This funding enabled travel to regional museums and site visits along the former Great Northern Railway (Ireland) network. A visit to the Headhunter’s Barbershop and Railway Museum in Enniskillen provided context to the physical architectural remains. The museum hosts a huge collection of memorabilia including railway tourist guides, combined rail and sports-day tickets and souvenirs. Original and replica railway posters and adverts adorn the walls and the staff provided knowledgeable histories and guided tour.
I then visited the Great Northern Hotel and golf course in Bundoran where the original building includes a function room, ornate Victorian bedrooms and guest dining room. The walls of the hotel showcase photographs of the building, original rail tickets and travel posters. I found out the golf course has own history book, and on an evening walk I noticed that railway sleepers mark the course boundary. Further research into the hotel’s architectural drawings and staff records at Irish Railway Record Society Archive show the original design and room functions, and that the hotel was managed successively by women.
A two-day visit to PRONI (Public record office Northern Ireland) meant I could view the collection of Great Northern Railway artefacts which included photographs, maps, posters, minute books, timetables and parliamentary papers. Following this was a day visit to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. A half-day visit to the archive at the Gaelic Athletic Association Sports Museum at Croke Park Stadium gave access to board meeting minutes for the Railway Cup which was sponsored by the Great Southern railways. The trophy is in the museum.
Further from the research grant will be extensive reading to tease out references to railways and sport in Ireland. This will result in a journal article which can also be used as a blog post and potential paper presentation at the BSSH conference in Liverpool, 2020. This has been an enriching research trip and will feed into the final dissertation.