Downpatrick & County Down Railway
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The Railway Station, Market Street, Downpatrick, County Down,
Mr Robert Gardiner
Travel back to the past with real vintage steam trains through St. Patrick's Country.
Travel back to the past with real vintage steam trains to Inch Abbey and King Magnus' Grave, on Ireland's only full-sized heritage railway. The Downpatrick and County Down Railway runs through the drumlin countryside of County Down, St. Patrick's Country - over the River Quoile and under the graceful Down Cathedral to the peaceful ruins of Inch Abbey. With a mix of steam and diesel trains, and vintage carriages, there's plenty for train fans of all ages - from wee kids to "big kids".
Built on the trackbed of part of the Belfast and County Down Railway, which ran to Newcastle, the old line was closed and abandoned nearly 60 years ago, the volunteer enthusiasts have laid nearly three miles of track to create Ireland’s only full-sized heritage railway.
Steam locomotives from the 1920s and 30s, or diesels from the 60s, convey their passengers in 50 to 100 year old carriages past rebuilt railway buildings and into the County Down countryside to the terminus at Inch Abbey, crossing the River Quoile on its way to the peaceful remains of the 12th Century monastery.
At Downpatrick Station, a modern visitor centre, the 'Carriage Gallery', tells the story of the development of railways in Ireland from the 19th century to today, and boasts six vintage passenger carriages - some of same type that starred in the 1952 John Wayne classic 'The Quiet Man' - the second oldest surviving steam locomotive in Ireland, one 1980s prototype Railbus and four goods wagons, including the former Belfast & County Down Railway's "Royal Saloon", which carried the future Kings George V and VI, as well as King Edward VII and their consorts.
The station houses an exhibition of railway memorabilia, and there is a model railway on the ground floor for children. Refreshments are served in an 1950s buffet carriage.
Trains run on weekends during the summer months with other special events at St. Patrick's Day, Easter, May Day, Halloween & Christmas.