The Northern Irish based bus builder Wrightbus is getting ready to launch the Eclipse 2, the latest version of its best-selling single-deck city bus model.
Neil Renilson, Chief Executive of Transport Edinburgh, visited the Wrightbus production facility at Ballymena today (Tuesday 21st October) to get a special preview of the new-look Wrightbus Eclipse 2 Single Deck bus.
The Eclipse 2 – featuring new styling and a host of other refinements – is the successor to what has become one of the leading single deck buses in the British Isles. Ten of these new-styled vehicles are currently in the final stages of production for Lothian Buses as part of an order for a total of 60 vehicles placed by the Edinburgh-based bus operator last year.
All ten of the new Wrightbus Eclipse 2 single deck buses have been built on Volvo B7RLE Euro 5 chassis and have been specified with 38 Lazzerini Practico seats, have a facility for a wheelchair including an electronic ramp and also feature a seven camera LOOK CCTV system.
The new single deck buses are an integral part of Lothian Buses’ on-going fleet renewal process, aimed at improving the city’s public transport services and making it completely wheelchair accessible by 2010. Once deliveries are completed, Wrightbus will have supplied Lothian with nearly 300 vehicles in over four years, and will account for almost a third of the entire Lothian fleet.
Speaking during his visit, Neil Renilson said “I am delighted today to get a first look at the new Eclipse 2, with the Eclipse 1 already a familiar sight on a number of Edinburgh key bus routes. The new styling and specification enhancements to the Eclipse 2 further add to its excellent reputation with passengers and drivers alike and are very much in line with our strategy of having one of the most modern fleets in operation anywhere in Britain today.”
Welcoming the Lothian Buses CEO to the Ballymena facility, Wright Group Managing Director Mark Nodder said, “We are thrilled that Neil has been able to take time out of his busy schedule to pay us a visit. Since placing their first order with us some four years ago, Lothian Buses has become an important and much valued customer of Wrightbus and I am delighted that Lothian will be first to take delivery of this new generation of Eclipse product.”
A Wrightbus Eclipse 2 Single Deck bus destined for service with Lothian Buses will be one of three vehicles to be exhibited by the Wright Group at next month’s Euro Expo Show 2008 in Birmingham.
Down the decades with The Link and Nuacht
By Mattie Lennon
Surprised by joy-impatient as the wind
I wished to share the transport-Oh! With whom
But thee . . .
Patrick Kavanagh said that no one could write a comprehensive account of Irish life who ignored the Gaelic Athletic Association. Likewise, any attempt to chronicle events of the last century would be far from complete if CIE was omitted.
CIE as a semi-State body was founded in 1945. From 1950 it brought out an “in-house” magazine. THE LINK ran from 1950 and was replaced by NUACHT in the ‘sixties . The last NUACHT rolled off the presses in 2003.
Thanks to a few dedicated employees most of these publications have been rescued from the jaws of obscurity. And now they are about to “share the transport (publications)” with all on DVD.
The first edition of the Link dated 24th November 1950 published a letter from the CIE Chairman;
“Dear Mr. Editor,
On the occasion of the first issue of The Link I want to offer you my best wishes for the success of the paper.
I feel sure that you, and your colleagues who contribute, or otherwise help, will do everything that can be done to make The Link a staff paper which will, as its name suggests, bind together the members of our staff in all grades and in all places throughout the country.
I ask every CIE man to become a regular reader and in this way co-operate with you in developing a spirit of unity and good fellowship in our organisation.
T. C. Courtney.
The Editor, Frank Finn, thanked all contributors for, ” . . . articles, notes, news stories and pictures which have helped me to fill this issue”.
The first issue carried articles on subjects as diverse as Charles Bianconi, the pioneer of public transport in Ireland, “The Goats of Westport” new loading gear for loading cattle on aircraft and an advertisement from Cotts of Kilcock, “Ireland’s biggest Mail-Order store”. In June 1951 the CIE lost property department had a “lost go-car” on its hands.
And in the Small ads section of May 11th 1952 you could have purchase a beautiful 3-plate electric cooker for £17 10 shillings. Decades of “Gleanings from the garages”, “Capital News”, “Notes from the provinces”, “Greetings from Christmas travellers” and accounts of funny happenings within the company are all there.
When the Nuacht came on it was soon published in full colour and had the effect of bringing employees, with a literary bent, who were shy about their scribblings, “out of the closet”. There is now in existence the “CIE Writers’ Group” which brought out a collection of short-stories, poems, essays and articles in 2005. The title of the anthology was, “There’s Love And There’s Sex and There’s The 46A” with a foreword by Professor Brendan Kennelly who described the contributors as, ” . . . writers, . . . keen listeners, sharp observers, constantly in touch with the foibles of humanity and, most striking of all they are gifted storytellers”. The group is now on the lookout for people to contribute to a second collection. And it all started with The Link and Nuacht.)
If you worked for CIE and did anything newsworthy, from ” missing a free” to acting as midwife on a crowded bus, there is a good chance that you are in there somewhere. If there was a picture of, or an article about, you or yours in any of these magazines now is your chance to re-capture the past.
DOWN THE DECADES WITH THE LINK AND NUACHT , on DVD is now available. Details from; CIE WRITERS GROUP, Dublin Bus, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
A THATCHED COTTAGE ON WHEELS.
By Mattie Lennon
Wherever men have lived there is a story to be told, and it depends chiefly on the story-teller . . . whether that is interesting or not. (Thoreau.)
It has been said that a storyteller can’t afford the luxury of an ordinary life but what about a group of storytellers? By the way, what is the collective noun for storytellers? A more erudite and digitally included person than me took to Twitter and the Net with that very question. Here are some of the answers; An Eloquence. A gaggle. A book. A murder. An imagination. A novel. A troupe. A yearning. Babble. A Narrative. An Anthology. A Folio. A Convention. Angst. A Quill. An Exposition. A Flight. An Inkwell. A Dream. A Fireside. A Chapter. A Quest. A Treasure. A Cadre. A Coven. A Circle. A Cabal. Confusion. A Whimsy. A Conflagration. A Vulnerability. An Honesty. A Library. A Catalog. A Trope. An Illusion. A Parable. A Cult. A Skein. A Parliament. A Susurration. A League. A Volume. A Yarn. A Tour.
For the purpose of this piece I’ll stick with “a tour”. The traditional setting for Irish storytelling was the thatched cottage and Dublin is now unique in having a Rambling House on wheels. That’s right a “cottage bus.” A double-deck bus was transformed, over an 8 month period, into a virtual thatched cottage and now has its own bar, fireplace, piano, and specialist custom built fittings throughout, mostly hand carved from wood.
It is a joint venture between Hidden Dublin Walks Ltd (Aidan Murphy’s company) which specialises in Evening tours – http://www.hiddendublinwalks.com) and Extreme Ireland (www.irishdaytours.ie – which does day tours such as Cliffs of Moher, Giant’s causeway etc) The official site for the tour is http://www.traditionalirishstorytelling.com/
Lord Chesterfield wrote , “Let them show me a cottage where there are not the same vices of which they accuse courts.” I think I have found a vice free cottage (bus). The Storytelling Bus will take you on a magical journey through Ireland’s past; a rich history that is so inextricably linked with its mythology. As you travel through the areas of historic and myth-laden Dublin you can listen as storytellers Aidan Crowe and Shane Whisker transport you back to a time gone by when Pookas, fairies and giants roamed this land. Hear tales of how the Vikings were outsmarted by three Leprechauns, of epic battles and dangerous quests, of magic spells and true love. Visit the spot where Irish mermen are said to appear and who knows what you might see! Travel to the site of Ireland’s greatest battle and hear, first hand, how one of our greatest kings was killed in these beautiful surroundings.
Listen to the origins of the Tuatha De Danaan – how they were forced to move underground and became known as Ireland’s “Sidhe”, “Little People” or “faeries”. Due to their magical nature the Tuatha could still visit the land by using magic cloaks which made them invisible. Over the years the Tuatha De Danaan have appeared in many forms to the overworld most commonly as Sidhe, Pookas, Banshees, Fairies and the most famous of them all….the leprechaun! The trickiness of Leprechauns is perfectly demonstrated by a story which comes to us from a time when the city of Dublin was on the verge of being founded!
Visit the peninsula of Beann Eadair (Howth). As you look out to the beautiful east on this magical setting, you can see the small lighthouse on what is known as Howth Head. There have been many sightings over the years along this coastline, of Irish mermen. These mermen known as Merrows are not known like their female counterparts as beautiful creatures. They are in fact very disgusting looking. They have the tail of a fish, the torso of a man, small fins instead of arms, the snout of a pig and tiny ears. They wear small red caps on their heads and are very fond of a drink. Hear about Jack O’ Mahoney’s friendship with one, but please, do be careful where you sit!
It was on this peninsula that many centuries ago the High King of Ireland, Conn of the Hundred Battles, used to spend many an evening strolling along its beaches, and in later times Gay Byrne lived there. You see despite his wealth, (Conn not Gay Byrne) power, his prowess in Battle, and the great prosperity and peace he had brought to Ireland, he had been unable to defeat the greatest enemy of all though – death! Learn about the spell of Becúma as you re-board the bus, and let the storytellers take you back to the land of Morgan the Giant as you enjoy an on-board drink supplied free.
It also visits Clontarf – the site of one of Ireland’s biggest, (and arguably the most important) battle. The Battle Of Clontarf signaled the end of Viking rule in Ireland but was also where one of Ireland’s most famous kings, Brian Boru, was killed. This park is well known for its flora and fauna which is said to be very popular with the people of the Sidhe. The trees, shrubs and flowers provide perfect hideaways for these mystical creatures. So please do mind your step as they don’t take to kindly to being trod upon! For if you’ll remember from the tale of the Viking king, the people of the Sidhe can be a vengeful spiteful lot! Wait, Can you hear that scream behind you! Get ready here for some drama!
And don’t forget about Fionn MacCumahail – the leader of the Fianna, a band of warriors who served the High King of Ireland. They were famed for their prowess in battle which was only matched by their good deeds. They lived by their motto, “Gláine ár croi, Neart ár ngéag, Beart de réir ár mbriathar” or in English “Purity of our hearts, Strength of our limbs, Action to match our speech”. Learn about the infamous trick played on Benandonner and the mystical memory of a giant running away in fear of an oversized baby forever!
The next time you are in this green and misty island there is a good chance that you will visit Dublin. Don’t miss this evening of stories, poems and songs. (The rendition of She Moved Through the Fair would make the author, Padraic Colum proud and The Fairies by Ballyshannon man William Allingham captures the atmosphere of the evening.) The “mobile cottage” departs from College Green Tourist Office at 7.15pm and sets off in the direction of Beann Eadair peninsula. Two hours later after an evening of history, myth and music you will arrive back in city centre at The Church Bar on Mary St. and in the words of Aidan Murphy “the only thing you need to bring is a spirit of adventure.”
The bus tour finishes at The Church Bar, on Mary Street – the site where Arthur Guinness was married, and where the composer Handel practiced his famous ‘Messiah’ before its first performance in Fishamble Street, which is just across the river!