Waterford Greenway: do it the green way

I absolutely believe that every child should have the experience of riding a train. I don’t remember my first train ride. I was only two weeks old then. The trains have changed a lot since, and most of the railways have been closed.

The first public railway in Ireland was opened in 1834 between Dublin and Kingstown ( now Dún Laoghaire ) despite local opposition. The railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan was built in the 1870’s to link up with the Lismore and Mallow railway. The stations along the route were Kilmeadan, Kilmacthomas and Durrow. It was a very expensive line to be built at the time, with a 418 feet long tunnel, three stone viaducts, two causeways, a number of bridges and three road crossings. The railway line was officially opened in August 1878 with the first train departing Waterford at 10.10.

The first pedal-driven bicycle arrived to Ireland in the 1860’s. It was heavy and uncomfortable, and didn’t impress most of the population. The things changed in the 1880’s with the introduction of the chain-driven bicycle and Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres. Cycling became a part of the everyday modern life, however the ladies wearing trousers caused quite a stir and often faced verbal abuse.

St Patrick's Parade

The Waterford-Dungarvan railway line was closed in the 1960’s as part of a major program of line closures. The last passenger train left Dungarvan for Roscrea in 1967. The tracks were removed in the 1990’s, but later Kilmeadan-Waterford section of the route was leased to the Suir Valley Railway group, and the tracks were restored. The Waterford & Suir Valley Heritage route was opened to the public in 2004. The route operates from April to September, and also during Christmas holidays, midterm etc. At the same time, a Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan section of the railway was developed as a walkway/cycle path.

Some facts and anecdotes from the Waterford railway history can be found in this link.

Railways are declining. Cyclists are thriving 🙂

St Patrick's Parade

In 2013, the Deise Greenway group handed over 7000 signatures of support to the Mayor of Waterford County and the Major of Waterford City for the Greenway bicycle route  to be developed in the place of the disused railway line from Waterford to Dungarvan. In 2014 the project was approved.

 

Complete route has been launched today, yet construction works are still in progress. I have walked the Greenway on many occasions, and decided to put up four blog posts with photographs from different sections, so that you know how many photo opportunities the route can offer 🙂 These are all early spring pictures.

We start the route from Gracedieu, Waterford.

waterford

Waterford Greenway

The most beautiful feature on this stretch of the road is the Red Iron Bridge.

Red Iron Bridge

The bridge was constructed in 1906 to link the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry as a route for ‘boat trains’ and faster transatlantic mail delivery. Local children used to walk across the bridge to get a can of coke from a shop on the other side. It was a beautiful nine span bridge with the central span opening  for shipping. It still has its control cabin from where powerful hydraulic mechanisms were operated to lift and lover the central span.

Red iron bridge

red iron bridge

Now the central span is removed and the bridge looks gap-toothed…

The bridge has always attracted the local youth. To get to the bridge you have to walk a muddy path. If you walk off the path you step on a wobbly surface that used to be a local kids favorite fun.  It is quite scary, but probably exciting for the kids to walk on the wobbling ground ( I did it). Teenagers used to come here and drink some beer. I don’t know if someone is still coming here, I have to go and check out. This photograph was taken in 2005.

On the opposite side of the river there is a group of derelict buildings and abandoned boats. It was a busy area in years gone by.

Newrath

waterford

Newrath

We keep walking along the Greenway path ( watch for the dog poop) and leave the Red Iron Bridge behind. I always hope to see birds, and lucky me – there is a Robin.

robin

The Robin is inspecting the cracks in the wooden sleepers.

robin

His body language is so cute 🙂

robin

robin

After a quiet conversation with a neighbor they both take off.

robin

Another landmark is The River Suir Bridge – a cable stayed bridge with a length of 475 m (1558 f)  that was opened in 2009. I drove over this bridge twice with no reason, just for fun. This bridge has the same purpose as the abandoned railway – to connect the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry.

Waterford Bridge

Waterford Bridge

On the opposite side there is a green field, tangled brambles, ferns and ivies. I imagine how beautiful this all looks in summer.

I love the silhouettes of dry plants still standing as if there was no winter.

This walk took one hour. There is a tunnel around the bend, and next week we will start from there.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

 

106 comments

  1. Beautiful images as always!!❤❤ And yess train journeys are always amazing ☺☺ My first train journey was at 6 months. Don’t remember anything but I lost a shoe and ate a lot 😜😜

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  2. Amazing structures you’ve captured; even if they are now abandoned. What interesting stories they could tell! The robins are charming and perfect to mark the start of Spring. xo

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  3. What a fascinating post! I do wish cycling was a little less precarious in the SE of England, where I live. The roads are so crowded and dangerous, so cycling isn’t the same joyful experience as it was to me several decades back. Also, in the summer, there’s quite a bit of pollution from Diesel emissions. As for the rail service — it’s unreliable, the workers are often on strike, and the carriages are too crowded. There are still some little old lines preserved by volunteers, such as the Bluebell Railway, where you can go on a short ride on an old-fashioned steam train. My children and grandchildren have all loved going on this ride. There are also plenty of old disused tracks where you can walk and enjoy all the wildflowers, birds, and butterflies.

    I love your little robin. I bet there are lots of tasty beetles in those old wooden sleepers.

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  4. Ooh, ahhh!! I love railways and trains, Inese! I enjoyed seeing the sweet grandie in the first train window professional photograph. She has a beautiful and determined (confident) chin which is held level. I think she will accomplish so much in her lifetime! xx
    Of course, the pretty robin and the mate on the rusty track is my favorite photo. The two bridges I liked the most were the Red Iron Bridge over the river and the reflection, as well as the River Suir Bridge with the cables being so nicely caught in your artistic angle like a white (silver) “wire tree!”
    Exquisite and such an informative post! xoxo
    PS. Peaceful biking was a great ecological reminder, to use transportation wisely, dear friend. ❤

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  5. Howdy! I just liked your new post. There was no place to comment? It did not say comments are closed. There are just no comments.
    I can’t stop thinking about the barn owl you heard about.

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  6. Quite evocative, Inese. : ) I used to travel by train when kid, and as you I played around the railway and I loved to see the bridge part, but it was far away so I got to it in barely in my twenties. Curiously the train was the more used way to travel as the terrorists attacks in those years made quite dangerous the highways. Fortunately that is part of a far past, unfortunately with that the train remained there as well as today it has a limited use. The gray make shine the colorful robins n_n

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, Francis. Hope the terrorist attacks stay in past and never return to your reality. Great you have had a train riding experience. This is a timeless way of transportation 🙂

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  7. Love, Love your photos. I love bridges, we have a couple of span bridges here in Bangkok, they are very impressive.. Love taking pics of them. The robins are cute, we don’t get them in Thailand unfortunately. Have a great weekend 🙂 xx

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    1. Jean, it must be a new video. They launched the Greenway last Saturday, the whole route is now open. It was a huge deal, unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend, but I have a plan for August to hire a bicycle and make it all the way from Dungarvan to Waterford, and may be back 🙂 I want to see what it looks like in summer.

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  8. I love trains. I have fond memories of taking the train in Jamaica. (It was the second place in the British empire to get the railroad, and was an important means of travel for a long time). If I could take the train overseas, I know I’d travel more. Air travel is so uncomfortable, unless one has tons of money.

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  9. Thank you for taking us along the Greenway, Inese! I love trains, bridges and brave little Robins 😉 I imagine them daring each other to stay longest before the train comes – quite a long wait they’ll have 😉
    Also love riding my bike, it’s possible in winter as well but I prefer the warmer seasons to do it 😉 Have a wonderful week! xxxxxxx ❤

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      1. There are lots of lovely parks or canals, or the big former airfield “Tempelhofes Feld” right in the middle of Berlin. I also use it to haul back groceries 😉 Berlin is quite a biking city although we do not have as many bicycle paths as Heidelberg for example. It is planned to change that though… 🙂 xxx

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  10. What a lovely photo series Inese! Old bridges are very charming – and the Red Iron Bridge that you have captured so beautifully is definitely one of those. Did you know, I was probably well past 18 before I rode with a train. There are no trains in the far north of Norway where I am from, just not enough people to justify the cost I guess:)

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    1. Thank you, Inger! Yes, the cost of passenger trains, fuel and maintenance is too high, and the number of passengers is low. People still travel to Dublin by train though. Glad you have this experience 🙂

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  11. This is fabulous! I look forward to the next posts.
    I adore riding the train. I take it whenever, wherever I can.
    What luck, not only a robin, but 2!
    Think I’ll go have a look at all the gorgeous pigeons, sparrows and grackles that live in my yard. LOL!

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  12. Lovely photos, Inese. It’s wonderful when communities put treasures like the railways to new use. I live in an area where rails-to-trails brings lots of cyclists to our community. They enhance the life of the community, preserve our heritage, and celebrate the beauty around us that we wouldn’t otherwise see. Great post!

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    1. Thank you Diana! It is the second greenway in Ireland. It took a good few years to finish this quite expensive project. I have put up another four blogs, and when I have time I will go to Dungarvan and take photographs of the last stretch that goes along the sea and on the causeway. I wish I were healthier. Cannot make more than five miles round trip.

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  13. Yet another lovely post, Inese, and I agree–all kids should get a ride on the rails. It’s a bummer that America is not railroad friendly, but there is a small touring steam line that runs through my favorite part of the state, where I lived as a small child. It’s got bluffs and forests to inspire any story. I’ve told Bo that when the kids are a touch older (hopefully next summer/fall) we should all visit there for a weekend and ride the train.

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  14. What a wonderful treat you have exposed to the bicycle riders of the world through your beautiful photos. New York City has taken an old rail line and repurposed it for walking. It was such a treat to walk the Hi Line and see the vistas of NYC from a different perspective.

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    1. Oh I can imagine how wonderful it is. Another chance for people to exercise and enjoy all the fantastic views. Our Greenway is quite expensive – bridges over the motorway and all this sort of things. But is is worth the effort.

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  15. I am in a completely agreement with you about every child should have the experience of riding a train. This reminds me of my parents took me on the train rides when I was very young a couple of times. Though, I do not remember the details of the rides but the memory of getting on the train to go some where still remains.

    Travel by train is still a fun thing for me even though here the cost isn’t necessary less expensive than by car or by plane.

    The pictures of the robin on the rail road track is so cute. The robins there look smaller than the ones around here and the colors look a bit more pastel like than ones around here too. I like it.

    Please have a good Sunday.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment! The trains are very special, may be because of the relaxing atmosphere – you can walk as you ride the train – or the fact that you ride through the wilderness and there is no other transport around. Anyway, I do love trains and agree with you that even a little memory about them still remains and feel good 🙂
      Have a wonderful Sunday!

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  16. God’s sake wummin, your talent is jaw dropping. My heart just leapt at your photos of the robin. What a wonderful post. I have never been so sure of trains since my younger fell under one of these steam trains that still make special journeys. Yes. All my life I was scared of the wheels and undersides on these trains and that day I crawled under the damn thing from the back to get her while my MR collapsed on the station platform. x

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    1. Your story sent a chill down my spine… How old was she at that time? What a terrifying experience for a mother. So sorry my post brought back bad memories. I remember those old trains and the horrible steps, and the connections between the cars… The undersides of cars and trains scare me too. I was in an accident, and will never forget the eyes of a child looking at me from under the wheels – he got stuck there but was unharmed, fortunately. The driver hit a group of children running across the road, and he was panicking and screaming, and everyone else was screaming. I noticed that there was a little boot on the road, so I went looking for the owner, almost petrified when I looked under the van, and it is where I found him, poor thing.
      So sorry, sending you a big hug xxxxxx

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      1. Your post didn’t do that my darling. Your post is lovely and your pictures exquisite as always. She was a very wee 6 at the time and she let go of my hand…being naughty…and slipped down the gap between the step and the wall. So yeah they did have these awful steps and these same steps used to quite scare me as a kid so you can bet I had her hand tight. You can bet when I got her what she got about ‘the next time I tell you to keep my hand you bloody keep it. My terror was that the train would be moved but they got word to the guard. I never forget how this very swish guy all dressed in this lovely suit stepped forward from the crowd after I had crawled back along the rails wi madam. I was covered in oil and all, my tights were in tatters, my knees all bleeding and he went, ‘Madam, give me the child.’ So I did and then he went, ‘Madam, give me your hand.’ His face was totally ashen. Actually I am giggling about that bit now.

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        1. Yo were one brave lady to go looking for that shoe owner xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx And you’re right it is the panic of those about you. I felt THAT day I was in slow motion in that I didn’t even hesitate while everyone else was running stupid up and down x

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        2. I was so afraid of what I might find, that I don’t even tell anybody, just walked to the van, the only place. When I saw him, then I shouted to the others. It was a commute van, I was sitting in the first raw of seats when it happened. Surreal. The van went off the road in the snowy field, and it is why the boy survived – because of the snow.

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        3. I can imagine how the other people were scared. You were acting on adrenaline and had a task. The others were helplessly waiting and just sick as they imagined what could have happened if the train moved. The man must be mortified. No one could help you at that moment. Fortunately they had enough wits to notify the guard.

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        4. the other thing re that day and that man…well…I took his hand, Hell I wanted of the line and my own man was lying in a heap while my other daughter, just a few years older than her sister, begged folks to help… his awfie bonnie suit got covered in oil and he never said one word. I see your day was in that same kind of slow motion x

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  17. You’re photography is amazing. The sepia – my eyes tell me that, I hope I’m correct – are fantastic. The cyclists photo makes me wonder ‘what happened next’. The little girl is looking backwards, and the bloke about to run into her is texting. A disaster about to happen?

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  18. More excellent photography. We, of course, had our Dr Beeching in the ’60s. Some years ago I took my Mum on a train trip from Newark to York and back. She was amazed at the changes, She hadn’t been on a train for 50 years.

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  19. Fantastic pictures Inese, especially of the Robins. I’m lucky enough to have lived at time when there were steam trains everywhere which are much more exciting and alive than the modern diesel trains. Trams were still on the streets too though competing with buses that had driver and a conductor who had a ticket machine round his body. There were day trips to the Isle of Man from the end of Llandudno Pier by steam ship and I remember seeing a pod of dolphins not far from the pier when I was off school.
    People suggest I look back through rose tinted glasses but I’m not so sure. The pace of life was different, slower and maybe the times were more innocent. Playing out rather than staying in, Summers that seemed to be better and snow in the Winter. Penny for the Guy, Carol singing and bonfire night were occasions.
    xxx Gigantic Hugs and a wistful sigh xxx

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    1. Thank you for sharing your memories, David. I picture in my mind all of the things you are talking about. I too have the fondest memories of those unhurried times. These times will never return. As the world’s population grows, the eras will change even faster. I hope bonfires and Carol singing survive, at least on some scale 🙂 Many hugs xxxxxxx

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