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Includes content from Vanishing Ireland, Easter Dawn, Dublin Docklands, The Irish Pub, Maxol and many more, as well as Waterways Ireland, the Past Tracks project and hundreds of historical articles on Irish families, houses, companies and events.

Past Tracks – An Illustrated Journey Through Irish History

Like Paddington Bear, Past Tracks came to life on a railway platform. In fact, so did Algernon Worthing in Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, ‘The Importance of Being Ernest.’ I was standing on the platform at Hazelhatch, near Celbridge, County Kildare, awaiting the Dublin train, with drizzle going down my neck, wishing there was a placard somewhere that might tell me the local history. Of the great battles that raged when Brian Boru’s forces swept through these parts a thousand years earlier. Of the Italian fresco painter who caught Lady Cloncurry misbehaving with a suitor at nearby Lyons. Of the roadside beer-seller from nearby whose grandson would found the Guinness brewery …

History should never just be boring old dates dates dates. It should be full of the vibrancy and personality and passion of the people who have gone before. In Ireland, we are surrounded by the past wherever we stand. Every field, hill, stream, rock, street or railway platform has a story to tell.

As we glide through the countryside in trains, buses and motor cars, we are often utterly unaware of the history that whizzes by. We vaguely take in hilltop summits crowned with ancient forts, ruined castles, hollow churches and crumbling farmsteads. We daydream past the bramble-strewn shells of abandoned canals and copper mines, the ghostly outlines of primeval forests, the overgrown graveyards where vanished bloodlines lie, the stumps of pillars that once carried railway lines, but the history itself often eludes us.

In 2019, I teamed up with Irish Rail (Iarnród Éireann) and the illustrator Derry Dillon, ‘Past Tracks’ to put such history back in focus by installing a series of history panels at railway stations across Ireland. The first ten panels were sponsored by Flahavan’s of Kilmacthomas, County Waterford, a company with a rich history itself. In 2022, we unveiled a further forty panels, spread along all of the major railway lines in the state, including the DART in Dublin.

To date, we have produced 50 panels with 300 short stories about lesser-known people, places and events connected with Ireland’s rich past. Each tale is presented in a manner that seeks to intrigue, amuse and maybe even inspire commuters, passengers and visitors alike as they journey through the four provinces.

Hats off to Jack O’Driscoll, Irish-language editor, for his expert translations and grammatical observations, and to Maria O’Brien for her fine reading of the panels also. The fifty stations covered to date are as follows:

  1. Carlow – Carlow Town
  2. Clare – Ennis
  3. Cork – Cobh
  4. Cork – Mallow
  5. Dublin – Booterstown
  6. Dublin – Connolly
  7. Dublin – Clondalkin & Fonthill
  8. Dublin – Clonsilla
  9. Dublin – Dalkey
  10. Dublin – Docklands
  11. Dublin – Dun Laoghaire
  12. Dublin – Grand Canal Dock
  13. Dublin – Greystones
  14. Dublin – Hazelhatch and Celbridge
  15. Dublin – Howth
  16. Dublin – Heusten
  17. Dublin – Lansdowne Road
  18. Dublin – Malahide
  19. Dublin – Pearse
  20. Dublin – Sandycove and Glasthule
  21. Dublin – Skerries
  22. Galway – Athenry
  23. Galway – Ballinasloe
  24. Galway – Galway City (Ceannt)
  25. Kerry – Killarney
  26. Kildare – Athy
  27. Kildare – Hazelhatch & Celbridge
  28. Kildare – Maynooth
  29. Kildare – Monasterevin
  30. Kildare – Naas & Sallins
  31. Kildare – Newbridge
  32. Kilkenny – Kilkenny City (MacDonagh)
  33. Laois – Portarlington
  34. Laois – Portlaoise
  35. Leitrim – Dromod
  36. Louth – Drogheda (MacBride)
  37. Louth – Dundalk
  38. Longford – Edgeworthstown
  39. Mayo – Ballina
  40. Mayo – Castlebar
  41. Mayo – Westport
  42. Offaly – Tullamore
  43. Roscommon – Boyle
  44. Sligo – Sligo Town
  45. Tipperary – Thurles
  46. Waterford – Waterford City
  47. Wexford – Wexford Town (O Hanrahan)
  48. Wicklow – Arklow
  49. Westmeath – Athlone
  50. Westmeath – Mullingar