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K. R. McCormack, Irish Railways in the 1950s and 1960s, Pen & Sword, Barnsley 2017. ISBN 9871473871984, 175pp, ill idx, cased, £25

This book is to be welcomed. It is a collection of previously unpublished colour photographs and therefore gives a fresh and valuable look at its subject, and certainly reminds the reviewer of aspects of the Irish railways of his teenage years. 

However, a number of points need to be made. Firstly the photographs are of uneven quality, and many of us will remember the problems of colour accuracy during the period. It seems little has been done to enhance and restore the photographs and this in fact gives a refreshing feel to the book. The railways of the 1950s and 60s were rarely in pristine conditions and here we have begrimed steam and Metrovicks, carriages with dirty and unwashed panelling and flaking paint, and weeds a plenty on branchline track, and a reminder of that dreadful UTA green which usually came out as black unless filmed in strong sunlight. Not all pictures are crisp and clear, but their subjects may well not be otherwise recorded in print, and in the reviewer's humble opinion, the balance in this book is in favour of inclusion and the variety of subjects wide and varied.

There is another criticism, however. The author has done an excellent job in selection and there will always be something not included. For this reviewer, it is the Valentia branch, or the lack of a Sulzer B101 class. These omissions can always be rectified by a second volume but the present one is let down by some sloppy editing on the otherwise informative captions which are based on solid research. We are, for example, introduced to Lochrea, Ballinglass and Tulley, as well as confusing Navan and Naas, and the CLR which co-exists with the C&LR. even though most of these places are properly spelt elsewhere in the text, while the M&GWR also appears (there was no ampersand in its title but there was in GS&WR!) The GNR(I) Antrim branch's resurrection in the 1970s, remarkable at the time, is also omitted. The Waterford terminus of the Tramore line was Manor, not mentioned in the picture of a railcar there, while the 1970 Portadown station is on the site of the original station and much nearer the town than the GNR one . It is also annoying to see the CDRJC referred to as the CDRJB and 'Harland & Wolff' referred to through at 'Harland & Woolf.' These may seem minor points but show that greater care should have been taken in editing such an otherwise excellent volume.

Overall this book, the first venture of an established English publisher into the Irish market is to be welcomed as it taps new sources of illustration and the author is to be applauded for his approach to the subject.                NG

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Revised: May 17, 2018 .