Tralee – Mallow- Limerick Junction – Limerick – Gort

Having eaten so late last night I was quite relieved that I’d not got a cooked breakfast booked. I headed out of the hotel for a wander around town and to find a little something to keep me going.

On a rainy morning, it’s not the most beautiful town in the world. No cafés or bakeries had opened yet, so I headed for Tesco and bought some fruit salad and a croissant. I had tea-making facilities in the room so didn’t need anything more.

Seeing it in daylight, Tralee station is an odd place. The line used to go further than it does now, but for some reason they now terminate just before the covered platform rather than underneath it. There is a rather nice old signal box just beyond the station, which is still full of equipment but I’m not convinced that it was manned.

It is easy to trace what the line used to do beyond the station, if you look at an online map. It takes a wide loop around the north of the town, then ends at a harbour on a man-made island at a small place called Fenit, a couple of miles from Tralee. It must have been rather spectacular.

Google street map link

Some traces of the route remain, but it is mostly now greenway. I didn’t visit but this website tells more of the story, and of the current plans.

At the station, I had a bit of a wait as Iarnod Eirann kept the platform gate closed until shortly before departure. I’ve seen this in quite a few stations over here. They lock the automatic barriers at Cork and the Dublin termini 2 minutes before trains are due to depart to stop people boarding at the last moment. All feels a bit unnecessary to me, but I’m sure they have their reasons.

The journey back to Mallow was uneventful. For once the train was fairly quiet, I did have a rather amusing conversation with a chap sat opposite me who opened by asking whether I was Steve. Turns out that my phone was broadcasting wi-fi, he saw the network name, and there wasn’t anyone else that it could be.

The weather showed no signs of brightening up, and the view out of the windows became more grey the further we went.

This service terminated at Mallow, from where the Cork – Dublin train would take over. My train had become busier after Killarney, and it was clear that everyone was on their way towards the capital.

Mallow station

Limerick Junction is an oddly named place. It is indeed a junction but is 20 miles from Limerick. Conversely Tipperary is less than 3 miles away. I wonder why it’s not Tipperary Junction.

I dropped off the express and crossed the platform.

I did have a bit of time between trains in Limerick, but by now it was absolutely tipping down, so like the majority of passengers I stayed under cover and looked out at the street rather than exploring, as I normally would. It really did have the feel of a station built on a budget. It was a shame the weather was so grim as I would like to have seen the façade.

Oddly, the train to Gort was the same one that I’d got off from Limerick Junction, but it wasn’t the same service.

This relatively short journey was significant as it marked the last use of my Interrail pass. In order to make the best use of the 2-month pass duration, I’d arranged for it to finish on the day I arrived here, as I was staying with friends for a couple of days. I would then make the journey home as a “normal” passenger. I’d done the same at the start, travelling as far as Berlin on normal tickets, staying a couple of days then activating the ticket as I left. It meant that my 2 month pass could be the middle part of a 2½ month adventure.

Stepping off the train at Gort
Stepping off the train at Gort, the final trip using my Interrail pass.

Kayty and Chris met me at the station and we went back to their lovely place in the mountains. I think it’s the third time I’ve arrived to see them by rail. Irish transport infrastructure has benefitted from significant European investment in the 18 years they have lived here, and it is so much easier to get over than it used to be. First a motorway was put in from Dublin to (nearly) Limerick. Then that was extended to the city, and another new Limerick – Galway motorway was built. That one also gets used when I arrive to Shannon by plane, though I’ve probably come over more frequently by car than any other way. More recently the railway line has gone in. First as far as Ennis from Limerick, but now it continues all the way to Galway. There is talk of it continuing further up the west coast. in fairness it is well-used, like almost all the services that I used in Ireland.

It’s a bit of a drive from this, the nearest station, indeed the nearest town to their place in the mountains but the views are magnificent and I was greeted by some more old friends when I arrived.

It was lovely to have a couple of days back here. I really don’t get out here as often as I’d like to, so it was nice to mark a special point in this whole adventure in a place that I’ve always loved, and with some very special friends.

The main photo at the start this post shows the view from the front of the house, a view that is never not spectacular.