Enjoy A Free Trip On Downpatrick Railway

Downpatrick Railway offers free end of summer rides

Downpatrick Railway offers free end of summer rides

There is still time to catch the train this weekend at the Downpatrick & Co. Down Railway before the last summer train pulls out of the station… and it is for free!

The railway is running its last trips to Inch Abbey this weekend, Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September, as part of the European Heritage Open Days.

And in the spirit of the heritage scheme, there will be guided tours on request of the lesser seen parts of the railway site not normally accessible to the public. There will also be the chance to sample the nostalgic atmosphere of rail travel.

Railway chairman Robert Gardiner said: “We will be taking you back to the 1990s and using the Derry Girls 450 class diesel train for passenger services for the first time in its preservation career.

Enjoy a free trip on a train at Downpatrick Railway this weekend 10-11th September.

“So not only can you sit where Erin, Michelle, James, Orla and all the family, but also buy Kit Kats from the onboard buffet. We promise they won’t be display ones only!”

 “As part of the European Heritage Open Days, and thanks to Newry Mourne & Down District Council, we’re offering totally free train trips to Inch Abbey, as well as access to our Carriage Gallery and workshop viewing area.

“There you can view vintage rolling stock under restoration and explore our unique collection of vintage railway carriages and locomotives.

“And in this Platinum Jubilee year you can discover the Belfast & County Down Railway’s Royal Saloon that was used by three monarchs.

“Your trip on the 450 Class will also allow you to experience royal travel as it was in the 1990s – not many people know that the Queen travelled on board a suburban railcar during the opening of the Dargan Bridge in 1995!”

Robert added: “From 1pm to 4pm, the train will run to Inch Abbey, where visitors can disembark and take a short walk up to Inch Abbey.

“These extensive remains are of a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1180 by John de Courcy, who led the 1177 Anglo-Norman invasion of East Ulster, and are the reputed site for where the story of St Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland was first recorded by the monks.” 

And for fans of another landmark television series, as you cast your eyes over the remains of the mediaeval abbey one phrase will come to mind, “The King of the North!”

“Why? This 12th century building was where Game of Thrones Robb Stark’s bannermen rallied to their leader after taking victory (and Jaime Lannister prisoner) at the Battle of the Whispering Wood in Series 1.”

As well as being the camp of The Houses of the North and the Riverlands in Game of Thrones, Inch Abbey is home to a breathtaking view of the River Quoile – in the distance you can see Downpatrick Cathedral, burial place of St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint.

Mr. Gardiner added: “A trip on the railway is also much more than boarding the train. Visit our Carriage Gallery to bring the golden age of railway travel vividly to life, exploring lovingly restored vintage carriages and even a genuine Travelling Post Office, with displays and video showing you the fascinating history of this long-lost service.”

For the younger train fans, children can enjoy their own “Kids’ Station” in the Gallery, and dress up as a train driver or guard, or can get to control a model railway layout.”

Also open to the public is the lovingly restored Bundoran Junction signal cabin, now taking pride of place at Downpatrick Station rechristened ‘Downpatrick East’, where you can imagine yourself as the signalman controlling the trains and learning about the vital role signalling had on our railways – and is the only genuine vintage signal cabin that is also wheelchair accessible.

Refreshments will also be served onboard the ‘Derry Girls’ train as it travels between Downpatrick and Inch Abbey.

Free travel is being made possible by Newry Mourne and Down District Council’s Platinum Jubilee Financial Assistance Programme.