The Railway children
Ballingrane railway station remembered
By Deirdre Madigan(Cregan)
29th Sept 2016
Walking up to the sound of the early morning train sounding the horn outside your bedroom window was a common occurrence in Ballingrane Railway Station. We were so used to it we hardly heard it some days, but unfortunately any visitors staying at the house were awakened suddenly, thinking the train was actually in the room with them!
There are many things to say about a typical day at the station. One of our favourite things to do was climbing the stairs to the signal cabin, giving us a bird’s eye view of trains as they approached and left the station. The glass sliding windows gave us a great vantage point, where we could wave at the train drivers as they passed.
This was a busy place, with record logs of daily train activities and checks. It was like a telephone exchange alerting stations to approaching trains. The signal cabin was the communications hub for all the stations and level crossings from the Silvermines to Foynes.
Our father Paddy would go to the signal cabin and await a call about an oncoming train. He would then make many calls to neighbouring stations alerting them of this. One of our vivid memories as children was watching out father carefully select the correct combination of levers to switch the tracks and signals.
For every train that passed, our father would have to open and close the railway gates to allow the train to pass through and stop the oncoming traffic. It was a great treat for us to get a swing on the gate, as he opened and closed them.
Every Saturday the oil lamps in the signals needed to be checked. We would often go with our father to do this,sometimes just to get out of doing other household jobs. This however was not a job for the faint hearted as some of these signals were located on high poles only accessed by tall ladders. The signals could be seen at night as the oil lamps were lit. It was therefore necessary to check these lamps regularly. We would often walk the tracks carrying oil lamps and watch as he climbed the ladders and replaced the oil lamps with new ones and lit them.
As there were many visitors to the station, my father wanted to present the station in its best possible light. He took this very seriously, keeping his lawns, flower beds and shrubs well maintained. This won him many awards over the years.
Then there were the days, when a special excursion train, heading to a match in Thurles would stop at Ballingrane. We sold tickets from the office and watched as the crowds of people boarded the train headed to the match.
On a few occasions a steam train would pass by. This brought many visitors to the station and was indeed a great event for Ballingrane Railway Station.
Our childhood at the station holds many fond memories that we cherish dearly and will remain with us for years to come.
Ballingrane Railway Station
As we reminisce on our childhood days,
the memories stay with us in so many ways.
From rumbling trains to whistles blowing,
and signal lamps so bright and glowing.
Our old stone house stood proud and tall,
waiting for engines to give their call.
Gates were opened the tracks were changed,
from the signal box it’s all arranged.
Many a train passed by this way,
bringing goods to Foynes nearly every day.
Although they are gone now their history lives on,
so too will the memories of our childhood stay strong.
Poem by Deirdre Madigan