From families to railway buffs, from tots to grandparents, if you’re stuck for something to do on the May Day Bank Holiday Monday, then bring yourself to Downpatrick for an afternoon of adventure on Ireland’s only full size heritage railway.
Railway chairman Robert Gardiner says the May Day bank holiday is the perfect chance to take another trip to Inch Abbey or to see the delights of a real steam train for anyone who did not get the chance at Easter.
“And as well as fun for the children, mums and dads also get the chance to experience rail travel at its most traditional, as passengers will be able to taste the elegance of by-gone railway travel on fifty to one hundred year old carriages through the picturesque County Down countryside along nearly two miles of restored track.
“Teas, coffees, buns and snacks, at highly competitive rates, will be served all day onboard our buffet train at Inch Abbey station; if you are travelling into the town from Inch Abbey the return journey can be made on any of the services.”
He adds, “And if the weather holds out, bring a picnic to take out to Inch Abbey to enjoy on the shores of the beautiful River Quoile. And as a special treat this year, we’re using our vintage carriage rake with three beautifully restored carriages, all of them at least 100 years old. It’s a real trip back to Edwardian times!”
Mr. Gardiner also says, “A trip to the ‘Carriage Gallery’ visitor centre brings the golden age of the railway vividly to life and looks at the impact that the railways had on people’s lives, through artefacts from the smallest such as a ticket in the upstairs exhibition, or the largest such as lovingly restored railway carriages in the Carriage Gallery and the stark contrast of the wrecks these vehicles once were when rescued.”
Children can enjoy their own “Kids’ Station” in the Gallery, and dress up as a train driver or guard, or can get to drive Thomas the Tank Engine on a model railway – or will they let the ‘big kids’ get a go too?”
For those a little more adventurous, and perhaps live out a childhood dream, you can buy a Footplate Pass for just £20 and get to travel up in the locomotive cab with the driver. You can read more about this here.
Tickets cost £7.50 for adults, £5.50 for children 4 and over, concession fares are £6.50. Children aged below four years old go free! A family ticket is £22 for two adults and up to three kids. You can buy your tickets when you arrive at our station, or you can buy them online now!
Free Parking is available at both Inch Abbey and Downpatrick Stations.
Mr Gardiner adds, “Dogs are very welcome on our trains, provided they are kept under control.”
Last admissions are at 3:45pm. Trains depart from 1pm-4pm, the station is open until 5pm. Check out our timetable & fares details here.
There’ll be eggs-travagant fun at the Downpatrick & County Down Railway with eggs galore on this year’s Easter Eggspress, running over the Easter weekend.
The bunnies are already hopping the rails at the local heritage railway, and the Easter Eggspress is a unique and special treat for kids and a great way to say ‘Happy Easter!’ for all the family.
The train will be used for excursions from the town centre from 1.30pm to 4.30pm on Saturday 20th, Easter Sunday 21st & Easter Monday 22nd April.
Railway Chairman Robert Gardiner, says that young passengers receive a treat from a special guest, “The Easter Bunny has bounced into the station for this weekend who’ll be hopping with joy to give them their Easter Eggs.”
And this year, the Easter Bunny wants to play a game and is creating an Egg Trail Hunt for wannabe eggsperts, as Mr Gardiner explains. “The Easter Bunny has brought down some of her friends, small teddies and bunnies, but they’re very shy and it’s the job of visitors to track them down. Families will receive a guide to their hunt with their tickets to help ‘eggsplore’ the railway and gather up the info on the card. Each bunny has a large letter which together make up a two word message.”
He continues, “They then have to reveal this secret phrase to the Easter Bunny who will reward them of an Easter Egg of their choice.”
Steam locomotive O&K No. 1 with the vintage carriages that you can experience at Easter.
And as well as fun for the children, mums and dads also get the chance to experience rail travel at its most traditional, as passengers will be able to taste the elegance of by-gone railway travel on 100+ year old carriages hauled by one of our steam locomotives through the picturesque County Down countryside along nearly two miles of restored track.
Teas, coffees, soft drinks and snacks will be served all day on board a vintage buffet carriage parked at Inch Abbey station.
Mr. Gardiner also commented, “A trip to the station museum and the Carriage Gallery visitor centre brings the golden age of the railway vividly to life and looks at the impact that the railways had on people’s lives, through artefacts from the smallest, such as a ticket in the upstairs exhibition, or the largest, such as lovingly restored railway carriages in the Carriage Gallery and the stark contrast of the wrecks these vehicles once were when rescued.”
“For the younger train fans, children can enjoy their own Kids’ Station in the Gallery, and dress up as a train driver or guard for a family selfie using some of the Victorian props and costumes provided in the dressing up area, in a carriage or beside the 1875 steam engine.
“On the station they can get to drive Thomas the Tank Engine on a model railway – or will they let the big kids get a go too?”
“For those a little more adventurous, and perhaps to fulfil a childhood dream, you can buy a Footplate Pass for just £20 and get to travel up in the locomotive cab with the driver.” A reasonable level of fitness is required to purchase these passes.
Tickets cost £8.50 for all ages (£7.50 for concessions), and can be booked in advance via the website.
St Patrick’s Day is the first chance you have in 2019 to travel in style on one of our heritage trains – and this year we are rolling out a real treat and using our beautiful vintage carriages for you to enjoy.
Advance ticketing is available for these events – visit our secure online ticket office now to buy your tickets!
The town is hosting the usual St Patrick’s Day parade, which starts around 1pm in the town centre – note the earlier start this year! There’s a load of activities going on around the town as well, making it a great day out for everyone. We’ll be running steam and diesel trains throughout the afternoon, and our museum, carriage gallery and other attractions will be open as usual.
We will be running trains from Inch Abbey to Downpatrick from around 11:30am, with the last return train departing from Downpatrick at 4pm. Inch Abbey can be a very useful park & ride facility to get you into the town without having to struggle with the road closures.
You can buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queues, and travel on any train you like. You can also buy your tickets when you arrive at our Inch Abbey and Downpatrick stations.
Our standard fares will apply to both these days:
Children 4+: £5.50
Children under 4: Free
Family (2 adults + up to 3 kids): £22
As usual, you can take more than one train trip if you wish, and you are welcome to spend as long as you want exploring the railway, station and museum.
For more information:
How to find our station in Downpatrick
For those of you who like to plan ahead, we’ve confirmed our running days for 2019, and they are now all available to see on the Events Page of our website.
If you’re even more organised than that, you can even book tickets for most of our 2019 events now if you use our online ticket office. Bookings are now open for:
- St Patrick’s Day
- Easter Eggspress
- May Public Holidays
- Summer Steam trains, including the Bank Holiday weekend in August
- New Year Mince Pie trains
You can also add Footplate Experiences to any booking (except Halloween and Christmas trains) for the whole year, so you can pick the date closest to a loved one’s birthday right now, for that special treat. Or treat yourself!
Bookings for Halloween and Christmas are not yet available, as we haven’t received confirmation from Merlin the Wizard and Santa Claus yet. If you want to be sure not to miss out on those, then join our mailing list today.
There may be one or two extra events and special days that get added later in the year, so keep an eye on our website and Facebook page.
By popular demand, we have also added gift vouchers to our ticketing system this year. You can purchase a gift voucher for any of our events all year – including Halloween and Christmas, as well as footplate rides, add your own special message and have it emailed directly to your recipient.
They can then use the gift code and apply it to their own order for tickets for events any time in 2019.
General gift vouchers can be purchased for our ‘regular’ events throughout the year (including the footplate experiences), and you can also purchase specific vouchers for the Easter Eggspress, Halloween Spooky Trains and Lapland Express right now as well.
All you need to do is choose the value of gift voucher you want to buy, fill in the name and email address of your recipient, and add your own message. Check out as usual and pay for the tickets, and your friend or loved one will receive a lovely surprise in their email!
If you need any help with this, then please contact us.
Fed up with turkey and ham leftovers? Selection boxes all empty? Nothing to do after Christmas, knowing that the kids will be bored rigid before going back to school?
Well on Saturday 29th December the Downpatrick & County Down Railway is offering something a little bit different to keep the Holiday Blues away, with their New Year Diesel Specials.
You can pay for your tickets in advance online or pay on arrival at the station.
Railway chairman Robert Gardiner says, “Although Santa is gone, mums and dads everywhere are still looking for something to do with the kids instead of watching endless repeats on the television.”
“Downpatrick & County Down Railway is your guaranteed sanctuary from turkey sandwiches,” jokes Mr. Gardiner.
The locomotive gracing the rails will be ‘Baby GM’ 141 class locomotive No. 146, a Yankee engine built by General Motors in Illinois in 1962.
Mr Gardiner says “This American baby boomer is one of the last remaining examples of a class that saw service all over Ireland, including the famous ‘Derry Road’ line from Portadown to Dungannon, Omagh and Strabane, giving that line a short-lived taste of the future before its controversial and premature closure in 1965.
“We also offering Footplate Passes for £20 a trip on board this locomotive that typified Irish branch line trains for decades,” he adds.
Doors open at the Downpatrick & County Down Railway 12:30pm on Saturday, 29th December, and normal train fares apply at £7.00 adults, £5.00 children, and senior citizens/other concessions are £6.00.
With New Year just around the corner, it’s also the perfect time to make a New Year’s resolution, get active, and join Ireland’s only full-size heritage railway. With the appropriate training you could end up as a train driver or guard, or work on the platforms looking after the public. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you could try a hand at carriage restoration, or working on the tracks to repair and improve the railway.
If you want to volunteer, then check out the website or just go along and talk to any railway volunteer during your visit and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Tickets for our annual Santa trains, The Lapland Express, are on sale – and are selling fast, so hurry if you want to make sure you don’t miss out. This year’s Lapland Express Santa trains are running on the following dates:
- Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd December
- Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th December
- Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th December
- Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd December
For full details, see our special Lapland Express webpage here. or go straight to our online ticket office and buy your tickets right now.