Clogher Valley Railway

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, General, Issue 3 (May/June 2011), Letters, Volume 19

Sir,—As usual, I settled down in an armchair this evening to read the latest edition of History Ireland, always eagerly absorbed and a credit to the team. Alas, I think we are going to need a Hedge School on Irish railways, in which I confess to having more than a passing interest. My good friend Tony Canavan, in rightly highlighting the 70th anniversary of the closure of the Clogher Valley Railway, has drifted into myth in claiming that the line ‘had a very narrow gauge and specially-built small locomotives’. In fact, the Clogher Valley was built to the very common 3ft gauge, used for 426 miles of Irish railways, including the West Clare and the extensive County Donegal railways, and still used today on the Isle of Man and by Bord na Móna. Neither was the Clogher Valley entirely unique in Ireland in being a roadside steam tramway, though it was the last of the type to operate. Others included the Cork and Muskerry, the Schull and Skibbereen, the Castlederg and Victoria Bridge and sections of the Cavan and Leitrim. (For younger readers, ‘Toby’ and ‘Henrietta’ represent the type in Thomas the Tank Engine!) Although originally a steam tramway, the Clogher Valley Railway introduced a diesel railcar in 1934 and this helped keep it going until 1941.

 

My eye also caught a possible typo in Aodhán Ó Raghailligh’s ‘On this day’ column on page 8. Surely Charlotte Milligan Fox was born in 1864, rather than dying then, especially as she founded the Irish Folk Song Society in 1904? Her sister, Alice Milligan, died in 1953.—Yours etc.,

 

NORMAN JOHNSTON

 

The 3ft gauge used on the Clogher Valley Railway may have been very common but it was still a lot smaller than the standard 5ft 3in. mainline gauge. But well spotted on Charlotte Millington Fox. She was indeed born in 1864.—Ed.

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