The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway, affectionately known as the Sligo, Leitrim, ran from Enniskillen, in County Fermanagh at its eastern end, where it joined with the Great Northern Railway through Florencecourt, Belcoo, Glenfarne, Manorhamilton, Dromahair, Ballintogher and on to Collooney, where it joined with both the Midland Great Western Railway and the Great Southern and Western Railway, continuing the remainder of the journey into Sligo Town on railway lines shared by those three railway companies.
The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway was privately owned throughout its entire history, at a time when every other privately owned railway company was absorbed by the Great Northern Railway Company of Ireland.
The reason the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway was not absorbed into the state-owned system in 1925, was simply because it ran across the borner between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, then called the Irish Free State.
The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway closed on 1st October 1957, when the Great Northern Railway of Ireland closed its railway station in Enniskillen on the direct orders of the Government of Northern Ireland.
The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway was never a very prosperous railway, since the countryside it crossed was poor and sparsely populated, and its main revenue generating business came from transporting cattle from Collooney to Enniskillen for further shipment to Belfast for the sea crossing to Scotland for the cattle markets over there.
One of the many unusual traits of the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway was that this particular railway line didn’t number its steam locomotives, but named them instead.
The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway also had the distinction of being a pioneer in the use of railbuses. These carriages were usually a road going single-deck bus, converted to run on railway lines, and in this particular case, the modified wheels still carried a form of pneumatic tyre.
The last steam locomotives to enter ANY Irish railway company, were two 0-6-4 Tank locomotives built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester, and delivered to the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway in 1951 under a hire-purchase agreement. The locomotives were Lough class locomotives, and were named Lough Melvin and Lough Erne, pictured above.
Sadly nothing remains in Sligo Town of this long-disused railway, but what does remain is a rather derelict looking signal cabin in Glenfarne, a beautifully restored complete railway station layout in Belcoo and the station building in Florencecourt.
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