Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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From 'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyageby Turtle Bunbury (MPG, 2008).

In 1834, Dubliners became the first people in Ireland to have a public railway with the opening of the line south along the coast to Kingstown. By 1855, the city had rail connections with the south and west of the country, as well as Belfast. At this time, a number of independent and competing companies operated the railway service. Each one sought to ensure their passengers enjoyed as comfortable and convenient a journey as possible.

Completed in 1884, Pearse Station (then known as Westland Row Station) was the original terminus for the Dublin and Kingstown Railway before the Loopline Bridge was built across the Liffey, connecting it with Connolly Station (then known as Amiens Street Station) in 1891. As well as handling all the freight and passengers, the station had to be able to cope with the arrival and departure of several trains at once. The barrel-vaulted building was designed not so much as a railway station but as a train shed in which trains might be given some form of protection from the elements. It also enabled passengers to board and alight in comfort.

The large curved roof was based on an early Victorian design which Dublin iron founder Richard Turner created for the Lime Street station in Liverpool. Its principals and arched girders were made in Chepstow. The Dublin foundry of Courtney, Stephens and Bailey supplied the remaining ironwork. The main roof is 155m (510ft) long and spans nearly 27m (90ft); the smaller bay to the south-west is 73m (240ft) long and has a span of almost 20m (65ft).

After the connection to Amiens Street was established in 1891, the north-west end of the station was modified to make room for the new trains. An innovative street-facing façade was also built, consisting of wrought-iron pillars inserted between the existing masonry abutments, with decorative cast-iron panels to match the ornamentation of the new bridge spanning Westland Row.

Pearse Station doubled as Limerick train station in Alan Parker’s film adaptation of ‘Angela’s Ashes’.



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