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Timeless link to Killala Railway Station

When James Henry Casserly who was the first Station Master in Killala Railway Station was leaving in 1894, the people of Killala and Ballycastle came together to present him with a pocket watch as a token of the high esteem in which the community held the Galway native.

Now 125 years later, the pocket watch, which is still keeping time accurately, is one of the cherished possessions of Mr Casserly’s grandson, Limerick man, Pat Casserrly, who got in touch with Mayo.ME after reading our post about the history of the Ballina to Killala Railway (1893-1931).

James Henry Casserly was the first Station Master in Killala when it opened on January 2nd, 1893. He held the post until the end of 1894 when he moved to Ballina where he was Station Master from 1895 to 1910.

It’s clear that Mr Casserly was much admired and respected by the people of Killala and Ballycastle who made the presentation of the pocket watch to him in November 1894.

The watch is a beautiful piece of individual craftsmanship as can be seen from the accompanying photos. It was obviously the work of a master craftsman as the timepiece is still running like clockwork in an age when computers are replacing springs and gears with mass-produced wearable smartwatches.

The inscription on the pocket watch reads:

Presented to
Mr. Jas. H. Casserly
By Residents of
Killala & B. Castle
As a Mark of Esteem
While he was first Station Master
Killala
November 1894

The pocket watch that was presented to James Henry Casserly by the people of Killala and Ballycastle in 1894 to mark his departure as Station Master in Killala. Photo: Whelan Cameras, Limerick

Pat Casserly takes up the story:” The watch was in the possession of my uncle Albert (Bertie) until he died when it passed to my father, Victor, and, on father’s death, to me.

“The first record I have of my grandfather, James Henry, was his marriage to Maria Wiggins. She was from Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford; my grandfather gave Galway as his place of birth.

“He worked as a railway porter in Edgeworthstown. The couple were married in St. John’s Church of Ireland, Parish of Templemichael Longford, on February 5th 1879.

Promotion followed for my grandfather and he was appointed Station Master in Lucan North (Coldblow), Castlegeoghegan, Killala (1893-94) and Ballina (1895-1910).

Showing the front of the pocket watch that was presented to James Henry Casserly by the people of Killala and Ballycastle in 1894 to mark his departure as Station Master in Killala. Photo: Whelan Cameras, Limerick

“He finished his career as Station Master in Ballinrobe where he died on the 16th October, 1924. He is buried with his wife in St. Mary’s Church of Ireland (now the library), Ballinrobe.

“James and Maria had 16 children. According to the 1911 Census for Ballinrobe, thirteen of their children were still alive, eight sons, five daughters, living in the Station House. Three of their sons went into the railway, William Henry, Henry, and Albert.

“My Aunt Eva was born in Killala in 1894. Hoever, I cannot trace any record of her birth or baptism.”

James Henry Casserly and his wife, Maria (nee Wiggins) pictured in front of The Station House, Ballinrobe, circa 1910. Note the chain of the pocket watch which he received on leaving Killala. Photo: Courtesy Pat Casserly

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

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