1) Lost Railways of Co. Down and Co. Armagh, by Stephen Johnson
In Northern Ireland there’s a big market for books on local history and nostalgia, part of the dinnsenchas phenomenon I’ve written about before. This is just a collection of photographs of old trains and old stations, almost all gone for half a century now. While most enthusiasts are interested in the physical manifestations of old railways – the specifics of the engines, the design of the paraphernalia – what gets me is the geographical impact – the extent to which the railways opened up the countryside before roads were really good.
But in Counties Down and Armagh, it really was far past the point of saturation. From a human point of view I sympathise with the nostalgia for the old days; but really, there were far too many railway lines and stations for the level of the population even then, never mind now. This map doesn’t even show most of the lines in the north and east of County Down as they were run by a different company:
(Map from here, part of an excellent site on County Down history)
To pick but one example, the stops of Ashfield and Mullaghfernaghan, between Banbridge and Dromore, serviced communities which are otherwise unknown to the map-maker, then or now. These days it takes less than ten minutes to drive from Dromore to Banbridge (and I doubt that it took a lot longer a hundred years ago).
Still, I would like some day to spend some time finding the places where some of these photographs were taken and seeing if I can reproduce the scene from fifty years later.