to and from Beara a century ago
This week, in "Down Memory Lane" we take a look
at transport in and out of Beara peninsula over a hundred
years ago, and up to the 1920s.
Back in 1987, a report on tourism was compiled by the Development
Syndicate (Ireland) Ltd., which was in relation to a proposed
working agreement for a new coach service for the "Prince
of Wales" route. At the time, a coach service on this
route was being operated by a Mr George Vickery of Bantry,
who later handed it over to the syndicate, who were asked
to extend the service to Castletown at their own expense
and build a hotel there.
Following the setting up of the Bantry Bay Steamship Company
in 1883, at first, a thrice-weekly service commenced between
Bantry and Castletown by the 'SS Countess of Bantry."
This vessel was followed by the 'Princess Beara' in 1901.
Other vessels operated by Bantry Bay Steamship Co. were
the 'SS Lady Elise' and the 'Lady Betty Belfour,' which
operated a passenger service between Bantry and Glengarriff.
The other vessels carried passengers on to Castletownbere.
These sailings operated to provide connections with the
trains in and out of Bantry. Passenger sailings on the Bantry
Bay route ceased in the late 1930s.
In those years of the late 1920s, County Cork, the largest
county in Ireland, had just two "little bus" operators
and these were on the Beara Peninsula. One was at Glengarriff
and the other was at Castletownbere.
First, we had John Falvey in Glengarriff, who was proprietor
of what was possibly quite an old service, holding license
number 482 from Bantry to Castletownbere, via Glengarriff
and Adrigole. From what information is available, the original
service was started by Henry Green of Bantry and, at a later
date, Michael Joyce took over the service and in 1955 John
Falvey purchased it.
He employed one driver, a local man, Luke Flannagan, using
an 11-seater mini-bus for private hire. He also had a contract
with the newspaper offices to deliver the morning papers
to Castletownbere and villages on the route.
Apart from the bus service, John had a general shop and
took an interest in such sports as shooting and fishing
and was also a member of the local development association.
The second bus service operating in West Cork at the time
was O'Donoghue's at Castletownbere. This service was started
by Pat O'Donoghue in the late 1920s and he was also a C&G
member of CorK County Council. Following his death, at a
young age, the business was carried on by his wife, Mrs
Katie O'Donoghue, who was a native of Bere Island.
The first driver employed by the O'Donoghue family was Timmie
O'Sullivan, who was still driving up to a late age. This
service was, and still is, known as "The Berehaven"
and the first bus was a 14-seater Dodge, built by O'Gorman's
of Clonmel, which ran for six years.
In 1937, Cornelius Dennehy, who is still alive and well,
started driving for O'Donoghue's and, some time later, Connie
Batt O'Sullivan joined the service as a mechanic and Dan
Sheehan, another driver, joined the service in the 1950s.
Later, O'Donoghue's had two blue and cream buses, one a
26-seater Commer and the other a 33-seater Bedford.
In those years, on Mondays and Saturdays, the bus left Castletownbere
for Bantry twice a day, starting at 6.55 a.m. and on Tuesday
and Fridays, once a day, leaving at 11 a.m. Another service
operated to Kenmare on Wednesday and Fridays, and a service
to Cork on Thursdays, via Adrigole, Glengarriff and
Bantry leaving Castletownbere at 7 a.m.
Those early days saw the arrival in Cork at 11.15 a.m. of
the "Berehaven," a journey of 93 miles, which
took three and a half hours. It then terminated at the West
Cork Bar in Parnell Place.
O'Donoghue's Bus Service in Castletownbere is still serving
the people of the Beara Peninsula to-day, and this is the
sole survivor of the many independent bus services which
ran to Cork from the 1920s onwards. The blue and cream Bedford
coach dated from 1954 and was originally operated by James
Culloty of Killarney on tours of the Ring of Kerry. It was
bought by the Berehaven Bus Service in 1957.
The bus departed again at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday evenings,
O'Donoghue's is a very busy company at present, as apart
from the bus service, they have a garage and repair service.
Courtesy of The Southern Star
22 October 2005