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    By James Scannell

    Following the passage of The Transport Act, 1958, unrenumerative was the one single word that C.I.É. employees working on branch railways lines dreaded hearing as it meant that the line in question had become loss making and had no possibility of breaking even in the future and ultimately meant closure.

    Many lines were closed with one of these being 10-mile long Harcourt Street, Dublin, to Bray, Co. Wicklow, line, known simply as the ‘Harcourt Street Line’ which operated its last service on 31st December, 1958, amid great public criticism and outcry.

    Opened for traffic on 10th July, 1854, the Dublin end of the line was located in a temporary terminus in Harcourt Road, Dublin, near the current Luas Green line Charlemont station. Between 1854 and 1859 the stations on this line, running north to south were Harcourt Road, Dundrum, Stillorgan, Carrickmines, Shankill, and Bray.

    In 1859, the line was extended a ¼ mile northwards from the Harcourt Road terminus to the fine imposing above street level building the Harcourt Street terminus, designed by George Wilkinson, opened on 7th February, 1859. Between 1859 and 1896, stations added were Harcourt Street (1859), Milltown (1860), Foxrock (1861), and Rathmines and Ranelagh (1896), renamed Ranelagh in 1921.

    In the 1950s the south Dublin area was becoming increasingly affluent but was still largely undeveloped by way of housing and industrial development sites. It was a traumatic time for Irish railways as C.I.É attempted to reduce its losses through Dieselisation and the elimination of uneconomic services while facing competition from cars and road freight vehicles.

    Diesel railcars were introduced on some of the Harcourt Street-Bray services in 1954 as a cost saving measure, and by 1956 had replaced steam locomotive working. In south Dublin, thirteen bus routes served areas through which the line passed with most being able to bring passengers directly to Dublin City Centre i.e. O’Connell Street.

    In the latter half of the 1950s as the C.I.É deficit continued to rise, following the passage of The Transport Act, 1958, the company was given the statutory power to close uneconomic lines without having to seek prior authorisation from the Minister for Transport, then Erskine Childers, T.D. Dr. C. S.

    (Todd) Andrews, a former managing director of Bord na Móna was appointed chairman of C.I.É effective from 1st September, 1958, and with power to act as Chief Executive with the target of bringing the company to self sufficiency by 31st March, 1964.

    In mid-October, 1958, Dr. Andrews presided at a C.I.É. board meeting at which General Manager Frank Lemass presented recommendations concerning two uneconomic branch lines – the 30-mile Sallins – Tullow branch line which passed though Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow, and Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, to Tullow, Co. Carlow, and the Harcourt Street, Dublin – Bray line to Shanganagh Junction line. The board recommended closure and this decision received scant coverage or comment in the newspapers.

    At the formal press conference in Kingsbridge Station, Dublin, on Tuesday, 28th October, announcing the line’s closure, Dr. Andrews said that the company was required under the recent Transport Act to be financially supporting within five years and that radical economies had to be effected.

    The seventy-four employees affected would be compensated or transferred to other lines; a substitute bus service (No. 86) would be introduced, and that all the land and permanent way would be offered for sale, and that an improved service on the Bray-Westland Row line might be provided.

    At the end of October, Frank Lemass issued a circular headed ‘Withdrawal of Services from the Harcourt Street line on and from 1st January, 1959’ to commuters which explained the reasons behind the closure decision with the bottom line being that the closure would save C.I.É. £71,000 annually.

    Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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      June McDonnell remembers Louis Braille on what would have been his 210th birthday

      The 4th January commemorates the birth of a Frenchman who opened up a whole new world to individuals who either through birth or an accident lost their sight.

      Louis Braille was born on 4th January, 1809 in Coupvray, near Paris. Fifteen years prior to Louis’ birth his grandfather, a master saddler and harness maker had settled with his family in Coupvray and set up a small business there.

      By 1782, Louis’ father had taken over the business and the Brailles had established a reputation for excellence in craftmanship.

      Louis was a bright and inquisitive child and loved being with his father in the workshop. One day when his father was in the yard fitting a new harness to a customer’s horse, tragedy struck. Louis knew which tools were for punching and which tools were for stitching or cutting. Looking at all these tools the temptation became too great for young Louis. Taking one of the knives he began to do what he had seen his father do so easily.

      While applying a knife to some leather the knife slipped and stabbed him in his left eye. Unfortunately, the nearest doctor was twenty miles away and in their panic the parents enlisted the help of a local woman who applied a herbal concoction to the damaged eye.

      Despite the treatment given to the damaged eye, infection soon set in and in a short time spread to the other eye, leaving him totally blind.

      When the time came for young Louis to go to school, he attended the local school where he learned by just listening. He was a bright pupil and to help further his education a local priest, Fr. Pulluy would come to his home and give him extra tuition.

      When a new school opened in Coupvray Fr. Pulluy arranged for Louis to attend. The headmaster Antoine Becheret helped and encouraged Louis. He developed a keen memory and was usually top of the class at the end of each term.

      Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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        NOEL COOGAN puts forward some suggestions for those looking to make lifestyle changes in 2019

        In the month of January many people make New Year resolutions. Most of those making pledges prefer to compile lists containing ordinary intentions while others have come up with some weird wishes.

        A good few of the ‘run-of the mill’ resolutions are related to drives towards better health.

        Those include losing weight, exercising more, eating more healthily, consuming less alcohol and for those who indulge in the pointless pursuit of puffing, trying to give up smoking.

        Other popular January pledges involve taking up new hobbies, travelling to new places and attempting to cut back on spending money as well as saving a bit every week. House improvements are also on many people’s wish list.
        Some resolutions made sees hopes expressed to gain acquaintance with new friends and maybe get back in touch with long-lost associates.

        Aiming to spend more time with family members is a resolution well worth putting into the little book’.

        Quite a few making out January lists may consider giving donations to charitable groups and while this may sound like a laudable idea, some may wonder how much of the money given actually goes to the actual charity.

        Unattached men and women, may make pledges to try to become involved in a relationship in the coming months. Of course, happy encounters often happen by accident rather than design – perhaps by being in the right place at the right time. Of course, a small ad in a publication like Ireland’s Own could result in a happy match.

        Sports participants like to look ahead with their own particular ambitions at the start of the new year. Those taking part in individual events hold hopes of improving their times while team members have desires to get the best possible results.
        Owners, trainers and jockeys involved in horse racing hope for a good quota of winners while punters hold aspirations of picking ‘the right one’ more often in the next twelve months.

        Some people like to make unusual New Year resolutions. Two or three years ago a friend of mine wrote the following in his diary, “I pledge to post a letter to at least one person in all of the 32 counties of Ireland.”

        He didn’t know someone in all of the counties but was thinking of contacting a few well-known people with some comment, request or whatever. Anyway, he did not get round to putting the rather bizarre plan into practice but maybe I could persuade him to carry it out in 2019 although the price of stamps has gone up since the idea was initially mooted.

        Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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          By Billy O’Riordan

          On Monday, January 20th, 1969 Richard Milhous Nixon became the 37th President of the United States of America. By August, 1974, Nixon had resigned in shame.
          The 1968 Presidential election had been a tumultuous affair, indeed 1968 had been a tumultuous year.

          1968 was the year of anti- Vietnam war protest in the Capital Washington D.C. The assassination of Robert Kennedy in July after his victory in the Californian Primary, had left a bloody stain on American politics. Nixon’s inauguration was remembered for extreme protests by M.O.B.E. – The National Mobilisation Committee to End the War in Vietnam.

          January 20th, 1969, in Washington D.C. saw mass protest with rocks, rotten fruit and smoke bombs being hurled at police. An oddly interesting event was taking place on the National Mall during the Nixon inauguration.

          A group known as the Yippies (Youth International Party) were at the same time performing an investiture on a ‘pig’.

          The Yippies had nominated a pig as a presidential candidate claiming, “he had more going for him than the other candidate”.

          Earlier in 1968, ‘Pigasus the Immortal’ had caused a riot at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago leading to the trial of seven Yippies, who became known as ‘the Chicago seven’.

          Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own


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            DAVID FLYNN recalls some of the American TV series that produced special festive features

            TV Ratings are usually high at Christmas when many families are at home together for a prolonged period. In the days of the classic tv series, almost all had one or two Christmas storylines throughout their times on the box.

            A lot of work went into the making of US Christmas episodes of classic tv sitcoms and drama series, but for other reasons, producers of some US television shows were reluctant to have Christmas episodes of their series.

            The main reason was because many countries outside of the United States bought and screened these programmes, and they might end up showing a M*A*S*H or Brady Bunch Christmas episode in April or in another month not connected to Christmas. However, American viewers expected Christmas shows from time to time, and they generally did do well in the ratings, so therefore producers felt they had to oblige.

            Alfred Hitchcock Presents was an anthology series of self-contained black and white half-hour episodes. The series had three Christmas episodes throughout its run.

            Its 1955 show had Irish actor Barry Fitzgerald play a thief who had just come out prison. He got a job as a department show Santa Claus and sees a young boy who is aggressive, and who is attempting to steal in the store. ‘Santa Claus’ fears for what the boy could become, so tries to advise him on his future.

            The Honeymooners only had one season on the air, but remains an American tv classic. It featured two married couples living in appartment life in 1950s New York.

            Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own festive double issue

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              By Paul McLaughlin

              This a holy place. I know as I watch ‘in real time’ on the webcam that this is a space set aside for the sacred. A place worthy of a divine celebration. Just as I remember it.
              “You’re not nearly old enough yet, and that’s that.” My mother had spoken and however much I wanted to protest, I bit my tongue and said nothing as hot tears behind my eyes betrayed my 12 years.

              As a child I had attended Clonard Monastery nearly every Sunday for Mass, I was also a member of the junior Confraternity, but that counted for nothing – even with Christmas only days away.

              “Midnight Mass is for grown-ups,” she said, “and I’m not having you gallivanting about in the dark, miles from home. God alone knows what could happen to you.”
              I ran to my bedroom harbouring terrible thoughts about a loving mother, feeding my disappointment on choking sobs, feeling helpless, but as determined as ever that this year would be my first. Somehow, I would be there .

              Many of the lads at school were already bragging that they would be there. Some of them were younger than I was. It didn’t endear them to me, I must say.

              I remember Mass that Sunday before Christmas. My nine-year-old brother and I walked the the two miles to the monastery in double-quick time. It was bitingly cold with the sharp edge of a wind from the Black Mountain at our backs and a jaundiced sun in our faces. We wore duffle coats and brown balaclavas knitted by our mother that matched the mittens that were also her handiwork.

              Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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                By Peter Curran

                It has come to that time of year again, the distant shape of the Christmas circus looming on the horizon. All that mad shopping, watching the TV on Christmas day. Having a big turkey dinner with all the frills, then tucking into a selection box and maybe a turkey sandwich or two later as well.

                One thing that is very hard to do at Christmas, when the whole fiesta of the day is whirling around in its joyous frenzy in front of you, is not to think about Christmas past.
                When I was a young fellow, I lived in south inner city London, I was one of nine children of Irish parents.

                Mum was from Clonakilty in West Cork; Dad was from the northside of Dublin. They had been in England for years.

                The year was 1971, it snowed heavily that Christmas; it was the first ‘White Christmas’ I had ever seen. It also made the house very cold, the only heat we had was the fire place, which was well stocked with firewood that my family used to go around picking up off skips, roadworks and bombsite on the streets of London.

                Unfortunately Dad couldn’t really afford to pay for such things, as well as putting a roof over our heads and feeding us, life was not so easy back then.

                I can picture it now in my mind, classical music playing on that old 1950’s Bush radio set; they still sell a retro version of the same radio now.

                Some of us would be huddled around the fireplace. Dad would tell us stories of when he was a boy back in the civil war in Dublin and all the mischief he used to get up to with his pals in Drumcondra; he was a right old scamp!

                Mum would come over and give me an enamel mug filled with steaming Bovril and a lump of her homemade soda bread. I haven’t tasted anything near as good since. I really miss my Mum and Dad, as well as that soda bread.

                On Christmas eve, we would go down to the local market in Clapham Junction. Dad would drive his Morris traveller down the hill, and we all piled out with empty bags.
                The market was just about to close. Dad went off to pick up some chickens on the cheap, while we went from the back of one fruit and veg stall to the next, taking a look through the items they had thrown out because they weren’t good enough to sell.
                We easily ended up with a few bags full of good stuff! It was dark by the time we left, so we eagerly headed home for warmth and food.

                I helped Mum to sort all the food out for Christmas dinner, whilst Dad went off up to Clapham Common to cut a branch off a tree. When he brought it back, we would plant it in a pot of earth, then decorate it with Christmas decorations that people had thrown away the previous new year, which we dug out of their rubbish.

                One thing we used to do too was cut shapes out of colourful magazines. My mother used to love reading Weekend, a showbiz magazine back then, and the TV Times.
                My sisters had copies of Jackie girls’ magazine. We would cut the shapes that would have plenty of colour in them, then hang them on the tree to make extra pizazz. Quite unique in appearance and truly beautiful, well in my youthful eyes it was anyway.

                I was shipped off to bed before Santa arrived, full of excitement. I couldn’t sleep, though still ended up being woken on Christmas morning by Mum. I jumped out of bed, didn’t worry about putting my dressing gown on, I had to see what Santa left. I couldn’t believe it!

                There at the bottom of the Christmas tree we had made the night before was a large articulated toy truck. I was stuck to it for what seemed like an eternity. I would take it into the bath and reenact a scene from a Michael Caine film I saw on TV before called Billion Dollar Brain (pictured), where a truck sank in the ice. Then I dried it off with tender care and brought it to bed with me. We were inseparable!

                Later on that day, we had our Christmas dinner, with a lovely hot fire blazing away in the corner to keep us snug and warm. After that, we went up the common to the swings, where there were a pile of other five-year-olds like me having the time of their lives.

                Those days are definitely of a bygone time, and I wish that our kids and grandchildren could just experience a snippet of them. But time and technology wait for no one.
                I came back to my Mum and Dad’s homeland, and have lived here for twenty years.
                I still make the most of every Christmas now, just like I always have, and I would just love to wish you all the most joyful and wondrous Christmas of all this year and always.

                  0 153

                  Denny’s life is starting to fall apart due to his obsession with a Christmas Eve ghost


                  By Sharon Boothroyd

                  ‘Hello Denny! Good to see you again,’ Alan beamed. ‘It’s bitterly cold out, isn’t it?’
                  ‘They reckon it’s going to be a white Christmas,’ Alan’s wife Frances said, as she reached for the hotel room key card. ‘Room thirteen. Here you are.’

                  Denny grabbed it and raced up the stairs. He wasn’t particularly bothered about a white Christmas. He had more important things on his mind…this year, he was determined to do it. He was going to photograph the Christmas ghost!

                  It was Christmas Eve. He’d booked into The Jardine Hotel and chosen room thirteen. After unpacking his case, Denny began to fetch his new set of fancy technical equipment from the car. Cameras, tablets, audio recorders, laptops, mobiles, microphones – he had the lot!

                  As he connected it all together, he recalled the first time he met Frances and Alan. It was when Denny and his wife, Sarah, had held their wedding reception here.
                  After the photos, meal, speeches and cake cutting, the couple had told them about the hotel’s resident ghost.

                  ‘Whose ghost is it?’ Denny was intrigued.

                  ‘Emily Mason’s,’ Frances said.

                  ‘Go on,’ Denny said.

                  ‘In 1846, on Christmas Eve, Emily, a young farm girl, was cruelly jilted at the altar. When it was clear that her fiance wasn’t arriving, she ran from the church…’

                  Denny cut in. ‘The church we’ve just got married in?’

                  Frances nodded. ‘But sadly, on her way home across the fields, she slipped in the mud, sank into the river and drowned. It had been raining heavily that day and her bridal gown helped drag her down.’

                  ‘How awful,’ Sarah mumbled.

                  ‘Why does she haunt The Jardine?’ Denny asked.

                  ‘Part of it used to be the farm where she lived,’ Alan explained.

                  ‘And now at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve night, in room thirteen – that’s Emily’s bedroom – she returns to haunt her fiancé and sister,’ Frances concluded, as she drained her wine glass. ‘Sister?’ Denny was agog.

                  Alan nodded. ‘Her fiance ended up marrying Emily’s sister.’

                  ‘Really? Tell me more…’

                  ‘Come on Den, it’s time for our first dance,’ Sarah said, as she finally dragged her new husband away.

                  When the newlyweds arrived home from honeymoon, Denny set about tracking down Emily.

                  He felt strangely drawn to her. There was something eerie about discovering this tragedy of love and loss on his own wedding day…
                  After researching it online, he found the hotelier’s story to be absolutely true! He rushed to tell Sarah.

                  ‘That doesn’t mean to say there is a ghost,’ she reasoned. ‘After all, we’ve only got Frances’ and Alan’s word. They haven’t any actual evidence of a ghost.’
                  ‘True, but they haven’t tried to capture the evidence on camera. Just think Sarah! If I can manage to convince the public and press that Emily’s ghost exists, I could make a fortune!’

                  She sighed. ‘Oh Denny, please – just forget it.’

                  He slunk off to the kitchen to make coffee.
                  Sarah didn’t seem very enthusiastic about his new passion. Well, he thought, I’m going ahead with this project, no matter what!

                  Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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                    The Scottish invasion of Ireland, launched in May 1315, wreaked terrible destruction across Ireland, writes CHARLOTTE MURPHY

                    On 25th May, 1315, Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, landed at Larne harbour Co. Antrim with a powerful army consisting of six thousand men. Thus began three years of violence, bloodshed and famine, throughout most of Ireland.

                    The purpose of this invasion was to distract the attention of King Edward II of England from his determination to conquer Scotland. The Bruces assumed that if Edward had to worry about defending his lordship in Ireland he would have less time and money to spend in subduing the kingdom to the north.

                    They also hoped that when they burned and plundered Ireland, the English King could no longer draw on its supply of food and manpower for his war in Scotland.
                    The invading Scots were war-hardened soldiers clad in chain-mail; the local levies which the English in Ireland could raise against them were easily defeated.

                    In early June, Donal O’Neill and twelve fellow northern kings met with Bruce at Carrickfergus and swore fealty to him as King of Ireland. Bruce had captured the town of Carrickfergus, but not its great castle. With Irish warriors now attached to his army, Bruce moved south, through the Moyry Pass, with the intention of taking the town of Dundalk.

                    Outside the town Bruce encountered an army under the command of John FitzThomas Fitzgerald, 4th Lord of Offaly. However the Scots pushed it back into Dundalk and on 29th June, the unfortunate inhabitants were robbed and murdered, while their town was consumed by fire.

                    A poem written, approximately fifty years after the event is very graphic in relation to the actions of the Scots:
                    And in the town made such a slaughter,
                    Such a shambles, that like water
                    From lying bodies flowed the blood
                    Through streets and gutters in a flood.

                    A very large army was now collected by Richard de Burgh, the great Earl of Ulster. Bruce, taking advice from his ally Donal O’Neill, moved back up north, burned the town of Coleraine and destroyed its bridge over the river Bann in order to prevent de Burgh’s army crossing over and engaging them in battle.

                    The lack of food became a big problem for both armies but the Scots were helped by the local Irish kings, while the Earl of Ulster had to move forty miles to Antrim town to replenish his provisions.

                    With his army now fed, the Earl moved down to the episcopal centre at Connor to prepare for battle – but on 10th September, the Scots anticipated him and before he could make his army ready they flung themselves at his troops, who broke and fled.

                    Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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                      Cathal Coyle charts the extraordinary growth of the Christmas card industry

                      While the first recorded Christmas cards were sent by Michael Maier to James I of England and his son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1611 (these were discovered in 1979 by Adam McLean in the Scottish Record Office), the first commercial or manufactured Christmas card was devised by Sir Henry Cole in 1843.

                      Cole was the Founding Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and also a prominent educator and inventor. His idea of a card was a time-saving device intended to spare the busy Director from writing individual letters at Christmas to his family, friends and business colleagues.

                      He asked his friend, the painter John Callcott Horsley, to design a card with an image and brief greeting that he could mail instead.

                      Horsley’s design (main picture) depicted three generations of the Cole family raising a toast in a central hand-coloured panel surrounded by a decorative trellis and black and white scenes depicting acts of giving; the twofold message was of celebration and charity.

                      At the top of each was the salutation, “TO:_____” allowing Cole to personalise his responses, which included the generic greeting at the bottom of the centre panel “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

                      Cole then commissioned a printer to transfer the design onto cards, printing a thousand copies that could be personalised with a hand-written greeting. Horsley himself personalised his card to Cole by drawing a tiny self-portrait in the bottom right corner instead of his signature, along with the date “Xmasse, 1843”.

                      The card was lithographed on stiff cardboard in dark sepia and then coloured by hand. An edition of 1,000 cards was printed and sold at Felix Summerly’s Treasure House in London for a shilling each.

                      Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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