West Clare railway link for Kilrush

 

PLANS HAVE been announced to extend the famous west Clare railway into the market town of Kilrush within the next two years.

Jackie Whelan, originally of the committee for the Restoration of the West Clare Railway, said yesterday that after Kilrush, he was planning to extend the line to Kilkee and to provide a rail-link to the €150 million Doonbeg Golf Club resort on the Clare coast.

Some 2.5km of track of the restored railway are already in place at Moyasta, mid-distance between Kilkee and Kilrush.

In August 2009, Mr Whelan rejuvenated the west Clare railway with the completion of the restoration project on the 120-year old Slieve Callan steam engine.

Yesterday, he said that visitor numbers to the railway had been boosted with the return of the steam engine and last year topped 18,000 people.

Visitors can travel on board the 40-tonne Slieve Callan on the restored track.

Between 1892 and 1952, the Slieve Callan powered the west Clare railway, which had been immortalised in song by Percy French. The railway was shut down by the government in 1961.

In a submission lodged with Clare County Council, Mr Whelan stated that Shannon Development had confirmed plans “to assist the West Clare Railway lay its track into Kilrush and the service to the town is hoped to begin within two years”.

In the document, Mr Whelan confirmed the railway’s intention to extend to Doonbeg Golf Club.

Confirming that negotiations have been ongoing sometime with the directors of the club, Mr Whelan wrote: “It is now intended that, subject to the final financial arrangements being satisfactory, the west Clare railway will extend its track to Mountrivers along its former track-bed wherever possible.

“From a site alongside the former Doonbeg station, the line will be extended along the river bank to a station alongside the golf club hotel.”

The route of the west Clare railway is protected in the Clare county development plan.