Advertising for travel companies was a key component to getting people to consider and purchase tickets to new and exotic places-whether by train, ship, Zeppelin, or airplane. During the late 1800s until about 1950, posters, print ads, and brochures were the most common way for travel companies and agencies to reach their customers. They began as a form of powerful advertising. With their brilliant colours and ability to radiate a sense of adventure and exploration, they enticed people to book trips by train, plane, and boat with travel agents and visitors bureaus.
Before the age of television, travel posters were placed in public spaces, burgeoning travel agencies, docks, depots, and later at airports and in train stations to create demand for new destinations and the companies to take you there. The designers/artists employed for creating these posters were charged with making the imagery strong and appealing, and for promoting a safe and magical experience. The poster artwork mirrored design and fine art trends during this earlier period, as well. Often well-known artists of the time were commissioned, their artwork and images reflecting the styles of the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Impressionist, Cubist and Modern eras. For rail travel, most of the posters were commissioned by the rail lines themselves including the three main companies’ operation in the County, The County Donegal Railway, The Great Northern Railway and The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway.
They were commissioned in a standard format because the typical way of displaying them was inside rail stations. There would be premade train posters that hung on the wall, and the local station manager would switch out the poster as new ones came in. If we think back to the turn of the 20th century, this was the early spread of the distribution lines of the rail companies. They reached more destinations and had to promote travel to these destinations. At the same time, they had to convey to people the main attractions of the area. The County Donegal Railway iconic poster produced at the turn of the 20th century featured many landmarks from Donegal including Donegal Castle, Barnsmore Gap, Killybegs, the cliffs of Slieve League, Lough Eske, Glencolumbkille as well as a nice view of Derry City.
The Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway poster again produced at the turn of the 20th century featured many landmarks from Donegal including Portsalon, Rosapenna, Burton Port, Rathmullan and Gartan Lake as well as a nice view of Derry City..
In recent decades travel posters have become very collectible because of their beautiful graphics – they show charming scenes and beautiful colours – and because of their destinations; County Donegal had beautiful scenery to match! They might symbolize an important time in someone’s life, be it a honeymoon, or a place they studied, or a place the family frequently visited.
Our museum offers quality reproductions of the County Donegal Railway (B2 size, 70cm-50cm), as well as The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway posters, (B1 size, 70.7cm x 100cm), and as a special at the moment, we are including a FREE reproduction of the 1959 Withdrawal Poster for anyone who orders either. Just Click on the Shop tag at the top of this website!