Great Southern & Western Railway

by John Hinson

Limerick Check signal cabin
Photograph by Dr. J W F Scrimgeour 5/71

Limerick Check box was situated on the approach to the Limerick terminus from the Waterford direction, standing on the corner of a triangular junction with the Rock Street (Tralee) line which allowed freight trains to by-pass the station. This gabled-roof box (not typical for the MGW) opened in 1910.

Looking towards waterford
Photograph by Dr. J W F Scrimgeour 5/71,

This view, looking towards Waterford, shows two lower quadrant signals. That on the right is mounted on a conventional wooden post, but the bracket signal in the foreground is, interestingly, mounted on a tubular steel post. The lower, bracketed, arm reads to the Athenry branch, which ran parallel as far as the former Ennis Junction which closed in 1910.

The box gained its curious name through the little platform in front of the box which was used for ticket checking prior to the arrival of trains at the terminus.

Limerick Check box in 2000
Photograph by Simon Lowe 5/5/00

And here's a recent view of the box. Colour-light signalling is now provided on the main line, and the two signals seen here are, unusually, mechanically worked by wire. This arrangement allows the use of conventional point detection.

The lever frame inside Limerick Check bix
Photograph by Simon Lowe 5/5/00

Inside the box, we see the 50-lever Railway Signal Company lever frame which has graced Limerick Check since the box opened in 1910. Interestingly, the catch-handles are not set as low as usually found on Railway Signal Company frames, and are similar to those found on the UK mainland only on the Furness Railway.

Notice there are no shortened levers handles for power-operated functions, such as colour-light signals. This is standard policy for Iarnród Éireann cabins.

There are plans afoot to renew this frame shortly.

The diagram in Limerick Check box
Photograph by Simon Lowe 5/5/00

The signalman's diagram shows the track layout and signals. As can be seen, nearly all the signals are now colour-light, but both branches survive.

Colour-light shunting signal
Photograph by Simon Lowe 5/5/00

This colour-light shunting signal is displaying an unusual red over green indication. This is believed to be the last signal of its type in the British Isles.

The signal shows green above red for when cleared for the left-hand route, and red over green for the right-hand route. This effectively gives the same indications that would be displayed by a two-arm shunt signal.

Limerick Check box is still open but is likely to be replaced in the next few years as part of a general refurbishment of track and signalling in the Limerick Station area which is currently subject to a 10mph speed limit. Currently the box fringes to Dublin Connolly, although Killonan Junction is required when the Nenagh branch is open, owing to Electric Train Staff working on the branch to Birdhill. When the branch is closed a gatekeeper operates the level crossing adjacent to Killonan Junction signal box. Track Circuit Block also applies towards Limerick Station, Electric Train Staff to Ennis, whilst the Foynes line (until recently worked by Electric Train Staff) is now in Engineer's Possession. The line to Castlemungret is worked as a siding..

Compiled from notes by Dr. J W F Scrimgeour, Tony Gray and Simon Lowe

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson