THE railway line between Enniscorthy and the town of Wexford celebrated its 150th anniversary today (Wednesday) with an event at O’Hanrahan station.
he Mayor of Wexford, Cllr. Maura Bell was at Wexford station to mark the occasion and she was joined by Iarnród Éireann security manager and Wexford native Kay Doyle.
A specially designed bronze plaque was unveiled and music was provided by local Iarnród Éireann driver Ger Brennan.
The railway line opened on 17 August 1872 and at the time continuing the railway line to Wexford was a considerable technical feat.
A 54 meter bridge was built over the River Slaney and a number of tunnels were also required including those at Killurin and Ferrycarrig.
When the line first opened, passengers were met at a temporary station in Carcur. However, the present station site opened two years later, in 1874, half a mile further south. There was also an intermediate station at Killurin and soon after another opened at Edermine Ferry.
The arrival of the railway in Wexford marked a new era for the people of the town and changed their economy and their lives for the better.
The Star Iron Works, which was an agricultural machinery business, had a private siding at South Station, which was a second station in the town of Wexford, opened in 1885. Their goods were loaded onto trains to be then distributed from there, just like Pierce’s machines. . At the time, the two companies were the main manufacturers of agricultural machinery in Ireland.
At a time when private car use was low, the railroad allowed people of modest means to take a day trip to the beach, but it also provided transport to schools and jobs for people who would otherwise have to cycle long distances.
The railway to Wexford also carried the body of one of Wexford’s most famous sons, John Redmond, to his final resting place. During the Revolutionary War and Civil War, some of the most severe disruption to rail infrastructure occurred in County Wexford.
Today, services to the town of Wexford continue along the line, and the Dublin-Rosslare route, which includes the Enniscorthy-Wexford section, is considered Ireland’s most scenic railway line.
A spokesperson for Iarnród Éireann told the Enniscorthy Guardian that the challenge of coastal erosion and climate change is impacting this line like no other on the railway.
The spokesman also said the East Coast Rail Infrastructure Protection Project (ECRIPP), which has begun, will ensure the railway to Wexford can be enjoyed for many generations to come.
Speaking at the event in the town of Wexford, Cllr Bell said that ‘as a person from the town of Wexford’ it was an honor for her to be there to mark ‘this great occasion of the 150 years of the railway between Enniscorthy and Wexford”.
“It opened up travel for the majority of people who would otherwise have had to cycle or walk long distances,” said Cllr Bell.
“I have taken many trips on this railway over the past 50 years and will continue to use it in the future,” she added.
Iarnród Éireann Health and Safety Director Kay Doyle also expressed her pride in being a Wexford woman on such a day.
“As a woman from Wexford, it’s a very proud day for me to be here to mark 150 years of the railway to Wexford,” she said.
‘Railways connect communities and the arrival of the railway in Wexford has done just that,’ she added.
“It gave people here in my home county the ability to get to work or school more easily and gave people the option of transportation to explore new places. Today, the railway continues to serve the city and its hinterland and provides safe and sustainable travel for all.