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The West Clare Railway

The West Clare Railway opened on July 2nd in 1887. It was a steam driven rail service between Ennis and Kilrush and the journey took about 3 hours. It was a very important service to the people who lived along its route. Charles Stewart Parnell was invited to lift the first sod in laying of the tracks and the silver spade he used is exhibited in the County Museum.

The railway employed about 70 people in Ennis alone. It continued to run quite successfully up until World war II, when the pressure of improving roads finally began to tell and in 1948 the Irish National Railway (CIE) decided to close the line, but instead they replaced the steam engines with diesel engines. In 1952 four new diesel engines were supplied and in 1953 CIE bought three more. The last steam passenger train left Ennis on March 15, 1952.

In 1955, the West Clare was the only diesel run, narrow gauge railway in Britain and Ireland. It continued to run at a loss and finally all services were closed down on February 1961.

The Ennis station house built around 1860 served as the terminus of the West Clare Railway. Many of the old railway bridges, piers, banks and other such works are still standing.

Photos of the West Clare Railway

West Clare Railway website (external link)