Those who attended mid-day Mass at Cloughogue Chapel last Sunday could have been forgiven for thinking they had just taken a step back in time! Just as the parishioners were going in through the door, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland steam train Merlin whizzed by, with a whistle and an impressive plume of smoke.

Merlin passes Cloughogue Chapel, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Merlin passes Cloughogue Chapel, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

For the younger onlookers it was a real life Thomas the Tank Engine passing by.

Merlin the only full size compound locomotive in use on these islands started working life in 1932 for the Great Northern Railway and hasn’t been in use in recent years having undergone a boiler overhaul. 

The run billed as “The Slieve Gullion” went from Whitehead to Dundalk where passengers had a chance to avail of the on-board hospitality including draught Guinness while rattling down the tracks in the vintage carriages.

From a photographers point of view, all that was missing was the blue sky!

Check out a video on YouTube

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