Down Memory Lane

The Cashel Railway Extension

The Cashel Railway Extension

continued from last week

The Construction

The 5 and 3/4 mile line from Gouldscross to Cashel was the last branch line to be built by the Great Southern and Western Railway. It was, fittingly, Dean Kinane who ceremoniously dug the first sod at Gouldscross on March 4, 1903.

The tracks, ties and other components for the new line were not new but had come from the main Dublin / Cork line at Sallins, part of which had been dismantled in 1900.

The biggest engineering feat was the construction of the metal bridge which spanned the Suir between Kilbreedy and Clonmore.

Ardmayle was an intermediate station and there were two level crossings, one that Camas about a quarter-mile from Cashel and a second beside the station at Ardmayle.

Things didn’t go smoothly during the construction. There were labour troubles. The ‘Cashel Sentinel’ reported on June 20, 1903: “For the second time the labourers engaged in working on the new railway works from Gouldscross to Cashel have gone out on strike for higher wages. In the previous strike their wages were increased from three pence to three and a half pence an hour. It was hoped that this would have brought peace but on Wednesday, June 17, they struck again for another halfpenny and invaded the streets of Cashel. Over one hundred and fifty men were involved and they grumbled that the work was too hard and the pay too little.” They gained their extra half-penny and went ahead to finish the work.

At the time of the opening the railway had cost £41,602-19-10. It was estimated that further expenditure would amount to £10,500. The cost of the one rail motor carriage was £1,500-6-6. In 1953 during a tribunal hearing on the future of the branch line the initial cost was given at £58,773.

The Opening

On October 12, 1904, in anticipation of the opening of the railway, a new corn market was opened in the town. Six days before opening day the line was inspected and passed for public use by Col Vandarop, an inspector from The Board of Trade.

On the morning of the opening the first train arrived at CasheJ at 8.45 am. It had on board Mr. Bell, the superintendent of the GS & WR; Mr. Cooper Chadwick; Mr. Sides. District engineer; Mr. Bayly, engineer and Mr. Galway, the contractor’s engineer.

The platform was crowded, all eager to board the first train and, on its return to Gouldscross, large numbers took a spin there and back. Among the passengers were Very Rev. Dean Kinane, PP, VG; Very Rev. N. J. Brennan, C.S.Sp., Rockwell College; Mr. A. P. Spain, accountant. National Bank; Mr. J. J. Connol1y. agent, Cashel U DC; Thomas Walsh, ‘Cashel Sentinel’; Philip Ryan, The Central Hotel; Denis Maher. NT and other notables.

Later that evening after the unveiling of the memorial fountain and the presentation of the address, Dean Kinane told the crowd: “This fountain will remind posterity of the noble feelings of their fathers who erected this monument to a ‘Soggarth Aman’, who did little but yet did his very best, to improve the temporal as well as the spiritual condition of the people ....’ He went on to inform his listeners that he had travelled on the new railway to Gouldscross that day and while in Gouldscross met some navvies who asked him to give them drink. He told them to go to Cashel and they could have plenty of it. They asked him the name of the public house and he told them ‘The Gouts’ (a watering hole for horses on the Clonmel road) so if any of those present now felt thirsty they could go to ‘The Gouts’ also.

Francis Phillips caught some of the mood with a poem composed specially for the opening:

Get your tickets on this day

From Thomas J. McQuaid

For the railway will begin

before the dawn.

They’ll be crobars in

the air

Picks and shovels everywhere4

And the Cashel men will play

the ‘Rocks of Ban’.