Galway 1st August 2009:
View of WVL189 on the Salmon Weir Bridge operating an Eastbound service of Route 2 (Route 2E) to Lisbeg Lawn. Galway Cathedral is shown in the Background.
"As I rode down to Galway Town to seek for recreation,
On the first day of August, me mind been elevated,
There were multitudes assembled with their tickets at the station,
Me eyes began to dazzle and I'm goin' to see the races.
With your whack-fa-the-da-for-the-diddle-ee-iddle-day."
There is always something magical about the Galway races, a weeklong extravanganza of racing, socialising, and for us bus enthusiasts, some strange workings on the races shuttle. The City of the Tribes never disappoints in being a hive of bus activity, but come races weekend it provides endless cover stories for the waiting bus paparazzi.
VC52 departing the Western side of Eyre Square.
VC36, departing for the races, is seen turning on the Northern part of Eyre Square.
VC48 departing for The Races.
VC125 departing for The Races.
Bus Eireann provided an excellent day-long shuttle service to and from the Ballybrit racecourse. With services beginning at 11.00a.m on Saturday, there was a constant stream of buses heading to the races. Throngs of people were quickly loaded onto the waiting buses on Eyre Square and at busy times it was not uncommon for three coaches to depart together full to the brim.
The services departed from the Western side of Eyre Square which was made into an efficient makeshift loading location right in the centre of the city next to the train station. The bus station located alongside the station itself was bulging with the other day-to-day activities of Galway bus services and clearly would have been unable to cope with the constant arrival and departure of race shuttle buses.
The majority of the shuttles were operated by VCs (Volvo B10Ms with Caetano bodywork) assigned in the Galway region to school services. The 4 VCs shown above, VC52, 36, 48 and 125, are some of the VCs which operated the service and clearly show the slight modifications made. The yellow 'bus scoile' destination board has been blacked out with a sticker and so have the two yellow schoolchild symbols either side of the front Bus Eireann logo.
There were of course some exceptions to the VC rule and two of the more varied coaches that appeared were SP33 (a Scania K340 EB with Irizar PB bodywork) and VG12 (a Volvo B12M with Sunsundegui bodywork).
SP33 seen on Eyre Square operating to the Ballybrit racecourse, the LED display being used to good effect to display bi-lingual destinations.
VG12 seen departing for The Races.
City buses were not seen much on the races services, therefore the most interesting operating noted was that of MC17 (Mercedes Citaro). This photo shows the set up of the departure point. Yellow railings were placed on both sides, with a queuing area visible on the right side of the photo.The waiting crowds dressed to impress are also visible awaiting the shuttle.
The Gardai also played a valuable role in keeping the shuttle services moving and were on hand to stop traffic to allow the full buses to depart quickly. The photo of MC17 departing for the racecourse shows the operation in full swing.
Finally VP302 (Volvo B10M with Plaxton Premiere bodywork) operated the final shuttle of the day with a 16:30 departure from Eyre Square. By this time the crowds had dissappeared, the yellow railings have been removed and only the last of the straglers awaited transportation.
MC17 is seen awaiting departure to the Racecourse.
MC17 is seen departing for the Races.
VP302 awaits departure on the final shuttle service on 1-8-2009.
Galway is one of the primary departure points on the expressway network. The Bus Eireann coaches depart from directly outside the station. The pathways are cramped and narrow and the multitude of buses departing to all those different places makes the operation very hectic. Its a haven for the bus enthusiast, with buses coming and going with quick regularity.
The first photo is taken at the foot of the station road at the junction with Eyre Square. SP35 is unloading a large load of European students with the impressive Ceannt Station seen in the background. The image of SP21 below shows the cramped nature of the bus station footpath, the words "luggage door in operation" something not to ignore. The final image taken in the station is of SP20 arriving into Galway with SC232 loading a large group of students. SP232 had just arrived in from Eyrecourt, though it is most likely loading for somewhere else as the photo was taken at about 12pm.
SP35 at Galway Train Station.
SP21 seen at Galway Train Station.
SP20 and SC232 seen at Galway Bus Station.
Galway has a number of expressway services with the 20 to Dublin, the 50 to the Cliffs of Moher, the 51 to Cork, the 52 to Westport, the 53 to Derry, the 54 to Kerry, the 55 to Roslare, the 57 to Ballina, the 64 to Knock, the 65 to Belfast, the 70 to Dundalk and the 78 to Belfast via Athlone.
The 51 runs a frequent hourly service seven days a week from Galway to Cork. SP96 is seen operating the 51 on Eyre Square, while SP9 is seen displaying 51 on the Northern end of Eyre Square.
SP96 seen operating Route 51.
SP9 seen displaying Route 51 to Cork on Eyre Square. Note the sign in the window noting "Bus Off Service".
Galway has a large amount of Local Rural services as well as its expressway network. SR38 is seen on Father Griffin Road on the 424 to Spiddal. Later on in the day, SC282 is seen on the same route in the same location. A less frequent route is the service from the Station to Galway Aiport, operating only once on a Saturday. The 1300 departure from Ceannt Station was operated by VG13.
SR38 on Father Griffin Road operating Route 424
SC282 on Father Griffin Road operating Route 424
VG13 on Eyre Square.
Bus Eireann also operates city services in and around Galway City. They are operated by a varied selection of vehicles. Around the city on the 1st August 2009, were DPC18 on the 3 from Eyre Square to Ballybrit, DPC21 on the 9A (Eyre Square to Galway Clinic), MC13 on the 1S to Salthill, MC16 on an Eastern bound service to Merlin park, VWL156 on the 7 to Ballinfoyle, VWL186 on the 8 to Mervue, VWL185 on an Eastern Bound Service of Route 2 to Lisbeg Lawn and VWL189 on the 5 to Ballybane.
DPC18 on Eyre Square on Route 3 (Eyre Square to Ballybrit).
DPC21 laying over at Galway Station displaying 9A (Eyre Square to Galway Clinic).
MC13 seen on Victoria Place operating the 1S to Salthill.
MC16 seen on Eyre Square operating the 4E (Eyre Square to Merlin Park).
VWL156 seen turning off Forster Street onto Eyre Square to take up service on a 7 from Eyre Square to Ballinfoyle.
VWL186 on Merchant's Road on Route 8 (Eyre Square to Mervue).
VWL185 on an Eastern Bound service of Route 2 to Lisbeg Lawn.
VWL189 on Eyre Square operating Route 5 (Rahoon-Ballybane).
One of the more interesting pictures of the day was taken on St. Francis Street. VWL189 is seen loading on the Western section of Route 5 to Rahoon. Behind is VC122, normally a schools bus, operaing a scheduled service to Moycullen.
VWL189 and VC122 on St. Francis Street.
As well as a very strong presence from Bus Eireann Galway also has many private operations vying for business. A new bus station has recently opened on Fairgreen Road for private operators. Citylink operate services from Galway to Dublin, Shannon Airport, Cork Airport and Clifden. Scania Irizar PB Coach (05 G 8886) is seen on Eyre Square operating a return service from Clifden, a route Citylink have been operating since October 2007.
Another private operator is City Direct Gaillimh. Operating Route 33 to Knocknacarra is ex-London Central's Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart SLF (96 G 8209) in overall avertising for Vodafone. The other bus in service on the 1st August was ex Metroline Dennis Dart SLF (98 G 10681).
Scania Irizar seen on Eyre Square.
Plaxton Pointer Dennis Dart on Service 33 to Knocknacarra.
Competition on the Sightseeing Services is fierce with 3 companies operating city tours. Of interest to the Dublin reader is ex-Dublin Bus RH98 in service with Lally's of Galway on their Old Galway Tour.
RH98 laying over on Forster Place awaiting its first (10.30a.m.) departure of the day.
RH98 on the Galway City Tour seen passing the Cathedral.
RH98 in stance outside the Galway Tourist Information Centre on Eyre Square.
The other companies operating city tours are Healy's Galway Sightseeing Tour and Galway City Tour with operates an ex Arriva London MCW Metroliner on its tour.
85 G 2349 on Healy's Galway Sightseeing Tour seen loading on Eyre Square.
Ex Arriva MCW Metroliner laying over on Forthill Street prior to beginning its day on the Galway City Tour .
Ex Arriva MCW Metroliner operating the Galway City Tour on Merchant's Road.
Lally's also operate a shuttle to the Arran Islands. Recently acquired ex-Dublin RA210 has been noted in service on this shuttle, however there was no such luck on the 1st August. Eact Lancs bodied Volvo B7TL, originally acquired but never used by Malahide Coaches, is seen on Victoria Place awaiting departure on the 11:00a.m. shuttle to the ferry.
East Lancs Volvo B7TL awaiting departure on the Aran Islands Shuttle.
This very long feature ends with a few photos of the strangest looking contraption in service around Galway. It is operated by the Galway Tour Company and is a Mercedes of some description.
97 LK 99 seen on Eyre Square.
Rear shot of 97 LK 99 seen on Eyre Square in heavy traffic.