Railway preservationists in Donegal town have been working to be ready to reopen their facilities and deal with operating during a pandemic and this week they have turned to the public for help.
Their visitor attraction comprises of a museum, information centre and a shop. On display are rolling stock, unique historical artifacts, an audio-visual presentation on the railways’ history, model railways, a reference library, a shop and much more.
Lockdown has produced a world where the everyday, like taking a bus ride, going to the park or shopping, has become an adventure. An unseen menace is out there turning the world upside down and shredding the economic ‘certainties’ of recent decades.
A part of this world is the industrial heritage sector whose sites are often narrow and restricted – awkward in the new world of ‘social distancing’.
This centre is considered one of the county’s hidden gems and is located just 300 metres from Donegal town centre. Donegal had the largest narrow-gauge railway network in the British Isles, and uniquely, amongst steam engines and railcars, operated one of the first railway vehicles with an internal combustion engine in the world.
This fascinating museum celebrating Donegal’s railway heritage is based in one of the few remaining original station houses, which opened in 1889.
A spokesman said new Covid restrictions means the facility faces added challenges and they needed the public to come to the rescue.
"As you know, everything is at a standstill for the moment, again, as globally we all deal with the continuing ramifications of the Covid-19 virus.
"Although we have to close to the public, we are continuing to work offsite in preparation for our return. Unfortunately, we are only part-funded and have a shortfall in running costs which are usually covered by income mainly from museum admissions.
"As footfall has dropped to zero, and we can't run our usual Halloween and Christmas events which are our biggest income-generating events of the year, we are asking if you would like to support your favourite Donegal Railway Museum during these challenging times.
"This ensures that when we return from this unscheduled break, we are in a prime position to move progress with our ambitious plans.
The spokesperson outlined a variety of ways the public could help out.
Purchase an early Christmas pressie
"Many people are now starting to look out for unusual Christmas presents for friends and family. Why not consider one or more of our exclusive quality publications for a good read, or purchase something from our extensive range of merchandise; some unusual stocking fillers here!
"There is a great selection of exclusive Donegal Railway items from our publications including our most recent book, County Donegal By Rail in Colour as well as the famous Vintage Donegal Railway Travel Poster which can be delivered straight to your door.
"We will also be putting up some special Christmas offers over the next week or two, as well as additional members offers, so keep a lookout for these. Simply click on this link to find out more! http://donegalrailway.com/shop/
Become a member or buy a membership for a friend
"There are many benefits to becoming a member including exclusive offers, bi-monthly exclusive newsletters, shop discounts, a complimentary copy of the Phoenix magazine, etc. A great gift for yourself, and an even more unusual pressie for a friend or family!
"There are various types of memberships available. Simply click on this link to find out more! http://donegalrailway.com/membership/
Make a Donation
"Firstly as a charity, we have a donations page through our website, which is easy to navigate through, in order to make a small donation to keep the place ticking over. Any donation no matter how big or small is greatly appreciated. Simply click on this link
The spokesperson added any support would be greatly appreciated.
"You will be doing so knowing that you are continuing to support the important work of rescuing, restoring, celebrating, educating, and showcasing our beloved Donegal Railway heritage."
You can still contact the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre at The Old Station House, Tyrconaill Street, Donegal town by e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org. or check them out on Facebook or at www.donegalrailway.com
Their project is supported by the Department of Social Protection and Pobal through the Community Services Programme.
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