Archive for January 8th, 2010

The relief of Charlestown – a really bad winter

8 January 2010

Contributed by Peter Rigney

While some people are complaining about transportation in the current cold snap, consider conditions in Ireland during a far worse Arctic experience in the winter of 1946/ 1947. The following is an account given by a young locomotive fireman (firemen were in due course promoted to driver) called Val Horan who was based in Athlone and worked throughout Connacht.  He gives an account of clearing the line between Claremorris and Sligo in a period when the railways were worked exclusively by steam locomotives.

Working a steam locomotive in falling snow is a miserable experience. The suction caused by the forward movement of the locomotive makes the swirling snowflakes penetrate everywhere.  They got down your neck and into your eyes. When the Mayo line was cleared I worked the first goods train into Ballina. In the twenty one miles from Manulla to Ballina not one telegraph pole was left standing. The town was short of food, bread was very hard to get and there was no electricity. After 1947 I never wanted to see snow again. Read more