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Report - Ballyvoyle Railway Tunnel, Waterford, Ireland - Feb 2014

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by cunningcorgi, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. cunningcorgi

    cunningcorgi 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 12, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Visited solo.


    Unfortunatly the history of abandoned Irish railway tunnels has not been as extensively researched as their UK counterparts (by the likes of Graeme at Forgotten Relics for example) so the actual history of the tunnels can be hard to locate - who designed it, when did work start, how long did it take, etc. But I'll give it a go and hope that most of the following is correct !

    Ballyvoyle Tunnel (sometimes also known as Durrow Tunnel as Durrow station was situated just north of the northern portal) was located on the Waterford, Dungarvan & Lismore Railway Company line which was set up in 1878.

    This 43 mile stretch of railway was the most expensive line to be built in Ireland at the time, as it followed the most difficult route of any railway in the South. It was a very hilly line with a series of sharp curves, a tunnel 418 feet long (*more likely yards than feet*) near Durrow and two viaducts, one at Durrow and the other at Ballyvoyle. It also included a great number of under and over bridges and three road crossings at Dungarvan.

    The revenue of the line was derived from both passengers and goods. Waterford was a rich agricultural county, exporting live stock to Britain. Businesses in the Cappoquin area were active in the exporting of bacon and salmon from the bountiful river Blackwater. Passenger traffic was busy going both ways. Cross channel passengers journeyed to Ireland on holidays and on business, while Irish people went to Britain to find work with many using it as a first port of call before emigrating to America and Australia.

    In 1923 the G.S.W.R. was amalgamated with other railways to form the Great Southern Railways. On 1st January 1945 the railway was taken over by C.I.E. and they operated the line until 1967 when on 27th March the line between Mallow and Waterford City was completely closed to passenger and freight traffic. The line was dismantled between Mallow and Dungarvan.

    The Dungarvan - Waterford section was retained, as a factory was opened in Ballinacourty to process magnesite from Dolomite. The Dolomite Limestone was brought from Benettsbridge in County Kilkenny to Ballinacourty in Dungarvan by train. This necessitated C.I.E. to build a 1.5 mile spur to Ballinacourty. This was completed and opened on 3rd April 1970. Twelve years later this traffic ceased after the closure of the magnesite factory. C.I.E. continued to maintain the line until 1987 when the last train was seen on the Waterford Dungarvan line.

    CIE own the line but Waterford County Council acquired a licence from them at the start of this century to make it into a pedestrian walkway/cycle path for tourism and leisure.

    The tunnel itself was opened in 1878 and officially closed in 1982 although a couple of engineers specials and the annual weed spreading loco ran through until 1987 when the line ceased to be maintained. It is 418 yards in length and is fully brick lined which in itself, is unusual for Irish tunnels. Ample refuges are provided and the tunnel is bullet straight.

    History lifted from Deise Greenway - Waterford to Dungarvan Railway & Waterford & Suir Valley Heritage Railway Ireland & of course Forgotten Relics.


    Having gone back to Ireland for a week for the rugby and then a general break, the weather, like in the UK, put the mocklers on getting out and about for most of the week but eventually a window opened. Ballyvoyle was very much a third / fourth option but with extensive flooding, fallen trees and low barometer readings, it quickly moved up the list !

    For some reason, Irish tunnels are generally ignored by Irish explorers. I can never figure out why as generally, they are not locked or gated. They do generally tend to be in the middle of nowhere though and take a bit of tracking down but are worth it when found. Ballyvoyle is no exception and was very wet in places but this was probably due to the storms more than anything else.

    1. At the end of this...

    2. ...there should be a tunnel

    3. Looking down from the southern portal

    4. Further in, looking north

    5. Calcited refuge

    6. View back south

    7. Halfway in and old sleepers

    8. Getting closer

    9. View back southwards

    10. Brick and light

    11. Northern portal

    12. A familiar sight at the northern end !

    Thanks for looking !

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