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. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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. ❤

  4. 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.

  5. 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

    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 🙂

      1. Yes, Inese. Actually is nice that you can travel from Cusco city to Machu Picchu, you cross the highlands to the jungle so it’s magical n_n

  6. 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

    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.

      1. Don’t forget to take lots of photos if you do, Inese – just in case I don’t manage to get there myself before we head further north. 🙂

  7. Nice! A great collection of photos. Too bad about the demise of the railroad! But, it is nice for bicyclists. In our town we are blessed in the same with a walking/biking trail on the old railroad bed!

    1. Thank you for stopping by! Isn’t it wonderful to have a safe place to cycle, especially for children. And the views are beautiful too 🙂

  8. We have a lot of walking trails in the Bay Area that were once trolley or railway lines. In a way, it’s kind of sad for those of us who love railroads. Love those two robins!

  9. 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.

  10. I’m with you all the way on every child experiencing a train ride. I still love it today. Those pics of the robin are excellent!

    1. Thank you Kev! The robin didn’t mind me at all 🙂
      We went for a train ride with my granddaughters. Will repeat it next summer 🙂

  11. 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 ❤

      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

        1. Love it! Dublin is not a bicycle friendly city even though there are many cyclists in the streets. They just mingle with the motor vehicles, and it is not safe at all 😦

  12. 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:)

    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 🙂

  13. 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!

    1. Thank you so much! To be honest, we don’t have anything extraordinary, but I love the challenge of finding a photo opportunity in simple things 🙂

  14. 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!

    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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