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Killiney History | July 15, 2024

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The Railway

The Railway
Last Modified: 28 May 2024 | 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 five railway stations which served Killiney and Ballybrack over the years. Superimposed on Municipal Boundaries Commission Map of 1880. Map updated on 4th August 2021 to indicate original Ballybrack station at junction of Military Road.

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.

Initial dealings with Robert Warren go legal in 1848

The following newspaper report of proceeding give a flavour of the relationship Warren had with the Railway Company.

Freeman’s Journal 3rd August 1848


The proceedings in the arbitration case between Mr. Robert Warren and the above company, to ascertain what compensation he is entitled to for the damage done by the railway to his property at Killiney, were resumed on yesterday before the Right Houourable the Recorder.

Mr. George Paterson, Mr. Tattersal, and other witnesses. were produced on the part of Mr. Warren. They stated that the average value of the land in question for building purposes, was about 6s. per foot: and that the deterioration in value caused by the construction of the railway, would be about two-thirds. Mr. Tattersal estimated the total deterioration to be £500. 5s. by the year, which at twenty years’ purchase would amount to £11,250. He also stated that, in his opinion, the private residences, Mount Malpas and Mount Eagle would sustain a permanent injury by the railway; amounting to one-third of their unfurnished rental. He would allow a year and a-half’s rent for the time the railway was in course of construction, when he thought it would be difficult to obtain suitable tenants for the houses.

Mr. Fitzgibbon, QC., then addressed the court at great length on the part of the company. He contended that the witnesses produced by the claimant had put an exorbitant value on the land in question, which in its present rugged and barren state was quite valueless; and that they had greatly exaggerated the deterioration which would be done to the property by the construction of the railway. Instead of deteriorating, the railway would improve Mr. Warren’s property, inasmuch as a gradual slope to the sea would be made by the company at an expense of £10,000, which would make the ground better suited for building than it was at present. A great deal had been said about the price brought by Mr. M’Donnell’s land at Sorrento Terrace, adjoining Mr. Warren’s property, but the circumstances under which that land had been sold were not stated; and besides the building of those houses had not turned out a very profitable speculation. There was this remarkable fact against Mr. Warren, that his land had been in the market for the last seven years, and notwithstanding the great advantages which it was said to possess not a single plot had been let for building. No witness had been produced to show that he offered five, four, three shillings, or even one shilling per foot for it as building land, and had been refused. That would be legal evidence, but no such fact had been proved; and the inference was, that the land was not so valuable in the market as Mr. Warren’s witnesses supposed. The learned gentleman. then entered into a minute examination of the various plans produced on the part of Mr. Warren, for the purpose of showing that the railway would not deteriorate the plots of land so much as had been stated on the other side. He admitted that the railway passing between the houses and the sea might be to some extent injurious; but at present there was no easy way of access to the beach, and that would be provided by the company, who proposed to construct three bridges across the line for accommodation of the inhabitants. Mr. Fitzgibbon said, in conclusion, that he would examine gentlemen equally intelligent and respectable with the plaintiff’s witnesses, who were prepared to state that the value attached to his property by Mr. Warren was quite extravagant.

Mr. James Farrell, architect and land valuator, was the first witness examined. He divided the whole length of the property in question into two parts. First from Dr. M‘Donnell’s boundary wall to the 23d houseplot, was about 1,320 feet, which he valued at 1s. 6d. per foot, as building ground, in checking an allowance for deterioration. That would be about £99 per year. The remainder of the land was about 2,010 feet, part of it was land, which he valued at £20 an acre; the remainder was all cliff, upon which he put a nominal value of £1 10s. an acre. The value which he set upon the 2,010 feet was about .£39 10s. per year. Taken together, the entire of the land in question amounted in value to £138 15s. a year, which, at 18 years purchase, would be £2,479. Witness did not consider that the vicinity of the railway, would at all injure Mount Mapas, or Mount Eagle.

Mr. Sherrard, land agent and valuator was examined– The value which he set upon Mr. Warren’s land, as building ground was £15 per acre, and he estimated it at 20 years purchase, because it was a compulsory sale. The further hearing of the case was adjourned till next Monday, at 11 o’clock.

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.

CIE poster date unknown. Courtesy Anthony Deegan

Newspaper cuttings

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

Earliest Ballybrack station, 1854 to c.1862

Map of the estate of Thomas Oxley offered for sale by the Commissioners for the Sale of Incumbered Estates in Ireland on 24th April 1856.

We had assumed that a stop had been constructed at this location which predated the ‘old’ station which was built further down Seafield Road around 1862 when the new road was constructed to facilitate housing development in the vicinity. Having looked for evidence of a stop at this point nothing was found, although the location below Holy Child School is very overgrown and inaccessible. It appears that the site was not a suitable location given the considerable drop from road level to platform level. However, we have just discovered the particulars, below, of the sale of the estate of Thomas Oxley from 1856 which clearly shows the platform served by steps from Military Road. It now makes sense that a stop was required at this location as Military Road led directly to Ballybrack Village and Seafield Road did not exist at the time. It is assumed that the stop was short lived due to restricted access and that the second Ballybrack station was constructed a few years later. A number of newspaper articles dated from 1863 mention the old Ballybrack Station so we believe that the stop was relocated further down the Seafield Road c.1862. There is no evidence that a station building was constructed at this location and it may be that it was only ever considered to be a temporary arrangement until the new road was opened.

Station-master has a severe accident on the steep steps leading to the platform, November 1862

From The Dublin Daily Express 3rd November 1862. There really was an access issue here, poor man!
Detail from map above showing Ballybrack station accessed by two long flights of steps from Military Road. Seafield Road had not been constructed at this stage. There is no station house indicated at this stop.
Aerial view showing location of platform which is long since removed
It appears that the Railway Company had acquired the land for the stop in November 1851.

Second ‘Old’ Ballybrack Station. c.1862 – May 1882

The sale notice, dated May 1862, for the newly built house called ‘Lower Killiney Lodge’ states that the house is located on the new road (Seafield Road) leading south from the Ballybrack Station. The new Ballybrack Station was constructed at the point where Seafield Road turns inland and the road level and track level being equal at this location was a significant improvement compared to the original stop position. Converted to residential use the house is now called Verona.

Dublin Evening Mail 11th February 1862
Old Ballybrack Station (no longer in use) as shown on the 1888 Ordnance Survey map located at the bend halfway along Seafield Road
Dublin Daily Express 7th December 1864
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.

Hackney cabs awaiting passengers at Killiney & Ballybrack Station, date unknown, possibly c.1890.

Dublin Historical Record 1977

Extract from: The Development of Ballybrack in the Nineteenth Century By Pól Ó’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.