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Posts Tagged ‘Malahide Castle’

Fry Model RailwayI didn’t hear the Joe Duffy programme dealing with the impending closure of the Fry Model Railway at Malahide Castle, but that’s what mums are for, isn’t it, keeping you in the media loop? So when mine told me about it off I went to investigate, and sure enough Fingal County Council – who own Malahide Castle – have given notice that it’s to close before the end of February. So that’s one of the half-term days, sorted, anyway: an emergency ceremonial visit to enjoy the layout and that marvellous recorded voiceover one more time.

Scraps of that voiceover drift back to me, as is the way with rote-learned poetry, the words of eighties pop songs and scraps of the liturgy that seep into a child’s consciousness and percolate at unexpected times. (Of course, just as happens with the words of John Gilpin and White Wedding and the Apostles’ Creed, it’ll turn out that my memory of the Fry Model Railway voiceover will turn out to be about 90 per cent false.)

It was a March Monday morning when the railway came to Malahide … that honeyed, apricot light that is particularly hers  … Where the last shall be first and the first shall be last / May the Lord in his mercy be kind to Belfast … what visitor to Cork … the long Glanmire tunnel … the railways … describing the patterns of our times …

Most of the models were handmade by railway engineer and draughtsman Cyril Fry at home in Churchtown, with every last rivet to scale, according to his daughter Patricia Dillon, whose mother handpainted the scenery of Ireland which sets the trains in context. Fry left it to the State, which must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and it’s made a brilliant exhibition at Malahide Castle, an attraction which drew 18,000 visitors between April and September last year. It’s dreadful to think we might lose it. What will happen to it now? It needs a new premises – about 3000 square feet to accommodate the layout, which does require maintenance and upgrades – you can’t just plug it in, sit back and watch the train show steaming around the miniature country.

John Hamill, Chairman of the Model Railway Society of Ireland, is currently Interim Convenor of the Friends of the Fry Model Railway, and if you’re interested in lending support, or can offer suggestions, money, or a 3000 square foot premises accessible to visitors, please contact him at jghamill55@gmail.com

Update 28th February:

The railway is now closed to the public. There was a ceremonial final run last week, and it was announced that morning that the railway would not open at the weekend, nor afterwards. I was also told by someone who worked there that there was a proposed redevelopment of the premises as a retail area.

Anyone interested in supporting the Friends should now email Friends.of.the.Fry.Model.Railway@gmail.com.

 

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