In 1893 the Killorglin to Valentia branch of The Great Southern and Western Railway opened. The need by local farmers and fishermen to get their produce to market in Britain was identified and the provision of a grant of £85,000, from the British Government, meant that work could commence.
In December 1890 the first sod was turned by the local parish priest, Canon Brosnan and witnessed by high officials of the railway company, amid much fanfare.
The project gave a huge boost to the economy, providing 273 jobs on a basic wage of 2 shillings (10p) per day. The overall cost of the 26 mile track was £243,627, a huge sum in those days, averaging almost $9,000 per mile.
Three years after work began the first train left Valentia Station on the 12 September 1893. With local VIPs onboard and large crowds watching, the engine departed festooned with flags and bunting. Hundreds of 'fog signals' were exploded along the line.
The main traffic on the line came from tourism and the fishing industry, both of which were seasonal. The regular cattle fairs were the most reliable source of income and the Cromane mussels were exported using the railway.
By the 1950's the line was no longer commercially viable and despite great efforts by the Iveragh Railway Protection Association and much lobbying by individuals the line was closed
Large crowds gathered to line the route on the last day, this time to wave a fond farewell and mourn the passing of what had been a lifeline to one of the remotest parts of Ireland.