in the forties
accounts have been written about Irelandıs transport difficulties
over the years. These difficulties became all the greater
during the Emergency, 1939 to 1945, and affected County
Cavan as well as all other parts of our country. By Joe
There was particular difficulty in running of Great Southern
Railway trains. Coal was not available to keep the train
engines running and the Southern railways were obliged to
make use of turf and timber from any available source. It
is recorded that it once took a train three hours to travel
from Dun Laoghaire to Dublin and that a train from Dublin
to Athlone was passed out by a Royal Canal barge.
In October, 1941 the Government decided to maintain an emergency
supply of turf in the Phoenix Park, Dublin and this was
delivered by lorries from the mid-land bogs and from the
west. As well as providing some necessary fuel for city
dwellers it was a great help to the railway system. (G.S.R)
as anything burnable was needed to provide a skeleton service.
A new substance known as duff came into existence.
This was made from a mixture of dust and pitch.
Eleven branch railway lines were closed in the spring of
1942. All other lines were cut to two days per week for
passenger trains and four for freight. In Dublin there was
a curtailment of electric trams in 1942, and these ceased
to run after the summer of 1944.
The situation for the Great Northern Railway was quite different.
They were guaranteed a supply of coal for troop movements
and for the maintenance of supplies. The G.N.R. served both
sides of the border.
In Co Cavan the Magent and the IOC
had long since ceased to run, but the G.N.R. and G.S.R managed
to maintain a thrice-daily Cavan/Dublin bus service.
The two bodies were in competition with each other and ran
at similar times. I remember when the single fare from Lees
Cross, Upper Lavey to Dublin was four shillings and sixpence
and also when this was increased to five shillings and nine
Motor-cars, motorcycles, virtually all internal-combustion
engine vehicles except those exempted for essential services
disappeared from the roads. Clergyman, Doctors, Shopkeepers
providing essential foodstuffs were among these exempted.
In the late thirties Joe Delaney, a native of Roscrea, had
been employed by the Automobile Association and based in
Cavan town. He had to perform a cycling patrol (on pedal
bicycle) twice daily between Cavan and New Inn in the course
of his duties.
After a year or so he was supplied with a motorcycle but
he, too, was no longer to be seen after the coming of World
War II. The pedal bicycle, horse-drawn vehicles such as
traps and carts were to be seen everywhere. It was even
difficult to purchase a pedal bicycle as one had to have
notified the stockist well in advance. The Ministry of Supplies
fixed the price of a used adult bicycle at £8.00 sterling.
There was plenty of cycle shops doing business. One, Mr
Lynch, had a cycle shop near Poles on the Dublin/Cavan Road.
Jack McConnell was well established in Ashe Street, Cavan
while Dan McDonalds Garage in Ballyjamesduff, had
a number of employees dealing with cycle repairs. Charlie
Boylan had a cycle shop in the Pullafree area of Ballyjamesduff.
On one occasion a passer-by observed fifty to one hundred
pedal bicycles parked outside Mr.Boylans premises.
He observed You must be doing a great trade here,
Charlie, to which the Proprietor replied Why?
My dear man, all the profit I make here would not pay postage
on my correspondence. Obviously, all dealers had to
fill various forms in regard to sales, supplies, etc. and
there were several regulations to the complied with.
Another noted cycle shop was that of Mullerys in Cavan town.
Even when cyclists had their machine it was difficult to
get spare parts or tyres. As was the case with foodstuffs
these became a little more plentiful on what was known as
the black market.
I recall that on a four-hour night time patrol with the
LSF along the main Cavan/Dublin road from Lees Cross,
Upper Lavey to Belasis Bridge in 1941 the only vehicle we
met was a lorry belonging to Montgomery & Co. carrying
egg boxes to the market yard in Cavan town.
On the Sundays of inter-club football matches the
roads were, as one lady described it - black with
bicycles. I recall cycling journeys from my home in
Upper Lavey to games in Cross, Butlersbridge, Tierquin Park,
Tullyco (Denn), Laragh, Stradone and Crosskeys. Some of
my friends cycled to Dublin for All-Ireland finals.
I do not know when Cavan Railway Station closed. Often I
travelled by train from Mullingar to Cavan between 1943
and 1945. The train chugged its way at a slow pace - I presume
it was a G.S. train - through Inny Junction, Drumhowan,
Ballywillan, Crossdoney, and on to Cavan. Some week-ends
when not travelling by train or pedal bicycle, I was able
to get the G.S bus from Mullingar to Longford and
McGirrs bus from Longford to Cavan via Drumlish and
Arva. Return journeys were via Killeshandra. Obviously,
McGirrs were able to maintain a service throughout the Emergency.
Upper Lavey Pioneer T.A.A. Centre had excursions to Bundoran
in 1940 and 1941. I do not remember what transport took
us to Cavan Railway Station. It may have been a McGirr bus.
From there it was a G.N. train to and from Bundoran. Bundoran,
then as now, was a well-known tourist resort and well served
by the Great Northern Company.
Towards the end of the Emergency things began to return
to normality on our roads. A tribunal was set up to enquire
into the rail situation - financial and otherwise. The Great
Southern and The Dublin United Transport Company were merged
into a new body called Coras Iompar Eireann
under a Transport Bill of 1944. However, it took many years
before there was an improvement in passenger rail service.
Even as late as the fifties, I travelled on a couple of
occasions from Dublin to Ballinrobe, Co Mayo by train. The
journey from Dublin to Claremorris took about three and
a half hours, but the remaining thirteen miles - Claremorris
to Ballinrobe - took well over an hour. My last journey
from Cavan Railway Station to Dublin was on New Years Day,
Some say St. Christopher was demoted in recent times but
I think the poor Saint has been working overtime since the
resumption of normal petrol and oil supplies.
Grásta Dé ar an daoine luaite atá imighe
Taken from Breffni Blue