Charlestown, county Mayo

The ‘Burma Road’, as it is romantically known, was a cheaply-built, bendy Irish railway with a disproportionate number of level crossings. It connected Claremorris, county Mayo, with Collooney, county Sligo, giving the Great Southern & Western Railway company access to Sligo from their railways in the south and west without the need to follow (and pay for the privilege of using) the circuitous route offered by the Midland Great Western Railway company through Athlone and Mullingar. The line served areas with a very low population density – the largest towns being Kiltimagh, Swinford and Tobercurry. The line opened in 1895 and operated through the first few decades of the post-1924 government ownership of the Irish railways. Passenger services were withdrawn in the early 1960s, with full closure following in the mid-1970s. Unlike many railways closed outright in the 1960s, the track was never lifted and it remains, along with much infrastructure, to this day. The landscape from Tobercurry to Collooney is breathtakingly beautiful, with sudden peaks so distinctive of county Sligo. As one heads north, Ben Bulben appears on the horizon.

Charlestown is mostly a post-Famine creation, a planned town immediately south of the much older village of Bellahy. The railway level crossing to the east of the station is coincidentally also the Mayo-Sligo border (Bellahy, then, is in county Sligo). Not much remains of the station itself, except platforms and of course the track. About 100 yards to the west is a metal bridge over a small tributary of the Black river, which flows west till it meets the Moy and empties into Lough Conn near Foxford, and then to the sea at Ballina. Here is the map link.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting more photos from the ‘Burma Road’, the Sligo part of which I traced in July 2013.

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