Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ghost train

It is easy when walking along an old railway line in driving rain to imagine you see the lights of an oncoming train.

Except, the last train ran here on the Westport to Achill railway in 1937, so the lights cannot be of a train of this world.

Perhaps it’s a train from the past, still tracing the Atlantic coast, ignoring the walkers and cyclists on the 42km Great Western Greenway, the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland, they say.

For myself, I have completed a six kilometre section and have turned back to my starting point when the Atlantic Gods send clouds of rain after me to remind me of my human vulnerability.

Where once there were cyclists and a solitary walker; there is only the walker, me, with head down against the saturating sea that is now in the wind.

Primroses lined the path on the way out. Now, green ferns lurk beside the track. They seem to be waiting to grow over the drowned walker.

The line was a single track narrow gauge. The sleepers are gone and the trail is flattened for modern leisure use.

A bike passes by with a small trailer behind it.

Inside is a child in a plastic bubble wondering where it will all end; for if I cannot see in, then the child cannot see out.

Still the grandfather pushing along in the lowest gear thinks this a life-forming experience for his charge.

It is. The kid will henceforth run away when confronted by a bubblegum bubble on wheels.

Then they too are gone.

The approaching lights are cars on an adjacent road, I see now.

Not for the first time do I wish for a ghost to come and rescue me.

I will settle for a ghost train.


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