Miniature West Cork has reopened! The last of the real railways in West Cork closed in 1961 accelerating a pattern of depopulation as traditional industries and farming declined. In 1961 a decision was taken by the then Government to close the entire West Cork Line because they believed it was uneconomical to run. Almost immediately bridges were demolished & the rail lines taken up & sold off to Nigeria who was constructing a railway at that time.
But at Clonakilty you can visit West Cork in miniature is this wonderful labour of love by enthusiasts who wanted the history of these wonderful railways preserved in Ireland's only Model Village while having fun a creating an outstanding attraction. The main of the project was to provide a significant educational and visual interest to both the local and tourist alike and to bring a much-needed employment scheme to Clonakilty. A dedicated talented group of workers set to work to make the Model Village what it is today. Development was carried out in stages, the first town completed was Clonakilty and the Model Village was officially opened in 1994 by the then President Mary Robinson.
At the Model Village you explore miniature West Cork and follow the fully working trains through the towns that the railway served during the 1940's. All the models and figurines are handmade at the Model Village showing the customs and way of life from the past. The hugely popular spot is full of wonders for people young and old making you feel like a giant looking down on a 1940s time capsule. It's open daily from 10am to 6pm and on top of the mini railways there's some remote control boats, and a lovely little craft cafe. Unfortunately the usual road train is currently off the cards for safety reasons as well as the play areas. But there's still plenty to work with.
They have built a model of four of West Cork's more famous towns. Kinsale, Bandon, Dunmanway and of course Clonakilty. In each case there are some of the more famous buildings, along with miniatures of the high streets and main squares. The detail they have put in is really quite impressive. Do check out the photos, you'll have to look twice to see if it's a miniature or the real thing.
There's an audio visual room inside which explains the life and history the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway. West Cork used to be full of a whole myriad of small lines connecting towns and villages across the country together.
There's an outdoor play area (including, of course, a big wooden train that all the children can climb through and pretend to drive!). Inside is a big soft play area, which proved ever popular. The centre also boasts a cafe & gift shop. The cafe is open to all, you do not have to buy a ticket for the centre to pop into the cafe.
There are some changes to the Village to keep us all safe during Covid.
One way system in place
Road Train will not be running until further notice
Play areas will remain closed until further notice
Café will serve takeaway
Pre booking is essential.
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