Gerry Cochrane and fellow founder W.F. Gillespie OBE, flick through a copy of Gerry’s autobiography
The founder of the Downpatrick & County Down Railway celebrated the publishing of his, in effect, autobiography of his time building the DCDR.
This book is not an “official” history of the DCDR, but a personal recollection of the events and people that helped shaped Ireland’s only full-sized heritage line, and how Gerry’s determination succeeded when other schemes thoughout Northern Ireland came to nothing.
This is a book about a dream – a dream that started with one man in 1982. Between these covers, Gerry Cochrane describes how his idea of restoring the railways in the Downpatrick area was gradually turned into reality, with the hard work of the many volunteers who, over the years, caught the vision and, with the backing of Down District Council, now operate one of Downpatrick’s major tourist attractions.
It is a story of perseverance in the face of adversity, of disappointments and successes and, for the first time, it is detailed here and illustrated with over 130 pictures.The launch on Saturday consisted of short speeches from current railway Chairman, Michael Collins, followed by W.F. Gillespie, publisher Norman Johnston of Colourpoint books, and newly elected Down District Chairman, William Dick, as well as the author himself. After the formalities, the steam train was taken out to Inch Abbey for refreshments.
The DCDR gang on the Bridge of the Saga Rose From L to R – Gerry Cochrane, Adrian Fitzgerald (Chief Officer, MS Saga Rose), Bill Brown, Bob Edwards, Jim Sheridan, John Wilson (kneeling), Colin Holiday, Michael Collins, Edward Duly, Jan-Luke Taylor, Billy Glenn, Heather Taylor, John Henry, and Ian Davis
It’s not often that we get to sample a vintage mode of transport other than trains, but today 14 of our volunteers were invited by Adrian Fitzgerald, a volunteer from our early days, to join him for a tour of the MS Saga Rose.
Adrian, who is originally from the Downpatrick area who now has a life on the ocean waves (and thus has a very valid excuse not to turn up every Saturday!) as the Saga Rose’s Chief Officer.
The Saga Rose is on a cruise round the British Isles, but was built in 1965 as a trans-Atlantic liner, and as you can see is like a smaller QE2 (indeed was operated by Cunard before being sold) with very graceful lines compared to modern cruise ships.
She is due to be decommissioned at the end of the year.
After a tour of the ship, Adrian provided us with a fantastic sample of the cuisine on offer on board – make a change on a Saturday afternoon to sandwiches in the tarry coach!
We are extremely grateful to Adrian for inviting us along to see him on his rare stop-offs back home in Northern Ireland!