Ennis in Co.Clare, on the Great Southern & Western Railway's Limerick to Athenry and Claremorris line, was once also the junction for the 1887/92 built narrow gauge West Clare Railway, which ran from Ennis to Kilkee and Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary. Despite modernisation, the West Clare line was closed in February 1961 by CIE, and was the last surviving narrow gauge line in the country. The line through Ennis had originally opened in 1859 and was first worked by the Waterford Limerick & Western Railway. Ennis Station itself lost its passenger services from Limerick to Claremorris in 1976, but a Limerick passenger service was re-instated in 1994. The line north of Ennis to Athenry and Claremorris remained in use for freight traffic until the late 1990s, the same time Ennis itself lost its Limerick freight liner train. However passengers services north of Ennis to Athenry were restored in March 2010.
1962 built 141 Class locomotives Nos.142+141 arrive at Ennis with the evening 17:05 Dublin to Limerick and Ennis service, formed of 1980s built Mk3 coaching stock. The signalman hands over the token for the single line section to Limerick City to the driver of locomotives Nos.141+142 at Ennis Station. Both 141 & 142 were built by General Motors in 1962, entering service with CIE in November of that year. They have both since been preserved. A view at the north end of Ennis, with locomotives Nos.162+171 having arrived with the 17:05 service from Limerick. In this view is Ennis Station's 'down starter' signal which was subsequently removed when mechanical signalling was replaced on the Limerick to Athenry line in 2009. 141 Class locomotives Nos.171+162 are seen backing down onto their train at the south end of Ennis Station. Presently No.171 is the last of the class to remain 'officially' in Irish Rail main line service.
A view of the 17:05 service at Ennis Station, which was formed of the 1985 British Rail Engineering built Mk3 stock. The Mk3s have since been withdrawn from Irish Rail service. The more usual motive power to be seen on the Limerick to Athenry line are the 2700 Class diesel railcars, here represented by No.2721, forming a 2-car service to Limerick. The 2700 Class railcars were originally built between 1998 and 1999. They entered service in the orange & black 'Arrow' livery working commuter services around Dublin City, before being deployed on cross country services in the south. No.2720 forms the rear unit on this service back to Limerick City. No.2720 is seen again, this time passing Ennis Station's 'up starter' semaphore signal. Beside the signal can be seen one of the newly installed two aspect colour light signals, which at this time had yet to be commissioned.
A recent view of Ennis Station sees 071 Class locomotive No.083 at the head of an Irish Railway Record Society tour from Limerick to Athenry. This special was formed of the Mk3 carriages and was one of the last times this stock was utilised. Another view of the IRRS special at Ennis Station, formed of loco No.085 and the 1980s built Mk3 coaching stock. A water column dating from the steam era remains in situ on the down platform. The Mk3 stock at Ennis Station. These carriages entered service with CIE in 1985/6 and formed the backbone of Intercity services on the Irish Rail network, until their displacement by diesel railcars in recent years. The large freight yard at Ennis Station is no longer used by trains, however 071 Class loco No.074 is seen stabled there with a rake of bogey flat wagons. The yard once boasted a gantry for handling container traffic, but this was removed in the mid 1990s.
A general view of Ennis Station, taken in the summer of 2002. The large two storey station building is located on the down platform and is of Waterford Limerick & Western Railway origin. This was the site of the turntable at Ennis Station, the edge of the well of which is visible in the foreground. One of the redundant 1968 built Wickham inspection cars is seen stabled in the siding in the summer of 2002. Ennis once boasted a large loco depot, with a two road engine shed and water tower. Today they are derelict and even the rusted sidings in the foreground have since been removed. This is Ennis signal cabin, known as 'Ennis South', as there was once an 'Ennis North' cabin located at the north end of the station, but this was removed in the early 1970s. The cabin is of Great Southern & Western Railway origin.
The interior of the signal cabin at Ennis, showing the tidy lever frame. The cabin once exclusively handled all signalling at the south end of the station until 'Ennis North' cabin was closed. A diagram of the track layout within Ennis signal cabin, showing the loop and assoicated sidings in the freight yard. The build plate on the Victorian Great Southern & Western Railway style footbridge at Ennis Station. In the summer of 2002 this original Great Southern & Western Railway trespassing notice still stood at the north end of Ennis Station. The sign, dating pre-1925, has since been removed.
The 1980s style CIE name board at Ennis Station. Passenger services were restored between Ennis and Limerick in the early 1990s, and north to Athenry in March 2010. An early 1950s view of Ennis Station, showing the narrow gauge West Clare Railway, which partially shared the north end of the down platform. An Ex Great Southern & Western D17 Class 4-4-0 is seen leaving with a northbound service to Athenry. ©Limerick City Museum A West Clare Railway 4-6-0 tank departs Ennis Station with a service to Kilkee in the early 1930s. In the background is the road overbridge at north of the station, which spanned the main line and West Clare Railway. ©Limerick City Museum This is a recent view of the road overbridge at the north end of Ennis Station. The section visible on the right which spanned the West Clare Railway line has been bricked up. The 3ft gauge line to Kilkee and Kilrush was closed in 1961.
WCR 0-6-0 tank No.6 is seen shunting a train at the narrow gauge goods yard north of Ennis Station in the early 1950s. Sister loco No.5 'Slieve Callan' has since been restored to working order on the reopened section of the West Clare line at Moyasta. ©Limerick City Museum This is a similar view to the previous, but taken in March 2008, showing the northern approach to Ennis Station. The West Clare railway goods yard and shed was once located to the right, but they have long since disappeared. 'Ennis North' signal cabin was once sited on the left. During this time the line north of Ennis was not used regularly by trains. A stop sign indicates where the modern signalling control of Galway line takes over that from Ennis Station. The West Clare narrow gauge line once ran parallel to the main line for a mile and half outside of Ennis. A view at the northern extremity of Ennis, looking north to Athenry. This March 2008 view was taken before the line to Athenry reopened. The semaphore signal on the right is the outer 'home' signal for Ennis.
The approach to the upper Fergus river bridge just north of Ennis. To the left is an old style speed board sign reading 25mph. During March 2008, reconstruction work on the upper Fergus river bridge was taking place. The pipe bridge to the left marks to the location of the West Clare narrow gauge bridge, long since removed since closure in 1961.