2009 is the 175th anniversary of the first scheduled steam train service to convey passengers in Ireland. Though giving the impression of a national rail network in Ireland might be a bit too grandiose an image. The line ran from Dublin to Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) and back and fortunately this line survives today.

Charles Blacker Vignoles

Charles Blacker Vignoles is regarded as one of the great engineers of the nineteenth century. He was born in Woodbrook, County Wexford in 1793. Orphaned at a young age he moved to England where he studied Mathematics and Law, He joined the army in 1814 and served under the Duke of Wellington. After returning to England Vignoles embarked on an engineering career that would see him become one of the world’s leading engineers. One of his first contracts was with the St Helens & Runcorn Railway in 1830-1833.

As a result of his experience in England Vignoles worked with William Dargan on the Dublin-Kingtown Railway. Opened in 1834 it was Ireland’s first railway. Vignoles was also responsible for the design of Westland Row station. Among Vignoles most important works are the Kiev Bridge over the River Dnieper in Russia and the Tudela and Bilbao Railway in Spain.

He died in 1875. There is a plaque in his honour at Dun Laoghaire railway station.

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