In years gone by, the west of Ireland was known for its beautiful train journeys, with plenty of routes going straight from Limerick. History books are filled with descriptions of trips to Castleconnell, Kilkee and Galway. Unfortunately, nowadays, there are few routes remaining, and those that do exist can be more of an arduous trial than a relaxing experience. Train aficionados (and those who hark back to more simple, sedate travel) can still get their fix with some great options close to home. Travelling by train is a great way to take in the changing colour of the stunning Irish landscape this autumn.
Travel in Luxury
One for the bucket-list (or the lottery), the Grand Hibernian is the ultimate in train travel in Ireland. Operated by the people behind the Orient Express, the super luxurious sleeper carriages take their inspiration from Dublin’s Georgian architecture while the observation car boasts a “classic saloon” with live music and storytelling. Journeys include ultra-luxe accommodation, four-star dining and a specially-designed schedule of tours and excursions.
Journey tickets start from €3,000
Dine at the Pullman Restaurant
If you’d like to sample the glamour of the Hibernian without spending (quite) as much, a trip to Glenlo Abbey could be in order. Located just outside Galway, the Abbey is home to the Pullman Restaurant, which is made up of two carriages from the original Orient Express, which traversed Europe in the 1920s. Guests can book a private booth or take a seat by the window, watching the (admittedly static) Connemara countryside while enjoying fine dining.
Set menus from €57
Hop Aboard a Steam Train
For a truly authentic experience, jump aboard an historic steam train for the Munster Double Railtour. Hosted by the Whitehead Railway Museum, the tour takes place on Saturday 14 October, and will depart from Dublin to Cork, Tralee and back. It’ll feature two 071 locomotives – for the first time – and guests will be given ample opportunity to stop and take photographs along the way.
Adult tickets €65, Child €32.50
Wildlife and Railways
Fota Island is always a great spot to take in some nature or indulge in a little luxury pampering. Enliven the trip down by taking the train: regular service carries passengers from Limerick to Cork, with a short twenty-minute journey onwards to Cobh. The Cork to Cobh line is renowned for its beauty and interest, and passengers can hop off at the Wildlife Park or continue onto the port town itself, which has a heritage centre for fans of all things Titanic and train-related.
Fares from €22
What to pack
Depending on the route you’re taking, a warm blanket might be in order. Make it a stylish choice, with this Irish-made Foxford version from €100, Brown Thomas
Nothing makes a journey fly by like a movie: Netflix has a range of train-related films, including The Lady Vanishes and The Great Train Robbery. Download it in advance – the wifi is never great.
Dark, shocking and always-engaging, the Girl on the Train would make the perfect accompaniment to a long journey, from €12, O’Mahony’s.
Most trains will have a bar cart, but if you’re fussy about your coffee or tea, you’re better off packing your own. Nobody keeps a cuppa hot like Thermos, from €30, Debenhams.