Rewind - CIE Works inchicore

By Sean Heffernan

THE area known as Inchicore takes it's name from the Irish Inse Chaoire which means Sheep Island in Irish.

This was due to the many traders passing through the town, who would spend the night by the Camac River before they were given permission to bring their animals into, what is now known as the Inner-City, to sell their animals at market.

Another thing many people do not know, is that at one end of the street named Inchicore Parade, is the Inchicore Railway Works, where many trains have been built and repaired over many years.


In 1846 nearby Heuston Station, then known as Kingsbridge Station, opened its doors to passengers travelling with the Great Southern and Western Railway as far as Cashel in Tipperary.

It took a further eight years for the line to be extended to Cork City.

Three years later, the first buildings on a 70 acre plot of land acquired by GSW&R, were built, and so began the operations of the Rail Works.

The site was in a rural area at the time, surrounded by farmland, so the owners knew they would have to step up to the plate if they were to attract the many workers they needed to carry out the variety of tasks that would be undertaken there.

This is the reason you see so many terraced houses in Inchicore now, on streets named Railway Avenue and Inchicore Parade among others, they were built to house those employed building new, and repairing existing trains.

The Transport Company also funded the building of a new school, Inchicore National School, which still operates to this day on Sarsfield Road.

The first Chief Engineer was one John Aspinall, an engineer who hailed from the town of Crewe, near Liverpool.

It was during his work in Dublin that he developed and patented what was known as the 'vacuum brake' for use in trains.

This device enabled steam trains to be operated at a safer level than before, as it virtually eliminated leaks in the pipes, and also regulated air compression better, meaning it was easier to control the speed of the train, and stop it in an emergency. 

In 1886, Aspinall was wooed by the riches offered to him, and left his job in the capital, to head back over the sea to take up the post as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Yorkshire and Lancashire Railway.

On the 12th of August, 1924, the works went on strike seeking a pay rise of Three Shillings a week.

It was a bitter dispute, that lasted for almost a month, before an agreement was finally reached between workers representatives and management on September 15.

During World War 11, the Government instructed the men working at the facility to try and develop steam engines that could operate by also using other fuels than just coal.

Try as they might, they were unable to produce a competent reliable engine that could run on turf and the like.

So when a severe shortage of coal took hold in the country, owing to a lack of supply from the UK, Locomotives constantly broke down, or took much longer to get from A to B, they were not able to operate on turf, upon which drivers had no choice but to use.

By this stage as well, the Railway Works had long since passed into the control of Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE) the state transport company.

A new era in Irish trains was ushered in, in the 1950's when new stock was built in Inchicore, which ran on diesel, rendering the steam locomotives largely redundant.

A lot of the buildings present today on site, have retained the majority of their original features, and from the outside at least, retain their timeless character.

While there are now far less staff working there, than did at the facilities height, it still plays an important role in ensuring you get to Galway or Cork City in time for that business meeting, wedding or city break.

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