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This morning I went to Collins Bridge on the Royal Canal. It’s right next to the Sligo rail line. I wanted to see the Railway Preservation Society’s * steam train come through. From the earliest whisper of that unmistakable sound to when it headed off towards Maynooth, I wasn’t disappointed. Perfect. I hadn’t gone out to see a mere train, any locomotive with rolling stock. I had gone to see something special: a working steam locomotive at the head of a train. O.K., it no longer serves a schedule but this locomotive was hauling carriages and doing what it is supposed to do. It wasn’t a display, giving some impression of what a working steam locomotive was like. It was the beautiful, working real deal. I was reminded of retrievers: they too have to look the part and do the work. One without the other isn’t enough, it’s insufficient to bring out an admirer.



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