With car parking at a premium in the St. Patrick’s Carnival, the Downpatrick & County Down Railway will be offering a ‘rail’ alternative to carnival goers with some St. Patrick’s Day ‘Shamrock Steam.’

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 on St. Patrick’s Day, Friday 17th March, eliminating the need to navigate the town centre.

Railway Chairman, Robert Gardiner, says that this St. Patrick’s Day boarding at the Inch Abbey terminus is a sure way of beating the traffic and letting you steam into the town for the festival celebrations.

“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,” he says, “So when you park at our Inch Abbey Station you can walk onto a vintage train that will take you into the heart of the carnival!”

Inch Abbey Station will be signposted with AA yellow signage, 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.

He says, “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.”

He adds, “You also get the best view of Down Cathedral, the site of St. Patrick’s Grave, from on board the train.”

Tickets will be available on the day at Inch Abbey and Downpatrick stations, Park and Ride return tickets cost £6.00 adult, £4.50 children, £5.50 senior citizens, while children aged three years old or below go free.

Refreshments will be served onboard a buffet carriage while you wait for the train at Inch Abbey.  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.