Ramblings on the Railway

watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of disused railway in Donegal

watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of disused railway near Burtonport in Co. Donegal

Yes, there’s the lovely greenway in Waterford and another one in Mayo. You can walk or you can cycle. Stunning views, they tell me. They were abandoned railway lines until they were resurfaced in recent years and now, I hear that people are coming from far and near to enjoy them.

But of course, the best one would be in Donegal – if only it could happen. I was in Caiseal na gCorr once, in the Donegal Gaeltacht, and I came across the abandoned railway that runs from Burtonport in the North West, to the city of Derry. This line passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Ireland, past the magnificent slopes of Errigal and Muckish mountains, across heathery moors and through ancient oak forests…

I made some quick sketches along the way; old stations, old railway bridges, some old abandoned caravans (as you can see above) but what got me thinking about all this again was a disused railway that I spotted recently outside Termonbarry in County Roscommon (see below).

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of old Bord na Móna railway line in Co. Roscommon
Old Bord na Móna railway line in Co. Roscommon

Something about the scene reminded me of the Peredvizhniki, a group of Russian artists known as “the Wanderers” who were formed in 1870 in protest at the academic restrictions of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Rather than continue to paint in the Classical or Romantic style, the Wanderers set out to depict life as it really was in Russia at the time. Their subjects included paintings of the countryside, everyday life and the struggles of the common people.

Oil painting by Isaac Levitan, the Vladimirka Road, Russia 1892
The Vladimirka Road, 1892 by Isaac Levitan

Now these Peredvizhniki were fired by enthusiasm and filled with hope and they believed that they had a responsibility to move people and to effect change in the country (my kind of artists!) so they travelled around the countryside, organising exhibitions and “bringing art to the people”. My favourite amongst them has to be Isaac Levitan (I have a book about him that I bought in St. Petersburg). Wouldn’t you agree that my photo in Roscommon looks a lot like his painting!

So that’s my ramblings for today. I like the old railways – a shame that most of them are now gone.  Do you know of others that could still be turned into greenways?






  1. Dear Eoin,
    I got a present from the kids for my 70th birthday of a cheque to buy myself a nice painting for over the fire place.
    Please help me decide.
    On the bloody pc way to much as it does my head in. But liked your site and i feel you can advise me.
    Mary O Neill


    • Hello Mary, thank you very much for your comment. Now I don’t know if you live in Dublin or not but my best advice to you would be to drop into The Olivier Cornet Gallery in Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1 and you’ll be able to look at the paintings up close. It’s always better to see the real thing rather than photos on the internet. Olivier Cornet has a good stock of my works and he’s very approachable. He’s closed for the summer holidays this week but after the 10th of October he’s up and running again – open everyday except mondays. See below, a link to the gallery – all the contact details are there. Once again thanks very much for your interest and if you’d prefer, you can contact me at eoinmaclochlainn@gmail.com
      The gallery website http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/


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