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Ballinrobe Railway

Ballinrobe railway station was opened on 1 November 1892, closed to passenger traffic on 1 June 1930 and finally closed altogether on 1 January 1960. Ballinrobe was a branch line from Claremorris.

It was the coming of the “light Railway” era which brought about the making of a railway to Ballinrobe. The “Tramways (Ireland) Act” of 1883 was to encourage the laying of light railways in sparsely – populated parts of the country and such lines were to be financed in some part by the system of “Baronial Guarantees”, so that investors might subscribe to such undertakings. It was followed by the Act if 1889, while a former “Relief of Distress Act” allowed the baronies to obtain State loans for railway construction, on favorable terms. These acts created a climate to suit those who agitated for a line to Ballinrobe, and on the 23rd Dec 1884, the “Ballinrobe & Claremorris Light Railway Company” was formally instituted. In April, 1885, engineers were appointed.

Ballinrobe remained the terminus, the surrounding area, and North Connemara, were extensively advertised to draw attention to the rugged scenery, magnificent lakes, tracts of scenic beauty, Ashford Castle and the fishing. Large parties of anglers travelled by light rail to fish the silver trout of the near by Lough Mask. Many cyclists used Ballinrobe as a base for sight seeing – they would arrive by the 12 noon train from Claremorris.

Ballinrobe depended to a large extent on stock movements as its major source of revenue, the receipts from passengers, sundries, Guiness, manure, cement, coal, bran, pollard, flour, agricultural machinery, beef pulp, timber, newspapers and fish traffic great contributed to the annual income. Between 1901 and 1920 apart from the coal carried inwards for locomotive and retail sales, specials ran ex-North Wall to bring 300 tons of the fuel for the South mayo Garrison, billeted near Ballinrobe Town, delivery was on the last day of each month, with the wagons discharged over a 12-hour period. During 1937-’39, traffic deceased, with the advent of motorised transport so that competition was keen to gain whatever traffic was on offer.

One may ask why did the branch closed?

Prior to World War 2 it lost traffic in the general recession, emigration was the norm, especially from the Ballinrobe area. Services were reduced during the War, discouraging people from travelling and when one wished to do so, the timetable might not suit- connections with the main line trains were not made, particularly in the morning. There was severe competition from road transport, when restrictions were relaxed resulting in a price war which made transport un economic for all operators.

It was a Government Act of 1958 which caused the Ballinrobe Branch to cease operation, as another Act of 1924 had caused the Claremorris & Ballinrobe Light Railway to be wound up and lose its independence. The Board held its final meeting on Dec 30th 1924 at which the sum of £157-10s./Od. was voted to each director as compensation.

 
   
 
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