A NEW book celebrating the glory days and the sad decline of the much-remembered West Cork Railway system is now available, thanks to the hard work and dedication of author Chris Larkin.
His new book West Cork Railways, Birth, Beauty and Betrayal, takes the reader on a journey through West Cork when the train was, for many, the only way to travel any great distance.
‘I was born in Doughcloyne near Togher back in the days when I was considered a country boy by my friends in the city and the railway was only a field away then,’ Chris told The Southern Star.
‘I soon fell in love with the railways and all things locomotive and it was being on the train to West Cork for the first time, in 1956, that cemented this passion. This was also the first time I heard Elvis.’
Chris went on to work with the Ford Motor Company and moved to Upton where he collected and researched his passion for many years.
While the book is a travelogue filled with stories, poetry, beautiful photography and much more, for Chris it’s a journey long-awaited and much-savoured.
‘The book is both a pictorial journey on the railway from 1845 to 1961, and a travelog filled with stories collected down through the years,’ explained Chris.
‘I remember people crying when they saw the tracks being torn up when the railway was abandoned in 1961. I wrote the book and put it together during lockdown and it was great because it made me focus,’ Chris said.
The book also has a beautiful collection of photographs of a West Cork, that will come as a surprise to many today.
‘I hope people will see this book as a social history,’ Chris said. ‘I’d love the younger generation to see what was available in the 1950s.
‘You could get on a train in the city and travel over the Viaduct and on down to Bantry. In fact it was possible to travel from Belfast to Bantry by train in one day!
‘When you think of all the goods that travelled on the line, the people getting the train, not only to Bantry but to Clonakilty, Skibbereen and beyond, it was a wonderful service for West Cork and could be used again today.’
‘I would love to see a railway line open up again to West Cork. If it had held its ground for a further 12 years until our EEC entry (1973), the railway right of way for future generations would have been preserved.’ Chris said.
• West Cork Railways, Birth, Beauty and Betrayal is on sale now in all good West Cork bookshops or online from Mericerpress.ie