Photo of the Week - Week 15:
AX544 is seen operating the 1916 Tour on Kildare Street on the 1st June 2016.
2016 was a historic year, being the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. The Irish Tourism Board advertised widely to promote 2016 as a year to visit Ireland and join in the marking of this historic event. Bus tours were an obvious product to appeal to tourists and in the end 4 operators operated 1916 specific tours. The 1916 Freedom Tour was the first to operate, using an old Mercedes minibus converted to look like a military truck, beginning in 2015. Three other operators began operation closer to Easter 2016, namely the Rise of the Rebels Bus Tour with ex Dublin Bus AV160, Dualway's 1916 Rising Tour with ex Dublin Bus AV228, and Dublin Bus' "The 1916 Tour" using AX544, the service being launched on the 22nd February 2016.
Map showing the routing of the 1916 tour. The red circles indicate places were the bus would stop for a period of time for either an internal or external acting scene.
The Dublin Bus offering was a play on a bus, with numerous unrelated scenes of the 1916 rising being played out by two actors either on the bus or outside. There were four acts, but also smaller scenes acted while the bus was in motion. The first act on O'Connell Street ocurred before the bus started from Dublin Bus HQ on O'Connell Street. The bus then proceeded to Castle Street pulling in near the gates for the second scene, again on the bus. The 3rd scene was in St. Stephen's Green, passengers disembarking the bus and proceeding to the Summer House in the park. The 4th scene was on Ship Street Great, passengers again disembarking from the bus with the act occuring on the Castle Steps, the steps of the pedestrian walkway between Ship Street Great and Castle Street.
AX544 is seen on Great Ship Street operating the 1916 tour on the 29th December 2016. One of the actors is directing passengers to the steps where the final scene will be performed.
The 1916 tour last operated around the New Year period of 2017, meaning the photo above was on the last few days of the service. The bus was moved into storage in Harristown for a return in the springtime, however the revenue versus the cost of providing being sufficient to call time on the tour. I travelled on it on the 29th December, and I did enjoy it. However, I felt it required too much knowledge of 1916 to make any sense to non-Irish people. As a play, there was no storyline, so for the average tourist, it would have no doubt been confusing. It was also an intense production, laking the jollity of the Ghost Bus Tour, for obvious reasons. But again, the average tourist is looking for fun or interesting trivia about visible landmarks. For this reason, the 1916 Freedom Tour is most suited to the average tourist, and has returned for the 2017 season.
AX544 is seen outside HQ awaiting its next departure on the 1916 Tour on the 12th November 2016.
A rear shot of AX544 outise HQ on O'Connell Street on the 12th November 2016.
AX544 internally upstairs was done out as a tram, while downstairs was had a corridor similar to that on AV63/64, albeit with a 1916 theme as opposed to a Ghost theme. The photo below shows the upstairs of AX544. Most scenes occurred at the stairs or with the actors pacing around the upstairs of the bus, hence why half of the passengers faced backwards. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for AX544. It has been assigned to tours, so probability will see it converted to open-top, but we'll have to wait and see.
A show of the upstairs of AX544. The actor is seen in military attire, performing one of the scenes where he writes a letter to a loved one.