By rail across Kerry's
scenic Slieve Mish

From the Cork Weekly Examiner July 1977

The Tralee and Dingle Railway by David G Rowlands
D. Bradford Barton (Cornwall) £3.95

It used to be a firm creed among enthusiasts of railway history that nobody could recapture the long-vanished atmosphere of any line unless he had known it intimately in its prime, and experienced at first-hand all the characteristics and perhaps foibles of its operation. The contention is still true - in most cases.

A notable exception is the happy association of Mr D Rowlands of Iver, Bucks, England, with the narrow-gauge Tralee and Dingle Light Railway, on which the last train ran in 1953, while David was still a pupil at Eton. By a series of strange circumstances - notably the attraction which pictures of the T & D by such photographers as W A Camwell and Ivo Peters had for him - he became from young adulthood an "addict" of the line, and it is no exaggeration to say that he is now the premier expert on that most romantic and "adventuresome" railway which for 62 years from 1891 traversed the beautiful Slieve Mish and Gleann na nGealt countryside through the magnificent Dingle peninsula.

Not only has Mr Rowlands a working model of the Dingle railway laid out in his Buckinghamshire garden, but he has studied every facet of the history and geography of the line - a line full of associations with the life of Corca Dhuibhne over six decades.

In the Cork "Holly Bough" three years ago he wrote a lengthy article entitled "When The Railfans Came To Dingle" which was a detailed survey of the almost mystical allurement possessed by the "Dingle" for transport enthusiasts and historians. This was much acclaimed, and it has led the author to redouble his efforts in seeking out every item of lore and legend connected with the line, including its links with the great Gaelic scholars and writers of West Kerry and the Blaskets. It is hoped that this interesting social study will be published at a later date.

In the meantime Mr Rowlands has prepared the volume now under review - a magnificent selection of photographic studies of the system in all his moods and tenses. To the reader who knew the line it will bring back nostalgic echoes of a long-gone form of transportation; to exiles of Dingle, Lispole, Annascaul and Camp it will carry memories of home; to the younger generation it will bring a fascinating evokation of the power of steam even if in remote, rather primitive conditions.

In addition to the two [already-mentioned] photographers, C Fry, K A C R Nunn, P B Whitehouse, A J Powell, A W Croughton, J C Gillham, C J Aston, W H C Kellard and others are well represented, and in that goodly company we are pleased to see two worthy examples of his craft, the late Tommy O'Brien, Cork Examiner cameraman who with this reviewer came to Castlegregory Junction near Camp one memorable summer in 1951 to record the antics of the train during the years when it ran only once a month to service Dingle cattle fair.

Not least of the book's attractions are the excellent drawings of the author's friend David Pinninger - a happy partnership indeed.


With many thanks to Martin Curran for providing a copy of the page from the Cork Weekly Examiner