The cards were designed exclusively for the RPSI, Ireland's largest railway preservation society. I was very pleased to receive the commission from the society's chairman, Johnny Glendinning, especially as it is the first time that the society has their own Christmas cards in their forty year history.
The RPSI run steam train trips for the public from Dublin and Belfast mainly at holiday times throughout the year. They also occasionally haul charter trains for business groups. Sometimes they provide steam trains for film makers and have starred in films such as Michael Collins with Liam Neeson, The First Great Train Robbery with Sean Connery and Puckoon from the book by Spike Milligan.
You can read all about them at their own popular website;
I choose to paint Cloghoge chapel because it is the highest point on the railway line between Dublin and Belfast. When you see the church you know that the hardest climb of the journey is nearly over and it's a straight run home to Belfast.
Harvey on the ballast - this little green tank loco is really named a very formal RH Smyth after a Harbour Commissioner, but the little engine has been known to enthusiasts as Harvey since the 1970s when the show-jumper Harvey Smith was in the headlines. In 2005 Harvey worked on the main railway line between Belfast and Larne helping the contractors to spread stones on the new track. Steam working on the main line is very rare these days and the society are very proud to be able to help out with the modern professional railway system in this way.
The other painting is of a steam train excursion passing Bleach Green Junction near Greenisland, County Antrim on its way from the society's home base of Whitehead up to Belfast where most of the passengers get on for day trips.