The former railway around Caherciveen
On the 12th of August in 1893 the railway connection from Killorglin to Reenard Point, just beyond Caherciveen, was opened as part of the Farranfore – Valentia Harbour railroad by the Great Southern and Western Railways company. It ran for just over 39 miles and serviced 12 different train stations. On the 1st of February 1960 it was decided the railway was no longer economically viable and consequently shut down.
Driving the Ring of Kerry (N70) road between Glenbeigh and Caherciveen, you will see the tunnels cutting through Drung Hill above the road. A mile further you cannot miss the impressive Gleensk viaduct, which carried the railway over the valley it’s named after.
Whilst most of the former train stations have been demolished (few remain such as the Fexco office in Killorglin), there are still plenty of traces of the former railroad to be found. In Caherciveen Town, the bridge over Valentia River is the most obvious of all. Unfortunately the bridge is closed to the public.
In 2013 a plan was drafted to convert the former railway, or at least a good part of it, into a so-called “Greenway”, a trendy word for cycling route. It was picked up by Minister Alan Kelly in 2014. Kerry County Council however, had difficulties with a small amount of landowners on the proposed route, who objected the council’s original plans and preferred an alternative route. The council in its turn decided to issue Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) in order to continue with its original route.
This was not a popular decision and whilst an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is carried out, the issuing of CPOs was delayed in early 2017. After a lengthy procedure, planning permission was eventually lodged by Kerry County Council in April 2019.
As it stands, at the moment of writing in early 2021, the plans have finally been approved by An Bord Pleanala only to become subject to legal proceedings by objectors. Two separate legal challenges have been brought to the High Court aiming to quash the board's decision. Hearings are expected to take place in March, which has the council and many locals vexed.