Routes 5, 6, 6A, 7, 7A, 7B, 7D, 7E, 7N, 7X and 8

Donnybrook's Wright Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5TL, SG116, is seen operating Route 7 on Churchview Road on the 21st October 2016. SG116 was delivered to Donnybrook in August 2015 and is still in operation there today.

This article outlines the history of Routes 5, 6, 6A, 7, 7A, 7B, 7D, 7E, 7N, 7X and 8. These routes skirt the south-east coast of Dublin serving famous Dublin suburbs such as Ballsbridge (named after the bridge over the River Dodder in lands formerly owned by the Balls family), Booterstown (literally named "town of the road", with booter an Anglicisation of bóthar), Blackrock (named after the dark rocks at its coastline, an abbreviation of its former name, Newtown at the Black Rock), Monkstown (named after the Cistercian Abbey built in the 13th Century), Dún Laoghaire (formerly Dunleary, then Kingstown) and Dalkey (named after Dalkey Island just off its shores, Dalkey coming from Deilg (Irish for thorn) and ey (norse for Island)).

Dún Laoghaire needs special mention due its name changes. It is named after a former High King of Ireland, Lóegaire MacNeill, who chose this site as a sea base in the 5th Century. The name became anglicised and the town was known as Dunleary. Shipwrecks were a major issue in Dublin Bay and in the early 19th century, Dunleary was chosen as the sight for a major harbour to be built to protect ships during storms. King George IV visited Dunleary when the harbour was being constructed, and the name Dunleary was dropped in favour of Kingstown in honour of the visit. The town returned to the correct Irish version of its name, Dún Laoghaire, in 1920 just before the formation of the Irish Free State. The reader should be conscious of the varied use of these names through this article.

GAC Citybus, KC87, is seen operating Route 8 on Burgh Quay in August 2000, towards the end of KC operation in Dublin Bus. KC87 was delivered in early 1984 to Donnybrook garage, but was slow to enter service, not entering service till June 1984. It was destined to become a DART feeder bus, but problems with the introduction of these services meant it floated onto other services. KC87 was loaned to Conyngham Road in the summer of 1985 to help with buses off service there for driver safety modifications. During this time, it was also periodically loaned to Broadstone to operate some short distance country routes. By the autumn of 1985, KC87 was back in store at Donnybrook awaiting introduction of the DART Feeder services. It re-entered service in Donnybrook in February 1986 with the introduction of the DART feeder services. It was one of the last KC types in operation in Donnybrook, being withdrawn about a month or two after this photo.

The feature begins with a brief description of early transport along this corridor, both train and omnibus, proceeding to horse-tram operation, into the amalgamation of the tramway companies and electrification, motor-bus competition, the Emergency and end of tramway operation, early bus operation, finishing with the more modern days of bus operation.

Early Transport:

The south Dublin coastal corridor is quite famous in transport terms, being the location of Ireland's first railway, and principally the world's first commuter railway transferring passengers from the suburbs into the city. The Dublin and Kingstown Railway (DKR) was built between Westland Row (now Pearse Station) and Kingstown (West Pier - the current station location completed a few years later). The first train departed on the 17th December 1834, with an intermediate station at Blackrock. By 1835, further stations at Sandymount, Sydney Parade, Merrion, and Booterstown had been added to the line. Further stations were added to the line at Salthill (1837), Seapoint (1862), and Landsdowne Road (1870).

Donnybrook's AX648 is seen on Temple Road operating Route 7 to Cherrywood on the 9th June 2012. AX648 is the very last ALX400 numerically in Dublin Bus's fleet. It was delivered around Christmas 2006 to the Dublin Bus technical department in Broadstone and some testing was performed on it. It finally entered service in Harristown in February 2008 upon the launch of Route 140. It transferred to Donnybrook in August 2008 and has remained in service there ever since.

Railway services were extended from Kingstown (Station) to Dalkey (Atmospheric Road / Barnhill Lawn) in 1844 with the opening of the Dalkey Atmospheric Railway (the first commercial atmospheric railway) on the 29th March 1844, though it had been running experimentally for a number of months. Its first trial run was on the 19th August 1843, though at this point the line had not been completed to Kingstown station, the train starting from Glasthule Bridge. The services ran with more regularity over the months ahead though not to a regular timetable. It should be clear from the name that this was no ordinary railway. Unlike the steam engines that ran between Dublin and Kingstown, the method of propulsion was a vacuum, with a piston attached to the train being sucked up towards Dalkey at speeds of up to 40mph. The vacuum was created with a steam engine at Dalkey, and the atmospheric pressure behind the piston would push the train in the direction of Dalkey. The return journey to Dún Laoghaire relied on gravity and was slower. The atmospheric trains ran until the 12th April 1854, ceasing to allow the conversion of the line to standard gauge track to form part of the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway (DWWR) line, with further stations at Sandycove (1855) and Glenageary (1867) being added to the line.

Horse drawn omnibuses were also a feature of 19th century Dublin. When the DKR analysed the business credentials of their line to Kingstown, they noted 70,000 journeys a month were made along the corridor in 1830. Of this, 34% travelled by "public cars". These were principally taxis, more private hire, potentially for a number of patrons, not omnibuses running to a schedule. This was because the jarveys (slang term for a coachman) operating these cars, argued in the courts that omnibuses were illegal according to Dublin's stage carriage laws. This continued until the mid-19th century when omnibuses started taking to the streets.

Former Donnybrook Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL, AV397, is seen on O'Connell Bridge operating Route 7A to Mackintosh Park on the 19th May 2011. AV397 entered service in May 2004 at Donnybrook. It was delivered with luggage racks for use on the 746 service from Dún Laoghaire to Dublin Airport. It was strictly allocated to this route until its cancellation in 2010 as part of Network Direct, when AV397 went into the general allocation in Donnybrook. In the summer of 2011 it obtained an overall advertisement for HB, the last bus (as of 2018) to have received a full all over advert. It is seen in this advert above. It moved to Summerhill in November 2012 to work Airport routes 16 and 41 due to its luggage racks. It operated in Summerhill until the 9th February 2018, and is currently in store in Harristown (21st March 2018).

It is impossible to record a complete history of horse-drawn omnibus services at this time, however two operations are important in the context of this district. The first came about in 1854 with the withdrawal of the atmospheric railway. In order to continue the connection between Kingstown and Dalkey, the Dublin and Kingstown railway brought in omnibuses owned by Anthony O'Neill (a coachbuilder of 7 North Strand) and J&J Wilson (68 Upper Sackville Street). The omnibuses began on the 10th May 1854 and ran from Kingstown Station via Sandycove, Glasthule and Bullock to Dalkey. Two omnibuses operated this service, and the service operated till the end of November 1854.

The next service of note is the Kingstown and Dublin Omnibus Company (also known as the Dublin and Kingstown Omnibus Company), which began operation from College Street (No. 3) to Kingstown (49 Upper George's Street - their HQ) on the 2nd September 1861, operating a number of coaches made by Anthony O'Neill in his North Strand Coach Builders. The premise of the operation was that though there was significant competition from the train, passengers were inconvenienced by the walk to the infrequently spaced stations, and hence omnibus operation was more convenient (a fact revisited in this piece). The timetable in 1861 was:

  • From Kingstown: 0815, 0845, 0945, 1045, 1115, 1215, 1315, 1345, 1445, 1545, 1645 and 1745.
  • From College Street: 0930, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1230, 1330, 1430, 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800 and 1900.

  • One notable director of the company was a P.W. Bryan, a local Kingstown merchant, and it was he who set up a service from Kingstown Railway Station to Dalkey (Castle Street) on the 9th October 1862, which supplemented the city service. Buses ran hourly from 8am to 7pm from Kingstown, on the half-hour from Dalkey. It is noted in contemporary accounts that upon the launch of the service, that "two good looking girls... clad as soldiers, their sex not seemingly known to their companions" were part of the inaugural service, completely out of the norm from mid-19th century etiquette.

    Donnybrook's Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL, GT10, operating Route 7D from Dalkey is seen alongside former Conyngham Road AV290, operating Route 79, on Westmoreland Street on the 18th April 2014. GT10 entered service in September 2012 in Donnybrook Garage operating Route 7 primarily, being Donnybrook's first GT route. It is in more of a general allocation in Donnybrook these days (March 2018).

    My Bryan took over the operation of the Kingstown and Dublin Omnibus Company as a leasee on the 1st January 1863, both operations now under the same guise. It is interesting to note that even in these early times, long before magnetic readers or leap cards, that this company offered annual tickets. The cost, £15 from Dalkey to Dublin, £10 8s from Kingstown to Dublin and £7 16s from Blackrock to Dublin. By 1865, the company was issuing 159,000 tickets (single tickets not annual) per year on their operation, showing just how much growth there can be on a well run commuter route, even in competition with a railway.

    Competition on this route across the various forms of transport is a constant throughout this article, between train, tram and bus. Protectionism from the various companies, trying to ensure their profits on the commuter route, form a key part of the story.

    Horse Tram Operation:

    The Dublin Southern District Tramways Company (DSDT) built the first tram lines along this route. The DSDT was primarily owned by The Imperial Tramways Company, who ran tramways in Middlesborough, Gloucester, Reading and London. Because tramways were a major infrastructural project, built by private companies on public roads, new tramways required an act of parliament (at this time from the House of Commons in London). The Dublin Southern District Tramways Act was awarded in 1878, allowing work to begin on two unconnected tramways. It was the protectionist legal objections by the DWWR that was key in these two lines being incompatible, due to different track gauges.

    Donnybrook's SG22 is seen operating Route 8 on Nassau Street on the 31st August 2015. It entered service in Donnybrook in September 2014.

    The first DSDT line, and thus the first section of what became the Dublin-Dalkey tram line, opened on the 19th March 1879, operating from the bottom of Royal Marine Road in Kingstown (just up from the then station entrance) to Castle Street in Dalkey (terminus at the corner of Castle Street and Convent Road) via George's Street, Summerhill Road and Ulverton Road. Due to the narrowness of Castle Street in Dalkey, but also George’s Street in Dun Laoghaire, and objections from interested parties, this tramway was built to a 4ft gauge, differing from the standard 5ft 3in tramway gauge (or more correctly 5ft 2 3/16 in) employed in Dublin. A depot was built at Castle Street in Dalkey, just prior to the terminus.

    The second DSDT line was built between Blackrock (Main Street in front of the Stone Cross) and Haddington Road (where it joined the Sandymount tramway – see Route 4 article) via Rock Road, Merrion Road and Northumberland Road, opening on the 16th July 1879. The line was built to the standard 5ft 3in gauge. Its depot was at Shelbourne Road. The Dublin Tramways Company who operated the Sandymount line would not allow running rights of DSDT trams on their rails, an agreement eventually being reached where the DSDT trams would be brought into the city by DTC horses, the horses and drivers being swapped at Haddington Road. This section of line was operated by steam engines for a number of months beginning Sunday 7th August 1881. Two stream trams provided a 30min service from Blackrock to Haddington Road. Opposition to these engines was severe, and calls to limit the speed to 4mph was sufficient to kill off the project.

    DF768, a DAF re-engined Van Hool bodied Leyland Atlantean AN68, is seen operating Route 7 on Butt Bridge on the 2nd November 1993. D768 was new to Donnybrook in January 1976. It moved to Ringsend in the autumn on 1987 due to maintenance problems within Ringsend depot, a straight swap for some other Ringsend Atlanteans. It then moved to Phibsborough in the summer of 1991 operating there for just over 2 years. This photo was taken a short time after its transfer back to Donnybrook in the autumn of 1993. It was one of the last few Atlanteans to operate into 1995 in Donnybrook garage, being withdrawn in January of that year exactly 19 years after it had entered service. Notable in this photo is the bar across the upstairs windows. The Van Hools were originally delivered without this feature. However D768 was involved in an accident in 1976. While travelling down the Rock Road the bus had to break suddenly, the consequence of which was that the conductor partially went through the front windows. After this, the bar across the front windows was added to Van Hool Atlanteans.

    The DSDT also obtained permission to build a third line from Pembroke Road (meeting the Blackrock line at Northumberland Road) to Rathmines via the route that eventually became the "cross tram" (Route 18), which was built by the Dublin United Tramways Company (DUTC) following acquisition of the DSDT. A small section of the line along Pembroke Road was built, to the corner of Waterloo Road and Baggot Street, but the DCT refused permission for DSDT trams to travel along their lines, and hence it was never used.

    The final section of line, joining the two sections, was built and operated by a different company, the Blackrock and Kingstown Tramways Company (BKT). This line operated from Blackrock Main Street (where it connected with the DSDT line at "a point 28 years westward of the stone cross in that street") to Marine Road (junction of Crofton Road), Kingstown, via Newtown Avenue, Temple Hill, Monkstown Road, Dunleary Hill and George's Street. Its depot was built on Newtown Avenue. At each end it shared a terminus with one of the DSDT lines, though integrated timetabling was not introduced in order to entice through running of passengers. The different gauges complicated the construction on Marine Road, especially where the lines crossed. The line opened in August 1885, its introduction/construction being severely contested by the DWWR, who saw this as the final chain in a competitive tram service. Initially, they needed not worry. No through running of DSDT vehicles between the city and Kingstown happened over BKT lines. With horse swaps at Haddington Road, tram swaps at Blackrock and Kingstown, the Dalkey bound passenger faced a journey approximately four times longer by tram than train. However that was soon to change.

    Map showing the different sections of the horse tram route from Dublin to Dalkey (click on it for a larger version).

    Amalgamation of the Tramway Companies and Electrification:

    The DSDT were early proponents of mechanical power and though their trials with steam engines had been scuppered, they still saw the mechanisation of their tramways as a high priority. In February 1887 they held an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to advise their intention to purchase the DKT and to mechanise the full line from Haddington Road to Dalkey. Electrification was deemed the most sensible form of mechanisation, as it had been successful in Blackpool (1885) and Leeds (1891). The electrification of the line required another act of parliament, and this act was again heavily opposed by the DWWR. There was much local favour among residents for the new electric line, and by the summer of 1893, the act was in the final stages of deliberation (the Dublin Southern District Tramways Act 1893 passed in August 1893 allowing electricification and track modifications). Hence, in June 1893 the DSDT acquired the BKT, with through ticketing and timetabling introduced.

    In order to convert the line to electric operation, the permanent way needed to be reconstructed which meant the line was closed for the works. The first section to close was the Haddington Road to Blackrock section, closing on the 11th March 1895, the Blackrock and Kingstown section on the 30th June 1895 and then finally the Kingstown to Dalkey line in August 1895. The pace of work was high, it being noted that the Haddington Road to Ballbridge section of the line was finished sufficiently to allow the Dublin United Tramways Company (the new name of the DCT following amalgamations with other tramways) to run their horse drawn trams over these lines to the RDS for the famous Horse Show Week at the end of August 1895. The first trail run (engineering testing) of an electric tram from Haddington Road to Kingstown took place in December 1895.

    Donnybrook's Enviro400 bodied Volvo B9TL, EV35, is seen operating Route 7 on Crofton Road Dún Laoghaire on the 3rd June 2016. It entered service in Donnybrook in October 2007, as part of the EV23-36 batch of buses. For quite a significant time, this bus was a Route 145 regular. At the time of this photo, EVs were common on the 7, it having lost SGs to other cross-city services in Donnybrook. This didn't last long, with SGs soon restored to the service upon delivery of new buses.

    The electrified line opened between Haddington Road and Dalkey on the 16th May 1896, under the operating name of "Dublin Electric Tramways". The Lord Mayor of Dublin inaugurated the service, travelling on the first car departing Kingstown for Dalkey at 7am. The first car from Haddington Road to Dalkey departed at 8am. The journey time was 70mins from Haddington Road to Dalkey, the trams limited to a maximum of 8mph, with no electric tram allowed to exceed this speed. The opening of this first electric tramway was a significant event in Dublin, a modern marvel that people wanted to try. On the first day alone, 25,000 people travelled on the trams, with 50,000 passengers travelling on the following day (Sunday 17th May). There were 14 trams in service on the first day (each composed of an electric car and trailer, both double decked, making 28 cars), yet queues at Haddington Road for the tram were as high as 1 hour. The DUTC reduced their fares for their horse drawn trams between Sackville Street and Haddington Road to 1d (1 penny) on the inaugural day, with DSDT charging 1d from Haddington Road to Merrion, 2d to Blackrock, 3d to Kingstown, and 4d to Dalkey. Integrated ticketing was not available.

    It should be noted that the conversion to standard gauge lead to a section of single track at the Dalkey terminus on Castle Street, with double track running just beyond the depot before becoming a single track to the junction with Convent Road. Marine Road, the terminus of the Dalkey-Kingstown, Kingstown-Blackrock services was also electrified, however through trams continued along George’s Street to Dalkey, with Dun Laoghaire bound services only using Marine Road.

    The DSDT was a minor part of their Imperial Tramway's empire and was limited in its growth due to the DUTC having a monopoly on inner city tramway services along all principle routes. The DSDT had been offered to the DUTC on a number of occassions but they had not taken up the offer. The DUTC were set to gain from the increased traffic brought by the electric tram service to Dalkey. For this reason, the DSDT decided to propose their own city centre routing in November 1895, as well as a number of competing routes that would see lines run on roads parallel to existing DUTC line, for which they sought an act of parliament. As shown in the map below, under the proposals Dublin was basically to get a doubling of its tramway lines, and it is doubted that there was an economic justification for the lines.

    Map showing the proposed extensions of the DSDT which would have been a significant increase in Dublin Tramway mileage and significant competition for the DUTC. Note that some lines are shown as entering housing estates, or across private property. This was the intention, and in all cases every effort has been made to be as accurate as possible (click on it for a larger version).

    For the Dalkey service the proposed routing to avoid the DUTC lines was to turn up Shelbourne Road continuing past the depot onto Grand Canal Street, Sandwidth Street Upper and Lower, Townsend Street, Tara Street, terminating at corner of Burgh Quay and O’Connell Bridge. There was also a proposed extension to the Dalkey line to Sorrento Road. The competing lines were never built, though the DSDTs concept of a Ballybough line would be introduced in the early 1900s.

    However, the proposals got the attention of the DUTC, who were unhappy at the proposed competition from a "partner" tramway, and the act may have had the exact outcome the Imperial Tramways had hoped for. For soon after, the DUTC acquired the DSDT from the British Thomson-Houston Company Ltd. The Thomson-Houston Company had funded the construction of the Dalkey Line and in return had received preference capital in the DSDT. They ran into financial difficulty due to the costs of building the Dalkey Line, reforming as the British Thomson-Houston Company in 1896. These financial woes, and issues with the proposed act of parliament, lead the British Thomson-Houston company to force a buyout of the Imperial Tramways and execute a sale to the DUTC in July 1896, the new company Dublin United Tramways (1896) being incorporated on the 28th September 1896. However, these three companies, DUTC, DSDT and DUTC (1896) existed as seperate entities, at least on paper, for a further 11 years until an act of parliament allowing the merger and formation into a single entity was passed.

    ALX400 bodied bodied Volvo B7TL, AV389, is seen operating Route 7 on Georges Street Dún Laoghaire on the 18th May 2011. It entered service in Donnybrook in May 2004, its delivery delayed due to Transbus going into administration prior to delivery. AV389 was an early AV to be fitted with an LED display, receiving one in April/May 2007, following AV70, AV77 and RV577 in receiving same. At the time of the photo AV389 was an oddity, with it and AV70 the only ALX400s that had an LED. It operated in Donnybrook until the 28th November 2017, its last day being a rare allocation to Route 14 which was a fully SG route then. It returned to service in Harristown on the 24th January 2018, operating there till the 19th February. It is currently in storage at Harristown depot.

    The speed of the trams were a continued bone of contention between the tram company, their passengers, and the board of trade. Eventually the board of trade would allow 12mph which was the speed permitted for other early motorised vehicles. In order to improve journey times, the DUTC placed notices on certain lamp posts to request passengers to wait at these locations in order to speed up journey times. The Dalkey Line was therefore the first tramline to have designated stops, up to this time trams were a hail and ride service (trams going slow enough to hop on and off in most cases). It is not known exactly what signage was used, though in later times, such stopping places were labelled with a white line around the lamp post.

    Such had been the success of the Dalkey Electric Tramway that by the summer of 1897, the DUTC reached an agreement with Dublin Corporation to allow electric tramways within the city boundary and began the process of electrifying their entire network. This allowed the Dalkey Line to be extended to Nelson's Pillar, however, even though the Dalkey line had the first electric trams in Dublin, it was the Clontarf line that brought electric trams to Sackville Street (Nelson’s Pillar/O'Connell Street) four months before the Dalkey line electrics reached the city centre on the 12th July 1898, initially limited to just O'Connell Bridge due to works. At this stage, trams ran via Westland Row, Pearse Street and D’olier Street to Sackville Street (O’Connell Street). It was noted at the time that free transfers were available for passengers at Merrion Square, who could transfer to Donnybrook line trams to access Nassau Street. This continued until the 7th September, when the Donnybrook cars were also routed via Westland Row to allow reconstruction of the line in Nassau Street. Such was the pace of work at the time, it was only just over month, on the 12th October 1898, that trams were rerouted via Clare Street, Leinster Street South, Nassau Street, Grafton Street, College Green and Westmoreland Street to Sackville Street. Imagine Luas work being completed at this pace nowadays!

    Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL is seen operating Route 7 on the 29th October 2013 on Parnell Square East. It entered service in Donnybrook in August 2013 and is still in service there today.

    The Tram Route and Operation:

    The General Secretary of the DUTC, R.S. Tresilian, went about detailing each of the lines after the electrification of the network had been completed. This was published in 1902 entitled "A Guide to Dublin and Suburbs". Interestingly this guide listed the Dalkey route as “Route No. 1”. These route numbers never appeared on the trams, and whether this was an official numbering system or just a noting system for use solely in this guide is unknown. It was reprinted in 1907, from which I quote:
    "Nelson's Pillar to Dalkey: Distance: 9 miles, cars run every 5 minutes:
    The cars start from Nelson’s Pillar (close to the General Post Office), at the junction of Upper and Lower Sackville-street, and passing through Lower Sackville-street, in which are the statues erected in memory of Sir John Gray, the originator of the Vartry water supply to Dublin, and of Daniel O’Connell, “The Liberator”, this latter being the work of the great Irish sculptor, Foley; they then cross O’Connell, formerly Carlisle, Bridge, where, at the junction of D’olier and Westmoreland-streets, is the Statue of Smith O’Brien; passing through Westmoreland-street, and, at the junction with College-street, by the Statue of Thomas Moore, the great Irish poet, they come to College-green, with the statue of Grattan, the Bank of Ireland, Dame-street, on the right, and Trinity College on the left; with statues of Burke and Goldsmith in front; through the lower part of the fashionable Grafton-street (the Bond-street of Dublin), they turn off along the Trinity College grounds to the left, through Nassau-street, with Kildare-street Club and Kildare-street on the right, in which is situated the National Library and the Science and Art Museum; Leinster-street, with the Leinster Club on the right, and Clare-street; then along Merrion-square, with what was formerly the lawn of the Duke of Leinster’s house on the right, through Lower Mount-street to the Canal-bridge, and at Haddington-road cross the city boundary, where they enter the Pembroke Township; thence they pass along Northumberland Road and Pembroke-road, with the Trinity College Botanical Gardens on the left (immediately at the junction of Lansdowne and Pembroke-roads), passing Herbert Park, the site of the Irish International Exhibition, thence over Ball’s-bridge, crossing the River Dodder, from where can be had a very pretty view of the Dublin Mountains, but the show-yards of the Royal Dublin Society, where the celebrated Irish Horse Show is held each year, along the Rock-road, close to the sea, through the villages of Merrion and Booterstown and the town of Blackrock, along Monkstoen-road and past Monkstown Church, through Kingstown main street, close to the landing-stages of the Cross-Channel Mail Boats; Sandycove, Bullock, and into Dalkey, where the line ends.
    In close proximity to Dalkey is the celebrated Victoria Park, Killiney, thrown open to the public in commemoration of her late Majesty Queen Victoria’s first jubilee, and from which the most magnificent views of Dublin Bay and the surrounding country can be had.
    Generally the route follows, after leaving the city, the south shore of the Bay of Dublin, and along almost its whole length charming views not only of the bay but of the Dublin Mountains are had.
    The time occupied in going to Dalkey from Nelson’s Pillar and return is about 2 hours.

    Bombardier KD30 is seen operating Route 7A on Burgh Quay on the 9th July 1994. KD30 was delivered to Donnybrook in 1981 for use on the 7 and 8 routes. It was a consistent performer on these services for its entire service in Dublin Bus, as shown by the photo above. It was withdrawn about a year after this photo was taken in the summer of 1995. The "7A - Sallynoggin" display is interesting as this was the display for this route for quite some time, but by the time of this photo, the 7A outer terminus had been Mackintosh Park for some years.

    Though it was 1918 before numbers were given to the routes, for ease of explanation, the four principle variants during Electric Tram Operation are explained through their route numbers:

    Route 8: Nelson’s Pillar to Dalkey (Castle Street). The terminus was principally at the corner of Convent Road, however towards the end of the line the depot (or just after the gates on Castle Street) was used as the terminus with the rest of the Castle Street section abandoned.

    Route 7: Nelson’s Pillar to Dún Laoghaire (Marine Road). Contemporary DUTC maps (1924, 1928, 1932, 1935, 1941) show the terminus on George’s Street at the junction of Marine Road, however the tram tracks extended the whole way down to the Town Hall near the station. The Town Hall is known to have been the terminus for quite a lot of Route’s existence, for the early period of tramway operation and also in the late 1930s when the timetable explicitly listed the Town Hall as the terminus instead of the otherwise generic Dún Laoghaire/Kingstown that was used in other periods.

    Route 6: Nelson’s Pillar to Blackrock. In the early days of the electric trams, there were services from Nelson’s Pillar to Blackrock Main Street. There was a siding at the junction of Main Street and Newtown Avenue where trams could wait their time at an old stone cross which has since been removed from the location. If you visit this page you will see a photograph of this junction, note the siding behind the lamppost in the foreground, with the main line tracks bending from Main Street to Newtown Avenue. This number was also utilised for services to/from Newtown Avenue Tram Depot and the city, i.e. first cars departing the depot and last cars returning.

    Nelson’s Pillar to Shelbourne Road Tram Depot: This service was unnumbered and existed in the timetable solely for late night cars returning to Shelbourne Road from the city, and for early morning positioning trips from the depot to the city.

    Map showing the electric tram route showing the termini of the various services (click on it for a larger version).

    A frequent service of every 4-5mins along the majority of the route was typical. For example in 1910, during daytime every 2nd tram went to Dalkey at 8min intervals, with a 4min frequency provided between Kingstown and the City. In the morning (0740-0840), trams operated every 10mins from Dalkey, with a 5min service provided from Blackrock. The night time service was all trams to Dalkey operating every 8mins. On Sundays all trams operated to Dalkey on a 5min headway. At other times (20s/30s/40s), there were few actual timetabled services to/from Blackrock, the number being used solely by late night finishing duties which actually ran from Nelson’s Pillar to Newtown Avenue Tram Depot, and for early morning positioning trips from the depot to the city. This interlacing of Route 8 and Route 7 departures was principally how the trams operated for the majority of their existence except for a period in the late 20s/early 30s when all trams went to Dalkey (more on this later).

    The Dalkey line also had a number of early morning services, the first being the 0445 from Dalkey. Such early services from Dalkey have survived to this very day and are spoken about throughout this piece. The first service from Nelson’s Pillar was 0530. This was one of three early departures on each route, the first regular service from Dalkey being 0740; 0800 from Nelson’s Pillar. It is interesting to note how late this is by modern standards, the 7’s regular 15-min headway beginning at 6am in the morning these days. There was also another early morning service of note in tram days, the 0645 from Dalkey, which ran Monday-Saturday, was extended on Thursdays only north of Nelson’s Pillar, following Route 9 trams to the Cattle Market on North Circular Road, Thursday’s being Cattle Market days. This ran from the 1900s up until the 1930s.

    Donnybrook's Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B5TL SG114 is seen operating Route 7 on the Glenageary Road Lower on the 11th November 2016. SG114 was delivered to Donnybrook in August 2015. It went into service on the 7 service. It has migrated into the more general SG pool in Donnybrook these days.

    The three depots that existed in horse tram operation, namely Ballsbridge (Shelbourne Road), Blackrock (Newtown Avenue) and Dalkey (Castle Street) were used throughout the electric tram era. Michael Corcoran in "Through Streets Broad and Narrow" notes a capacity of 88 trams in these depots around 1910, 40 in Ballsbridge, 36 in Blackrock and 12 in Dalkey.

    The Tramway Years (1900-1925):

    As noted previously, route numbers were not applied to trams until 1918. In the early days of tramway operation, destination boards were carried on the side of the trams to indicate the route they were operating. In 1903 the DUTC introduced a series of symbols (as opposed to numbers) that were carried on the front and back of the trams to indicate the service operated to counteract illiteracy among its passenger base. These were placed above a scroll which advised the destination. The Dalkey Tram was assigned a Green Shamrock, with the Dún Laoghaire shorts having the same symbol with a large ‘K’ on it (‘K’ for Kingstown the former name of Dún Laoghaire).

    Donnybrook's Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL GT82 is seen at the Dalkey Terminus of Route 8 on the 7th October 2014. GT82 entered service in July 2013, principally operating Route 7 and 8 at the time, as well as the 54A and 114. GT82 has continued to operate in Donnybrook since then.

    In 1907, the R.D.S. hosted The Irish International Exhibition, a world's fair showcasing Ireland. The exhibition ran from the 4th May to 9th November 1907. It featured an amusements section, long before the days of Funderland, which had a water chute, a helter skelter and a crystal maze among others. To facilitate the traffic from this exhibition, a new spur was added to the Dalkey line down Anglesea Road at Ballsbridge to serve the R.D.S. The line from Haddington Road to Ballsbridge was also relaid with "heavier rails", the original rails from the DSDT's conversion in 1896 requiring an upgrade to cope with the increased traffic. The terminus was outside house No. 3 Anglesea Road, at the gate to the R.D.S Jumping Ground just prior to the left-kink in the road when heading towards Donnybrook. This spur continued to be used for events in the R.D.S. following the exhbition in 1907. The symbols for these extra trams that ran on exhibition days was the Green Shamrock but with a large red ‘S’.

    One would consider that express city services are a relatively modern concept, being introduced to the bus network in the late 1980s. However, the first express city service was in fact considerably before this. The first express service of trams began on the Dalkey Line on the 8th February 1909. Services departed Dalkey at 0836 and 0904, returning from the city at 1735 and 1805, except Saturdays were most people worked half days, cars departed Dalkey at the same time in the morning but returning at 1345 and 1409 instead. The services were quickly a success, and just over a month later on the 18th March 1909, a 3rd "special non-stopping car" was added, departing Dalkey at 0932, and returing at 1708.

    Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL, AX531, is seen operating Route 7 on Merrion Road on the 14th May 2011. AX531 was first used on the Ryder Cup Shuttle in September 2006 at the K-Club. It then entered regular service in Donnybrook following the tournament. In October 2013, AX531 along with AX529 and AX530 transferred to Ringsend. About a year later it was repainted in Wedding Bus livery, replacing AX494 as Ringsend's Wedding Bus. It remained in this livery, principally operating Routes 1 and 150, until early March 2017 when it was repainted into core livery. It is still in service in Ringsend.

    The express services required a minimum fare of 3d upon introduction which was the fare from Blackrock to Nelson’s Pillar. These trams departed Dalkey picking up passengers at all stops to Marine Road, then stopped only to pick up passengers at York Road, Monkstown Church, Alma Road and Bath Place (Blackrock). They would then alight passengers only at corner of Merrion Street, Dawson Street and then all stopping places to The Pillar. Returning from the pillar the opposite applied. Trams picked up passengers at all stopping places to the corner of Grafton Street, then stopped only at the corner of Merrion Street to pick up passengers, and then alighted passengers at the stops noted before. With the introduction of route numbers these express services were denoted by a red 8 on a white background, differing from the white number on a black background of standard services.

    There were a few turmultuous events over the next few years. The 1913 Lock Out was a significant event for the tramway, and though some semblance of a service at times would be maintained on the Dalkey, the special express cars could not be operated, not returning till the... The 1916 Rising was also a difficult time for the tramway, with their lines and some of their trams being caught in the turmoil. The rising began on Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, just before midday. Tram services would be withdrawn soon after. Tram services returned to the Dalkey trams on the Wednesday (26th April), though only operating between Ballsbridge and Alma Road. They were extended further into the city to O'Connell Bridge on the Thursday. It should be noted that Dublin at this time was under martial law, and a curfew was in force. By May 6th, trams to Dalkey were operating till 1915, a last service to Blackrock at 1945 in order to obey with curfew. It was a futher few weeks before a full service returned.

    Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B5TL, SG28, is seen operating Route 7B on Nassau Street on the 3rd July 2015. SG28 arrived in Donnybrook in September 2014. It operated in Donnybrook for its entire time with Dublin Bus, last operating on the 27th June 2018. It has since been transferred to Go Ahead who will take up services in the Dublin region in September 2018.

    Ireland also experienced a severe coal shortage in the years 1918 to 1920. The Director of Cross Channel Transport dictated that supplies were conserved. This included the tramway company and a number of services were curtailed in this period. The Dalkey Trams were affected on the 2nd October 1919 when the express "special cars" were withdrawn. They would never return to the timetable. At this time, services across the entire network were curtailed after 830pm, such was the shortage of coal.

    The other tram line of note is Route 5, Phoenix Park to Pembroke (Corner of Sandymount Avenue) via North Circular Road, Berkeley Road, Blessington Street, O'Connell Street, Nassau Street, Dawson Street, St. Stemphen's Green and Baggot Street. This service is more related to the 60s version of Route 4 than the Dalkey Trams, itself a variant of Route 10, and this route’s history is outlined along with Route 10. But it is still worth a mention on this page given it operated along a section of the Dalkey line. The 5 began operation on the 16th June 1919. It was a Monday-Saturday service only. It ceased operation on the 31st October 1928. The terminus at the corner of Sandymount Avenue was vacated at times when exhibitions ran at the R.D.S., with services instead terminating at the R.D.S. showgrounds on the Anglesea Road.

    Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL, GT3, is seen operating Route 7 to Cherrywood on College Street on the 30th March 2013. GT3 entered service on the first day of GT operation in Dublin Bus on the 3rd September 2012. The 7 was the first route that GTs went into service on. GT3 has remained in Donnybrook since then.

    Of note in the context of this story is the renaming of Kingstown to Dún Laoghaire in 1920. This change was key to an often told tram story. It's easy to think that the formation of the Free State was universally welcomed in Ireland, but this wasn't entirely true, especially in the more affluent areas of south Dublin through which the Dalkey trams operated. The story goes that a well-to-do woman who used the Dalkey tram on a daily basis was unhappy with the name change. After boarding a tram she would sit, and when the conductor approached and asked for her destination, she would advise proudly and loudly, "Kingstown please". When the conductor responded with "Not on this tram, mam", she would duly get up and leave the tram, utilising a tramway rule that those who had boarded the wrong tram and travelled only a short distance should not be charged. The woman would then proceed to do this the entire way home to Dún Laoghaire (or was it Kingstown!) without paying a fare.

    Bus Competition (1925-1940):

    As noted earlier, the late 20s and the early 30s were a period of intense competition from private bus companies. This was especially the case for the Dalkey line, the DUTC’s busiest service. The competition from buses on the Dalkey route significantly rose throughout late 1927 and into 1928 which sparked two separate issues. The first was concern from both the DUTC and the Great Southern Railway. Though the GSR had been the main opposition to any tramway development along its coastal route, by the late 1920s, both had found a decent market, something private bus companies were taking by undercutting the fare structures of both companies.

    Bombardier KD363 is seen operating Route 5 to Sandyford Industrial Estate on the 18th November 1993 in a AOA for Moss Technology. This was not KD363's first AOA, having appeared in a livery for Century Radio in 1989, and was repainted in the the Moss Technology livery in the autumn of 1991. KD363 was delivered to Donnybrook in the summer of 1983 as part of the KD353-KD366 batch, entering service on Routes 7, 7A and 8. As part of the Moss Technology advert run, it was temporarily loaned to Clontarf in the autumn of 1992, spending a month or so there. This Moss Technology livery lasted until late 1994/early 1995. KD363 was one of the last KDs in Donnybrook being withdrawn upon the delivery of AV-class buses in the autumn of 2000.

    For this reason in March 1928, the DUTC and the GSR signed an agreement that would see traffic receipt pooling on both its Dalkey services. Under Irish Law this agreement had to be ratified by the Irish Railway Tribunal, which ultimately vetoed the agreement as being too favourable for the tramway company. But what this process showed is how significant the bus competition was, and how threatened the existing players felt, such that they would suspend years of animosity between them. In response to the competition, the DUTC increased the service on the 8 tram by extending all previous Route 7 departures to Dalkey. Thus Dalkey now had a service of every 4mins in the peak periods, and Route 7 was only used on extras and shorts and was not officially timetabled.

    The second issue was with regards to the bus route that the private operators were plying. Bus operation had no centralised control in the late 20s. The DUTC were permitted under law to operate buses in 1925, but required the Minister of Local Government to license them to operate a route. By 1927, the Railways (Road Motor) Act permitted railways to operate bus services, though they needed approval for their routes from the Minister of Industry and Commerce. For all other operators, these acts did not apply and they required solely the Commissionor of the Garda Siochana to ratify their routes for operation, i.e. from a purely safety perspective. The original routing in the Dalkey area was considered dangerous by the local council. Buses approached Dalkey from Dún Laoghaire along the Breffni Road. They then had a one way routing around Dalkey, turning left onto Harbour Road proceeding via Convent Road to the Dalkey tram terminus at the junction of Castle Street. Buses continued along Castle Street returning to the Ulverton Road.

    Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL, GT19, is seen operating Route 7 on Crofton Road on the 2nd August 2013. GT19 arrived in Donnybrook in September 2013 and is still operating there in 2018.

    The council were opposed to this routing, especially via Convent Road, which they considered too narrow and which still to this day has no footpath heading southbound. They complained to the Garda Commissioner. It would seem that a compromise was reached with buses continuing instead along Ulverton Road towards the village, turning left onto Carysfort Road and right onto St. Patrick’s Road to terminate, returning via Castle Street and Ulverton Road. It is not known exactly when this was introduced, though it was highly likely it was soon after the council meeting in March 1928.

    At the time of the council’s meeting, it was noted that there were twelve operators running on the Dalkey route, an incredible number. Some of the operators that operated the route in this “Pirate” era of Dublin Buses (not all operating at the time of the council meeting in 1928) were Angela, Bluebird, Blueline, Bluebelle, Capitol, Contempible, Falcon, Grafton, Grand Central, Jupiter, Irish Omnibus Company (who acquired the Contemptible Omnibus Company in 1929), Redcar, The Gem and Thistle. The Falcon Bus Company was the first "pirate" bus operator to compete with the trams on the Dalkey route. Though the concept of so many operators on one route sounds perfect for the passenger, the reality was somewhat different. Buses would often ply the route solely during peak periods, with limited services in the off-peak periods. With high competition, competition with each other for passengers meant being first to the busy stops, often by using excessive speeds. The excessive speeds lead to countless accidents across Dublin.

    To counteract this problem, the Irish Free State introduced the Road Transport Act 1932, which was put into force from 25th July 1932. With the introduction of this law, all bus operators in the state were obliged to obtain a license from the Minister of Industry and Commerce. The act had provision to allow the minster to prevent wasteful competition, if it was felt an adequate and identical service was already being provided. It also required operators to publish timetables of their services and obey them rigidly. The routing was also dictated in the license and could only be adjusted if a stipulated road was impassable. The act also called for a high level of administration, with each operator required to provide the minister with passenger statistics and account ledgers on a regular basis.

    Donnybrook's Alexander ALX400 bodied AX524 is seen operating Route 7B on Nassau Street on the 31st May 2017. AX524 was delivered to Dublin Bus in August 2006, and was retained in new condition to be used for the Ryder Cup Shuttles on the 19th-24th September 2006. It was then assigned to Conyngham Road and was one of the vehicles assigned to the Route 151 upon its introduction in March 2007. It transferred to Donnybrook in November 2013, swapped for another AX (AX532/AX533) which went the other way to Donnybrook. It has remained operating there since.

    The requirements of this bill lead many operators to pool resources and apply for a single license to operate the route. In the case of Dalkey, there were two principle amalgamations of the private companies, namely the Coastal Omnibus Company, and Dublin and Dalkey Buses. The Coastal Omnibus Company, formed in the summer of 1932 by the amalgamation of a number of the original operators on the route, being composed of 9 buses from the following sources: Bluebird (2 buses), Bluebelle (2 buses), Redcar (3 buses) and Grafton (2 buses). Dublin and Dalkey Buses was formed after the amalgamation of Angela, Capitol, Grand Central and The Gem.

    The existence of these companies would be exceptionally short. Following The Road Transport Act 1933, the DUTC and the railway companies were given the right to compulsorily purchase transport operators within their operational area, again to avoid wasteful competition. On the 28th November 1933, Dublin and Dalkey Buses were acquired, with the DUTC introducing Route 56 using two of their own buses, though soon after it was increased to 8 buses to provide a decent headway. At this stage it was noted that Blueline, the Coastal Omnibus Company and Falcon were still operating.

    The 56 operated from Burgh Quay to Dalkey as shown in the following map. It principally overlapped the 8 tram service, however had a few notable differences. Firstly its city centre routing, which served Westland Row and Pearse Street which the tram route had served briefly after its extension into the city. The other was in Dún Laoghaire, where buses diverted away from the tram service, serving Monkstown Road, past Monkstown Church onto Monkstown Crescent, taking the next left on an unnamed road (named Link Road on Google), then onto the N31, Old Dunleary, Dunleary Road, Crofton Road and Marine Road, skipping George’s Street Lower in its entirety. Finally, the buses had a one-way system in Dalkey, leaving the Ulverton Road onto Carysfort Road, terminating on St. Patrick’s Road, and returning to Ulverton Road via Castle Street.

    Map showing the Routing of Route 56 (click on it for a larger version).

    The Blue Line and Carmel Bus Company owned by Mr. and Mrs Clerkin respectively, were both purchased in June of 1934, however though the Carmel was taken directly over from this date, the Blue Line was left operational for a few further months. In the end, all three remaining companies on the Dalkey route, Blue Line, The Coastal Omnibus Company and Falcon were taken over on the 15th October 1934, the Falcon, owned by Mr. George Knox, having the distinction therefore of being the first and last private bus competitor for the tramway on the Dalkey service.

    With competition on the route now settled, the high service on Routes 8 and 56 continued for another year, before, around October 1935, tram Route 7 was reintroduced at the expense of the frequency of Route 8 services to Dalkey. The reason was noted as the increased service on Route 56. The tram timetable reverted to roughly its previous form before bus competition, with every second tram operating to Dalkey, with the other half operating as Route 7 to Dún Laoaghaire only. A 4min frequency was maintained between Dún Laoaghaire and the city.

    Dusk has well and truely settled in Dublin when EV28 is seen operating the late evening peak 7D service to Dalkey on D'olier Street on the 13th September 2013. The GTs were taking over the route, so this EV allocation was a nice catch. EV28 was delivered to Donnybrook in September 2007, and has operated there since.

    Though the Dalkey services went into a period of stability in the late 30s, the years 1937 and 1938 brought in an ominous period of change in the DUTC. Though there was a short-lived experiment with double-deck buses in Dublin in 1908 by the Mercury Motor ‘Bus Company and in 1928 by the Irish General Omnibus Company Limited, with the IoC also introducing double-deckers successfully to Cork in 1931, the DUTC and GNR operating Dublin services in the mid-30s had single-decker only vehicles. All this was to change in 1937 with the arrival of double-deck buses. The GNR were first into service with its double-deckers on 18th October 1937, with the DUTC a further two months behind putting R1 and R2 into service on the 20th December 1937. It wasn’t long before these new double-deckers were seen as the replacement of the entire tram system. The DUTC board met soon after their introduction on the 1st March 1938 and announced that their future policy was the replacement of the entire tram system by bus service. And so began a period of tram service withdrawals across Dublin up until war shortages hit in 1941.


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    Atmospheric Railway - Complete Success of the Experimental Trip. The Nation, 26th August 1843 (p15).
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    N.B. This website is not affiliated with Dublin Bus. The information contained herein is intended for enthusiast reference. For all current timetable and route information please refer to the official Dublin Bus Website.