Thursday 20 September 2018 05:26:19 PM

Shamrock Train Rides On St Patrick’s Festival
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The Downpatrick & County Down Railway will be providing a “rail” alternative to this year’s St Patrick’s Day events in the town.

Driver Robert Edwards sports a sprig of Shamrock in his cap awaiting the off for the Shamrock Steam Train.

On Sunday 11 March, with the carpark at Inch Abbey closed, the railway will be providing a Park and Ride from the town centre out to the Abbey for St Patrick’s Landing – a re-enactment of St. Patrick’s arrival in Ireland in his mission to bring the Christian faith to the people of this land.

This family friendly event will offer a host of interactive activities including boat trips (weather permitting) and hands-on living history demonstrations, with free children’s activities and music.

Railway Chairman, Robert Gardiner, said: “You can arrive in style on one of our heritage diesel trains, departing from our Downpatrick station from 12pm to 5pm. You can park in our free car park and the train will take you to our station at Inch Abbey, where it is just a short walk from our station to the Abbey itself for all the festivities.

Driver Robert Edwards & Fireman Jeff Spence greet ‘St Patrick’ as he arrives in the town centre.

“Then, on St Patrick’s Day itself, Saturday 17th March, in conjunction with Newry Mourne & Down District Council, the railway will be offering a Park’n’Ride service on the north side of the town from their station on the Belfast Road directly into the heart of the carnival between noon and 5pm, eliminating the need to navigate the town centre.

“We know that many people in from the Belfast and Killyleagh roads end up parking far from the town and end up having to walk a fair distance into the town centre. So when you park at our Inch Abbey Station you can walk onto a vintage steam train that will take you into the heart of the carnival!”

Mr Gariner added: “Inch Abbey Station is signposted off the main Belfast Road, and stewards will be on hand to help manage traffic and parking at both the Abbey carpark and the station carpark.

“But as well as providing a means of getting from A to B on St. Patrick’s Day, Mr. Gardiner suggests a visit to Inch Abbey itself, a ruined 12th Century Cistercian Abbey.

“Alternatively if you’re already in the town, you can climb onboard at Downpatrick and travel out and visit this glorious Christian heritage site while celebrating Ireland’s Patron Saint. You also get the best view of Down Cathedral, the site of St. Patrick’s Grave, from on board the train.”

Tickets are available online at:

 www.downrail.co.uk

and also available on the day at Inch Abbey and Downpatrick stations, Park and Ride return tickets cost £7.00 adult, £5.00 children, £6.00 senior citizens, while children aged three years old or below go free.

The railway museum exhibition and Carriage Gallery visitor centre will also be open, as well as an interpretative display actually inside the carriage workshop allowing you to see the work that goes on behind the scenes.

The Shamrock Express passes the Down Cathedral.

So this St. Patrick’s Day letting the train take the strain is a sure way of beating the traffic and letting you steam into the town for the festival celebrations.

For further information on events – or if you are thinking about joining as a volunteer contact the Downpatrick Tourist Information Centre on 028 4461 2233 log on to the railway’s website at:

 www.downrail.co.uk

or find them on facebook at:

www.facebook.com/downrail

or follow on twitter @downrail