The American Mail RPSI Railtour - May 2000

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland runs an annual weekend steam railtour. The 2000 event ran from Dublin to Cork and Cobh, returning via Waterford, during the weekend of 13th/14th May. On Monday 15th May passengers could also travel back from Dublin to Belfast and Larne. I travelled on this tour with John 'Driller' Marsland, who was our personal tour guide, Dave Pennock, who organised the luxurious accommodation, Ian Greig, Ted Davison, Graham Collar, Tony 'Latin' Josling (aka Jerry Lewis, Gloria, etc etc), and Terry the Engine Driver. All photos by Ian Boyle unless stated otherwise.

For details of other tours see the RPSI website:-

The Route
The red line on the map shows the route taken on the Saturday/Sunday.
Saturday: Dublin Heuston - Limerick Junction - Cork - Cobh - Cork.
Sunday: Cork - Mallow - Limerick Junction - Waterford - Carlow - Dublin Connolly.
Loco No.85 Merlin
Merlin is a Great Northern V Class Compound 4-4-0. The first of this class of five engines, numbered 83-87, was introduced in 1932, and they operated on the Dublin-Belfast expresses. They were built by Beyer-Peacock of Manchester. On the 2000 RPSI tour, Merlin ran from Dublin to Cork on the Saturday, then Cork to Limerick Junction on the Sunday.
Loco No.171 Slieve Gullion
Slieve Gullion is a Great Northern S Class 4-4-0, named after an Irish mountain. The eight locomotives, were built between 1913 and 1915, by Beyer-Peacock of Manchester. In 1938-39 they were almost totally rebuilt, to the original design, at the Great Northern works at Dundalk. They then continued in service until the 1960s. Slieve Gullion ran from Cork to Cobh and back on the Saturday, then Limerick Junction to Waterford and Dublin on the Sunday.
Saturday 13th May
Dublin Heuston
Merlin backs onto the train at Dublin Heuston.
Merlin about to leave Dublin Heuston.


Merlin's first water stop was at Portarlington, with the junction for Galway and Westport in the background.


Merlin's second water stop was at Mallow, the junction for the Tralee line.
General Motors 159 at Mallow, running around its train.
Slieve Gullion at Cork, prior to taking the Cobh trips.
Slieve Gullion running around the train at Cork, prior to taking the Cobh trips.
Slieve Gullion ran two return trips from Cork to Cobh. This picture from the Atlantic Quay, shows St Colman's Cathedral, on which construction began in 1868 to designs by Pugin. The cathedral was first used in 1879, although it was finally completed until 1919.
The former Market House, now the Courthouse and Library. The statue is the Lusitania Monument, in memory of those lost when the Cunard liner was sunk by U-20 on 7th May, 1915, off the Old Head of Kinsale. The Titanic also made her last stop at Cobh on her fateful maiden voyage.
Another picture of St Colman's Cathedral.
Cobh waterfront.
Marine Transport Services operate a fleet of small ferries and workboats to the various islands in Cobh harbour, on one of which is the Irish Navy base. They operate from the Atlantic Quay, from where tenders ferried passengers out to Atlantic liners in the harbour. Marine Transport also run the car ferry service from Carrigaloe to Glenbrook, using two ex-Kyle ferries.
Two more Marine Transport Services vessels at the Atlantic Quay, with the naval base in the background on Haulbowline Island. The company was formed in the 1930s and now has 16 boats.
Sunday 14th May
Merlin, slipping on wet rails, whilst running through the yard to head the train back as far as Limerick Junction. Slieve Gullion had travelled light engine to Limerick Junction the night before.
Merlin again stopped for water at Mallow.
Merlin moved to a siding to take on the water.
Graham, Tony and Ted.
An IE General Motors diesel running round its train.
Limerick Junction
Merlin pulled the train back as far as Limerick Junction, where Slieve Gullion took over for the rest of the trip back to Dublin via Waterford. D&SER 2-6-0 461 was at the Junction. She was supposed to have pulled the Cork-Cobh returns, but had mechanical problems.
Merlin and 461 at Limerick Junction.
The unusual signal box at Waterford.
ex-Western Ferries' Sound of Gigha at Waterford.
Muine Bheag
Slieve Gullion was running late, so a water stop was made at Muine Bheag instead of Athy as planned. This was necessary to let scheduled trains pass in both directions.
Muine Bheag station. despite the bars being officially closed between 2 and 4 o'clock on Sundays, a kindly host was found who was prepared to let us in. There is little else to do in Muine Bheag on a damp Sunday afternoon.
Ted, Graham and Tony.
Dublin Connolly
Slieve Gullion - journey's end at Dublin Connolly.
The Ha'penny Bridge across the Liffey.
At DART train (Howth-Bray) and GM diesel at Connolly.
Simplon Postcards Home Page - RPSI Home Page