THE RYLANE BUS
By Lil Healy
No route number, but just “Rylane” on the display unit at the top, and maybe a sticker on the windscreen showing that it served Leemount, Cloghroe, and Ballyshonin, but to all the regular passengers there was no need to look for the name, as each bus had its own allotted space at the Bus Office, known to all as just “Parnell Place”. The Rylane bus spent over half its journey travelling through the parish of Inniscarra, from the “pond” at Rea to the Angler’s Rest and back.
A bus ran from Rylane long before CIE, now known as Bus Eireann, serviced the route. The Crowley family, Rylane, originally ran a service and this operator was so far sighted that when the route was taken over by CIE an undertaking had to be given that the service to Rylane would always continue. The Crowley bus was known as the “Bluebird” while there was also another service provider, Jerh Ring, also from Rylan, and he operated the “St. Anthony” at that time. These buses ran one day per week and on special occasions such as the 8th of December, the traditional Christmas shopping day for country folk. These were the only means of transport to Cork for many people at the time as cars were very scarce on the ground. In the 1960’s, 70’s and mid-80’s there was an 8am service to Cork City and a 4pm and 6pm return each day, Monday to Saturday. This was a significant development as it allowed people to travel as and when it suited them and facilitated students and workers alike. There was no Sunday service. There was also an 11am bus to Cork on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, which originated in Tralee.
The bus not alone carried people, but many other goods items as well. Newspapers were delivered daily to shops on the route. Whitaker’s Hatcheries would arrive at the bus station with boxes and boxes of day old chicks destined for all around the county and the Rylane bus always got its fair share of these boxes, with holes punched at the sides and the chirping little chicks nestled inside. These were carefully placed towards the front of the bus, often taking over the front seats and were delivered by the conductor at various stops on the route. In the springtime, one particular gardener brought his bundles of rhubarb in the early morning bus, destined for the market.
Cars were not plentiful up to the 1970’s and the bus was the only means of transport for school children, workers and shoppers. The bus was usually full to capacity, often three to a seat and many more standing. There were some great friendships formed on the bus.
The drivers and conductor knew all the regular stops and if a person was not at the stop they would stop anyhow and wait a few minutes in case anyone was late. In those days there were “bus paths” and one that comes to mind is on the rocky part of the road between the Fountain and Blairs, and the commuters came on the path that went across the fields and down the glen to the main road. This path took miles off the journey if they went by road.
At Ballyshonin Cross, the mass path, “The Long Ditch”, from Berrings Cross to Ballyshonin was used.
Back in the 60’s and 70’s snow was commonplace in the winter and apart from a track on the roadway snow was piled high, but the Rylane bus rarely failed to make it’s trip. It must be noted that it never left its passengers stranded onwards from Rylane. The snow always got lighter and lighter nearer the city until not a trace was visible when we arrived in Cork.
DRIVERS:
Dick Brown, later transferred to Donoughmore
Tom Downey
Paddy Allen, (father of John Allen, former manager of Cork hurling team).
John Burke.
CONDUCTORS:
Jerry Noonan – may have been the only conductor but certainly the last as conductors were phased out and became driver only buses. Jerry was an outstanding conductor to all, young and old, he helped everybody with their parcels on and off the bus placing them safely overhead. A courteous, gentle man his authority was respected by all, one look was enough.
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Driver Tom Downey with Conductor Jerry Noonan
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Jerry Noonan with daughter Mary and grandchildren
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A tribute to Jerry Noonan on his retirement