Dig into the history of what’s underneath The Dean Galway!
The modern façade of The Dean Galway gives little away to what lies behind its doors. Built on the site of the historic Galway-Clifden railway line, the hotel incorporates the beautiful brick and stone vaulted railway tunnel structure, now home to POWER Gym. These tunnels have been restored and protected, and are a relic to Galway’s past and part of our future here at The Dean. Pop down to the lower ground floor or take part in a POWER class to view and enjoy these unique spaces.
A little about the history
The Galway-Clifden railway was a narrow-gauge railway line that ran through the rugged and picturesque landscape of Connemara. It was built in the early 20th century to connect the town of Clifden, located on the western coast of Ireland, with the city of Galway.
Construction of the railway began in 1891 and was completed in 1935. During these years, a large number of Shebeens popped up along the railway line to accommodate the many workers, who often frequented these establishments after a hard day’s work.
The line covered a distance of 48 miles and passed through some of the most beautiful and remote areas of Connemara, including the Maam Valley and the Twelve Bens mountain range.
The railway carried the rich and famous to Connemara where they enjoyed fishing, shooting and the unrivalled scenery, as well as vital freight. The Bohermore tunnel, which lies beneath us, was a popular play place for local ‘Railway Children’, who would often sit on the top of the tunnel and await the trains, getting a thrill when a blast of smoke shot up as the train passed beneath them. For many passengers, a trip on this line was the first step to a long emigration journey across the world, some never to return to their hometowns.
Despite its scenic route, the railway struggled to attract enough passengers and freight to remain profitable. The difficult terrain and harsh weather conditions also posed significant challenges for the operation of the line. As a result, the railway was beset by financial difficulties and was eventually closed in 1935, just a few years after its completion.
The Railway Line Today
Today, parts of the former railway line have been converted into walking and cycling trails, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore the stunning landscapes of Connemara. The railway station buildings in Clifden and other towns along the route have also been preserved as historic landmarks, providing a glimpse into the region’s industrial heritage.
We’re delighted to be able to showcase a previously forgotten part of this line to our guests.