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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
bus tales

A bunny on the bus, a seagull on the head and a saucy surprise: 30 years of Dublin Bus

The company is celebrating 30 years in existence today.

Fennell Photography 2017 Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography Some of the longest-serving Dublin Bus staff at the launch of the book. Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography / Fennell Photography

EVERYONE IN THE capital is familiar with the blue and yellow of Dublin Bus.

But it wasn’t always so. Aside from the formerly green fleet, the company wasn’t always called Dublin Bus.

In fact, it was 30 years ago today that the company was formed out of CIE. To celebrate, it has released a book of some of its best stories from the last three decades.

These include one from Dessie O’Toole who has been working as a driver since January 1975 and is now mostly seen on the 84 route. He describes the company as a “great place”.

“There was a woman who lived in Bray named Ethel who lived in a fisherman’s cottage across from the 45 terminus.

She had a seagull called Maureen. It was a pet to her, but not to anybody else. She had an unusual voice and would call ‘Maureen’ and the bird would come straight down to her and come to her.

“A photo of Maureen on Ethel’s head was turned into a postcard for Bray.”

Dessie’s also recalls one incident where the snow tried to wreak havoc with his route.

“There are so many stories you can tell. In 1976 or ’77 we were starting in Dun Laoghaire and around 5pm it started to snow as we got into Bray.

Two buses had tried to get down the hill outside what is now Tesco but couldn’t so we were stuck. We went around the back of the supermarket, got some pallets and made a fire.

“The residents of the housing estate came out and, being Sunday, they went in to make us food from the remainder of the Sunday roast.

“It was a bit of craic.”

The wedding singer

Fennell Photography 2017 Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography Sean Hyland (who joined the company in 1983) and Theresa Lydon (joined the company in 1984). Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography / Fennell Photography

Theresa Lydon is another who has been with the company for more than 30 years. She tells a story about how she was a vital guest at a wedding.

I used to run a folk group in Ballymun and I booked a bus for a friend of mine who was getting married. I brought the bus to the church, sang at the wedding, then put the guests on the bus and brought them to the afters.

Theresa, who drives the 220, 39 and 37 routes, says that she has seen the number of women drivers grow massively.

“When I joined, there wasn’t many… but there’s a good blend now.

“I was only a child going in… I was only 18. But it’s been a great company to work for.”

Hold on to the turkey

Craig Shearer is another whose service outdates the Dublin Bus moniker.

He says that a story carried in the book – about how a rabbit was found aboard the number 16 bus in 1989 – was replicated recently enough.

“There’s a family of foxes living near Broadstone depot and one evening a driver went out to UCD around 4pm.

“The first passenger got on and said, ‘Driver, there’s a fox upstairs’.

The mammy had got on the bus, so he had to close the doors and head back to the depot.

Craig’s favourite story also involves an animal, though a slightly different type.

“Around Christmas we have the seasonals – seasonal drinkers and seasonal travellers. There are people who don’t really drink or get the bus, but around Christmas they do.

“There was this one guy out in Tallaght about 20 years ago. He got a turkey, rang the wife and said he was going for a quick drink.

“She said to him, ‘Don’t forget the turkey, whatever you do.’ He stayed in the pub longer than he’d anticipated and fell asleep on the bus in the middle doors.

He must have remembered the turkey as he fell asleep because we found him back in Ringsend garage, asleep in the middle doors on his back, holding onto the turkey!

The book also recounts how a red-faced woman had to ask an inspector not to open her bag in a search for a lost ticket – because it contained a large amount of lingerie. The ticket was eventually found.

The book will be displayed in depots around Dublin this month.

Read: New routes, new buses and paying by card: 7,000 people have say on future of Dublin bus network

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