Railway Gatekeeper's Cottage

By Betty Keneavy-Nipoti

My maternal grandparents’ home was called the Gate Keeper’s Cottage, located in the Townland of Rushevla, Parish of Kilcummin, Barony of Moycullen, DED – District Electoral Division and Poor Law Union of Ougtherard, located in County Galway.

There were eighteen gatekeeper homes erected at public road level crossings by the Midland Great Western Railway Company. The cottage has the original windows. These contained one living room. 16 ½ feet, by 12 feet, two bedrooms, each of 10 feet, by 8 feet. There was an outside porch, which was a continuation of the main roof. and out buildings consisting of fuel house, toilet and ash pit. Each house had a road of ground attached.

Those on the line from Galway to Ougtherard (Ross & Moycullen) were built “in a superior manner with squared limestone face joints.” Beyond Oughterard, the masonry was ordinary rubble, pebble dashed with red brick cornerstones and window jambs The railroad official’s duties were opening the gates to allow the trains past, as well as inspecting the condition of the tracks.  The first train passed on July 1, 1895, and the last train came through on

I arrived in Ougtherard twenty-two years ago, thanks to the generosity of a travel funds gift from my three children.  I was anxious to see the two homes, where my parents were raised in this town.  First, I traveled to my Mother’s home, where her brother James Stewarts’ widow, Bridie Maloney Stewart welcomes me.  I was accompanied by my cousin, Paul Stewart of Ardvanna and his daughter, Ann Marie.

The home had a very warm and cheery feeling, with Irish curtains, and pleasant surroundings.  There was a living room with a small fireplace, two bedrooms and a big loft, the length of the house, where all ten children slept at different times. There were remnants of fruit trees in the back, and I was told of the oldest son, John Henry, and his passion for bee-keeping. Many stories were related about the good and “hard” times in this home.

My grandfather died in 1935, and grandmother was given a small pension, but the house was transferred to her.  It has still remained in the Stewart family, and is currently being rented.

Interesting Deductions Historical Research

John Henry Stewart was employed in Galway with the railroad, as a gateman when he married, Mary Ellen Keogh of Dublin on April 19, 1896 in the Pro Cathedral, as stated in their official marriage certificate.  In the Irish Census of 1901, he is listed as a Railway Police Official, and living at House # 11 in Billymore, next to the Keneavy family.  Then, in the Census of 1911, his residence is listed as being in Rushevela section, as a Gate Keeper, as documented by his employment records.

I was further puzzled by some other discrepancies of the townlands mentioned on the birth certificates some of the Stewart children.  I researched it further with a friend, an Irish Genealogist, familiar with the town.  Old Chapel is at the very beginning of the road, the town # of the home is 14, but the railroad crossing, which is next to the home is Mahermore.  It is the recorder or the information given, like John Henry is sometimes, listed as Harry, rather than his formal name.

There are several books on the railway – two by Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill of Clifden, entitled The Connemara Railway and her other book Beyond the TenBens.  I have given the first book to my family and cousins.  Another source is the Heritage Walk Book by the Tourism Office in town, and then of course, Maurice Semple’s books on Lough Corrib.  The Internet offers a wealth of photos, including the fantastic Balfour Collection of photos from the NUI – Galway Library – Check out this site –



Many more memories to recall, hope you will join me along this journey.

This page was added on 15/07/2013.

Comments about this page

  • i remember the two old stone sheds at the back where grandad kept all his bits and pieces.the one nearest the house was a mystery for us.until we were old enough to get in there at which point we found the red tricycle.it was not long before we got it to the tarmac for some speed testing.what a treasure…i think it lasted to become damiens mode of transport in rathlin glebe…magic days…i was so well behaved one weekend nana gave me some sherry….the laughing

    By charlie (25/02/2014)
  • Happened to come across these articles by accident. I have so many fond memories of old chapel as a child. The gardens in the back were full of apple trees and all sort of berries and my first bitter introduction to sloes. It seemed so big but really it wasn’t, we’d play tag around the gardens and dare each other to see who would go closest to the bee hive 🙁 and collecting all the hazelnuts nearby in the autumn. Simple things but enjoyable. But best of all if we were good and i mean very good nana would give us an old pound note. 🙂

    By Leo Stewart (05/02/2014)
  • Really nice article more people should write stories about this wonderful town of Oughterard and surrounding areas.

    By Tom Monahan (23/09/2013)

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