The Irish Narrow Gauge Today

I had the opportunity to go on a family holiday to Ireland in May of 1998. While staying in Clare I was able to visit SLIEVE CALLAN at Moyasta Junction and to do a little railfan archaeology along the right of way of the West Clare. Clare has yet to be overly developed and great stretches of the right of way are overgrown but still extant. I was also able to take a ride behind 5T on the Tralee and Blennerville Railway--an all-too-short treat. Here are some photos of the trip.

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Slieve Callan sits on the Kilrush leg at Moyasta Junction; my son sits in the cab. The light this day was indirect and full of glare; I've spent a lot of time trying without success to color-correct this image.
Another view of Slieve Callan, showing signs of deterioration despite her overhaul a few years back.
A view from the fireman's side of the cab. Now if only she had been in steam, and if only her spur were connected to the main line... the stuff dreams are made of!
C47, an odd but cute little railcar which I gather is on loan from the C&L and is used to give visitors a ride up and down the line. C47 in her window indicates she was built in 1958 for Bord Na Mona but found less than satisfactory for her designated purpose. She found her way to the Cahir Railway Museum in 1990, and to Dromod in 1993.
A view of Moyasta Junction from the north. The remains of the water pump house are seen at the northern apex of the triangular platform; Slieve Callan sits on the spur to the left, and C47 is on the right. Taylor's Pub, (no longer owned by the Taylor family), which legend says figured large in the drinking habits of the train crews of the West Clare, can be seen in the background, across the busy Kilrush-Kilkee road.
The former West Clare goods shed in Ennistymon is still in good shape, and apparently still in use, though by whom and for what purpose I cannot say.
The former station house at Ennistymon has been expanded and is now a rather nice-looking B&B, though its railway heritage isn't very apparent to the casual observer.
The former station at Miltown Malbay, also a B&B, by contrast has deliberately retained its railway image. Might its name--the "Station House" B&B--give you a clue? The platform canopy is still evident; the station was on the down platform to the right of the photo, the goods shed on the left has been incorporated into the complex, and the connection between the two is across the former roadbed.
We move now to Tralee, and this head-on view of 2-6-2T 5T under steam and in service.
Another view of 5T and her train of coaches, imported from Spain and regauged from 1 meter gauge. They are lovely to look at, but their wooden slat benches leave something to be desired in the comfort department! However, it was worth the discomfort to ride behind 5T. The run to Blennerville is short and not too demanding on the loco; nothing like the days when 5T was asked to haul goods trains up the stretches of 1-in-33 grade over the Glenagalt Pass. By the way, the right of way is still traceable most of the way over the mountains and out to Dingle Town, a highly recommended journey even if you're not a railfan!