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Ireland’s First Railway : The Dublin to Dun Laoghaire line opened in 1834, and proved a remarkable testimony to the speed of technological progress.
Ireland’s First Railway

With acknowledgements to ‘The Neighbourhood of Dublin’ (1921) by Weston St John Joyce, and ‘Mechanics Magazine’ Vol. 22 (October 1834 - March 1835).

In 1825, the world’s first railway carrying fare-paying public passengers opened, triumphantly tackling the eight-mile stretch between Stockton and Darlington in three hours. Just nine years later, Ireland acquired its own first railway, from Dublin to Dun Laoghaire, and the six-mile journey was over in twenty minutes.

THE first railway in Ireland was the Dublin and Kingstown Railway, which opened on 9th October 1834 with a train of eight carriages drawn by the steam locomotive ‘Hibernia’, a 2-2-0 designed by Richard Roberts of Manchester.

The line was paid for by Dublin businessmen, keen to transport goods in bulk between the city and the port at Kingstown, better known today as Dun Laoghaire. Construction was awarded to William Dargan, a farmer’s son from Carlow who had learnt his trade as an engineer under Thomas Telford in England, building the railway from London to Holyhead.

It took just three years for the six-mile-long railway to become a reality, and despite greasy rails, shunting delays and adjustments to the engine, opening-day was a resounding success.

This was a mere nine years after the historic Stockton and Darlington opened in England, but already — much to the alarm of some — the engines were rattling along at thirty miles per hour, completing the return journey in just under twenty minutes.

With acknowledgements to ‘The Neighbourhood of Dublin’ (1921) by Weston St John Joyce, and ‘Mechanics Magazine’ Vol. 22 (October 1834 - March 1835).

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Picture: © David Quinn, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
The D&KR was swallowed up by Dublin and South Eastern Railway in 1854, which changed William Dargan’s standard gauge to 5’ 3”. The new line was extended south of Dun Laoghaire, and now forms part of the DART system (Dublin Area Rapid Transit). Here, a train is seen rounding Bray Head on its way to Dun Laoghaire.

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