The Midlands Great Western Railway was one of the so-called “Balfour Lines”, called after Arthur J. Balfour, Chief Secretary for Ireland during the years 1887-91, who introduced the Light Railways (Ireland) Act which provided State assistance for the construction of narrow gauge lines to disadvantaged areas such as West Mayo. The first station on this extension was Newport which opened in February 1894, followed by Mallaranny in August of the same year. The line to Achill was completed in May 1895.
The promoters of the line had high hopes for it's future and it proved to be a great social and economic asset to West Mayo, however traffic never consistently reached the levels originally anticipated. Development of road traffic in the 1930’s sealed the fate of the line. The last train ran in autumn of 1937, a mere 42 years after the line had opened.
Today the section of the line between Westport and Achill with its many fine engineering structures, Kilmmena Mini Viaduct gentle gradients and outstanding scenery has been converted into an off road cycling trail – a fitting reminder to the glorious railway era.
Individual towns prospered with the arrival of the railways. When Irish railway companies became involved in the hotel business, the luxury Mulranny Hotel opened in 1897. From 1898, a combined rail and hotel ticket was available.
The hotel was equipped with electric light and by 1900 hot and cold water baths were also available. Patrons had access to sandy beaches and the use of the hotel’s boats and gold links. We have revived the combined rail and hotel ticket, which now included bicycle hire, packed lunch, and the hotel, also with use of the hotel leisure facilities. Contact www.mulrannyparkhotel.ie for details.