The Waterford, Dungarvan and Lismore Railway

The Waterford, Dungarvan & Lismore Railway (WD.&LR) was opened to rail users on 12th August, 1878 and provided an important link in the Mallow-Waterford route. The construction of the line was costly and difficult, carried out by two contractors: Smith Finlayson of London and J.W.S. Stanford of Dublin. Three stone viaducts had to be constructed at Ballyvoile, Durrow and Kilmacthomas as well as a long embankment through the sea between Kilminnion and Barnawee. The level crossing at the causeway in Dungarvan was reputed to be the longest gated crossing in Europe and at Mount Congreve it runs along the shore of the River Suir on a shelf of rock. There were 53 level crossings between Waterford and Lismore. The primary objective of the railway was to connect Waterford to Lismore, a distance of 43 miles.

This was important strategically, as in 1872 an independent, non-operating company, financed almost entirely by the Duke of Devonshire of Lismore Castle, opened a line from Lismore to Fermoy. The line thus connected the Dungaran line with the Great Southern and Western at Fermoy, giving a connection to Cork, by way of Mallow. In 1893 the operations transferred to the WD&LR, which in turn was taken over by the Great Southern and Western Railway (GS&WR) in 1898. The Dungarvan Railway was never a wealthy line, due to the expense of bulding it, together with the heavy cost of running it. Traffic was mostly to Waterford Harbour, with people and goods on their way to and from Wales. Tradition says that the WD&LR carriages were the most uncomfortable in Ireland.

At the turn of the century the Great Western Railway of England wanted to increase its Irish traffic which mainly used Milford Haven in Wales. It extended its railway line to a new harbour at Fishguard and joined with the G.S.W.R. in Ireland in buying up the Dungarvan, Kilkenny and Limerick Railways together with building a new line from Rosslare to Waterford and a new bridge over the Suir above Waterford to connect with the Dungarvan Railway. The G.S.W.R. introduced considerable improvements in the train services on the Waterford Mallow line. One of the new services was a fast express train from Rosslare to Killarney, for which a complete new train was built. This train was the most comfortable in Ireland, and fully equalled anything to be seen in England or the Continent at the time. The purpose of this express was to accommodate the London to Killarney summer holiday traffic, which was largely first class. London to New York Mail traffic also travelled over the line and through Cork to Cobh where it was put on board the ocean liners. For many Irish people emigrating to America their last Irish railway journey was over the Dungarvan line.

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