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WELCOME

to the Firebox Grill

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 OPENING

of 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.

CATERING

- A Local History

Towards the end of the 1880’s, the resident station master at Fahan was an enterprising character known as James Bond. Mr James Bond earned the distinction of providing Fahan Station with electric light long before any other railway stations in Ireland. He placed a windmill strategically on high ground (Fahan Hill), which drove a small generator to produce the required electricity. His next venture was to provide refreshment facilities and food for the numerous visitors by train, with a view to making a modest profit. News of the venture quickly reached the Board of Directors, who were far from amused, since they had already contracted Miss Kelly to provide such services at the station. When Miss Kelly’s time had passed, the concession was granted to Miss Logue, who continued to look after her visitors for years and operated a small licensed premises. Since you are now seated within the old station area, you can see, that the entrepreneurial flair of Mr. Bond still lives on.

THE END

of 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.

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