Some Early Lines – Cavan and Leitrim Railway, Ireland

Cavan and Leitrim Railway

The Cavan & Leitrim Railway in 1906

The Cavan & Leitrim Railway was a narrow-gauge railway in the counties of Leitrim and Cavan in the north-west of Ireland, which ran from 1887 until 1959. Unusually for Ireland, this 914mm (3ft)-gauge line survived on coal traffic, from the mine at Arigna. It outlived most of the other Irish narrow-gauge lines, giving a further lease of life to some of their redundant engines.

Early years

In September 1883, a public meeting in Ballinamore declared that a light railway and tramway would open up the coal and iron districts of Arigna and Lough Allen. The Cavan and Leitrim Railway opened for goods traffic on 17 October 1887 and for passengers on 24 October 1887. The section from Belturbet in County Cavan to Dromod in County Leitrim was light railway, and a tramway ran from Ballinamore to Arigna. At the start both lines were operated by eight Robert Stephenson and Company 4-4-0T locomotives. In later years locomotives from other closing narrow gauge lines were used.Cavan & Leitrim 4-4-0T 4L in front of the pair of Cork Blackrock 2-4-2Ts   21st March 1959.  Formerly named ‘Violet’, 4L dated from the opening of the line in 1887.

Ballinamore was the hub of the line, with the locomotive depot and works. At Belturbet the line connected with the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) broad-gauge branch to Ballyhaise on the Clones to Cavan line, and at Dromod connected to the Midland Great Western Railway mainline from Dublin to Sligo. The line was extended to Arigna in 1920. The line was unique in using native coal mined at Arigna.

Later years

In 1925, the company was amalgamted into the Great Southern Railways. By the 1930s the Cavan and Leitrim Railway was in trouble due to road competition. The demolition of the carriage sheds as an economy measure only served to worsen the condition of the stock. It survived World War II, but the opening of a power station near Lough Allen using Arigna coal, and not needing rail services, did not help. The line finally closed on 31 March 1959, the last exclusively steam narrow-gauge line in Ireland.

 Welcome to The Cavan and Leitrim Railway 2012.

Cavan & Leitrim Railway, near Dromod/Dromad

A general view from near the end of the platform of the station at Dromod. On the left are two railbuses:- N0590 : Cavan & Leitrim Railway – two old railbuses, near Dromod/Dromad.   © Copyright L S Wilson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 We offer tourists and enthusiasts a variety of Narrow Gauge Trains, Buses, Planes, Fire Engines and Artillery. The museum that was established in 1993, is run entirely by volunteers. Trains run every weekend and Mondays. The museum is located beside the Irish Rail station in Dromod on the grounds of the old Cavan and Leitrim Railway yard.

Train at Cavan & Leitrim Railway, near Dromod/Dromad

The train, consisting of a small diesel locomotive and a replica coach, is returning to the station at Dromod. The passengers have been dropped off for a tour of the workshop, and to look at various transport related items, both inside and outside.   © Copyright P L Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

 Today 0.4 kilometers has been restored and remains preserved after its closure in 1959. Following the closure, all which remained in Dromod was the Station House, the engine shed and water tower. Today they have been restored and are been preserved. One of the original locos (no. 2) and one of the original carriages are preserved and on display at the Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum, Cultra and No. 3 “Lady Edith” is in the United States at the New Jersey Museum of Transportation.

Contact us by Phone on (00353) 071-9638599

or by Email: dromod@eircom.netCavan & Leitrim Railway Station, Dromod/Dromad

This is the only station on the Cavan & Leitrim Railway, which is still in use as a station. It is also the home of the owner, who was responsible for preserving what now remains of the railway at Dromod. The station was the southern terminus of the three foot (914mm) narrow gauge line. It shares the car parking area, and is opposite to the main-line Dromod Railway Station. Trains are normally operated on the Cavan & Leitrim Railway, from here, on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, according to demand. There is currently about half a mile of running track.                         © Copyright P L Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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