What could have been

LONDON, Nov. 20. -- The British Government has decided to make a grant of $675,000 toward the cost of constructing a railway from Collroney, Ireland, to Blacksod Bay, on the west coast of the island. Thus London will be linked to Blacksod Bay by means of the railway to the west of England, ferry steamers to the east coast of Ireland, and by an unbroken railway across Ireland.



Throughout the second half of the 19th century, many proposals were made regarding the development of a railway line in to Belmullet and the Erris region. Three routes were surveyed and discussed:


1.   Route One: Ballina - Ballycastle - Belmullet

2.   Route Two: Newport - Mulrany - Belmullet

3.   Route Three: Ballina - Crossmolina - Belmullet


Many people along these routes lobbied for the railway lines to pass through their district. However the merchants of Belmullet were more sceptical, and feared that the introduction of a railway line would adversely affect their trading position, putting Ballina within easy reach of the population. Plans for a railway to Blacksod, which would have served trans-Atlantic shipping , were therefore postponed.

The Collooney Ballina and Belmullet Railways and Piers Company had only raised about £100,000 of its authorised £2,500,000 share capital by 1913 under the Chairmanship of Sir Thomas HC Troubridge.

 Trains travelled as far as Killala on the new line when it opened on 2nd January, 1893, at the end of the nineteenth century. A large hotel was built in Belderrig in anticipation of the coming of the All Red Route, as it became known, but trains never whistled at Belderrig -- a two-storey imposing building still stands as a reminder of what might have been.
 
Many still pressed the authorities for a rail line, and this movement gained momentum during the latter days of the First World War, when it was proposed that a line would improve lines of communication between both London and Canada, and London and the USA. However, when the war ended in 1918, the hopes for a railway service to Backsod ended with it. 

From 1934, trains didn't travel beyond Ballina, and the track from there to Killala was taken up.


Just imagine what would have happened if the railroad had arrived in Blacksod! Next to America, a deep-sea port capable of handling the largest of ships!

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