Train buff, and pround holder of over 65 rail pass, Colin McAlpin continues his journey across Ireland by railway... next stop Cork.
Heuston Station, built in l846 on the River Liffey, is how a mainline railway terminus should look: an imposing, solid, greystone building of classic design and build. When it was built, as the starting point for the Great Southern and Western Railway Company services and originally named Kingsbridge Station after a nearby bridge over the Liffey, it was the largest enclosed building in the world.
It was renamed Heuston in l966 after Sean Heuston, a hero of the Easter Rising against British rule, who worked in the offices. Railway historians should check the panels on the outside of the building commemorating the cities – Dublin, Cork and Limerick – and the companies involved in the development of the line. The station, while large, has the usual facilities – small café, shop, various vending machines – passengers require but since it is in the heart of Dublin, served by bus number 90 and the LUAS light railway from the city centre, they are more than adequate. The GSWR was the largest of Ireland’s major railway companies and today the Ironrod Eireann lines from Heuston serve Cork, Limerick, Killarney, Kildare, Waterford and Tralee as well as the small commuter stations on the DART line.
The Dublin-Cork run is one of the longest in Ireland: three hours between the island’s largest and third largest cities. There is a buffet service providing a range of hot and cold snacks and drinks and a trolly service. The scenery along the route is not particularly spectacular – green fields, rivers and streams and distant mountains – but there are several interesting and historic towns to be explored.