Claremorris Railway Station in Co. Mayo
Claremorris Railway Station opened in 1862. Lord Lucan's company owned neither engines nor rolling-stock but simply leased the line to the midland Great Western for an annual fee of £3,500 on a 999 year lease. Plans were drawn up in 1872 to run a line from Claremorris to Cong, but these came to nothing.
The Ballinrobe and Claremorris Light Railway Company Limited was formed in 1884 with the stated objectives of "promoting, maintaining and working under the provisions of the tramways and public companies act of 1883, a tramway undertaking between Ballinrobe and Claremorris via Hollymount". An act of parliament was necessary to enable construction to commence and guarantees and sanctions were required from the grand Jury of Mayo. The jury guaranteed dividends paid to shareholders.
Founding members of the company were Canon Ulick Burke P.P., Claremorris, Patrick J. Murphy, Merchant of Ballinrobe, Peter Bartley, Draper, Ballinrobe and Thomas McTigue, Shopkeeper, Ballinrobe. The first meeting of the company took place in the offices of Patrick Daly, solicitor of Ballinrobe in December 1884.
The committee was later joined by Canon Ronayne P.P. of Ballinrobe. Alex Martin of Curramore House and Hermon Lindsey-Fitzpatrick of Hollymount House. The cost of the line was estimated at £70,000. An Act of Parliament ratified the Grand Jury's dividends of up to 5% and enabled the Grand jury to levy any short-fall on the rate-payers of the Barony of Kilmaine and part of the Barony of Carra.
Although the line was called a light railway, the standard 5'3" gauge was used. The Midland Great Western Railway agreed to operate the service provided they received a 50% stake in the company. An all-in price of £71,000 and construction to be undertaken by the engineering firm of Joyce and Townsend, was agreed upon by Robert Worthington of Dublin and London.
Work began in May 1891. Over 800 men worked a 72 hour week for 14 shillings wages. Also at this time work got underway on the Tuam to Claremorris line under the Waterford and Limerick Railway Company.
In the course of constructing the Claremorris to Ballinrobe line the bog at Derrymore had to be drained. Ground level in the area was reduced by 3ft. A fifty foot cutting for a distance of nine hundred feet, was made at Caltra and a smaller cutting was made at Kilrush. Two Steam-navvies were used in the large digging operations while one hundred and fifty tip-wagons were required for conveying materials. Stone and gravel came from the Midland Great Western Quarry at Ballinlough in Co Roscommon. A 3 arch overbridge was constructed at Caltra and an Iron-Girder bridge spanned the robe at Derrymore.
In February of 1891, a labourer called Gallagher was accidently killed at Caltra by an explosion. The following October, work on the construction of Claremorris Junction was completed.
On Tuesday November 1st 1892 the line opened. The first train to Ballinrobe, "The Bat" was driven by Owen Malone. This rail service was to close some sixty-seven years later, on the last day of December 1959 when driver Jack Monaghan, fireman Hughie Dawson and guard Mick Higgins brought the last train to travel the almost thirteen mile journey from Ballinrobe to Claremorris.
No longer was the line viable, and so ended the rail method of travel between the two towns. This rail route was one of the last to be built in the 19th century, a century which saw the birth and rapid expansion of the railway system.