Remembering Limerick’s railway link to Listowel

1937
Ardagh railway station in 1972. Photo: Richard Wall

The opportunity to travel from Rathkeale to Listowel by train ceased on the first Saturday of February in 1963. It was the beginning of the end of the Limerick to Tralee railway.

With the recent extension of the Greenway to Listowel, the railway corridor once again links Counties Kerry and Limerick: albeit by shanks mare and bicycle.

The new February Bank Holiday weekend coincides with the sixtieth anniversary of that last regular passenger train and the Great Southern Trail company, the voluntary body which has been working on cycle and walking trails in Limerick for three decades, is organising an opportunity for a cycle along the entire 50km route or a run/stroll along shorter sections. 

The company is hoping that some hardy cyclists might take on the whole route and that walkers might do shorter sections of it.

Some of the old railway buildings are privately owned and people enjoying the day out are asked to not encroach on that privacy.

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The four small stations of Kilmorna , Devon Road, Barnagh and Ardagh closed permanently after the service was ended.  

The four larger stations survived for freight and occasional passenger trains until Abbeyfeale, Newcastle West and Rathkeale closed in 1975 with Listowel following suit in 1977.

The Great Southern Trail group has been commemorating this February weekend every decade since 2003. In that year there were multiple events throughout West Limerick.

“In 2013, a walk westward from Abbeyfeale was prevented from crossing the Kerry border. Ten years on, it is great to see that Listowel and Kilmorna have now joined the Greenway,” said Liam O’Mahony, Chairman of the trail group. 

“Let us not wait another ten years to extend from Listowel to Tralee. In Limerick we hope the reopening of the Foynes to Limerick service will also facilitate a parallel Greenway linking Limerick City to Adare, Askeaton, Foynes, West Limerick and North Kerry.”

The Great Southern Trail group would welcome any photos from the weekend to [email protected] 

People submitting photos are asked to mark the email with one of the eight locations but no other caption. The photos will be uploaded to the www.southerntrail.net website.

For more history of the railway and greenway, see YouTube’s “Journeying from a Railway to a Greenway”.