Bantry Bay beauty
Bantry Bay is on the south-west coast of Ireland, in County Cork, and flows into the North Atlantic. There’s a small town at the head of the bay that once boasted attractive period buildings, in front of a mountainous backdrop to the south-west. Although modern redevelopments have changed some of the seafront buildings, Bantry is still a pretty and attractive little coastal town. Today, a large car park dominates one bank of the bay. This was once the terminus of the Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway. This main line emerged from the city of Cork heading south-west along the coast to Bandon. From here, the line to Bantry opened in July 1881. One of the goods sidings extended beyond the station limits to the 100-yard pier. The loop terminated in a headshunt alongside a platform and small shelter with a Bantry Pier running-in board. The Great Southern Railway Company was formed in 1924 by the merger of the Great Southern & Western Railway, the Midland Great Western Railway and the CBSCR. It became the Great Southern Railways Company a year later when the Dublin & South Eastern Railway joined the party. GSRC essentially ran all the railways within what was then called the Irish Free State; only the GNR (I) remained independent as it operated the rail connection to Northern Ireland. GSRC suffered from financial issues and closure of the CBSCR was threatened in the 1930s. It survived to become part of the Republic of Ireland’s nationalised CIÉ in 1944 but, despite dieselisation in the late 1950s, closure came on March 31 1961. Railcars 2641 and 2660 formed the last train, the 6.00pm Cork-bantry. The railcars then returned to Cork, almost empty, except for a party of journalists.