Efforts by locals to restore an old Connemara railway station have been successful.
A planning application was submitted to the Galway County Council to restore the disused railway station at Maam Cross and turn it into a major tourist attraction.
It is planned to transform it into an all-weather railway heritage centre, family tourist attraction, the rebuilding of a demolished signal cabin and the refurbishment of the old goods store.
There are also plans to restore the old cattle bank at the station as well as the water tower and passenger platforms – and to re-lay a section of the original track.
The station in Maam, which was one of the locations for the Quiet Man movie in the 1950s, stands on eight and a half acres.
And the Midland Great Western Railway of Ireland (MGWR) wants to recreate a snapshot of the West’s country railways and the significance they had on rural life.
The County Council’s planners requested a bat survey to be carried out to determine if they roost at the old station.
This had to be carried out by a suitably qualified bat specialist with ecological expertise to determine whether or not bats and their roosts are present at this location.
In response, the developers stated that a bat survey was carried out and that none were to be found in the old goods store or water tower.
The station in Maam Cross opened in July 1895 to serve the vast hinterland of Maam Valley, Joyce Country, Carna and Rosmuc.
The railway line was extended to Clifden in what was known as one of the Balfour Lines in order to stimulate economic activity.
However, it proved so uneconomic that the railway line became disused by the mid-1930s. The track from Galway to Clifden through Maam was lifted and went through the formal abandonment process.
The developers are fully supportive of the development of the railway alignment as a walking and cycling greenway. It is considered that this proposed development will prove a huge economic boost for Maam Cross and surrounding areas.
The new company’s plans include reinstating railway track along the approximately 400 metres of available track bed with associated trackwork largely in keeping with the original layout.
Refurbishing the platforms, rebuilding the signal cabin and down platform waiting shelter, restoring the goods store and replacing the water tank are also part of the plans.
The existing yard entrance gate will be replaced by replica of the original pattern which seems to have been unique to this branch of the MGWR.
An appropriate level crossing gate will also be erected on the site of the original within the site boundary.