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One of the most significant chapters in the history of rail and sea communication between Great Britain and the Carlingford region was the Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Railway which closed seventy years ago. The railway was conceived in the 1860s to link Dundalk and Newry with the London and North Western Railway port at Greenore, from where a ferry service operated to Holyhead. 

Map from the 1900s showing the route (in red) of the Newry, Dundalk and Greenore Railway. The line ran along both the northern and southern shores of the Colley Peninsula converging on Greenore. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Map from the 1900s showing the route (in red) of the Newry, Dundalk and Greenore Railway. The line ran along both the northern and southern shores of the Colley Peninsula converging on Greenore. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

The development of the railway was a long process.  Initially two schemes had been prepared; one by the Newry and Greenore Company and other by the Dundalk and Greenore Railway Company with a rivalry between the two factions. The Act of Incorporation of both companies received Royal Assent on the 28th July 1863 and The Dundalk and Greenore Railway Act authorised the formation of the company. 

Passenger tickets issued for the Newry, Dundalk & Greenore Railway. The railway was a popular and convenient way of travelling around the Cooley Peninsula. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Passenger tickets issued for the Newry, Dundalk & Greenore Railway. The railway was a popular and convenient way of travelling around the Cooley Peninsula. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

In 1867, the Newry and Greenore Company collapsed, and responsibility was taken over by the London and North Western Railway Company.  From this time forward the London and North Western’s control over the company gradually tightened.  It was very unusual for an Irish railway to be owned entirely by British transport interests. 

The first track was opened between Dundalk and Greenore in 1873. Construction began on the Newry to Greenore line in 1874.  The line was considered to have occupied one of the most picturesque situations of any railway in Ireland, with the Carlingford Mountains on one side and superb views north across Carlingford Lough to the Mourne Mountains.  The Newry to Greenore line was single throughout with stations at Omeath and Carlingford.  Services began in 1876 with three mixed trains daily.  Initially the trains departed from Bridge Street Station in Newry but, in 1880, the trains were extended into the Edward Street Station.

Omeath Station was one of the rural stations along the route of the railway on the northern side of the Cooley Peninsula. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Omeath Station was one of the rural stations along the route of the railway on the northern side of the Cooley Peninsula. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

Although the company only owned 26.75 miles of track it also owned a port, an hotel, a golf course, bathing-machines and even its own reservoir, water supply, sewage system and electricity supply.

After World War I development at Greenore stalled.  Partition in 1921 brought difficulties for the railway, particularly as the new border ran through the route of the line. This led to customs arrangements being introduced along the Newry to Greenore route. 

Passenger tickets issued for the Newry, Dundalk & Greenore Railway. The railway was a popular and convenient way of travelling around the Cooley Peninsula. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Passenger tickets issued for the Newry, Dundalk & Greenore Railway. The railway was a popular and convenient way of travelling around the Cooley Peninsula. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

The railway passed into the ownership of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923 but an agreement was reached in 1933 for the line to be worked by the Great Northern Railway.   As partition placed an international frontier across the Greenore – Newry line, it was not absorbed into either the Great Southern Railways in 1925 or the Ulster Transport Authority in 1948.

From 1923 onwards the railway had progressively been in decline.  As a result, the decision was made to close the railway in 1951.  However, it remained alive as a company for over five years, owing to the legal complexities of the disposal and dissolution of a company located partly in Northern Ireland and the Republic. In July 1957 the British Transport Commission Act officially dissolved the Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Railway Company. 

Poster advertising sailings between the Isle of Man and Greenore. The Greenore railway, run by the London and North Western Railway Company, linked Newry, Dundalk and rural stations on the Cooley Peninsula with Greenore, making the port the main point of embarkation for cross-channel passengers in the Carlingford region.   Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Poster advertising sailings between the Isle of Man and Greenore. The Greenore railway, run by the London and North Western Railway Company, linked Newry, Dundalk and rural stations on the Cooley Peninsula with Greenore, making the port the main point of embarkation for cross-channel passengers in the Carlingford region. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

Newry and Mourne Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 am – 4.30 pm. Please call 0330 137 4422 for further information.

by Noelle Murtagh

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