Enda our guide for an inter-rail tour of nation

Former Taoiseach sets off on a TV travelogue on Sunday evening
Enda our guide for an inter-rail tour of nation

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny in his new travel series Iarnród Enda

BILLED as a celebration of people, landscape and belonging, a new TV road trip starting on RTÉ next week has an intriguing twist — our guide is an ex-Taoiseach.

In the six-part series Iarnród Enda, Enda Kenny searches for pointers to the future among the echoes of the past, as he sets out in search of the long-abandoned railway routes of Ireland.

The first episode on RTÉ1 on Monday at 8.30pm sees Enda meander from Waterford to Dungarvan.

His journey takes him along the Waterford Greenway, which has brought a new lease of life to this beautiful region.

Yet before the railway line closed, it helped encourage a vibrant commercial and farming environment, as well as making a strong contribution at the end of the 19th century to growth and the development of the newly formed GAA.

This episode has contributions from historian Donnchadh O’Ceallacháin, Tom Hartery, Mary Crowley, PJ Maher — the last station master before the line closed — and renowned chef Paul Flynn, rustles up for a barbecue for Enda.

In the second episode, Enda travels from Westport to Achill in his home county of Mayo, discovering the ancient prophecy of Brian Rua U’Chearbhain who foretold two major losses of groups of immigrants who had left Achill island for Scotland.

Future episodes see the former Fine Gael TD, who was Taoiseach from 2011 to 2017, travel from Ennis to Kilkee in Clare, where he takes a trip on a renovated steam train, and head from Derry to Ailt a’ Chorráin.

He then heads north to the stunning coastline from Portrush to Giant’s Causeway, before, in the fina episode, he journeys from Dundalk to Newry.

In the series, Enda explores the story of a once modern transport system, the railway routes that became engraved into the countryside, transformed the landscape and shaped the evolution of the entire island. Railway expanded the way we saw ourselves in the world, influencing the course of subsequent historical, social and political events.

Discovering riches along the way, human and cultural, Enda marvels at the shoots of new growth emerging as sections of old lines regenerate as small, narrow-gauge tourist trains bring the magic and romance of steam to life.

If you thought you knew all about Enda Kenny after his 45 years in Dáil Éireann — be prepared to be surprised. This reveals a man happy on his bike, relaxed in himself and comfortable in the company of those he encounters along the way. A good listener, he’s at his happiest meeting new people or old friends, and is never slow to call in for a chat or a story, a tune or a song.

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