Tara Junction

Tara Junction, located west of the Co.Meath town of Navan is where the independent 1872 built branch line from Kingscourt joined the former Great Northern Railway's line from Drogheda to Oldcastle, opened in 1863. Originally a double track junction called Kingscourt Jct, and latterly Navan West or Nevinstown Jct, the Kingscourt line, operated by the Midland Great Western, ran parallel to the GNR's line from Oldcastle where it then diverged to the south towards Clonsilla at the former Navan Junction Station. Passenger services on the former MGWR line from Clonsilla through to Navan and Kingscourt ceased in 1947, and likewise on the Drogheda to Oldcastle branch in 1959.

CIE then closed the lines from both Oldcastle and Clonsilla to Navan in 1963, but retained the through route from Kingscourt to Drogheda for goods and gypsum traffic. The Tara Mines began operation in 1977 west of Navan town and in the same year a spur was built on the former Oldcastle branch into the mine complex which diverged from the Kingscourt branch at the former Nevinstown Jct, now renamed 'Tara Junction'. Gypsum traffic from Kingscourt ceased in 2001 and since then Tara Junction has been disconnected, the branch having seen its last weed spraying train in 2002. Only the line from Tara Mines through Navan to Drogheda remains in use for zinc ore traffic to Dublin Port.
The former Kingscourt Jct in May 1976, looking west with the line to Kingscourt curving away to the north. The trackbed of the Great Northern Railway's Oldcastle branch continues straight ahead passing beneath a road overbridge. A couple of years later the junction as reinstated as 'Tara Jct' to serve the Tara Mines. ©Barry Carse In February 1977, 001 Class loco No.034 rounds the curve at Tara Jct with a loaded gypsum train from Kingscourt, bound for Platin. Work is underway in laying the new line into the Tara Mines plant, sited on the trackbed of the Oldcastle branch. ©Barry Carse In May 1990, Northern Ireland Railway's railbus, No.RB3, prepares to traverse the pointwork at Tara Jct with the 'Cavan Coup' railtour from Kingscourt. On the left is the 4-lever ground frame which controlled the junction. ©Colm O' Callaghan Today, Tara Junction is no more, with the disused branch line to Kingscourt having been disconnected after 2002, visible to the right. The line into Tara Mines remains in use.
The approach to the Tara Mines plant at Navan, as viewed from Tara Jct. The mine began operating in 1977 and dispatches regular ore trains to Dublin Port. A view of Tara Jct from the disused Kingscourt branch, with the protecting semaphore signal controlled from Navan signal cabin. The signal has been disconnected, though remains in situ. Before the Kingscourt branch was disconnected at Tara Jct, a buffer stop was placed on the track to prevent access onto the line. The last train to operate to Kingscourt was the weedspray train which ran in 2002. In September 1978, C201 Class loco No.217, dating from 1957 though re-engined in 1971, heads a short rake of empty gypsum wagons bound for Kingscourt, seen having just past Tara Jct which is visible in the background. ©Barry Carse
Heading in the opposite direction in the mind 1990s, a pair of 1961 built 121 Class locos headed by No.126, approaches Tara Jct with a loaded gypsum train from Kingscourt. ©Colm O' Callaghan The approach to Moathill automatic level crossing north of Tara Junction, looking towards Kingscourt. Despite the state of the line's disuse the protecting colour light signal still displays a red aspect. Moathill automatic level crossing, looking north towards Kingscourt. The crossing was converted to automatic barriers in 1985. The road is the busy N3 between Navan, Kells and Cavan. Moathill automatic level crossing, which has four barriers which span the width of the road. The crossing last operated in 2002. The barriers still had to be activated by the train crew.
The scene at Moathill level crossing shows the railway almost totally convered over with grass and the barriers and traffic signals in a dilapidated state. A track panel has also been dumped on the line. A view emphasising the overgrown state of the Kingscourt branch north of Tara Junction. The railway is now regularly used by walkers, with a path established alongside the track. The protecting up signal remains, though extinguished. This is the single span railway bridge which carries the Kingscourt branch across the River Blackwater just north of Moathill. The structure remains in very good condition. The bridge north of Moathill level crossing which carries the disused Kingscourt branch across the Blackwater River just outside Navan town, dating from November 1872.