On the Buses

Public Transport 1940s

Reducing carbon emissions in the context of climate action is a major concern in the Ireland we live in today in 2023.  The concept of sustainability and reducing carbon emissions is fully supported by Sligo Chamber.  Effecting a modal shift to public transport is an active policy of Government.  We saw how last year fares were reduced on buses and trains by 20 per cent to encourage commuters make this change, the first National fare reduction since 1947, some 76 years ago.  Looking back to that time, to the late 1930s and 1940s, public transport was also then an issue of concern for Sligo Chamber, but for different reasons.  Private transport by motor car was still relatively new and the public were reliant on public transport as the primary mode of transport.  However, the bus service in the Sligo region was poor, and the Chamber spent considerable time and effort advocating for improvement as we will read in this article. 

At the Sligo Chamber meeting of the 7th of October 1937, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, a memorandum signed by the residents of Rosses Point was read complaining of the inadequate Bus Service being run from Sligo to Rosses Point by the Great Southern Railways Omnibus Department.  This complaint led to the initiation of engagement by Sligo Chamber with the Bus Companies, engagement which would continue for almost ten years to 1946, by which time the management of the buses was under the control of Córas Iompair Éireann.

Several of the Members present at the October meeting pointed out that the hours at which the Bus was running was not suitable and the Secretary, J.A. McLoghry, was directed to suggest to the Railway Omnibus Company that the following alterations should be made to the Timetable:

On Saturdays a Bus should leave Rosses Point at 12.30pm returning to Sligo at 2pm.

A Bus for the convenience of school children should leave Sligo at say 3.20pm.

In addition to the Picture Bus leaving Rosses Point at 7.45pm on Thursdays a Bus should always leave Rosses Point at the same time on Monday nights.

A Bus should leave Sligo at 2pm on Sundays returning from the Rosses Point at 6pm”.

O’ Connell Street

In addition to the local bus service, the members at the meeting were also interested in promoting business for the traders in Sligo.  At the suggestion of Mr. J.T.H. Orr, the Secretary was directed to write to the Great Northern Bus Service Company “requesting they put on a one day cheap ticket between Donegal and intermediate Towns to Sligo as an inducement to people to do their shopping in Sligo”.  The request was made for a trial period from October to Christmas.

Rosses Point Village

Apart from the bus service to Rosses Point, the Chamber was also interested in the route itself.  A new road had recently been built at Rosses Point, but it would appear that turning place had not been provided at the end of the new road.  At the Chamber Meeting of the 2nd of May 1938, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, the Secretary read a letter which he had forwarded to Mr. R.J. Kirwan, County Surveyor, Sligo County Council, requesting him to provide on the new road at Rosses Point a turning place for the Great Southern Railway Buses.  It was not only the buses that concerned the Chamber at the Rosses Point Road as we read that at the same meeting, it was decided to also write to the County Surveyor requesting that a turning space for motorcars be provided at the end of the new Rosses Point road.

The Chamber also sought to influence the Great Northern Railway Company in relation to the provision of a Bus Service between Sligo and Mullaghmore on Wednesdays and Sundays.   This was to facilitate workers of the traders in the town travelling to the popular seaside resort on their days off work, Wednesday being a half-day and Sunday a day off for employees who worked a five and a half-day week at that time.  However well-intentioned on the part of the Chamber, the Bus Service was not supported by the public and the concept abandoned.

Tea Rooms, Mullaghmore

At the Chamber Meeting of the 13th of February 1939, D.M. Hanley, President in the Chair, a letter was read from the Great Northern Railway Company confirming that further to a request from the Chamber, they would trial a service between Sligo and Mullaghmore on Wednesdays and Sundays during July and August that year.  Building on their success, the Chamber repeated their request the following year.  It was decided at the Chamber Meeting on the 25th of April 1940, T.J. Harrington in the Chair, (apology was received from the President), to write to the Great Northern Bus Service requesting them “to renew the Bus Service during the Summer months from Sunday the 23rd of June to the end of September”.  The Railway Company responded stating they could not renew the Service “in view of the poor support accorded to the Service last season when the earnings amounted to only £16”.  Undeterred, the Chamber at the Meeting on the 30th of May 1940, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, decided to request another trial be given by having the Buses between Sligo and Donegal making a detour and calling at Mullaghmore on the “outward and inward journeys on each Wednesday and Sunday during the Summer Season”.   The Company relented and continued with the Wednesday and Sunday Bus Service between Sligo and Mullaghmore that year.  However, 1940 was the only other year the Service was provided, as again it was not supported by the public.

Rosses Point Village

At the Chamber Meeting of the 10th of June the following year 1941, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, a letter was read from the Great Northern Railway Company.  It stated that the operation of an Omnibus Service between Sligo and Mullaghmore was given a further trial last season and the results were no better than the preceding year,  “the total number of passengers who availed of the service on Wednesdays during the entire season was 8 while the average number each Sunday was only 11.  In view of this very poor support, it is regretted that the Service can not be further operated”.   And so ended the Chamber’s attempt to promote the opportunity for workers of traders in the town to travel to the Mullaghmore seaside resort on their days off work, on Sundays and on the half-day on Wednesdays.

Returning to Rosses Point, the matter of the Bus Service continued to attract the attention of the Chamber.  At the General Meeting of the 29th of February 1944, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, the Rosses Point Bus Service is listed on the Agenda. The Secretary, J.A. McLoghry, told the meeting a better bus service should be provided on the Rosses Point to Sligo run.  People coming from Rosses Point to do their shopping “had to spend the whole day in town and get their dinner in town” as the bus left Rosses Point at 9am, only returning at 4pm.  It was suggested a return bus should leave Sligo at 12.30pm.  Mr. Lacey, Manager at the Bus Depot, had told the Chamber that the 4pm bus was primarily intended to facilitate school children.  On further inquiry, the Secretary found out that “On Saturday only two boys attending the College, (Summerhill), used the bus and the President of the College was prepared to let these boys home if the ‘bus was going to leave Sligo at 2.30pm”.   Mr. Lacey said he would have to get the views of the people of Rosses Point whereupon the Secretary advised they were “wholly in favour of a 2.30pm ’bus leaving Sligo, and at present Mr. C.H. Mulligan was having a petition signed by the people of Rosses Point to have the change made”.

Rosses Point Bus 1940s

Where the Rosses Point Bus stopped in Sligo was also a concern for the Chamber.  At the Chamber Meeting of the 22nd of September 1944, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, Mr. T.P. Toher mentioned that the Rosses Point Bus when returning to Sligo did not stop near the Ulster Bank corner on the road once called The Albert Line, now known as Markievicz Road.  Rather, the Bus continued on to the stop in Wine Street.  Mr. Toher suggested that it would be “a great advantage to passengers who reside in the East end of the Town, if the Rosses Point Bus stopped near the Ulster Bank”.  The Meeting decided that the matter be brought to the notice of the Great Southern Railway Company.  The suggestion met with the approval of the Railway Company and so began the tradition of Buses stopping on The Albert Line / Markievicz Road, a tradition that holds to today in 2023, almost 80 years later.

The thorny question of the Rosses Point Bus Time Table simply would not go away.  Mr. G.M. Soden raised the matter again at the General Meeting of the 8th of October 1946, F. Nally, President, in the Chair.   Referring to the Bus timetable on the Rosses Point/Sligo route, Mr. Soden pointed out that it was still most unsuitable for the convenience of passengers.   “He submitted a revised time table which would be more convenient to the public and he requested that the Bus service on Sundays should be restored”.  It was decided to write to Mr. E. Lacey, District Manager, Córas Iompair Éireann, on the matter.  Further to a response from Mr. J.B. Martin, Manager of the Road Passenger Section, a Special Meeting was called for three weeks later, F. Nally, President, in the Chair.  Indicative of how connected the Chamber were to issues of concern to the public, in addition to the Chamber members, M. Mulligan and L. Tolan attended representing Rosses Point; T. Fitzpatrick, J.S. Murrow, R. Tarrant and A. Bourke representing Strandhill, as well as J. Flynn (Mayor) and W.J. Tolan representing Sligo Corporation.  Mr. Martin Roddy T.D., was also present.   The reply from Mr. J.B. Martin, having been considered, the Chamber drew up the following revised Time Table which in the opinion of the meeting should be put into operation to meet the requirements of the travelling public:

Strandhill Village

Sligo – departure:-

a.m.      p.m.        B            A                          E            D

8.40       1.15       2.30       4.00       6.30       9.30       10.40

Rosses Point and Strandhill departure:-

a.m.      p.m.        B            A            C            D            E            D

9.00       2.05       2.50       4.20       6.50       7.45       10.06    11.00

A.           Saturdays only

B.           Wednesdays and Saturdays only

C.           Tuesdays and Thursdays excepted

D.          Tuesdays and Thursdays only

E.           Saturdays only.”

The Secretary was directed to forward a copy of the suggested Time Table to Mr. E. Lacey, District Manager, with a request that he recommends its adoption by his Company.   It was decided to again impress upon Mr. Lacey the urgent need of a Bus Service on the Rosses Point route on Sundays.

Mr. Martin Roddy, T.D., mentioned that he had been asked by residents of Ballysodare and Collooney to request the restoration of the early morning Bus service leaving Collooney to bring people to work in Sligo.  The following service was suggested:

“                                         a.m.     p.m.

Sligo                    dept.     8.15       6.45

Collooney           dept.     8.45       7.15”

Mr. J.B. Martin, Manager, Road Passenger Section, Córas Iompair Éireann, subsequently informed the Chamber it had been decided to operate the Time Table suggested by the Chamber for the Sligo/Rosses Point and Strandhill Bus service “as soon as Notices setting out the alterations can be obtained and displayed”.  With regard to the operation of a Sunday service between Sligo and Rosses Point and a weekly service between Collooney and Sligo, Mr. Martin pointed out that “in the absence of the materials necessary for the construction of new vehicles, the restoration of a Sunday Service must be deferred, and consideration cannot be given to the operation of the Collooney Service until it is possible to allocate an additional bus to the Sligo area”.

The Special Meeting attended by the community representatives, at which the Bus Service Time Table for Strandhill and Rosses Point subsequently adopted by Córas Iompair Éireann was drawn up, was held on the 27th of October, on this week in 1946.

Researched and written by Conor McCarthy

Supported by the Sligo Chamber Centenary Committee:

  • Catherine Maguire – Admin & Photographic Research
  • Geraldine Courtenay – Creative Direction
  • Aidan Doyle – Review & Publication

The next Article in the series commemorating The Centenary of Sligo Chamber and entitled

The Uphill Climb to the Bus” will be released on the 6th of November 2023.

#Sligo Chamber Centenary