Bord na Mona’s Railways In A Changing World

Creative Rathangan Meitheal is marking European Year of Rail 2021 with a talk by Seán Cain on Bord na Moná’s railway system. For over seventy years Bord na Móna have used a unique narrow gauge railway system, unrivalled in size anywhere in Western Europe, to move turf and peat from its many bogs to various terminals throughout the Midlands. . This rail network represents a unique part of our industrial heritage and much of it was designed by BNM’s engineers and built by its craftworkers. BNM’s rail network was for a time the largest rail network in Ireland being slightly longer that of Irish Rail at approx. 1000 miles.

Locomotives which were used by BNM include three steam powered locomotives purchased from Andrew Barclay & Sons, Ruston and Hornsby locomotives, Deutz locomotives, Ruston locomotives, and the Wagonmaster locomotives which were designed and built by BNM. In addition, BNM purchased or developed a range of rail wagons to transport sod turf, milled peat and ashes; to discharge sand, to serve as fuel tenders, mess vans, mobile workshops and track carriers etc.

Seán Cain works for Irish Rail in railway vehicle maintenance. For the past 21 years he has also worked in the railway heritage sector and has spent the last 13 years photographing Bord na Móna’s locomotives and wagons, its rail infrastructure, and recording how this rail system works. Given that Bord na Móna has ceased all peat extraction activities Seán’s work has taken on a new significance. In his talk Seán will look at the evolution of Bord na Móna’s rail network, current developments, and potential uses of the rail system in the future.

This is a free live in-person event subject booking. It will also be streamed online.

Time: Thursday November 4th 2021 at 8.00pm

Venue: The Old Schoolhouse, Leinster St., Rathangan.