Dublin & South Eastern Railway

Ireland's first railway – the Dublin and Kingstown Railway opened to the public on December 17th 1834. It ran from Westland Row (now Pearse Street Station) to Salthill. It was built by William Dargan who was probably the most Ireland's most significant entrepreneur of th 19th century.The success of the line led to demands to extend the line to the South East. By August, 1844, the Dalkey Railway line was opened. While attending this opening Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer of the Great Western Railway (G.W.R.) informed the Dublin and Kingstown Railway (D & K.R.) board that he was planning to build a line into South Wales and start a new sea route from Fishguard to Rosslare. He suggested a joint venture for a line from Wexford to Dublin. This resulted in the formation of a new company – The Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow and Dublin Railway. Eventually after much discussion work began in August, 1847, on the line from Dublin to Wicklow. By 10th July, 1854, the line to Bray was opened. The arrival of the railway to Bray had an almost instant effect on the town. With the vast improvement in access from Dublin more people found it possible to live or holiday in the town. In the twenty years after it opened the population of the town increased from 4151 to 6504.

South of Bray serious engineering problems were encountered on the line at Bray Head. The lie of the land proved difficult for the construction of a railway. The coastal route was chosen because it offered the greater scenery rather than the simpler route in land. Bray Head is composed, for the most part, of rock from the Cumbrian Age, and Brunel's experience from his earlier work on the Thames tunnel and the Clifton Suspension Bridge at Bristol proved invaluable to the construction of three tunnels. Further tunnels were built as a result of coastal erosion in subsequent years.

Greystones Station opened in 1855 and line to Wicklow Town was completed in 1855 and by 1861 to Kilcommon just a mile north of Rathdrum. Here difficulties in cutting through steep rock and the building of a impressive five arch viaduct delayed the extension to Rathdrum. A further extension to Avoca was completed in July 1863. With the completion of this section copper ore was transported from the Avoca Copper Mines to Wicklow Town to be exported from the North Quay. In 1864 work commenced on a branch line to Shillelagh from Woodenbridge. Aughrim was reached in June 1864 and Ballinglen soon after. The line was opened throughout to Shillelagh by May, 1865. At Woodenbridge Junction the line gently falls towards Arklow which opened in 1863. Leaving County Wicklow the railway line to Enniscorthy opened in 1863 and to Wexford by 1872. The line to the South East was now complete.