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The Railway Line Beside the Sea

Ireland’s first Railway (Dublin to Kingstown) was completed by the end of 1834 and on December 13 of that same year the first train “Hibernia” puffed her way out of Westland Row station, destination Kings­town. This ushered in a railway revolution that would see Ireland covered in 3,480 miles of track by 1920.

In 1844 Isambard Kingdom Brunel (Thames tunnel, Clifton Suspension Bridge, S.S. Great Eastern) told the Dublin and Kingstown Railway (D.&K.R.) that his company (the Great Western Railway) planned to build a line into South Wales and start a new sea route from Fishguard to what is now Rosslare. Also in 1849 a small private tramway was carrying over 400 tons of copper and lead ore from local mines to the port of Wicklow. Brunel’s line plus the ore made the idea of extending the D&KR line to Wicklow profitable. The railway to Wicklow opened in 1855 that was transformative to the town's importance as a port.

The simplest and most obvious route inland would not prove as scenic as the coastal route, but to boost the appeal leisure travel the coastal route was chosen. This proved to be a disaster because this scenic line ran far too close to the sea and relied on far too many viaducts to be safe. Tragedy struck in 1867 when the Eniscorthy to Dublin left the tracks at Bray Head killing two and prompting the building of the Bray head tunnel.

Scene of the Bray Head disaster,1867

After Wicklow the track headed inland to incorporate the old mining train tracks.

Wicklow was also one of the several stations where a builder of a new residence within one mile of the station could obtain for him­self or a nominee a free season ticket for seven years between the station and Harcourt Street.

Organised excursions were features of special “Sea Breezes” to Wicklow (Mainline or Murrough). In August, 1932, 3,354 passengers travelled on five trains from Harcourt Street at a return fare of one shilling.

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