This September my wife and I visited Ireland. Speaking from my perspective as a beer enthusiast, and someone who has enjoyed Guinness stout for a long time, a natural highlight was a visit to the “mother ship,” the Guinness brewery at St. James Gate, Dublin. It is an immense operation, and naturally today the work is carried out in fleets of huge stainless steel tanks. But they do have a very nice tour (for which admission is charged), showing both the historic brewing process and today’s process.
Among the interesting features was a display of the former railroad within the brewery, with two-foot gauge track on account of tight clearances. Locomotives likewise had to be quite small, and were custom built in the brewery shops. Here is a historic photo of one of these in operation, in an image from the Guinness Archive, Dublin (used with permission),
One example of this same type of locomotive is preserved and on display in the tour area. Here I am standing next to it, so you can see the relative size. Although rail operations came to an end in 1975, some of the track can still be seen within the brewery complex.
Also displayed were various old warning signs from the railroad operation, some of which were entertaining as well as informative. Here are a few.
Here is a photo of me standing by the brewery gate, just to prove we really were there. And by the way, we drank Guinness almost everywhere we went in Ireland! a great treat for me.
The Irish railway network today is pretty modern and has fast service throughout the Republic. Here is an intercity train set, made up of diesel multiple units, ready to depart Dublin for Galway. The lighted destination sign on the train reads Gaillimh, the Gaelic word for Galway.
All in all, we had a great visit, seeing much of the dramatic western Atlantic shore of Ireland, as well as four days in Dublin — in addition to visiting the Guinness brewery.