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ALL ABOARD! The Cork and Muskerry light railway and the River Lee Hotel

Original Source from The Doyle Collection Blog

Cork Muskerry Railway History

Long before The River Lee Hotel, the 1800s Muskerry tramline took locals from Cork city to the popular site of Blarney Castle. Rollin’ over the bridge with the blow of its whistle, the tram would arrive at the Cork terminus – now, the exact spot of The River Lee Hotel. 

Above: Blarney train ready to leave the Western Road terminus. The terminus was sited on Bishop’s island, now the site of The River Lee Hotel.

The River Lee Hotel celebrated the 80th anniversary since its closure. As part of Cork’s Culture Night, the hotel hosted a tour of the remaining parts of the Muskerry tram, transporting visitors back to the 1800s to relive the glory years of steam travel. After its first week the train was packed to capacity with over 2,000 passengers making the 18 mile route to Blarney Castle.

Cork Railway History, Irish Railway History
Above: One of the last trains to leave Cork city on the Muskerry line seen passing the gates of UCC on the Western Road – December 1934

The Cork terminus of the line was located at Bishop’s Marsh, where The River Lee Hotel stands today. The tram crossed the south channel over the bridge leading to the terminus on the hotel’s Western Road. Today you can still see the piers of the bridge located at The River Lee Hotel’s site.

At the Culture Night evening, research complied by railway enthusiast and historian Tim O’Brien was presented by Paula Cogan, Director of Marketing at The River Lee Hotel.

“This evening allows me to combine two of my favourite things: history and, of course, my role here at the hotel.  I studied archaeology and history in University College Cork and have always been fascinated by industrial archaeology,” Cogan says.

Cork Muskerry Railway Line, Irish Railway History
Above: Carrigrohane Station – Author unknown.

The famous ‘Blarney line’ operated successfully up until the 1920s until the advent of motor vehicles. Now, historian work reveals the days of the tram, the lives lived and the train ride that journeyed through Cork’s wild landscape.

Many Corkians still remember the steam train whistle before it rolled off, reminding them that soon it’ll be long gone…

Thanks to Paula Cogan and Fred Dean for use of images – you can see more images of the Cork Muskerry Light Railway here.

Old Irish Railways, Cork Railways

Above: Guard Coakley switches on his green light for the last time for the 6.15 train which left on its final journey from the Muskerry Railway, December 1934