ONE IN TWELVE – Morning Glory

To celebrate the 12th anniversary of the founding of the site, every day during November I’ll be bringing you one of my favourite photos from the past 12 years.

We’re kicking off with a double, featuring both Bus Eireann and Dublin bus, with a pair of early morning shots.

Bus Eireann VC39 heads into the sunrise on the first scheduled departure from Macroom.

Bus Eireann VC39 heads into the sunrise on the first scheduled departure from Macroom.

Above: Sometimes the best shots are the spur of the moment ones. Sometime around 2002, I was heading back from Kerry to Dublin very early in the morning, and passed through Macroom just as the first morning service to Cork was departing. A few miles out the road, I saw a passenger waiting at the roadside where there was a reasonable pull-in, and figured it would be a good opportunity to get an “action shot” of a Bus Eireann coach out in the countryside, mid route. Now that the VCs are gradually vanishing from service work, I’m glad I got this shot when I had the opportunity.

Dublin Bus AV92 working early morning 14 trips before Coastal Tour duties

Dublin Bus AV92 working early morning 14 trips before Coastal Tour duties

When the Coastal Tour was introduced, one of the two tours buses was scheduled to work a couple of round trips on the 14/A before taking up duty on the tour. The bus would work one of the early 14As from Ballinteer, and back, managing to get in another citybound journey at the end of the morning peak, before parking up in the Great Strand Street compound until needed for tours.

By 2001 AV92 was one of the regular buses on the service.

This link was broken when the routes were changed in 2005, and there is no longer a regular scheduled tourbus working.

Southwest photos

Coaches & Buses in West Cork and Kerry in July 2008, including Bus Eireann, private operators, rural transport scheme and island operations. All photos by Gabriel Conway

VC116 parked in scenic surroundings on the Beara peninsula

VC116 parked in scenic surroundings on the Beara peninsula

The Beara peninsula is one of the lesser-known treasures of Ireland, just as pretty but far less spoilt than the nearby Ring of Kerry. The Cork/Kerry border runs along the middle of the peninsula, with the western end being wholly in West Cork.

For such a remote area, it is well served by public transport, with Bus Eireann services on both sides of the peninsula, a long established private operator on the Cork side, and a well-developed network of rural transport services that reach right to the end, and even out to the largest island off Castletownbere.

The photo above, taken on the southern side, on the road from Glengarriff to Castletownbere, shows Bus Eireann VC116 parked around 4-5km west of Glengarriff. There is often a schoolbus parked at this location, though I suspect that VC116 has been working a regular service.

In the background can be seen Bantry Bay and the Sheeps Head.

VC116 a few miles south of Glengarriff

VC116 a few miles south of Glengarriff

A closer view of VC116 – the VCs are the mainstay of many services in the area, though they are being slowly cascaded to schools work now.

New SC235 departs Killarney Bus Station on the 270 to Kenmare

New SC235 departs Killarney Bus Station on the 270 to Kenmare

Over the many years that I have visited Kenmare, I have seen generations of buses come and go on the Kenmare/Killarney service (these days numbered 270).

In the mid 70s Leyland Leopard E14 was the main bus, with E69 sometimes doing duty as a backup. In the late 70s and early 80s, C27 was the only bus on this service for a long time, until replaced by new KR97 in 1985. This was to be the last new bus that the route received for many a year, as a succession of midlife coaches followed when the KR was eventually relegated to schools. There was a PL for a while in the late 90s, and then VC60 became a regular, up until about a year ago, following which a variety of VCs have been used, with VC109 appearing often.

SC235 is the first brand new vehicle I’ve seen on the route since 1985, and is seen here departing from Killarney Bus Station for Kenmare (irish: Nedin) on an early morning journey.

VC86 waits at Killarney

VC86 waits at Killarney

Also at Killarney, VC86 waits to take up duty on the 040 express service linking Tralee and Killarney with Cork and Waterford.

Spot the door - SP104 parked at Killarney

Spot the door - SP104 parked at Killarney

Also fairly new, SP104 is seen here at the part of Killarney Bus Station closest to the Outlet Centre. These coaches are very sleek looking, and have the most flush fitting doors of any I have seen.

SP108 in the coach parking area near Killarney Station

SP108 in the coach parking area near Killarney Station

Sister vehicle SP108 seen in the coach parking area near the bus station.

Bernard Kavanagh's 06-KK-2534 in Brendan Tours livery

Bernard Kavanagh's 06-KK-2534 in Brendan Tours livery

A variety of independent operators coaches can be seen at Killarney throughout the year, and there is almost always several varieties of Kavanaghs on display!

Galvins VanHool 05-C-7085 heads into Killarney town centre

Galvins VanHool 05-C-7085 heads into Killarney town centre

Galvins of Dunmanway are often seen around Killarney on tour work.

VC28 at The Square in Castletownbere, about to work to Kenmare

VC28 at The Square in Castletownbere, about to work to Kenmare

Back to the Beara peninsula, and VC28 is seen at The Square in Castletownbere, ready for the 1100 departure to Kenmare on route 282. This is a magnificant trip, which involves crossing the mountains to the nothern side of the peninsula and into Co. Kerry, with some spectacular scenery and narrow roads. In the summer, two round trips a day are operated Monday to Saturday, while in winter months a shorter version runs once a week from Ardgroom to Kenmare.

VC28 arrives at Kenmare where VC109 is about to head for Killarney

VC28 arrives at Kenmare where VC109 is about to head for Killarney

An hour an a half later, VC28 has arrived in Kenmare and dropped off its passengers, some of whom will continue on to Killarney on VC109 on the 270.

The buses are seen at the top of the main street in Kenmare, where a dedicated Bus Eireann stop is in place. CIE and Bus Eireann buses have used the main street as a stopping point for almost 50 years, however a local politician has launched a campaign to have the bus stop moved to a different part of town, in order to make 5 further car parking spaces available in the main street.  This despite the fact that the new location would involve considerable disruption for the bus services, forcing them to navigate the one-way system twice for some departures, and would be less convienient for the passengers.

VC109 at the disputed stop in Main Street, Kenmare

VC109 at the disputed stop in Main Street, Kenmare

During the summer, two buses are needed for the 270, so VC109 is working the service as well as SC235 – it will be interesting to see which one is retained for the one-bus winter timetable!

The early afternoon departure that the VC is about to work takes connecting passengers from both the 282 Castletownbere service, and the West Cork 252 route, formerly the 044 expressway.

VP331 arrives at Kenmare on the West Cork 252 service

VP331 arrives at Kenmare on the West Cork 252 service

Since the late 1970s there has been a summer-only service from Cork through Bantry and Glengarriff to Kenmare, until this year always running on to Killarney.

Originally an Expressway service, recently numbered 044, it has this year been downgraded to a stage service, numbered 252, and does not run beyond Kenmare.

When started in the 70s, the route used to take the scenic Molls Gap road to Killarney, though in recent years it has used the quicker Kilgarvan routing. It remains one of the few services in Ireland to operate through a hand-carved mountain tunnell, between Glengarriff and Kenmare.

Buckleys 06-KY-3289 at Kenmare

Buckleys 06-KY-3289 at Kenmare

Buckleys is an operation connected with Kerry Coaches of Killarney. One of their luxury minicoaches is seen here at the triangle in Kenmare.

78-KY-676 a well-preserved Leyland conversion

78-KY-676 a well-preserved Leyland conversion

Here is an interesting and very well-preserved import to these shores. Possibly a former postbus from the UK, this Leyland vehicle now seems to be used as a private camper van, and was in Kenmare for the fleadh weekend at the end of july.

SP18 overnights at Kenmare

SP18 overnights at Kenmare

SP18 seems to be a regular overnight visitor to Kenmare, on CIE touring work.

A pair of minibuses belonging to O'Donoghues of Castletownbere

A pair of minibuses belonging to O'Donoghues of Castletownbere

Back to Castletownbere, and here we see the very long established private operator O’Donoghues, who operate bus services from Castletownbere to Bantry and Cork. Their base is right in the centre of the town, at the main square.

The ferry to Bere Island

The ferry to Bere Island

A few miles off Castletownbere in Bantry Bay lies Bere Island, which is connected to the mainland by two car-ferry services, one of which leaves from the centre of town.

The ferries are very small, and have room for just six cars. The trip out to the island is well worth the time, although reversing down the slipway and up the ramp onto the ferry can be nerve-wracking, particularly when it is at an angle as seen here!

There Bere Island ferry can carry 6 cars - or 1 truck!

There Bere Island ferry can carry 6 cars - or 1 truck!

Trucks are also carried to and from the island, though only one at a time. And buses too, as I was to find out when I arrived out on Bere Island . .

Rural Transport Scheme bus at Bere Island harbour.

Rural Transport Scheme bus at Bere Island harbour.

A Ford Transit minibus of the Bantry Rural Transport scheme is seen at the harbour on Bere Island. Because of the way it was parked against a wall, the only possible front shot was this one, from the ferry slipway with zoom lens!

Bantry Rural Transport provide services on and from the island.

Bantry Rural Transport provide services on and from the island.

The minibus provides transport both on and off the island, with regular services being operated to and from Castletownbere via the ferry, and a twice-weekly evening service to Bantry. This is just one of a network of buses operated by West Cork Rural Transport, with government funding, covering the areas of the Beara and Sheeps Head peninsulas that Bus Eireann do not reach.

Bere Island itself is delightful, with few cars, quiet roads, and a huge amount to see. The size of Manhatten island, it is somewhat less densely populated, though you will find two pubs, a great coffee shop and a resturant as well as other facilities alongside the quiet hill walks and miles of empty laneways.

Pics around the N18 / Shannon

An evening ramble out the N18/19 from Limerick to Shannon Airport.

I’ve been based in Limerick for the past few days, attending a work-related training course.

Surprisingly I have seen nothing of the Bus Eireann city fleet, despite the fact that I have to cross the city from Ennis Road to Raheen every morning – the particular route I taken has no local service, even though the N69 out of the city passes through many industrial areas.

So, bored in the hotel this evening, I decided to take a spin out the Ennis Road in the Shannon direction, to see what I could see.

An Ayats / DAF touring coach at Twomilebridge, parked in a roadside hotel.

Shannon Airport was empty at just after 7pm, and the sun was in any case very badly positioned for the main bus stops, so I didn’t wait around. I did however manage to snap this car=park shuttle bus, operated by a local independent under contract to the Airport Authority.

Another Solo – these are becoming quite popular in Ireland these days!

On my way back in, I called in to Bunratty, where the Castle & Folk Park are a big draw for coach parties.

In the car-park, a UK-based Setra on Globus tours sits beside Bus Eireann’s new SP119 which is in CIE Tours livery.

Rear/Side view of SP119, showing the new livery on this years CIE Tours deliveries.

Also at Bunratty was this Vanhool T915, operated by Cronins of Cork.

Low Down bus photographer

Going low can add interesting angles when photographing large vehicles. Crouching in a ditch is optional . . .

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I’m crouching in a ditch at the side of the Airport Perimiter Road on a cold Easter Sunday, getting odd looks from the motorists flying past just inches above me. I’m waiting for a 27B to come past – either direction will do, though outbound would be better – as there would be no chance of other traffic getting in the way of the shot.

After what seems like forever, it comes, and I’m rewarded with a nice shot of EV38, a Volvo B9TL/Enviro 400 of Dublin Bus. The bus generally flys along the road, there is nothing to stop for, so I go as fast as possible with the exposure within the constraints of the poor lighting conditions.

Over the years that I’ve indulged in bus photography, at first as a hobby, and in later years professionally, I’ve developed a liking for the “low shot”.

When photographing what are essentially large boxes on wheels, anything you can do to change the approach angle of the shot will help liven up the photograph. In this case getting down into the ditch gives a partial view under the bus, and also allows the roadside grass to rise up into the picture, and add some foreground to the shot.

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Even without the foreground, a low angle (crouching on the ground) helps make this shot of a brand new MarcoPolo single-deck bus more imposing. This was shot for Coach & Bus Week to mark the arrival of the MarcoPolo buses into Ireland, and when taking pictures like these for a manufactorer or operator, I’m always trying hard to make them look as impressive or interesting as possible.

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I still do a lot of photography on a personal/hobby basis, though I often end up using pictures later as stock shots to illustrate a piece on something related. I try to take all the photo opportunities I can get, it’s always good when a story comes to be written if you already have the perfect shot to illustrate it.

For moving vehicles you only get one shot, but when I come across something parked, I’ll often take the opportunity to get several sides, and go for both the low and the standard views, as illustrated here by two views of Dublin Bus AV328 at Powerscourt Demense, Co. Wicklow.

This was the perfect example of the “opportunity shot” – I was taking my mother to the Garden Centre at Powerscourt, and our visit happened to coincide with the arrival of the South Coast Tour. If I ever need to illustrate an article on the tour I’ve got the shot waiting, and if I don’t, I have a nice record of AV328 as it looked in 2007.

Wide Open Spaces on the 161

Work on extending the “Green Route” westwards has transformed Fortification Hill, a formerly notorious stretch of road between Whitechurch and Grange Road.

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Dublin Bus Volvo B7TL/ALX400 AV327 operating on route 161 passes along a new stretch of road on Fortification Hill, between Grange Road and Whitechurch. The bus is one of a trio of closed-top vehicles to wear the tours livery normally used by open-toppers – these 3 buses work normal service routes when not required foruse on the North Coast & South Coast tours. The livery itself is currently being replaced by a new two-tone metallic green treatment.

My previous posting about the Ticknock area and how much it has changed brought to mind another location nearby where a major transformation has just taken place – the small piece of windy twisty road linking Whitechurch with Grange Road, hemmed in between Grange Golf Club on one side, and St. Enda’s Park on the other, which rejoices in the rather military sounding name of “Fortification Hill”

This was always a terrifying piece of road, especially for bus-drivers, barely wide enough for two-way traffic, with high stone walls on both sides right at the edge of the road (no footpaths) and hilly blind corners. Passing a car and bus was bad enough, but when two buses or a bus and a truck met in opposite directions, progress could be inch by inch.

The major reconstruction that has just opened here took land from the Golf Club, and you would not recognise the stretch of road now – not only is it wide enough for two full traffic lanes, and two generous footpaths, but it has cycle lanes and even a buslane too!

Plus you can now see clearly from end to end.

The above picture is looking towards Grange Road, and the one below is looking down Fortification Hill towards Whitechurch, where the “Green Route” project has widened the to road onwards past Morton’s depot.

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More ex-DB Olympians find home at Dualways

While visiting Dualway to file a report for CBW Magazine on new additions to their very fine coaching fleet, I unexpectedly came across some old friends from the Bus Atha Cliath fleet in exile.

Dualway has built up quite a fleet of former Dublin Bus RH types, but they are now acquiring some of the more modern RA (Volvo) Olympians now that these are being sold by Dublin Bus.

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ex-RA273 – click for fullsize image

Former Clontarf bus RA273, which hung on in service on the 130 route until very recently, has already had its open-top conversion and repaint, and looks just about ready to go on the road.

Dualway do most of their own engineering work, and to a very high standard too.

Note the 3-bay-covered conversion – given the huge amount of rain we had last summer, you can’t blame the company for hedging their bets!

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Former Donnybrook bus RA256 is next to get attention, and is seen here in the workshop at the assessment stage.

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Sister vehicle RA257 is also acquired, and is currently stored in the depot pending refurbishment.

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Dualway also has a growing fleet of purpose-built lowfloor accessible open-toppers, with another due to arrive shortly, but these were all out earning their keep while I was there.

The above shot shows one of Dualways covered-top lowfloor buses, and some of the Routemasters acquired for sightseeing work a couple of years ago – use of these tends to be seasonal, and for special events.

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Finally, I musn’t forget to mention the coach I had come to see, a new 08-registered MarcoPolo/DAF which has just joined the coaching fleet. Dualway do a lot of private hire and some corporate coaching, and have built up a quality fleet of modern coaches, all bought new, over the last several years.

As well as sight-seeing and coaching, the firm operates local services in southwest Dublin, particularly around Tallaght and Rathcoole, and has lowfloor accessible single-deck buses as well as the double-decks.

All in all, a firm to watch, with nice mix of the modern and the classic, and setting the standards for the best in private operation.