Sunday 24 March 2019

1862 -- the year Sligo's first train rolled into town

The former engine shed and water tower at Sligo station
The former engine shed and water tower at Sligo station

THOUSANDS OF people shared in the excitement as Sligo's first ever passenger train arrived from Dublin on Wednesday, December 3rd, 1862.

Special welcoming arrangements were made by the Station Master, Arthur Fleming.

Flags of various nations were flying at the station entrance.

Huge crowds gathered all along the line, particularly at Maugheraboy bridge.

The band of the Sligo Rifles kept the crowds entertained at the station.

Then, at 2.15pm a signal indicated the approach of the train.

The shrill sound of the engine whistle followed shortly afterwards.

The crowds strained to get their first glimpse of the locomotive and a huge cheer went up when it came into view at the Engine House.

Minutes later, the first passengers alighted from its crowded carriages.

They were whisked away to the Imperial Hotel for a celebration lunch by a waiting bus.

The next highlight on the historic day was the arrival of a special train carrying the directors, principal officers and other guests of the company in the State carriages.

This train had left Dublin at 10.30am and arrived in Sligo at 3.30pm.

The excitement grew as fog signals placed along the line announced its approach.

Three volleys were fired by the militia drawn up to the terminus as the train pulled in.

The Earl of Granard, the Earl of Clancarty, company directors, members of Sligo Corporation and Sligo Harbour Commissioners were among the passengers.

At 6.30pm, the VIPs gathered in the Grand Jury Rooms, where the Mayor, Thomas Williams, presided.

Toasts were drunk to the Queen and Prince Edward.

Company Chairman, John Ennis, ventured the opinion that there was plenty of railway traffic to make Sligo rich without making Dublin poor.

The fare from Dublin was: First class, £1-4-6d; Second Class 18s6d; Third Class 12s-4d and 'parliamentary, 11s-2d.

The Midland-Western Railway Company line from Longford had taken three years to complete at a cost of €450,000 and telegraphic communications were soon planned for the line.