Former ‘Blue Max’ rail line to woo tourists if amenity plan realised

A former 25-mile section of railway line which features a bridge made famous by the 1966 World War One film, Blue Max, could be opened as a walkway-cycleway.

A scene from "Blue Max" as a plane flies under an arch of Carrigabrick Viaduct

Cork County Council has agreed to carry out a feasibility study into opening the former section of the Fermoy-Mallow railway line as an amenity which could attract European tourists.

Blue Max featured a famous scene where two German pilots try to best each other by flying through one of the ‘eyes of the viaduct.’

One dies in the attempt and at the time filming this extraordinary piece of stunt footage, performed without any computer-generation, was the toast of cinematography.

Avondhu Blackwater Partnership was recently granted planning permission to convert the disused bridge, known locally as the Carrigabrick Viaduct, into a pedestrian walkway and viewing platform.

Cork County Council is now planning to examine ways of integrating it in a trail connecting that bridge with the old railway line which runs through Glanworth, Ballyhooly, Castletownroche and Mallow.

County Cork mayor Cllr Noel O’Connor (FG), said that Iarnród Éireann still owns most of the old line, which was closed in the 1960s. He said grants were available from Minister Leo Varadkar’s office to turn former rail lines into amenities which would attract tourists.

“There’s an opportunity for us and we should examine it. As Mallow Castle and Doneraile Court are being developed as tourist attractions, this would fit in,” he said.

Cllr Kevin O’Keeffe (FF) said another viaduct at Bridgetown, Castletownroche, also offered spectacular views of the countryside and should be reopened to the public as part of the overall project, while his party colleague, Cllr Frank O’Flynn, said bringing in more tourists could only result in a cash spin-off for local villages.

Assistant county manager Moira Murrell said the local authority was anxious to support anything which would stimulate economic activity.

“Initially we will survey it (the old railway line). I will assign a member of staff to do this. Quite a lot of money has been assigned to the council for greenways already. Maybe we can develop this in phases. It’s a great concept and one we will support,” she said.

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