Ireland’s Peat Bog Railways


When planning for my honeymoon, I naturally wanted to see some railroad things that were distinct to Ireland and Scotland. Scotland was easy — the famous Forth Bridge and West Highlands Line (for the Jacobite steam train) were easy choices. For Ireland, though, I didn’t have a clue.

I reviewed a recent Trains Magazine article about the Irish mainline network and learned that there was frequent passenger service on numerous lines, along with a growing base of freight traffic. I started poking around looking for likely photo locations, only to stumble across the unexpected phrases “Bord na Mona,” “narrow gauge,” and “peat bog.” Intrigued, I dug further, and was instantly hooked after I found my way to Ted McAvoy’s Bord na Mona Wiki.

I traded emails with Ted and he was most considerate in sharing advice about where to go, when things happen and who to contact, but the real breakthrough was when an email I sent to Bord na Mona itself was answered — just days before we departed — with a short response from Corporate Communications informing me that the local manager was ready to “arrange your visit.” A large corporation willingly opening its doors to a couple strangers from another country? Unheard of!

Follow along as Cortney and I meet a group of incredibly gracious and considerate railroaders who unhesitatingly take time out of their busy days to show us around the fascinating operations at West Offaly Power Station in Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly, and the nearby Blackwater bog network in Cos. Offaly, Galway and Roscommon.

Cortney and I had an amazing time meeting BnM’s employees, who without fail were gracious with their time, knowledge, supplies of tea, sense of humor and fundamentally cheery nature, and we thank them for granting us the opportunity to explore a fascinating operation that is completely unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in the US.

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