The Corrib Viaduct Bridge

The construction of the Athlone Railway Bridge in 1851 led to the subsequent development of mainline rail lines to Galway City and to Westport. The rail network was later extended to more remote areas of Galway and Mayo subsequent to the Light Railways (Ireland) Act of 1889. Under the Act, the Midland Great Western Railway Company (MGWR) constructed rail links to Achill and Killala in County Mayo and to Clifden in County Galway.


The Corrib Viaduct Bridge from Woodquay 1888

The Corrib Viaduct Bridge from below the Salmon Weir 1899

The end of the line Achill 1911

MGWR was provided with a government grant of £264,000 to build a line from Galway across Connemara to Clifden. The intention had been to improve communications with a developing fishing industry and the MGWR engineers designed a route to follow the coastline, where the population was estimated to be around 60,000 persons. However, the Royal Commission on Public Works thought otherwise and directed that an inland route should be followed via Oughterard. Largely as a result of this decision, freight traffic failed to materialise, and the railway company chose instead to develop the tourism potential of the area.
The line was opened to Clifden on 1st of July 1895 and cost £432,000, or £9,000 per mile. Altogether, there were some 30 bridges, including an imposing steel viaduct, which crossed the River Corrib in Galway. Today only the piers remain of the viaduct, the three spans of which were 150 ft, with a bascule type lifting navigation span of 21 ft. (6.3)

The engineers for the railway were John Henry Ryan and Edward Townsend. A paper entitled " The Galway And Clifden Railway" by J. H. Ryan, Vice-President, Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland, is recorded in the Institution's transactions of 1901. The line was closed in April 1935.

Achill Railway Station 1911

In late 1890, Robert Worthington, the main contractor to the MGWR, began work on the line between Westport and Mullranny and this was later extended to Achill.

The town of Newport is on the Newport river, where it flows into the north-east corner of Clew Bay. At Newport the single line track crossed the river on a fine viaduct of red sandstone.

The overall length of the viaduct is 305ft (92m) and the width 18ft 6in. The line was not opened until 1894 on completion of a nearby tunnel.

The viaduct is now a pedestrian route and, together with the adjacent road bridge, forms an attractive backdrop to the town, especially when floodlit at night. Like the Clifden railway this branch line was similarly closed in 1935.

The Railway Tunnel, Prospect Hill Galway 1895
Newport Viaduct