Downpatrick Railway

Travel back to the past with real vintage steam trains to Inch Abbey and King Magnus’ Grave, on Ireland’s only full-sized heritage railway.

Built on the trackbed of part of the Belfast and County Down Railway, which ran to Newcastle, the old line was closed and abandoned nearly 60 years ago, the volunteer enthusiasts have laid nearly three miles of track to create Ireland’s only full-sized heritage railway.

Steam locomotives from the 1920s and 30s, or diesels from the 60s, convey their passengers in 50 to 100 year old carriages past rebuilt railway buildings and into the County Down countryside to the terminus at Inch Abbey, crossing the River Quoile on its way to the peaceful remains of the 12th Century monastery. So why not take along a picnic to the Abbey on a warm day?

Photographic display and model railway in station house.

Trains run during the summer months with other special events at St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, May Day, Halloween & Christmas.

Carriage Gallery

In 2012 the Downpatrick & County Down Railway gained one thing it’s always been missing: a modern visitors’ centre.

Housed in a spectacular building, which harks back to the great Victorian termini, the ‘Carriage Gallery’ is Ireland’s only dedicated carriage museum which tells the story of the development of railways in Northern Ireland from the 19th century to today.

The ‘Gallery’ displays vintage vehicles from all over Ireland, as well as carriages unique to the old railway which used to run between Belfast and Downpatrick, Newcastle, Ardglass and Bangor, as well as artefacts and an audio-visual exhibition.

Railway Chairman, Michael Collins, commented on the attraction, “This is the only centre in Ireland that gives the limelight to carriages, not the engines, as it was the carriages which carried the people that used the railways and it is through them that we can tell the social history of the areas and the people the railways served.”

The ‘Gallery’ boasts six vintage passenger carriages, the second oldest surviving steam locomotive in Ireland, one 1980s prototype Railbus and four goods wagons, including the former Belfast & County Down Railway’s “Royal Saloon”, which carried the future Kings George V and VI, as well as King Edward VII and their consorts.

Already causing a stir are two ancient six-wheeled carriages from the Midland Great Western Railway, from the 1890s which operated from Dublin to Galway, and the same type that starred in the 1952 John Wayne classic ‘The Quiet Man’. Hidden from view under tarpaulins since they were donated by Irish Rail in 2007, their dilapidated condition creates a direct contrast to the three fully restored vintage carriages on display.


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