, Thur 20 May 1869:
Opening of the Ennis and Athenry Railway.
Ennis and Athenry Railway, which will prove of such advantage to the south and west, has been inspected by the Government Inspector, and will be open for traffic by the 1st of June. It is not yet known whether the directors of the Midland Great Western line or those of the Waterford and Limerick will have the working of the Ennis and Athenry, but it is more than probable that the latter will, as Mr Malcomson has claims to a very large amount upon it. The new line to Athenry will make the journey from Dublin 15 miles less than by the old (Limerick Junction) route.
, Mon 26 Jul 1869:
Ennis and Athenry Railway. The opening of this line, after many vexatious and wearisome delays, it is anticipated, will now shortly be un fait accompli. The line was inspected for the third, and we should hope the last time, by Col Riche, Government inspector, on Wednesday last.
, Mon 23 Aug 1869:
Excursion on the Ennis and Athenry Railway. Yesterday at 10.20 a.m., a certain number of the Directors of the above line of railway, accompanied by the engineers, and other gentlemen who had received invitations, proceeded from the Limerick Terminus, to Ennis, where they were joined by others connected with that line of railway, when a special train which was in readiness for the party proceeded on an excursion over the new line to the ancient city of Athenry. The company consisted of the following, who left Limerick: - Messrs Joseph Robinson, J. Stephens, and J. Fennell, Directors of the Waterford and Limerick Railway; Robert Roger, J.P., - Mayne, J.P. (Killaloe); Maurice Lenihan, J.P.; William Carroll, Secretary of the Limerick and Foynes Railway; S. Attock, Locomotive Director of the Waterford and Limerick Railway; J. Molloy, Engineer of the Board of Works, &c. The gentlemen who joined at Ennis were Messrs. W. Magrath, solr.; Thomas Greene, J.P., Alexander Bannatyne and E. O’Brien, who was accompanied by his sister Miss O’Brien, of Old Church. There was also in the Company, Messrs. T. Ainsworth, Secretary of the Waterford and Limerick Railway; J. Banks, Traffic Superintendent, Mr Tighe, Engineer, &c.
The morning was brilliantly fine; the day too fully realized the expectations which were given by the morning. The country, teeming with the abundance of a gold harvest, never looked lovelier; everybody was in the best of spirits. The start from Ennis, over a line which had only just received the sanction of the Government Inspector, was exceedingly agreeable; whilst the agricultural features of the extensive district through which we passed, though not affording evidence of the highest culture, gave proof, as far as we could discern, of the prevalence of comfort among the people. Here and there are to be seen quantities of scrub wood, heath, furze, moor &c., with the fine fishing lake of Inchicronan, tempting resorts for the sportsman; the Feakle mountains belting the view. A great number of castles which escaped the ruthless hand of the Cromwellian destroyers, simply because they were out of the way in rather remote and inaccessible places, and just now investing the landscape with an interest and impressiveness which are rarely to be found in other parts of the country, are to be seen in abundance as we pass along. In some few places the crops did not present the luxuriance which they indicated in the richer lands bordering on Ennis; but these formed the exceptions, whilst any draw backs in this particular were amply made amends for by extensive pastures crowded with sheep, &c. Nearing the neat and thriving town of Gort, many improvments were discernible. We need not state that Gort is one of the handsomest country towns in the south or west of Ireland – and that it owes all it possesses to its former patrons and owners, the Lords of Kiltartan and Gort – who, close by the town, possessed one of the most extensive and beautiful demesnes and residences, at Loughcooter, in the province. The Verekers have been succeeded at Loughcooter by the Goughs, another Limerick family, very much esteemed as resident proprietors; and at the station Lord Gough and his son, the Hon Mr Gough, met the train, and received the directors warmly, the young gentleman joined the excursion to Athenry. Leaving Gort, the country presents many features of great interest. The number of ancient castles, nearly all in comparatively good preservation, and one of the largest of them being at Croughwell, is something well nigh fabulous. Danish Forts, Holy Wells, Baths, &c. are frequently seen; at 2 o’clock we reach Athenry, which gave a title to De Birmingham, and is specially mentioned in Campbell’s beautiful poem of “O’Connor’s child” as the scene of the terrible slaughter of that royal sept, 300 of whom, including Fedham the last king of the race, were slain in conflict with Richard de Birmingham and “De Burgho chivalry.” The passage beginning –
“And go to Athenree he cried,
Lift the high banner of your pride.”
details this catastrophe in a most striking manner. The walls of Athenry are said to have been built out of the spoils of this battle, which effectually established the dominion of the English settlers in Connaught; O’Kelly King of Maneali, and most of the nobility of petty kings of Connaught and Munster, were killed in this battle, which with those of Finlo and Toher, settled the fate of the natives, and obtained for De Burgho, who was the conqueror in all, the surname of Ristead-na-goath, i.e, Richard of the Battles. Limerick Reporter.
, Thur 16 Sep 1869:
Ennis and Athenry Railway. The formal, but long deferred, opening of the above line took place yesterday, when a good many passengers proceeded thence to Dublin and elsewhere. The opening of this route to the metropolis took place without any éclat or significance of any kind, but the directors of the company may be assured that the public recognize as a boon to be repaid by general support their spirited efforts to manage the railway themselves, being assisted, as they will be, by the good wishes and material aid of another great company whose management of their lines has always been satisfactory – the Midland Great Western Company. A cheap excursion is announced in our columns to-day, which may be regarded as one of the first fruits of the determination of the new company to procure all the advantages possible to the public by way of transit, low fares, and convenience, in proof of which, a return ticket from Ennis to Athenry at single fare will be received. No doubt many of our readers will avail themselves of the trip on Monday to spend a short time in Dublin, where they may combine pleasure with business. It is worthy of observation that Italian Opera is at present being performed in the Theatre Royal, which will doubtless prove attractive to many.
As the above report says, the paper carried an advertisement placed by the Athenry And Ennis Junction Railway Company:
Excursion to Dublin from Athenry on Monday, September 20th. First class, 15s 6d; Second class, 12s 6d.
Excursion Tickets at the above Fares will be issued on Monday next, at Athenry, to First and Second class passengers, from Ennis by the 10 a.m. train to proceed to Dublin by the 12. 15 train from Athenry.
The Excursionist will be entitled to return by the Ordinary Passenger Trains (according to class) on any day up to and including Saturday 2nd October, 1869.
First class passengers will be allowed 60 lbs., and Second and Third class passengers 40 lbs. of Luggage. The Company will not be responsible for luggage at the above fares. By order, J. Fowler Nicoll, Secretary.
And the same paper carried an advertisement showing the (temporary) Time and Fare Tables, "on and after the 15th September, 1869, (until further notice)".
The Stations listed are: Ennis (departures: 10 am, 4.30 pm.)
Crusheen (8 miles from Ennis: departures: 10.26 am, 4 56pm.)
Gort (18 miles from Ennis: departures: 11 am, 5.30 pm.)
Ardrahan (25 miles from Ennis: departure: 11. 23 am.)
Craughwel (31 miles from Ennis: departure: 11.43 am.)
Athenry (36 miles from Ennis: arrival: 12 noon)
Fares from Ennis to Crusheen were 6d for 3rd class; 1s for 2nd class; 1s 6d for 1st class.
The station at Tubber does not seem to have come into operation just yet (September 1869), but must have become operative soon afterwards: The second of these photos of Tubber railway station was taken in recent years, and shows an addition to the original building: https://www.geograph.ie/photo/2345484
I can't find any good photo of Crusheen Railway station, but there is a lovely drawing of the signal box, by Michael Lenihan, on page 26 of The Other Clare, Vol 7 (1983)