from his remarkable collection and showcases some of what Norman regarded as the best, most interesting and significant images that he took during the pivotal period between 1964 and 1973. The pictures are presented in roughly chronological order and include some CIÉ as well as UTA and NIR. All are accompanied by extended captions filled with detail, anecdotes and personal reflection.

Norman began writing the book during the last two months of his life, completing the manuscript just seven days before his death on 31 August 2014. His choice of title reflects the fact that he knew that it would be his last book.

The book is published by Colourpoint Books, the company which Norman founded in conjunction with his wife, Sheila, and which contributed so much to our knowledge of Irish railways in terms of books published.  Norman’s sons, Malcolm and Wesley, now run the business and continue to publish books of railway and transport interest.

Paperback, 26 x 21 cm,  198 colour & 37 b&w photos, 160 pages.

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Ireland’s Largest Industrial Railway: The Guinness System

Hugh Oram £10.00

The Guinness brewery in Dublin expanded rapidly in the 1870s as the world couldn’t get enough of its ruby red gold (it might look black but that’s an illusion). 

Horses and carts hauled hops, malt and casks around the site until 1873 when construction of a narrow gauge railway (tramway) began. This delightful little factory system operated for 100 years, ceasing work in 1975. Hugh Oram’s book is full of photos of (mainly) this and the day to day workings of the brewery. As well as the internal tramway, there was also a broad gauge link to Kingsbridge Station which closed in 1965 and is also featured.

Paperback, 18 x 24cm, 52 black and white photos, 50 pages

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Irish Steam In The 1960s - End Of An Era

Conrad Natzio £16.00

This is RPSI member Conrad Natzio’s record of a distinctive time on the Irish railway system, between 1960 and 1963, when dieselisation was well under way but there were many steam locomotives still hard at work, north and south. This delightful collection of Conrad’s largely unpublished images, complemented by extended captions filled with detail, anecdotes and personal reflections, captures the changing scene and celebrates what had survived.

Conrad is donating royalties from the book to the Society, so please support its purchase.

Paperback, 26 x 21cm, 220 colour photos, 160 pages

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Irish Railways in the 1950s and 1960s

Kevin McCormack £25.00

In the 1950s and 1960s the railway system in Ireland became a magnet for enthusiasts from Great Britain who realised that, as on the mainland, a way of life was fast disappearing as diesel traction replaced steam and the size of the rail network across Ireland was shrinking. Much of the interest stemmed from the similarity with the railways in Great Britain. Also, the existence of several narrow gauge systems, two railway-owned tramways and some cross-border operators added to the fascination.

This album covers those main line and narrow gauge railways in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s, which were photographed in colour and the images used are believed never to have appeared in print before. Although most of the pictures depict individual locomotives or ones hauling trains, the opportunity has been taken to show some of the railway infrastructure of the period as well, since this is of particular interest to railway modellers. There has been a very active preservation movement in Ireland over the years, with many wonderful steam-hauled rail tours being operated that continue to this day, however this book will focus on the normal every day operations.

Hardback, 20 x 25 cm, 166 colour photos, 175 pages

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Crewe To Ballywatermoy

Shaun Martin £10.00

Through the medium of a novel the reader is taken on journeys over the LMS (NCC) network. Stations, staff issues, locomotives, excursion trains and railway operations feature. The author, Shaun Martin, draws on personal memories from the 1940s. An Irish Railway Record Society review concluded: “The book has all the hallmarks of the historical novel and attempts to convey the spirit of events with realistic detail and fidelity.”

Paperback, 23 x 15 cm, 297 pages

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Great Northern Railway (Ireland)

E.M. Patterson £14.95

The Great Northern Railway of Ireland, maintained an independent existence for 77 years, much of that time prosperously established as the second largest and certainly the most enterprising of the Irish railway systems. Springing from the need to link Dublin and Belfast by rail, the Great Northern was the result of amalgamation of numerous smaller companies. The Great Northern was at its most prosperous in the 30 years or so preceding World War I. Falling receipts and soaring operating costs brought the company to its knees shortly after the end of World War II. Five years of shared nationalisation followed, during which much of the system suffered closures. In 1958 what was left was divided and administered thereafter by the Ulster Transport Authority and by Coras Iompair Éireann.

Paperback, 21 x 15 cm, 190 b&w photos, 11 maps, 240 pages

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The County Donegal Railways

E.M. Patterson (Revised edition with additional material by J. Begley & S. Flanders) £18.00

This is a new edition of E.M. Patterson’s first volume on the history of the narrow-gauge railways of North-West Ireland, originally published in 1962. The County Donegal Railways had a route of 124 miles, five termini and three junction stations. For the most part they traversed hilly and thinly-populated country and for two generations they were a busy and efficient operation. This edition adds a valuable chapter of interviews and memories of some of the surviving workers and others who had contact with the railway. It also includes a chapter on the County Donegal Railway today as, over 50 years after closure, much can still be seen of the former network. Some additional Glover drawings of locomotive, carriage and wagon stock are included.

Paperback,  26 x 21 cm,  34 colour & 55 b&w photos, 32 maps and diagrams, 192 pages

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The Steaming Sixties, No.11 - The Ulster Transport Authority

Terence Dorrity £12.99

In the 1960s railways in Ireland were run by the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) in the North and Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) in the Republic. At the time that the photographs in this book were taken, in 1963 and 1964, there was still a lot of railway activity to see and a fleet of steam locomotives that was very much to the British taste. The most numerous NCC locomotives, the WT class 2-6-4Ts and the W class 2-6-0s, clearly showed their LMS Derby roots. The ex-GNR(I) locomotives were of particular interest. A number of them were 4-4-0s, a wheel arrangement that was becoming rare in Britain at the time, and some of them still carried the GNR(I) blue livery and names. Steam locomotives could be seen hauling express, local and freight trains. There were two busy operational steam sheds in Belfast, at Adelaide and York Road and, among others, a roundhouse at Portadown. It was all shortly to end, but with the pictures in this book we can relive a little the swansong of steam in Ireland.

Hardback, 19 x 25 cm, 64 colour photos, 64 pages

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Rails through the West – Limerick to Sligo

Jonathan Beaumont and Barry Carse £16.00

This pictorial album, illustrated mainly in colour from the 1960s to the present, is a portrait of the Limerick to Sligo railway line in its Indian Summer. The Athenry to Galway plus the Claremorris to Ballina lines are also included. The colour photography of Barry Carse allows the line to come to life on these pages reviving memories of locomotive hauled passenger trains, loose coupled freights, sugar beet specials, pilgrim trains to Claremorris for Knock, and traditional semaphore signalling. Now, at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, a century after the Great Southern and Western Railway took over the line’s operation, the Western Rail Corridor, as it is often identified, is coming back to life. At the south end (Limerick to Athenry), a busy and well used passenger service operates with modern trains over well maintained track; in the middle and at the northern end (Athenry to Sligo), all is quiet, save for the birds in the trees which grow between the rails.

Paperback, 28 x 21 cm, 156 colour and 13 b&w photos, 1 map, 4 track plans, 144 pages

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Ireland’s Narrow Gauge Railways - A Reference Handbook

Joe Begley and Steve Flanders £12.95

This book could be subtitled: ‘Everything you want to know about the Irish Narrow Gauge’, eg. from 1920 to 1923, there were 562 miles of Irish narrow gauge railway. A chapter is devoted to the history of each of the 18 narrow gauge companies, along with tables of dimensions of the locomotives and rolling stock. Each chapter concludes with a chronology and a table of distances showing route mileage. The appendices include the narrow gauge mileage from 1875 to 1961, where to find rolling stock diagrams (useful for modellers), and a comprehensive bibliography which includes books and magazines. To say that this book is packed with information would be an understatement. The authors intend to donate their royalties to the restoration of County Donegal Railways class 5 locomotive “Drumbo” (currently at Whitehead) to full steaming condition.

Paperback, 21 x 15 cm, 58 b&w photos, 160 pages

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