Steam world enthusiasts bid farewell to Tim Nagle
Kinsale and the world of steam preservation have lost a key figure, with the passing of popular engineer Tim Nagle.
He was well known nationally and internationally for his dedication to the conservation and preservation of all forms of 19th and 20th century technology, in particular, machines powered by steam.
Most of his life was immersed in saving the nation’s steam heritage, including spearheading campaigns to salvage, from scrap and breakers’ yards, the few remaining steam rail locomotives, as well as agricultural and industrial machines.
His enthusiasm for engineering of yesteryear was born in childhood, inherited from his innovative father who had noticed six-year-old Tim’s fears about steamroller, and went about building a working model from wartime scraps to demonstrate to his young son the Victorian technology.
Fear overcome, Tim’s adventures with innovation had begun, including teenage attempts to build a rocket, paring sulphur from matches and warning his Monkstown neighbours of the launch.
Sadly, the mission failed but his zeal was not dampened, and similar escapades continued throughout his life always believing everything is possible.
Since the 1960s, Tim, who has died aged 82, was a frequent visitor to events in the UK where steam engines were demonstrated in a working environment. He encouraged the embryonic steam preservation movement in Ireland to adopt a similar approach. Steam rallies and fairs now feature displays of working engines, demonstrating how they contributed to the formation of the economy through threshing, sawing, stone crushing, even coffee grinding and music.
Tim was a founder of the country’s largest steam rally held every June in Innishannon which exhibits an international collection of working engines and has raised over a million euro for The Irish Cancer Society since its inception in 1998.
Until recently, he was an active member of the Halfway Vintage Club in Ballinhassig, enjoying the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts while generously and eagerly bequeathing some of his expertise to the next generation.
Tim’s personal collection included simple engines, compound engines, triple-expansion engines and the highlights of a rich collection were an 1878 McLaren Traction and 1916 Marshall Portable engines.
The regular sight of a whitebearded Tim driving his fine McLaren traction engine was familiar to many people.