Irish drone pilot captures video of resurfaced ‘ghostly’ train line

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A drone pilot in southern Ireland has captured a video of what he calls the “ghostly” remnants of the Cork to Macroom rail line making a rare appearance from beneath the murky waters that have entombed it for over half a century.

Aindrias Moynihan shot the drone video of what some locals refer to as the “Ghost Train Line” during a flight over the Carrigadrohid Reservoir about 20 miles west of Cork. The artificial lake was created in the mid-1950s to power a newly constructed hydroelectric plant nearby, flooding 60% of what was then the largest alluvial forest in Western Europe. Also covered by those rising waters were the tracks of the old Cork to Macroom railway line, whose construction began in 1863, with passenger service starting three years later.

Moynihan says he was out capturing aerial videos with his DJI Mavic drone as levels of the reservoir were being intentionally lowered for environmental purposes. That had allowed sections of the train run usually underwater to reappear for the first time in many years. Those included the still raised rail and ballast beds, as well as a pair of bridges the 24-mile line ran across until it closed to passengers in 1935, then to freight in 1953 just before rivers flowing into the artificially created lake swept in.

“The reemerged Cork to Macroom railway line, including the Lee bridge and large sections of drowned railway line,” Moynihan writes in the text accompanying his drone video on YouTube. “Much of the abandoned Cork to Macroom light railway lay underwater in the Carrigadrohid reservoir. As water levels were dropped in the reservoir October 2021, many sections of railway emerged from beneath the water for the first time in years. The flyover footage shows ghostly lengths of half-submerged railway line between Coolcour and Dunisky… and remains of Lee, Sulán, and Buingea bridges.”

Moynihan dubs in some appropriately spooky music to enhance the ghostly atmospherics, causing the less stouthearted of viewers to cast a nervous look down the track bed to see if a seriously late banshee will turn up to announce the deaths of the five passengers who perished in an 1887 derailment. (It doesn’t, but it would have been a nice thematic touch.) 

There’s an outside possibility that the remaining sections of the Cork to Macroom line may become routinely visible if the same economics that led to its demise are applied to the nearby power station responsible for its watery disappearance. Critics say the facility generates a piddling amount of electricity compared to the environmental destruction its operation has and continues to cause to submerged terrain, connected rivers, and fish and wildlife. They want the utility shuttered, reservoir breeched, and the landscape and structural ghosts on it returned to nature.

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