We warmly welcome you to the Firebox Grill and sincerely hope you enjoy your food, drinks and entertainment with us. Our restaurant is located on the shores of Lough Swilly, at Fahan, Co. Donegal, in the premises of the Railway Tavern which was formerly the Station House of the Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway Company (L&LSR).
THE OPENINGof the Swilly Line
In early September 1864, the L&LSR opened the new railway line connection from Derry to Buncrana and Fahan saw its first scheduled passenger & freight service. Steam locomotives were used on the railway right through until the end of service on 8th August 1953. The coal fireboxes of the locomotives provided the cooking heat for the engineers snacks and tea breaks.
The “Swilly Line” as it was affectionately named, brought people on excursions from Derry to Fahan and onto Buncrana for bathing, golf, beach walks & for a day out. In the reverse direction, the catch of Buncrana Fishing Fleet joined the produce of Inishowen Farmers on its way to the Derry markets. The village of Fahan effectively served as the “Port” for the Swilly to Rathmullan and up to Portsalon, using large paddle steamers, two of which were aptly named “The Lake of Shadows” & “Inishowen”. The Railway line itself extended into sidings at the Pier for the transportation of goods and passengers to and from the paddle steamers. Remains of the old Pier are still a feature of our local beach line.
THE ENDof the Line
Although many of the other railway lines in Ireland eventually converted to diesel railcars, the Swilly Line stayed with its steam locomotives. The swilly Line operated on the narrow gauge and boasted two of the largest and most magnificent of Ireland’s narrow gauge locomotives – the impressive 16 wheeled Hudswell Cloarke Tank Engines, built in the early 1900’s. They were unique and majestic but, unfortunately, like the rest of the line have since gone.