The Railway Station
Kiltimagh, County Mayo, Ireland
Because it was the last link with home for so many of our relative who were forced to emigrate in search of work, the Railway Station always had a special place in our affections. In the 40s and 50s all the necessities of life were transported by train - sugar, flour, spirits, newspapers - even films for the local cinema - while out goings included cattle, sheep, pigs, beet and eggs.
That was also the era when McAlpine's Fusiliers filled the pubs of the town on Fair days, recruiting men for the building industry in England. As work was scarce here, people were only too glad to have job prospects. The result was that on Friday mornings, the platform of the station was thronged with anxious men on their way to a new life and the heartbroken, disrupted families they were leaving behind.
The last passenger train passed through the Station in 1963, and the last goods train in 1979. The loss of the station was a huge blow to the morale of the town and our hopes for its expansion. With no prospects for work here, we were back in the old, unending cycle of emigration and depression, which because of the world wide recession meant there were no longer any havens for willing workers.
However, in the 1980s, we set out to transform the social and economic life of the town with the formation of IRD. The derelict station epitomised all that we wanted to change and so we set to work on transforming the Goods Store into a Museum. Two carriages were bought to commemorate the many emigrants of the past and our optimism about our future was reflected in the carnival atmosphere that accompanied the breath of life once more into the Station as the carriages were delivered.
The former Stationmaster's house is now an Exhibition Centre, with regular art exhibitions, while the once derelict park is now an amenity area, featuring work of leading Irish artists and local people.
And so our Museum is a community enterprise which reflects the power, confidence and maturity of a community to shake off the shackles of depression and look forward with confidence to the future.