This small museum is one of those quirky places that fill you with joy when you are lucky enough to stumble upon them. That the museum and its collection exist at all is testament to one man’s enduring determination and passion, that of Sean Browne.
In essence this is a pub, but one that has a railway museum not just tagged on but completely taking over the bar and every other available space.
Sean’s passion for rail began in the 1950s and over the years he amassed a collection of diverse memorabilia, everything from bells and lamps, posters and time tables, shunting to signal equipment and station boards.
Some of these he displayed in the pub he ran in Castlerea, Hell’s Kitchen.
However it was in 1994 that things took a real twist. In its move away from diesel trains, Irish Rail was dispossing of stock for scrap value. So Sean bought a train. A 1955 A55 diesel locomotive to be exact, which was restored and moved into the bar.
Yes, you read that right, into the bar.
Getting it in there was no mean feat – it’s 14 ft high and 51 ft long – and required the virtual reconstruction of the building.
But now you can drop in for a drink and at the same time immerse yourself in matters railway, sitting in the old carriage, before persusing the other items which are everywhere around you. And there is plenty to see, this is a very extensive collection which documents a fast disappearing world when train travel had a certain romance about it.
The bar itself is a friendly local traditional pub and worth visiting in any case.
Visiting the Hell’s Kitchen Railway Museum
The museum is open every day from 12-6pm, but the bar is open later of course so you will see a lot even if you arrive later than that.
You can get there by car of course, but perhaps the best way to arrive is by train – Castlerea is on the Dublin – Westport line.