Saturday 17 November 2018

Station manager waves last train through after lifetime in railway

Tim's love affair with the industry began in America many moons ago

Tim on platform duty for the last time at Ballymote Station
Tim on platform duty for the last time at Ballymote Station

FOR TIM Mulcahy, the train has left the station.

Last Saturday afternoon, the Ballymote train station manager with green flag hand, waved his last train through.

The passing of the 3:18pm from Sligo to Dublin marked the end of his 17 years service in Ballymote.

Now, after a total of 25 years with Irish Rail, the Dublin native has retired.

He admitted he is sad at leaving.

He said: "What I will miss most is the interaction with the people in the community and the fun and the craic.

"You got to know people well.

"The personal interaction is what I enjoyed most."

However, he added: "It's not the job I joined.

"It has changed completely.

"Railway companies are now very keen to develop less personal and more social media/internet way of dealing with customers.

"They have taken a lot of the personal touch of the business.

"You see this particularly affecting old people."

Tim's love affair with the railway began by accident.

A traditional Irish musician, he had arrived in Massachusettes with just his squeeze box and $500.

He recalled: "I happened to meet a Clareman, John Kennedy, who was a supervisor with the Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad. He asked me if I wanted a job, and told me they were looking for a cleaner.

"I thought this would be great. I would be working at night and in the daytime I could be sunning myself on the beach.

"I worked from 10 at night to six in the morning cleaning trains."

During his 10 years, he also worked with the Seminole Gulf Railroad, based in Sarasota, Florida.

For six months he worked for an unusual train service.

It was the Barnum and Bailey Circus's 40-piece train.

From its base in Naples, Florida, it transported its animals and equipment to venues all over the U.S.

In 1989, he returned home and began working with Irish Rail, in Navan.

In his 17 years in Ballymote, the town became not only his place of employment but also his home.

Now, he is as proud an advocate for Ballymote as one could meet.

And much of his good work can be seen around the railway station.

He said: "The development of the Town Park, the children's playground, the tunnel underpass from the railway station to the castle are among the projects I was proud to be involved with. But it was all possible only with the help and support of the people of the community of Ballymote."

He paid special tribute to Gerry McHugh, FAS coordinator and all those who worked on the FAS schemes. He also said the local taximen made his job easier.

These included the late Paddy Joe Murtagh, his son Sidney who took over the business, Seamus Doddy and Michael Daly.

"These fellows never let me or the railway down, particularly when there was a breakdown or disruption to services." He also thanked former permanent weigh inspector Patsy Toolan and current inspector, Kevin Martin.

Over the years, the railway station also won numerous awards, including the National Best Station Award in 2004.

Now in retirement, the chairman of the local CCE branch is already turning more of his attention to the music.

His father Frank, who died last October, was a founder member of CCE.

His mother, Oliver, also died recently. His parents had been 57 years married. Tim said: "It's been a momentous year. I have lost the three big things in one's life, father, mother and now, I'm retiring from the job."

However, he declined to rule out running in the local elections next year.

Sligo Champion