Flight to the South, Ireland’s First Railway 1834


Map Code: Ax01698

Not everyone was enamoured by the prospect of Ireland’s first railway. Lord Cloncurry, who had been imprisoned in the Tower of London on suspicion of treason after the Irish rebellion of 1798 and owned property at Blackrock, demanded compensation including a private footbridge, a hedge for privacy, and a Romanesque temple with bathing facilities, before permitting work to proceed. Lord Cloncurry placated, the line opened in October 1834. It ran from Westland Row in Dublin 6 miles (10 km) to Kingstown Harbour, and was the world’s first commuter line. Built by the engineer William Dargan, part of the line ran on an embankment across the water from Booterstown to Blackrock. Attempts to extend the line to the current location of Dun Laoghaire station were again opposed by local magnates, this time led by hotelier Thomas Gresham, who, in contrast to Cloncurry, began life a foundling, discovered as a new-born on the steps of the London Royal Exchange.

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