Step Back in Time With the Old Station House Gallery and B & B
Originally servicing the Carndonagh Line from “Londonderry Graving Dock” in Northern Ireland to the town of Carndonagh in north Inishowen, Donegal, the Station House at Drumfries was established in July of 1901 by the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company. The establishment of the line was the culmination of over 20 years of campaigning from local businessmen, landowners and clergy men and its construction—as well as subsequent employment opportunities—provided a much-needed influx of commerce for the inhabitants of Inishowen at that time.
Visitors from Derry City flocked to the beaches of beautiful Inishowen, while new and easier travel opportunities opened to locals for the first time in the history of the quiet peninsula. For 30 years or so, the railway service offered a wealth of employment opportunities to locals and blow-ins alike, from station-masters and linesmen to porters and parcel clerks. Many of those who had travelled from further afield to work even settled and raised families in the peninsula.
By the late 1920s, Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company had expanded their reach into road traffic, investing in a fleet of buses across Donegal. The profitability of this venture, as well as the freight vehicles that followed, led to reductions in their rail services and eventual closure of lines. On the 2nd of December 1935 the Carndonagh Line ceased service for passengers and goods alike. By 1953 the company had divested itself of all railway services entirely.
In 1961 local Inishowen farmer Francis Breslin purchased the old station house at Drumfries and converted it into a small bar with living quarters for his family upstairs. For the first few years of operations the bar was technically unnamed though known informally by its patrons as “The Station House”. Around 1963 when Francis built the first extension, the bar was officially given its name “The North Pole” and from there went from strength to strength as a vital meeting place for the locals of Drumfries and the surrounding townlands.
In 2016 new life was breathed into the Station House when Francis’s daughter Hilda and her husband Liam—the current proprietors of The North Pole Bar—converted the extension into a modern bed and breakfast with a gallery dedicated to the history of the railway line. Now visitors to the bar can capture a small glimpse of an oft-forgotten part of local history—when the Carndonagh railway line opened up the world to the people of Inishowen.