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Killiney History | June 13, 2021

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The Railway

The Railway
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2021 | author
Image from The Illustrated London News 3rd November 1855 marking the opening of the section of line between Bray and Wicklow of the Dublin and Wicklow Railway. This view shows the recently constructed tunnel linking Dalkey and Killiney which opened the previous year.

The article in The Illustrated London News of 3rd November 1855 reported: ‘Opening of the Dublin and Wicklow Railway. On Thursday (last week) the portion of this line of railway between Bray and Wicklow was opened by the Viceroy and a brilliant company. The works had been inspected upon Monday by Colonel Wynne and a communication addressed by him to the board of directors expressed his perfect satisfaction with the line and the measures taken to ensure its stability and the safety of the traffic. The excursion train which left the Harcourt Road station at 11:30 was freighted with numerous company consisting of the directors, principle shareholders, and a select circle to whom invitations had been issued, amongst whom where his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, Lady Dover, the Marchioness of Kildare, Mr and Lady F. Howard, and a large circle of fashionables. The party received numerous additions along the line among whom were the Earl of Meath, Sir George and Lady Hodson, Mr Shaw, Mr Killen etc. The special train reached Bray in half an hour precisely and after a stay of 12 minutes set upon its journey round the Head, which at first was doubtless one of considerable anxiety to many of its inmates.’


The four railway stations which served Killiney and Ballybrack over the years. Superimposed on Municipal Boundaries Commission Map of 1880.

Obelisk Hill Station 10th July 1854 – 1st January 1858

Extract from Henry Eoghan O’Brien – An Engineer of Nobility by Gerald M. Beesley 2018 pp 35-36.   

Robert Warren, who owned the Killiney Hill estate for much of the 19th century, facilitated the Dublin & Wicklow Railway (D&WR) by allowing the line between Bray and Dalkey, which that company built in 1853- 54, to traverse his property at the Vico fields. In addition to compensation paid to him by the Railway Company, he was also provided with a halt, known as Obelisk Hill, and a footbridge that gave access to White Rock. Although Obelisk Hill was initially a private halt when the line opened on 10th July 1854, the D&WR agreed in June 1855 to open it up for public use on a temporary basis. However, it did not last long and it was decided to build a new station at Killiney, 5/8 mile further south, once a roadway had been provided. In September 1857 Robert Warren wrote to the D&WR stating that the road would be ready on 1st October, and requesting that the new station should be commenced. Obelisk Hill station was closed on and from 1st January 1858; the new Killiney station being opened on the same day.

Extract from Landed Estates Court map of 1872 which was prepared for the auction of the bankrupted Warren Estate. The remains of the disused platform on the sea side of the track were still visible at this time.
Extract from Ordnance Survey map of c. 1855 showing Obelisk Hill Station at location of current railway footbridge giving access to White Rock beach.


Killiney Station. 1st January 1858 – 8th May 1882

The original single-platform Killiney Station which was in use from 1858-1882. Note the single line track which was doubled between Dalkey and Ballybrack in 1882. The present Killiney & Ballybrack station, 1/4 mile further south, was  opened on 8th May 1882.
Extract from conditions of sale prepared by the Landed Estates Court for the 1872 auction of the bankrupted Warren Estate. This refers to a deed of 8th July 1857 between the D&WR and Robert Warren & others relating to the building of Killiney Railway Station to replace Obelisk Hill Station.
Article from The Freeman’s Journal 8th December 1876
Old Killiney Station shown on Ordnance Survey map of 1888
Aerial View of Old Killiney Station

Ballybrack Station. July 1854 – May 1882

Old Ballybrack Station c.1960
Aerial view of old Ballybrack Station

Killiney & Ballybrack Station. 8th May 1882 to present day.

A photograph from the Lawrence collection showing the station around the time of its opening in 1882.

Extract from Henry Eoghan O’Brien – An Engineer of Nobility by Gerald M. Beesley 2018 p. 36.

The original line from Bray to Dalkey was single track with a junction at Shanganagh for the inland route to the city via Dundrum, which at that time was also a single-track line. However, the section between Shanganagh Junction and Bray was soon doubled, the additional track being brought into use on 30th October 1855. Doubling of the line from Dundrum and remodelling of the junction was completed by 15th July 1861 by the Dublin Wicklow & Wexford Railway, to which the D&WR had changed its name under an Act of 15th May 1860 that also authorised an extension from Wicklow to Enniscorthy. The physical junction at Shanganagh was dispensed with in May 1877, three separate tracks being provided into Bray — two for the Harcourt Street line and a single one for the coastal line from Dalkey. From the time that the coastal line was opened there was also a station at Ballybrack, 1 1/4 miles south of Obelisk Hill. On 8th May 1882, following the doubling of the line between Ballybrack and Dalkey, a new combined Killiney & Ballybrack station replaced the separate ones at a point halfway between the two. The 1882 station is in use to this day for Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) commuter services and the two older station houses can still be identified. After the opening of the railway, there was a rush to build houses in Killiney with the dual advantage of magnificent views and convenience of being within easy reach of Dublin city. Most of the residential development took place in an area extending south from Killiney village towards Ballybrack and the sea, but some properties, like Mount Eagle, had been built before the arrival of the railway.

Killiney & Ballybrack Station, date unknown.

Dublin Historical Record 1977

Extract from: The Development of Ballybrack in the Nineteenth Century By Pól O. Duibhir Dublin Historical Record , Dec., 1977, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Dec., 1977), pp 26-27

By 1844 the Dun Laoghaire line had been extended to Dalkey and plans were afoot for an extension to Bray on the way to Wexford. This “caused the building speculator to become active, ‘every available spot of land’ has been ‘laid out for villa ground’ … the price of building-ground was daily rising in Dalkey and Killiney”.[1] However it was not yet to be, and the various railway companies involved continued squabbling among themselves for ten more years so that the real fillip only came with the railway development in 1854; the city was now only three quarters of an hour away.[2] Between 1851 and 1861 the population of the townland increased by a further 60% and stood at 530 persons.[3]

When the line opened on 10th July 1854 there were two stations serving the area; Ballybrack station off the end of the military road; and Obelisk Hill perched half way up a cliff in Mr. Warren’s Deerpark. The second station was quite inaccessible but may well have been one of the conditions laid down by Mr. Warren for letting the railway pass through his land.[4]

It only survived some three and a half years and in 1859 (actually 1858) a new station, called Killiney, was opened in the northern end of what is now Station Road on the site of a disused fort.[5] In the same year the residents of Dalkey complained that the service they were getting was much slower than had been the case when the atmospheric system[6] was in operation between Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey. The result was the Ballybrack Express; a train which would run non-stop from Dublin to Dun Laoghaire and have Ballybrack as its terminus. This brought Ballybrack within 33 minutes of the city.[7] The two stations of Ballybrack and Killiney still proved uneconomical however and they were combined on the site of the present station in 1882, when the track between Dun Laoghaire and Killiney was doubled bringing Ballybrack within 25 minutes of the city.[8]

It is hard for us to imagine the impact of the arrival of the railway on the life style of the people in the mid nineteenth century, and it may seem rather quaint to us that in 1865 the Sacred Congregation of Rites approved a special formula for the  blessing of the rails and rolling stock; “Almighty God … as your servants are whisked forward in this life, obeying your laws, and running on the rails you have laid, so may they reach their true home in Heaven …”[9] For Ballybrack the advent of the “iron chariot” meant that its potential as a residential area was limited only by the space available, not just in the townland itself but in the surrounding areas of Killiney, Kilbogget and Shanganagh as well.


[1]              Bray Brunel and All That, K. A. Murray, Journal of the Irish Railway Records Society, Vol. 5. p.210-11.

[2]              Wyers Railway Timetable, January 1856, p.22 and 23. Joly Pamphlets 3823-3848, National Library of Ireland.

[3]              Census of Ireland 1891, p.97.

[4]              Bray Brunel and All That, p.216. Mr Warren had hinted at the advantages of such a station (presumably to himself) when the Kingstown and Bray Railway Company were negotiating with him in 1845.

[5]              Limekiln Battery. No. 8 in journal of the Irish Railway Records Society, he 9 element defensive system build by the British in 1804 in the face of an anticipated French seaborne attack. See “The French are on the sea … A Military History of Killiney Bay from 1793 to 1815” by the author in The Irish Sword, Vol. XII, No. 46, Summer 1976.

[6]              This system was in operation between Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey from 1843 to 1854. The engine was pulled up the gradient on a suction principle, the vacuum being generated by an engine house in Dalkey. The system collapsed when the wax used to seal the leather flaps in the vacuum tube was eaten by rats. The Guinness Book of Records (1973 edition p.151) gives the Dalkey atmospheric as the world railway speed record holder (unofficial) from 1843 to 1890. A speed of 85 m.p.h. was attributed to a runaway engine in August 1843 but there were no independent timings taken.

[7]              Journal of the Irish Railway Records Society Vol. 6, p.61. In 1860, commercial rivalry and monopoly power manifested themselves in a novel form when a newsgirl named Mary Daly who travelled up and down the line to Dalkey selling newspapers had her free pass withdrawn because Smith and Sons, owners of the station bookstalls, objected to her activities.

[8]              Freeman’s Journal, 6th May 1882. the only two trains which are scheduled to make the run in less than 25 minutes today are the 19.47 from Killiney (Mon. to Fri.) and the 18.05 from Pearse (Sunday).  Dublin Suburban Passenger Train Timetable, February 1977, pp.232 and 244.

[9]              Irish Ecclesiastical Record 1865, Vol. I. P.146

               Benedictio Viae Ferreae et Curuum

               .. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, … dum famuli tui velociter properant in via, in lege tua ambulantes, et viam mandatorum  tuorum currentes, ad coelestam patriam feliciter pervenire valeant.