5 Terrific Irish Train Journeys
Railway tracks used to stretch out across the island of Ireland in a spider’s web of a train network radiating out from Dublin. They did so until the economic retrenchments of the Fifties and Sixties closed many lines for good. Ever since Ireland has been obsessed with its cars but the train is making something of a comeback as the byways and highways get progressively more clogged as the economy recovers.
And there are some great train journeys to be had still and for which we have to thank our Victorian ancestors. So where should you start? Pick a cheap and cheerful budget hotel like Travelodge Ireland as your starting station and grab an express ticket for this trip through 5 of the top and most picturesque rail journeys to be had in Ireland.
1: Trip Fantastic from Derry to Coleraine
When the famous traveller Michael Palin describes this train journey as the most beautiful in the world, then it might be worth paying attention. And paying attention is required on this splendid train trip between Derry City and Coleraine following the River Foyle into thick green countryside and onward as the track runs alongside the white sands of the unspoilt Benone Strand while you can stare out the other side at Binevenagh Mountain and the high cliffs at Downhill. Chug along and through the longest railway tunnels in Ireland underneath the iconic Mussenden Temple before steaming out into the daylight to run alongside the River Bann as you complete your train expedition into the town of Coleraine. Hard to believe it’s only 45 minutes.
2: The Dublin to Galway Train Journey
An excursion of real contrasts from the largest city in Ireland to the home of Irish festivals, the opening section is flat and calming across the Midlands with canal water and wet brown peaty bogs to consider as you train past. As soon as you cross the River Shannon at Athlone, making your way gingerly across the Victorian iron railway bridge, you enter a different landscape of luxuriantly green farmland before emerging out onto wonderful views of Galway Bay. But the bounteous gifts of this rail journey aren’t quite done as the train passenger crosses the beautiful Lough Atalia before alighting at Galway’s central railway station in Eyre Square.
3: Check out the Cork to Cobh Scenery
The shortest of the journeys on this list of Top 5 Irish train trips, travelling from Cork’s Kent Station to the seaside town of Cobh takes only 20 minutes but every minute is packed with spectacle. Not only is the countryside really something to behold, the stops along the way at Fota Wildlife Park and Carrigaloe after having snaked your way over the Belvelly Channel, give you an inkling of the pure scenic beauty involved in this short journey before arriving seemingly almost instantly into Cobh’s beautifully restored Victorian railway station and former transatlantic terminal. The point of departure for hundreds of thousands of Irish emigrants over the centuries, the beauty of their final journey to Cobh surely must have added to the poignancy of their leaving their native land, most for the final time.
4: Training for Dublin to Rosslare
A train trip from port to port, the railway line from Dublin to Rosslare Harbour starts off beautifully and doesn’t let up. Once the urban landscape of Dublin City is left behind, the train traveller is enchanted by the wonderful coastal scenery of Killiney Bay before enjoying the more rugged appeal of mountainous County Wicklow and the crossing of the Avoca Viaduct. Finally emerging out onto spectacular views of the south-eastern Irish coast in the county of Wexford, this three hours of rail heaven finally ends at the more industrial setting of the ferry terminal in Rosslare.
5: The Magic of the Mallow to Killarney Railway line
This journey by rail will fly by and not just because it lasts only fifty minutes. The magical journey from County Cork’s Mallow to the tourist centre of Killarney in County Kerry makes its gentle way through lush green countryside before snaking past tall sylvan mountainsides prior to the gasp-inducing last few miles of waterside beauty into Killarney.