The Sligo Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway opened between Enniskillen and Sligo in 1876. The SLNCR was an important link to transport cattle from the West of Ireland to ports such as Belfast. This line served a rural area so goods traffic was mainly carrying meal and products vital to the agricultural community.
Passengers from the 1930’s onwards could normally be catered for by a diesel railbus, a converted road bus on railway wheels. In 1947 the SLNCR was able to afford to buy a proper diesel unit – Railcar B. Only excursion traffic required conventional carriages and a steam locomotive.
The SLNCR locomotives were of an unusual 0-6-4 wheel arrangement and were all named but never numbered. One locomotive named ‘Hazlewood’ survived from
1876 until closure in 1957. Later engines were ‘Lough Gill’ and ‘Enniskillen’. As late as 1951 the SLNCR acquired ‘Lough Erne’ and ‘Lough Melvin giving them the distinction of being the last Irish steam locomotives to be built.
The SLNCR had only a few stations in Fermanagh; it shared Enniskillen with the GNR and had stations at Florencecourt and Belcoo with a halt at Abohill, near Mullaghdun. From 1922 Belcoo was a border post with customs.
A small independent railway company that was never prosperous, it survived until 1957. Its larger neighbours the GNRI and Midland Great Western Railway at Sligo could not agree on who should take it over.
When the SLNCR closed in 1957 it was the last independent railway in the British Isles, all others having been nationalised.
When the SLNCR assets were auctioned off, most of the locomotives, carriages and wagons were sold for scrap. The two newest locomotives, ‘Lough Erne’ and ‘Lough Melvin’ were bought by the UTA and Railcar B by CIE. ‘Lough Erne’ and Rail Car B are both preserved but await restoration.