Documentary on Newstalk recently aired the premiere of ‘Connolly Station – A Day in the Life’, my radio documentary that tells the stories of those who live and work in the vicinity of Ireland’s busiest railway hub, Connolly Station.
Using a lively mix of interviews, location recordings, sound effects and music, Connolly Station – A Day in the Life looks behind the scenes at the country’s premiere railway station.
Jane Cregan of Irish Rail tells of the building of the station, and the role it played during the 1916 Rising.
Kevin Connolly, the Assistant Station Master, reveals how his day begins at five in the morning, with the station itself coming alive at around 7.00 am
We get an insight into life behind the scenes the Central Traffic Control Centre in Connolly, the nerve centre from which Ireland’s rail network is run.
Lisa Dunne of Been and Gone coffee shop talks of changing public tastes, and the lively interactions she has with customer seeking refreshments in the station.
The challenging task of maintaining tracks, level crossing, and bridges falls to Mick Danaher and he gives an insight into the complexity of ensuring that everything runs smoothly.
Keeping clean a train station that’s used by twenty thousand people a day takes effort and planning, and Kevin Connolly explains how it’s achieved.
Jane Cregan outlines Irish Rail’s plans to develop the former station car park and marshalling yard, then the narrator tells the little-known story of the commemoration in Connolly of the railway workers who lost their lives in the Great War.
A vox pop reveals a colourful selection of people’s best rail memories, then we hear how in 1971 Connolly Station was the scene for the famous showdown between customs officers and Irish feminists, who challenged the Republic’s laws banning the sale of contraceptive by buying them in Belfast and bringing them home on the train.
Kevin Connolly discusses the unpredictable day to day duties of the Station Master, while experienced commuters reveal their techniques for getting seats on rush hour trains and relating to fellow passengers.
Steam enthusiast David Houston talks about the work done by the Irish Rail Preservation Society and the highly-popular steam train outings run from Connolly.
Barry Scully discusses the impact of the Luas trams arriving at Connolly, then we hear of the contingency plans that go into place in the station in the event of an emergency closing of a rail line.
Sean Reid tells how the North Star Hotel – today re-branded as The Address – has always had strong links with Connolly and he reveals some of the hotel’s fascinating history.
We hear about the closing routine at the station each evening, and the programme concludes with contributors revealing what Connolly Station means to them, and their hopes for its future.
Quotes from CONNOLLY STATION – A DAY IN THE LIFE
“Last year there was a girl – and I saved her life.” Derek O’Brien, station operative.
“It goes back to my time in short pants. I was brought up right beside the railway line at Sandymount Station, it’s in my blood.” David Houston, steam train enthusiast.
“During the 1916 Rising the station tower was taken over by British troops, and they were sniping up Talbot Street at the rebels who’d taken over the GPO.” Jane Cregan, Irish Rail.
“I loved the trains in Connolly – the smell of the oil and the diesel.” Barry Scully of Transdev, the Luas operator.
“The best part of being on a train was that you could get up and walk around – and mind everybody’s business but your own!” Mona Rogers, ninety-nine-year-old passenger.
“The most impressive rail journey I ever had was with the driver of the Eurostar from London to Paris, traveling at 300 kilometres an hour.” Darren Bowe rail network controller.
“I love Friday especially because you’ve everyone going away on holiday. Everyone’s in fantastic form.” Lisa Dunne, Manager, Been and Gone, coffee shop in Connolly station.
“We’ve had a few incidents with lost property. A fella lost a canoe. I don’t know how he left it, because it was about seven feet long!” Derek O’Brien, station operative.
Connolly Station – A Day in the Life can be listened to as a podcast on Documentary on Newstalk.