Great Irish Rail Journeys

It was a pleasure to read a feature in The Guardian newspaper this week extolling the virtues and beauty of travelling around Ireland by train. Luckily in the rush to join a modern age, Ireland did not get rid of all its railway lines though there were many local casualties.  

Great Irish Rail Journeys

In recent years some of these abandoned local railways lines have become Greenways and are being reinvigorated by walkers and cyclists. They include the Carlingford to Omeath line, the Great Western Greenway around Clew Bay in Galway and the Waterford to Dungarvan old rail route in the south east.

 Discounted Rail Fares

The other point the Guardian made is that the significant drop in rail fares mean that travelling around Ireland by rail is very affordable. For example, the Dublin to Belfast now costs €13.99 single and Longford to Sligo is €9.35 single. The Leap Card also helps to reduce the cost of rail travel particularly in urban areas.

Top Six Irish Train Journeys

Rosslare to Dublin – this route departs from Rosslare Europort, travelling through Norman towns of Wexford and Enniscorthy before cutting through mountainous and woody Wicklow to meet the coast near Arklow. If you sit on the right side off the train heading north you will get great views of the Wicklow coast.

Greystones to Bray Rail Line
The Trainline between Bray and Greystones, Co. Wicklow

 Cork to Cobh – one of the most colourful and picturesque towns in Ireland is Cobha. It is less than half an hour from the city and a beautiful journey. The deep-water harbour in Cobh is famous as the Titanic’s last port and museum. If you like watching ocean liners, it is a popular port of call.

Cobh, Cork
The train journey from Cork to Cobh is 24 minutes

Western Rail Corridor – links Galway to Limerick and was reopened in 2010 after 34 years closed. The train runs inland through some beautiful countryside. Villages and towns along the way include Oranmore, Gort, Athenry, Ennis, Sixmilebridge, Ardrahan and Craughwell. 

Enis Co. Clare
Ennis the County Town of Clare is home to Irish music

Dublin to Belfast – on the busiest route in the country the train hugs the coastline as far as Dundalk. It crosses the Malahide Estuary and passes the beaches of Laytown, Bettystown and Mornington. Inland it traverses the longest viaduct in the country at Craigmore in Armagh. Arriving in Belfast Laynon Station leaves you close to the Belfast Harbour where the Titanic Belfast awaits. 

Craigmore Viaduct Armagh
The Craigmore Viaduct in Co.Armagh is almost a quarter mile long

Derry to Coleraine – author Michael Palin described this railway journey as one of the most beautiful in the world. The train hugs the coast, popping in and out of dark tunnels into bright daylight and spectacular scenery. 

Longford to Sligo – the midlands of Ireland have some spectacular riverine scenery. This journey allows for up close vistas of the famous Shannon River. The rail follows the river to Carrick before turning to Boyle and on through Yeats Country to Sligo. 

Carrick on Shannon
Carrick on Shannon the rail line hugs the river before turning towards Bpyle and Sligo

As an alternative to renting a car, the Irish rail services are a comfortable and inexpensive way to explore the country. One word of advice, there are no onboard refreshment services since the Covid-19 pandemic, so bring a picnic and have a fine day out. 

What is your favourite Irish rail journey, let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Joan Scales
Award-winning journalist, Joan has been writing about travel and tourism for many years principally for The Irish Times and lately for travel2ireland. Joan has appeared many times on television and radio talking about the business of travel and all its component strands. She is also a public speaker and has appeared at many international conventions and conferences.

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