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Returning historic County Donegal Railway Bus, to visit Museum!

A 59 year-old bus is coming home to Donegal on Saturday 12 August to bring the days of the County Donegal Railways Road Passenger Services back to life. E152’s return to its old depot at Donegal Bus Garage, situated beside the award-winning Donegal Railway Museum, coincides with the launch of Hugh Dougherty’s new book, County Donegal Railways Bus Services. Hugh is giving an illustrated talk on the book and the CDR’s unique bus services, which replaced the company’s, famous narrow gauge railways in 1960, before being taken over by CIE in 1971. The talk, which is part of National Heritage Week, takes place at 1.30 pm in the Railway Museum, and the bus will not only be on display that afternoon, but will take part in the Museum’s famous Vintage Rally on the following day, Sunday 13th August.

The red-and-cream , single-deck, Leyland Leopard, built in 1964 by CIE at its Spa Road  Works in Dublin, was the regular bus for many years on the joint CDR and CIE Donegal,- Killybegs-Glenties-Portnoo service which replaced the trains between Donegal and Killybegs and covered the CDR’s first bus route of 1929, between Glenties and Portnoo. The bus, which faithfully carried thousands of passengers, locals, tourists, emigrants and returning exiles, and school children,  as well as parcels and newspapers, over the route, features in three pictures and two anecdotes in Hugh’s book, and was driven for its whole time in Donegal by the late Mike Meehan of Portnoo. It is now, the last, surviving working bus which ran in County Donegal Railways service.

E152 was saved from the scrapman by Dublin-based, expert, bus restorer, Ian Molloy, who bought the single decker from Bus Eireann in 20001. Ian has since returned the vehicle to as new condition and it has appeared and been much admired at vintage vehicle rallies in Ireland and England. Complete with period adverts and Strabane via Convoy and Raphoe, and Ballyshannon slip boards the bus will be bringing the past to life at the railway heritage centre. It last visited the Donegal centre in 2004, for the Trail of the Rail Festival, after Ian had carried out basic restoration, and took passengers to Fintown for a ride on the preserved CDR railcar there, so reuniting both sides of the CDR’s rail and road operations.

Guest of honour at the talk, and to see the bus is Patricia Boyle from Dublin, daughter of the late Danny Boyle of Glenties, to whom Hugh Dougherty has dedicated his book. Danny, who was a clerk at the CDR Stranorlar Headquarters, taught Hugh all about the railway and the buses and was one of the first people to recognise the value of CDR heritage. He was a founder member of St Connell’s Museum in Glenties, where he established the County Donegal Railway Room, covering the CDR trains and buses.

Patricia Boyle said: “I am delighted to have been asked along to receive a copy of Hugh’s book as a tribute to my late father who, I know encouraged a young Hugh greatly by answering all his questions about the CDR and fostered his life-long interest in the subject. My father also recognised the value of the CDR railway and bus heritage of Donegal and he’d have been proud to have been present himself, to receive a copy of the book, to see the superb work being done at Donegal Railway Heritage Centre, and, especially to welcome E152 back to its Donegal home.”

Niall McCaughan, Manager of the Donegal Railway Museum stated: “We are delighted and honoured not only for Hugh to be giving a talk about our famous Co Donegal Railway buses, but also to have on site the only original bus kindly supplied by Ian Molloy, which is sure to be a big attraction.”

The bus will be on display on Saturday 12th August outside the Museum, from 12 noon to 4pm, and then taking part in the Museum’s Vintage Rally the following day, leaving the museum just after 1pm.

County Donegal Railway Bus