Castleisland 25 years ago, you could be talking about Fenit today !

A couple of interesting articles from over 25 years ago have appeared on the Down the Years section of The Kerryman newspaper recently, although the subject is Castleisland the similarities with the current situation with the Tralee – Fenit and the North Kerry line are uncanny:

  • A community that is crying out for a unused railway to be revitalised.
  • The land in question is state owned
  • A project that is part of the county development plan
  • Owners ( Irish Rail) who want to transfer the ownership to the local authority (Kerry Co Co)
  • And a local authority (Kerry Co Co) sitting on their hands !

We wonder how that turned out…




Tralee to Fenit Greenway featured on RTE Nationwide

RTE’s Nationwide did a feature on the village of Fenit recently, the show opened with a 5 minute segment on the Tralee to Fenit Railway / Greenway highlighting the benefits to both locals and tourist alike.

Even on a dull day Fenit and Tralee Bay looked great on the screen, case you missed it you can view the clip here:

Presenter Anne Cassin introduced the segment by talking about how many rural communities have been looking at new ideas in order to bring visitors to their areas, and that due to the runaway success of Mayo’s greenway, many have been looking to cycling and walking routes.

It is ironic that Anne spoke these words as she strolled along the the recently opened section of the Greenway in Tralee, as this was part of the the first planned Greenway in Ireland the Great Southern Trail, long before the Mayo Greenway was a glimmer in Mayo County Councils eye !

The development of the route was detailed in a report in the late ’80s compiled by Sustrans (who now manage the U.K. cycle network) and commissioned by Shannon Development which detailed the potential of developing a trail along the 80 km railway, the report makes for interesting reading , and had it being carried out would have certainty transformed North Kerry, and probably become the project held up as the exemplar Greenway in the country.

Looking back it is clear that we in Kerry were asleep at the wheel over the last 2 decades when it comes to developing facilities like these and while we did nothing other parts of the country who did have the vision and drive are now reaping the rewards. Westport is repeatedly voted in the top the class in both tourism awards and accolades for quality of life, in short business in booming and the locals are happy !

Of course tourism and the economy are not the be all and end all here, there are more more serious issues at hand. On the same week as this episode aired, Ireland was shocked by reports that showed that the country is on the road to becoming the most obese population in Europe, with diet and lack of exercise being the root causes.

So what do we want, if we do nothing then the weeds continue to grow, the litter accumulate, tourists go elsewhere and we risks our childrens heath due to them having nowhere safe to walk or cycle.

The choice is ours…

A sad day for the railway, a good day for the Greenway.

As we posted recently CIE has agreed to divest the Tralee Fenit Railway to Kerry County Council . This week CIE has posted notice of the abandonment order in the local press, this is the first step in the formal abandonment process.

Even for avid proponents of the rail-bed conversion it is sad to finally see the railway’s life finally coming to a close, yet another part of Ireland’s once extensive railway network disappearing from the map, but there is consolation that with it’s conversion to a greenway the line will stay intact and will remain a transport route serving the people of Tralee, The Spa, Kilfenora and Fenit.

2014-07-10 09.08.06


As a coincidence  CIE’s notice is dated  the eve of the railways 127th birthday, the line opened to passengers July 5th 1887 !

All change…

Book Launch – History of the North Kerry Railway


Launch of new book on the history of the Limerick-Tralee/Fenit & Foynes Railway

A new book by railway historian Dr. Alan O’Rourke titled ‘The North Kerry Line’ whose subject is the Limerick to Tralee railway along with the branch lines to Fenit and Foynes will be launched in the Lartigue Railway Museum, Listowel, Co. Kerry by Minister Jimmy Deenihan on Sunday 24th Nov. at 7pm and at the Library, Gortboy, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick on Tuesday 26th Nov. at 8pm by Éamon Ó Cuív T.D. The public are cordially invited to attend on both nights. Beidh fáilte roimh gach éinne.

Dr. O’Rourke’s book is the result of several years research and contains a detailed history of the four railway companies who constructed these 90 miles or so of railway in West Limerick and North Kerry during the latter half of the 19th century. It also provides a fine description of the lie of the land and of the communities which were linked by the lines and their 22 stations. Front cover photo of goods train at Lixnaw, Co. Kerry 1970’s by kind permission of Jonathan Allen)

In tandem with the launch Ms. Maria Leahy, a student of Oral History at the University of Limerick is commencing the recording of of the lives and times of those who lived along the line and of those families who grew up with the railway in their blood. Maria can be contacted directly at 086 4033707 or she will also be available at Listowel from 5.30pm and Newcastle West from 7pm on the launch evenings.

The book, printed locally by Fitzsimons Printers, Shanagolden, Co. Limerick is published by the Great Southern Trail which is dedicated to preserving the heritage of these lines and the conversion to a ‘Greenway’ of the Ballingrane (near Rathkeale) to Tralee/Fenit route.

As the book says: “the North Kerry had a reputation as a friendly line”. This was thanks to the railway community who worked on it. For the railway families and for the faithful supporters of the Great Southern Trail over the past twenty years signed copies of the book will be available at the launches at the very special price of €10. The post-launch price will be €15 which is still exceptional value for a scholarly work of 275 pages including over 30 maps/diagrams and over 80 photographs (many previously unpublished. For all who were associated with the working railway, all who now walk/cycle the developed sections and all whose interest is local history this book should be essential reading.


The launches of a new railway interest book “The North Kerry Line” (Limerick to Tralee and the Foynes and Fenit branches) will take place at two events as follows:

Sunday 24th November, 7pm the Lartigue Museum, Listowel, Co Kerry
Introduced by Jimmy Deenihan T.D. Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta

Tuesday 26th November, 8pm, Newcastle West Library (Gortboy), Co Limerick
Introduced by Éamon O Cuív T.D.

Tralee and Fenit in the 60’s

Here are two videos which recently surfaced on youtube that might bring back memories of the Tralee to Fenit railway for those of you of a certain vintage !




50 years…

On a frosty evening fifty years ago the last regular passenger train wended its way through West Limerick and North Kerry as it made its final journey from Limerick to Tralee. All along the route people came out to bid farewell.

It was Saturday 2nd February 1963. Although this was not the last train to travel on the line, (freight services continued up until 1978) it was the last time it was used for passenger transit. A passenger is defined as person who travels in a vehicle, while the line may have seen the last of passengers, it has not seen the last of people, it is great to see that 50 years on from that last passenger train people are again using the railway (although this time under their own steam ! ).

Work on the reopening of the Tralee section of the line and the Fenit branch is well underway, the Limerick section of the line is complete to the Kerry border and a number of local groups have began working to reopen sections in their locality.

Coincidentally in 2013 the 2nd of February also falls on a Saturday and to commemorate the last train a walk will set out from Abbeyfeale Station along the Great Southern Trail(GST) at 2.15pm to Duagh Village, the route is approximately four miles long and as portion of the route is on the public road all participants are advised to wear visibility vests.

There is also a Facebook event for the walk please share it with you family and friends.

Refreshments will be provided at Jim’s Bar, Duagh and return transport to Abbeyfeale will be provided. Those travelling from the Tralee/Listowel direction may consider the 1pm CIÉ bus from Tralee(1.30pm from Listowel) to Abbeyfeale; there is a return CIÉ service to Listowel/Tralee at 4.45pm directly from Duagh.

Limerick to Fenit, along the North Kerry Line

And for some nostalgia, here is an old Super8 video of the North Kerry
line from ’86. It begins at Adare and follows the line to Tralee and on
to Fenit, it gets to Ballyroe about 5 1/2 mins. in, with views of Ballyroe, the Black Bridge [I think, anyone else have any ideas ?] and Tralee.
It then follows the Fenit line, with views out from Rock Street, across Kilfenora and the Tankard, and then Fenit station.