WITH car parking at a premium during the St. Patrick’s festival parade day, the Downpatrick & County Down Railway will be offering a “rail” alternative to carnival goers with its St. Patrick’s Day ‘Shamrock Specials.’
In conjunction with Down District Council, the railway will be offering a Park’n’Ride service from the Down Business Park on the Belfast Road directly into the heart of the carnival between noon and 5pm.
Railway Chairman, John Wilson, said: “This St. Patrick’s Day boarding at the Inch Abbey terminus is a sure way of beating the traffic and letting you steam into the town for the festival celebrations.
“We know that many people end up parking as far out as the former Abbey Lodge Hotel site and the Down Business Park on the Belfast Road and end up having to walk a fair distance into the town centre.
But as well as providing a means of getting from A to B on St. Patrick’s Day, Mr. Wilson suggests a visit to Inch Abbey itself, a ruined 12th Century Cistercian Abbey.
He added: “While also getting people into the carnival, if you’re already in the town, why not get onboard at Downpatrick and travel out and visit this glorious Christian heritage site while celebrating Ireland’s Patron Saint? You also get the best view of Down Cathedral, the site of St. Patrick’s Grave, from on board the train.”
Tickets will be available at Inch Abbey and Downpatrick stations, and refreshments will be served all day onboard a buffet carriage while you wait for the train. The railway museum exhibition and new Carriage Gallery visitor centre will also be open, as well as a new interpretative display actually inside the carriage workshop allowing you to see the work that goes on behind the scenes.
Return tickets cost £5.50 adult, £4.50 children or senior citizens, while children aged three years old or below go free, and for motorists using the Business Park this includes the cost of the Shuttle Bus and all day parking for themselves and their passengers.
There’s no need to book and for further information on events – or if you are thinking about joining as a volunteer contact the Downpatrick Tourist Information Centre on 028 4461 2233 log on to the railway’s website at www.downrail.co.uk or find them on facebook at www.facebook.com/downrail or follow on twitter @downrail