Wednesday 2 April 2014

Wild Atlantic Way (What Do You Think About Rural Public Transport?)

The Irish government is currently spending 10 Million Euro on sign posts for the new Wild Atlantic Way.  This stretches 2.500 kilometres from Donegal to West Cork.  The route takes in some staggeringly beautiful scenery.   It's aimed at car drivers, cyclists and hikers.  Yet I don't see any talk of money being spent on public transport.  The public transport infrastructure is there in terms of private hackney minibuses that are used every day to transport schoolchildren.  Why can't these same companies be used for public transport for tourists and locals to sight see and do their shopping or visit the nearest town for a night out?

I went to the Algarve and Warsaw last last year.  I was knocked out with the incredible public transport systems in Poland and Portugal.  Why do so many of our rural areas lack public transport?  Is it the car that's made the countryside so accessible and property so unaffordable for so many?

We live on an incredible beautiful island called Ireland.  Rural Ireland is slowly dying with it's none existant public transport, rural isolation, smoking ban, closing pubs, post offices, emigration caused by unemployment, and police stations.  Mainly because the recent governments seem to spend all the house hold (property tax) charge on the the big cities and so little on the rural areas.

So blog readers (especially those who are rural dwellers) will you please tell me about the rural public transport in your area.   Do you use it, is it expensive and would you get rid of your car if you had public transport?  


  1. I like Ireland just the way it is and would hate it to turn into a mini replica of any other European country or even that of our nearest neighbouring island.

  2. Thanks, Heron. I would love to see and travel on the Irish railways lines that were abandoned in the fifties and sixties. The Bantry to Cork railway was supposed to be beautiful and at least 3 cattle trains left Bantry station every fair day.

    Tourists wanting to explore Ireland's sights should be given the opportunity to use public transport if they want to do so. Oh to go back to country roads free from cars.


  3. The demise of Irish rail can be blamed on the same person who halved British Rail - Beeching was his name. The then Irish government brought him in because they were following trends.

    Now when Irish roads had less cars than they do now some country people used to have ass & carts or pony and traps. It wasn't that long ago that my neighbours used them to go to their fields and the nearest village 6km away. Visitors & locals used to hitch hike to and from towns etc.
    As for pubs closing well that's no great harm considering the number of road deaths & domestic hostilities caused by drunks.

  4. Sounds a lot like rural Cumbria. Parts of the Lake District are served by the Mountain Goat network, consisting of mini-buses, a lot of the routes have narrow, steep and winding roads unsuitable for anything bigger.
    Rural isolation is a more common outside the honeypot towns of the Lake District, a lot of Cumbria is unknown to the tourists who flock there every year, they don't even have the (doubtful) benefit of the tourists. The railway disappeared in the 60s, and a lot of the public transport has now been withdrawn from some of the more remote areas, it only serves the profitable routes since privatisation.
    Every village had a Post Office, Police house, school, and at least one pub, often more.
    Now no Post office or Police house, all sold to private developers. Not many with schools, but ironically the ones with closed schools have a daily bus service, at least in term time, to collect and return the kids.
    A lot with no pub, or often the one that's left is more of a restaurant than a pub, a combination of high beer tax, smoking ban and cheap supermarket booze have seen a lot of closures of local pubs.
    Sadly, all this all hits the poor and elderly, who can't afford cars, hardest.

    There's probably a good case to be made for re-introducing the pony and trap as a form of rural transport, it seems to have a few advantages; no road tax or associated costs, no pollution, runs on grass, safer for pedestrians, can produce another pony, and knows its own way home from the pub. Big downside would be the idiots who treat country roads like Brands Hatch, especially after dark.

  5. Hi Heron, Yes the Beeching axe destroyed so many picturesque railways in Britain and Ireland. The Cork, Bandon and South Coast railway closed in 1962 (a year before I was born) because it was making a loss of some sixty odd thousand Punts a year. A lot of it's been built on and it would cost Millions to buy new land to replace it.

    Films like 'The Quiet Man' depicted your wonderful picture of donkeys and carts and a time when people had the time to stop and put the world to rights.

    I remember coming to Ireland when there were lots of Romany touring caravans. Don't seem to see them anymore. Wouldn't it be great if there was a 'Wild Atlantic Way' public transport company with a fleet of horse drawn caravans, pony and traps and a modern fleet of minibuses for narrow roads like we have here on the Sheeps Head Peninsula?

    I miss not having a local pub. Especially one like an English country pub complete wiith rough plastered walls, oak beams, hand pulled real ales and a cricket wicket outside. True rural pubs were a place of community and every farmhand or milkmaid, Gamekeeper or Squire. All drank and ate under the same roof.

    The road speeds are far too fast and they must be a factor in so many rural fatalities. Eighty kilometres is far too fast for rural roads where pedestrians and cattle often use the road.


  6. Hi Cumbrian, I have been on the Mountain Goat bus network. Grasmere and Glenridding are two of my favourite places in the Lakes. I wish West Cork was a national park with jobs for rural dwellers, public transport and all those wonderful northern English bitters, Kendal Mintcake..?

    I believe even Cornwall suffers from unemployment and a lot of work is only seasonal in the summertime. Not forgetting all the holiday homes. John Betjeman ated the M5 motorway being bult and all the hordes of working classes invading the West country chocolate box picturesque towns and villages in their cars and motor coaches.

    Never understood how pubs have car parks. Alcohol and driving doesn't work. Rural public transport and taxis could create lots of jobs if the governments subsidized these private companies like they subsidize public transport in the city.

    The canals could be used to carry far more freight. The Manchester Ship canal was hand dug by Irish Navvies and it should be used for more freight,

    Thanks for telling us about your public transport in Cumbria. I think public transport is the life blood and veins of any society. It shows that government provides cheap and affordable transport for all mebers of society, rich or poor, young or old.


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