Plans have been lodged for what has been described as 'Ireland’s largest road and rail museum' at Moyasta, west Clare.
The museum is to form part of the restored West Clare Railway attraction, where visitors have trebled since the return of the 117-year-old Slieve Callan steam engine last August.
Announcing the plans, Jackie Whelan of the West Clare Railway said - “The museum will be the largest road and rail museum in the country.” Already, he said, he had taken delivery of five rail engines to be placed in the museum.
With the plans lodged with Clare County Council, Mr Whelan said he hoped construction of the museum will begin early in 2010.
Mr Whelan also announced plans to extend the restored West Clare Railway a further 2.5 miles next year. He confirmed he is in negotiations with the National Roads Authority (NRA) on the rail line crossing the national secondary route between Kilrush and Kilkee.
The west Clare businessman said he plans to extend the rail line to Kilrush. He said - “There are a few objections to it, but we’re very hopeful.” Mr Whelan said that it was very important for west Clare’s tourism sector that the museum project would proceed.
Already, Mr Whelan has spent over €500,000 on the Slieve Callan engine in a 10-year restoration project.
The Slieve Callan powered the West Clare Railway between 1892 and 1952, before being exhibited on a plinth at Ennis railway station until 1996, when Mr Whelan in a daring raid took possession of it and brought it back to Moyasta to commence its restoration.
The government had closed the loss-making West Clare Railway in 1961. After the Slieve Callan’s first trip since restoration on the restored two miles of track last August, Mr Whelan told a crowd - “It is my intention, while I am this side of the ground, to extend the railway to the towns of Kilkee and Kilrush in west Clare.”
The Irish Times