Castlecomer Junction

Castlecomer Jct, Co.Kilkenny, was located north of Kilkenny city on the former line to Portlaoise via Abbeyleix, opened in 1865 and worked by the Great Southern & Western Railway. In 1922 a junction was established here 4 miles north of Kilkenny, where a 9 mile branch line diverged north to Castlecomer. The branch was built primarily for conveying coal from the colliery at Deepark near Castlecomer. The Great Southern Railway withdrew passengers services over the branch in 1931, but it remained in use for coal/goods traffic for another 32 years, closing along with the main line in Janurary 1963. There was never a station at Castlecomer Junction, but a row of railway staff houses were built here and a signal cabin controlled the junction until 1931. The remains of the junction are still evident, as well as the abandoned houses.
This is the site of Castlecomer Junction, looking south towards Kilkenny. The hedge line on the right follows the route of the main line to Kilkenny, while the Castlecomer branch converges in the foreground. A sole railway line telegraph pole remains in situ on the trackbed to Kilkenny. Another view taken from the south end of the former Castlecomer Junction, looking towards Kilkenny, with the railway telegraph pole visible. A view looking the opposite way north from the previous image, with the old main line to Portlaoise continuing staight ahead, while the dirt road follows the formation of the branch line to Castlecomer. When the branch line to Castlecomer was built in 1922, a row of single storey houses, constructed from prefabricated concrete, were built alongside the junction to house railway staff employed on the branch. The houses remain to this day, albeit abandoned.
The interior of one of the derelict houses built to house railway staff of the Castlecomer branch, at Castlecomer Junction. The walls and windows are painted in CIE's 1950s cream and green livery. Another interior shot of one of the railway houses, built in the 1920s, at Castlecomer Junction, showing the original fireplace and wooden shelving. 'Ballyragget Rd' crossing, the first level crossing on the branch line to Castlecomer. The gate keepers house remains in-situ along the N77 road. This is the site of the second level crossing, 'Jenkinstown', located north of Castlecomer Junction on the branch line. The line crossed the N78 road at right-angles on its way to Castlecomer, although there is little evidence of the crossing today.
A view from the former Jenkinstown level crossing, looking south towards Castlecomer Junction. The fencing in the foreground once formed part of the crossing. The low embankment on the south side of the crossing here has been ploughed back into this field. The third level crossing to be found on the branch line to Castlecomer, north of the junction, is the former 'Ballyrafton' crossing, located just off the N78 road. The standard 1920s built gate keepers house survives, and railway would have crossed from left to right through the present driveway of the house. Another view of the approach to the former Ballyrafton level crossing, north of Castlecomer Jct. The road junction ahead leads down to the N78. Interestingly the stone wall retains its 1950s red/white warning markings, which would have been associated with the level crossing also. On the Kilkenny side of the old Ballyrafton crossing is a sole surving concrete post for the one time crossing gates. This one retains its metal hinges.