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GSR ‘Demonstration’ Special Arigna to Adoon

Sunday 14 June 1936

Michael Davies

As a keen transport ticket collector for many years my attention was drawn to a most unusual GSR ticket in a recent postal auction. The ticket was a standard GSR single coupon pre dated return of a type regularly issued in connection with special trains to GAA events or for Sunday seaside excursions etc.

The destination of this special was a most unlikely one, being none other than a 'signal station' or request stop on the narrow gauge Cavan & Leitrim section. I knew the C&L for its last decade of operation and during that time no Sunday trains were run so I was naturally very intrigued to know what called for a special from Arigna to remote Adoon in June 1936.

My friends in Leitrim were similarly mystified and strangely the weekly 'Leitrim Observer' of June 12th proved unhelpful. However, I certainly wasn't going to give up, and when I learned I had been successful in my bid for the ticket I asked if someone could check the relevant GSR Weekly Notice in our Heuston HQ.

This confirmed that a ‘Demonstration’ excursion train was to be run from Arigna to Adoon calling at all stations and 'flag' stations and times and fares were shown, something never before seen, as these halts were simply shown as 'CR' in the timetables. A return service was provided allowing 3 hrs 45 minutes in Adoon.

Friends suggested that the train was perhaps provided for participants at a Feis at Cloone, Adoon being the nearest station, whilst others suggested a demonstration relating to the Economic War, then having serious repercussions locally.

The mystery was finally resolved when our member Fred Andrews remarked that the Selton Hill memorial between Mohill and Ballinamore was dedicated in June 1936 and this proved the correct answer.

Selton Hill near Gorvagh was the scene of a deadly ambush when six IRA men were killed by British troops during the War of Independence on March 11th 1921. It was over fifteen years therefore before the unveiling and dedication took place.

A hand written note on the Weekly Notice states 100 and 1 half which may relate to the number of passengers carried on the special. This seems a small number as a newspaper reports over 7000 persons attended. The total passenger stock on the C&L section in 1936 was twelve bogie coaches seating around 50 each. The Weekly Notice lists no other specials when one might have thought trains would have been run from Belturbet, and to Dromod on the broad gauge.  No doubt huge numbers would have walked as this was quite normal in those pre car days, whilst a few buses may have been locally organised.

The other mystery sadly not clarified by the Weekly Notice is the disposal of the loco and stock between the outward and return journeys. As the tablet section was Ballinamore to Mohill the empty train must have proceeded there, and water was available for the loco. However, C&L trains were never observed with the loco running in reverse, and with no turntable at Mohill the engine presumably went to Dromod to turn.

Finally, my ticket from Ballinamore to Adoon is numbered 0003 and snipped no less than THREE times! I would love to know where it has been kept all these years. We shall probably never know if tickets were also printed from Arigna, Drumshanbo and the seven 'flag' stations between Drumshanbo and Adoon.

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 192, published February 2017

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