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Ireland by Rail: The Top 5 Railway Journeys

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Ireland by Rail: The Top 5 Railway Journeys

story by: House of Travel

As far as quintessential United Kingdom icons go, you don't get much more authentic than Thomas the Tank Engine. And while Ireland's rail network isn't exactly like what you see on Sodor Island (Thomas' fictional hometown, of course!), it's still fairly impressive. Here are five of the best journeys you can undertake by rail - just watch out for the Fat Controller. 

Dublin to Belfast
Head from capital to capital when you journey from Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital to Dublin, the capital of the entire Republic of Ireland. These two centres are only around 160 km apart and as such can be conquered by motor vehicle, but what's the fun in that? Avoid the traffic and see some spectacular parts of the country with a train ride.

Take the InterCity route, which is operated by Northern Ireland Railways and Iarnrod Eireann, and be sure to check out the viaduct over the Malahide estuary as one of the major scenic highlights of the trip. The railway viaduct was built in the 1800s, and the estuary itself is a prominent bird site, particularly during winter. If you keep your eyes peeled you may witness the internationally important Brent Geese population, along with 15 other nationally important species.

Journey along two other viaducts, one of which crosses Drogheda's River Boyne and the other passing over 18-arch Craigmore Viaduct, on a trip that should take around two hours and 15 minutes. You'll pass through Lisburn, Portadown and Dundalk on a train that features in-seat audio, power points, overhead and table lamp lighting and even in-seat catering.

Dublin to Galway
Head cross country from Dublin to Galway on this journey, which spans around 200 kilometres and presents travellers with stunning views around Oranmore, a coastal stretch of Galway Bay, and even the sights of Burren in County Clare.

The trip takes between two and a half to three hours and passes through the townships of Tullamore, Athlone, Kildare and Athenry. Pay special attention to the iron railway bridge over Athlone's River Shannon, which dates back to around 1850. You'll end up in Eyre Square after crossing Lough Atalia.

Dublin to Rosslare
This three hour train trip is possibly one of the most scenic in all of Ireland, sending you along a coastal path to offer you expansive views across the water. Watch out for Killiney Bay, which is visually spectacular and boasts the homes of some of United Kingdom's most rich and famous. Often compared to Italy's Bay of Naples, the bay features a popular beach set alongside a mountainous backdrop.

The train slows along the waterfront in Wexford town, which is a sleepy little area with a silted estuary and a fascinating Viking past. This is an ideal place to hop off and explore, breaking up this journey with a breath of fresh seaside air and a poke around the old town.

Derry to Coleraine
The train trip between Derry, also known as Londonderry, and Coleraine has been described by Michael Palin as one of the world's most beautiful, setting off in the historic city of Derry and meandering along the riverside. Follow the River Foyle toward a lush green landscape, stopping in Bellarena before journeying on to Benone Strand's beautiful unspoiled beach. Downhill's maritime cliffs have to be seen to be believed, with plenty of wildlife to spot if you're alert.

Stop off in Castlerock for a beach picnic before continuing on your trip past the local golf course, zooming along the River Bann and into Coleraine, where you can enjoy the local shopping.

Cork to Cobh
Take a short 25 minute trip from Cork's Kent Station through to Cobh, with plenty of scenic highlights to take in along the way. Coast over the Belvelly Channel and choose your stops, which include Little Island, Fota Wildlife Park and Carrigaloe, or continue right the way through to Cobh station.

This town is significant as it is the last departure point for the ill-fated Titanic voyage, and there is plenty of that history to soak up while you're visiting.

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This article was inspired by ‘10 Best: Irish train rides’ by Pól Ó Conghaile” 

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