March 31, 1959

Remembering the closure of the Cavan/Leitrim Narrow Gauge Railway

News Reporter


News Reporter

Remembering the closure of the Cavan/Leitrim Narrow Gauge Railway

The lady holding the bag is Myra Campbell, Drumshanbo. Centre of pic is Breda Earley, Drumshanbo. The man with the cap is Willie Reilly with Eddie Knott, manager of Crawfords Drapery in front on him

On March 31, 1959 the Cavan/Leitrim Narrow Gauge Railway closed thus ending 72 years of railway travel throughout Cavan and Leitrim.

It first opened in 1887 and travelled from Belturbet to Ballinamore and on to Dromod to connect with the Sligo/Dublin line.

The tramway which ran from Ballinamore via Drumshanbo to Arigna opened in 1888 in order to take the Arigna coal and also to deliver goods to businesses in Drumshanbo.

It also had facilities for passengers and special wagons to take livestock from the Fairs in Drumshanbo.

Despite protests and marches to Dublin, CIE in January 1959 announced that the Cavan - Leitrim Narrow Gauge would close on March 31. And close it did.

The written announcement was signed by Frank Lemass on the orders of Dr C S Andrews.

Within weeks of the closure all the rolling stock, sleepers and track were gone, sold to various purchasers ensuring it would never run again.

The main line from Belturbet, Co Cavan to Dromod, Co Leitrim, via Ballinamore was 33.75 miles/54.3 kms in length.

The tramway from Ballinamore to Arigna, via Drumshanbo was 14.75 miles/23.4 kms in length. The railway had a total length of 53 miles or 85.5 km.

The Arigna Valley railway from Arigna via Derreenavoggy to Aughabehy opened on June 2, 1920.

Built mostly on the site of the 1830-32 Arigna Iron Works tramway at a cost of £60,000, this branch line was four miles, 374 yards long. It closed in 1930.

In 1988 it took 69 minutes to travel the 12 miles/19.3 kms distance from Drumshanbo to Ballinamore.

In 1888 it took 16 minutes to travel the 2.75 miles/4.4 kms from Drumshanbo to Arigna Station.

Read Also: First Miners Way 5k and Miners Way Ultra Marathon this weekend