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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# journal journeys
"A fabulous, happy day" - 100 reasons to get on board Journeys
We have partnered with Irish Rail to give almost 5,000 return trips away to worthy community groups like these…


THERE ARE FEW nicer ways of seeing a country than travelling by train.

You can sleep, relax, take in the scenery – all while gently rocking your way to your destination, and all far from the madding crowd of road traffic.

And an even nicer way of travelling by train? Travelling for free of course.

Irish Rail, in partnership with, is offering up to 100 groups of people a free return rail journey.

If you fancy being in with a chance to win a free trip for you and a group of your choice (up to 50 people per group), all you need to do is fill out this form.

And, while we think it’s a pretty cool prize, there’s no need to take our word for it – we had a chat with two of last year’s winners who got to take a free journey on Irish Rail.

Kilsheelan Scout Group take a trip to Dublin zoo

1 The group pictured at the Wellington Monument

Group leader of Kilsheelan Scout Group, south Tipperary,  Jim Tobin, a milk farmer by trade, has nothing but praise for the trip laid on for his scout troupe by Irish Rail.

“We have all sorts in our group – beavers, cubs, scouts, you name it. We heard about the competition on Countrywide and I thought  it’d be a nice thing to do with the group so I entered us,” he says.

All in all it’s a really lovely idea. We brought 49 with us and got the train up from Clonmel first thing in the morning.

11 All aboard!

Jim says he “couldn’t speak more highly of the staff on the train”.

“They were brilliant with the kids. We got to Heuston and walked the whole contingent up to the Phoenix Park,” says Jim.

We had lunch at the Wellington Monument and then spent the rest of the day in the zoo.

7 Meeting some rhinos

“It’s a lovely idea, we had one little fella who had never been and was just obsessed with the penguins,” adds Jim, who said the trip made a “nice break from cutting silage and spreading fertiliser”.

We did the whole day with lunch for about €13 or €14 a head, so we were doing well.

33 ... and penguins...

“It’s a great competition, I couldn’t speak highly enough of it,” adds Jim.

Season Shuttles and a cruise on the River Shannon

IMG_6164 The Shuttles on a sunny day by the Shannon in the centre of Ireland

Season Shuttles is a Special Olympians’ badminton club set up on Dublin’s southside in 2005.

“Every year we try to arrange an annual event for the athletes,” coordinator Sinéad Buckley says. “We had actually tried for the Irish Rail trip before so last year we entered again. We were thrilled when we won.”

The Shuttles were formed in the aftermath of Ireland hosting the 2003 Special Olympics. “It’s really great activity,” says Sinéad. “but it’s also all about the friendship and the camaraderie.”


For the Irish Rail trip, about 30 athletes and family members all told made the trip from Dublin to Athlone on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning.

“The main focus of the trip was a cruise on a Viking ship on Lough Ree,” says Sinéad.

The train trip down was absolutely brilliant though. We were treated royally by the Irish Rail staff, and all the athletes really enjoyed it. And after it we got to have our lunch in the Prince of Wales hotel.


After the cruise, the group took in the sights of Athlone for the afternoon.

It was a really great, fabulous day for all the athletes and their families,” says Sinéad.

We spent the afternoon shopping and seeing the sights. It was such a memorable, happy day.

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