The Irish Railway Collection consists of steam and diesel locomotives, passenger carriages, goods vehicles, railway buildings, signals and smaller artefacts reflecting 180 years of railways in Ireland.
Our archives contain technical drawings, timetable and tickets from most local companies.
Before the railway era, Ireland was relatively well served by a network of roads and canals, though travel was slow and tedious. Railways made it possible, for the first time, to move large numbers of passengers and quantities of goods at speed over long distances.
Without the railways, the great industrial growth and social development of the 1800s would possibly not have happened. It made travel affordable for ordinary people for the first time. The seaside holiday and the seaside resort also owe their popularity to the railways.
The 1900s witnessed the rise of motorised road transport and air travel and, as a consequence, the decline in importance of the railways.
The collections represents railway travel in Ireland from the earliest surviving Dublin Kingstown Railway carriage dating from 1838 up to the Northern Ireland Railways diesel electric locomotive supplied by Hunslet in 1970. It includes main line express locomotives form many of the best known Irish lines, such as Great Southern Railway steam loco No800 ‘Maedb’ and Northern Counties Committee steam locomotive No74 ‘Dunluce Castle’. We also have a tiny industrial steam locomotive from the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.