Turtle Bunbury

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THE DOCKLANDS - Connolly Station

From 'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyageby Turtle Bunbury (Montague & the DDDA, 2009)

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The 5th International Railway Congress was held in the
Imperial Institute, London in 1895. After the Congress, a
number of foreign railway officials toured Ireland,
landing at Cork and making their way via the
Listowel and Ballybunnion and Limerick to Dublin.
The locomotive featured opposite was a P class 4-4-0 No 73,
built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1895.
The loco was in the lined green livery.
There is so much foliage on the engine that you
cannot see her name, "Primrose". She is standing at
what is now platform 4 at Connolly Station, waiting to leave.

The Iron Horse

For many hundreds of years, the key ingredient for long distance travel was a horse. By the early 18th century, the horse-drawn Bianconi coaches were operating between most major towns. Freight was carried on the inland waterways, the navigable rivers and the man-made canals.

In 1834, a revolutionary concept arrived in Ireland. In that year, the engineer William Dargan began constructing a railway track of 10km between Dublin and Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire). On 9 October 1834, the locomotive Hibernia left the Westland Row terminus (now Pearse Station) and made it all the way to Dún Laoghaire.

Amiens Street Station

Railway fever swiftly enveloped Ireland. In November 1844, John MacNeill’s pioneering Dublin & Drogheda Railway Company (later the Great Northern Railway) opened a train station on Amiens Street. Originally known as ‘Dublin Station’, the innovative Italianate building was designed by William Deane Butler. When Earl de Grey laid the foundation stone in May 1844, he simultaneously knighted MacNeill on the station platform. The building comprises a symmetrical five bay Wicklow granite façade with three towers and a large entrance arch. A central tower alerted people to the building from a considerable distance. J & R Mallet provided the ironwork. Butler’s station roof was altered in 1884 by William Hemingway Mills, with the addition of thin iron trusses and a central iron arcade. In 1853, the railway line was extended through to Belfast and the station was renamed Amiens Street Station after the street on which it is located. From 1876, it became the principal terminus for the Great Northern Railway.

The Loopline Link

In 1891, the Loopline Bridge connected Amiens Street with Westland Row on the southside of the Liffey, and onwards to Rosslare and the south east. To coincide with the new link, WH Mills built a new canopied platform and locomotive shed nearby.

James Connolly

In 1966, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, several train stations in Ireland were renamed after those who died during the rebellion. Amiens Street Station was renamed after James Connolly, the Socialist leader of the Citizen Army, famously executed in 1916 while strapped to a chair with a wounded leg. His statue stands beneath the Loopline Bridge facing Liberty Hall, headquarters of the Irish Trade and General Workers Union.

The DART

The Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) was linked to the station in 1984 and the LUAS in 2004. The latter connected it with Heusten Station which serves the south and west of the country. Connolly Station remains the principal railway station for trains bound for the east coast of Ireland and Sligo.

Restoration

During the late 1990s, the seven-platform Station was completely restored by Iarnród Éireann Architects, with its brickwork cleaned. They also rebuilt much of the station, including a brand new roof over the four terminal platforms and a shimmering new station hall with bar, shopping mall and an entrance to the IFSC. The station is presently owned and operated by Coras Iompair Éireann.

The Vaults

The railway tracks at Connolly Station lie 24 feet (7.3 metres) above the level of Amiens Street and are carried north towards the River Tolka by a rubble and brick viaduct of 75 arches. Directly below the station, these arches contained ten huge underground Portland stone vaults where freight and passenger luggage was kept in storage. Some of these were deftly converted into a sleek, comfortable and contemporary bar, The Vaults, by Neil Burke Kennedy and opened for business in 2002. The pub is accessible by Connolly Station and via the IFSC from Harbourmaster Place.

The GNR Headquarters

Located on Sheriff Street in North Wall, this neat red brick and sandstone building was completed by John Lanyon in 1879, three years after the Great Northern Railway was formed. Its corner campanile echoes that of the station façade on nearby Connolly Station. Between the Station and the Headquarters, a handsome viaduct carries the line over two rows of eleven cast-iron columns. This was cast by Courtney, Stephens & Bailey in 1884.

See also the Irish Railway Record Society and Railroads of Ireland.

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