Ag taisteal in Éirinn ag Traenach Part 2
In yesterday’s blog entry I made reference to my changing the blog platform from Squarespace to WordPress.com
There had been some minor hiccups, mostly due to my lack of computer savvy. Now however, it seems that things are coming along nicely with the new platform. I am no longer concerned about Pat’s Irish travel essay disappearing into the great Internet void, never to be read again!
So here is Pat’s travel account:
“It was uncanny. We had not been talking about the trip at all and then, one evening last January, my sister mentioned an online ad that she had seen for a seven day rail tour in Ireland, offered by The Irish Tourism Group. I had seen it, too. Very reasonable priced, the package would get us to places that we had not visited on previous trips, including Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, and the Aran Islands. Even more compelling was the notion that we would not be driving ourselves on “the wrong side of the road”!
Only after committing did we begin to worry about possible logistical challenges. Irish Tourism would make all the arrangements, but we would travel on our own, not in a group, using vouchers for hotels, side trips and for the train tickets. Plus, we would have to manage our own luggage, and we knew that we would not be confining ourselves to backpacks favored by the young and the hip.
As is so often the case, worrying was a waste of time. In terms of our rail travel, ticketing kiosks at the train stations readily accepted our vouchers and the machines were easy to navigate. On the train cars themselves luggage racks at each end of the car made accommodating our bags easy. We did enjoy our trips on Irish Rail, or as they say in Irish: Iarnród Éireann. Train announcements were made in English and Irish. Our trains ran on time, were clean and comfortable and modern. WiFi and modest food service was also available.
Free of a rental car, we had no stress in our reserved seats and could enjoy the sound of Irish conversations around us. The view out the windows were like “post card” vistas: lush fields, sheep and cattle, rolling hills, stone “hedges” and church spires. Although the trains are up-to-date, the architecture of the stations we passed through on our journeys evoked an earlier era. These old stations added a poignant personal connection, as we recalled the story of our own father as a boy. In 1921 he was sent by train to pick up the body of his father. His father had been killed in one of the last battles during the War of Irish Independence.
All in all, we found our Irish train tour an excellent experience.”
And now a couple of things for the hard core rail fans from the blog publisher:
Irish Rail (Iarnród Éireann) trackage is about 1700 miles. The track gauge is an unusual 1600 mm or 5 feet 3 inches. The total passenger count in 2017 was 45.5 million. Quite impressive, considering the size of Ireland.
These photographs are from the blog publisher and are a few years old. I took them when Brad, his mother and I were taking a tour of Ireland in 1995.
A four axle GM built diesel electric at Dublin Connolly station.
A six axle GM built diesel electric locomotive for the Dublin to Belfast service at Dublin Connolly station.