Member – Alan O’Rourke

Member Alan O’Rourke

Occupation After ten years in hospital medicine, I spent over 20 years at Sheffield University, much of it tutoring medical students and teaching on a master’s programme in public health until 2017. I have edited New Irish Lines (a twice yearly newsletter for modellers of the Irish scene) since 1999.

Do you have a role in the society?
I have given two talks to the London Area.

When did you first become a member of the Irish Railway Record Society in London and why?
I joined the IRRS in about 1978, attracted by the information provided in the Journal and to get access to the Society archives for model building projects. I have also written a fair few papers for the IRRS and RPSI journals. I am the Irish BG steward for the Historical Model Railway Society, with several articles in their journal, and have written a history of the North Kerry line along with Stephen Johnson, co-author of Modelling Irish Railways (Midland Publishing, 2004).

What is your favourite Irish railway station or location and why? Hard to pick one, but maybe the former South Wexford line, as I had my first footplate ride on it and going over the Barrow Bridge in the cab of a 141 class GM diesel was unforgettable.

What area of railways interests you the most?
Information to support writing and model building projects, but especially neglected areas like rolling stock and signaling. In the photo, I am holding a large pattern ETS staff: non-railway friends think I am brandishing a cudgel or a shillelagh!

If you could take a journey on any railway in the world, which would it be? Or describe it if you’ve already done it!
Going across Canada by train, four days and three nights Toronto to Vancouver in 1987 including the Rockies was pretty memorable. If I am allowed time travel, how about the Waterford & Tramore about 1900?

Do you have any other hobbies or interests? 
Two allotments, jointly run with my wife, Rose.

One unknown fact or claim to fame
I knew William South the publican whose family ran South’s pub featured in Angela’s Ashes, the book by Frank McCourt. William was a railway enthusiast who knew the lines radiating from Limerick very well. He was a very quiet, civilised man.