Éire: Local Services
Reading time: 15 minutes.
Bus service provision in Éire is changing with more private operator involvement. The time when it all was done by the state operator CIÉ is long gone and recent tendering of Dublin bus routes to Go Ahead is enough proof of that as has the expansion of private company operation of express coach routes around the country.
All this change may help with rural transport too for there is only so much that an unionised monolith can achieve, a fact that is clear when you see how its network thins out as you go further away from Dublin. Local Link is working to address these gaps on behalf of Transport for Ireland, and it looks as if their efforts are bearing fruit with a mixture of scheduled and demand-responsive services that serve places that have not seen regular bus services for years. The fact that Transport for Ireland has a journey planner on their website makes it easier to discover these extra services and those provided by other companies.
Even with the above developments, I intend to continue building up what you find here as and when I find something new to add. Since I am always open to suggestions, let me know if anything needs adding or correcting. In the meantime, I hope that what you find here has a use for you.
16: Santry - Dublin - Ballinteer
Marley Park, the northern end of the Wicklow Way, is near the Ballinteer end of this route and that’s why it is getting a mention here. From there, it’s a short hop over the M50 into the Dublin Mountains for some walking, and it is possible to continue the whole way south along the Wicklow Way; using a bus is probably a better option for doing the whole route because this does not work well with car usage.
44: Larkhill - Dublin - Enniskerry
This next to hourly service from Townsend Street in the heart of Dublin lands you out near Powerscourt, a heritage property nestling in some fine hill country. You can skip Powerscourt and head directly for the hills and the Wicklow Way if you want, but there’s no need to bring your car with this travel option.
45A: Dun Laoghaire - Bray - Kilmacanogue
The location of the Great Sugarloaf next to Kilmacanogue makes it a great little hill to explore when you’ve only got a few hours to spare and being at the end of a bus route with a decent frequency helps too. This route replaced one between Dublin city centre and Kilmacanogue that had scheduled journey times of 85 minutes. Combining that bus service with a ride of the DART system shortened journeys and the usefulness of that approach matters more with the replacement bus service not serving Dublin’s city centre at all.
65: Dublin - Blessington/Ballymore
Blessington finds itself right beside the Poulaphuca Reservoir (otherwise known as the Blessington Lakes) and beyond those lie the Wicklow Mountains. That makes the sixty-minute journey using this bus service worthwhile and there’s so much to explore that you might never run out of places to savour.
226: Kinsale - Cork Airport - Cork Bus Station (Parnell Place) - Kent Station
This service is an amalgamation of the previous route 226 from Cork’s city to its airport and the 249 route from Cork to Kinsale. Even with the old state of affairs, there still were plenty of bus journeys serving Cork Airport and I remember seeing buses plying that route emblazoned with self-promoting liveries while I still lived in the city, just as I did with those buses heading off into West Cork.
Cork’s railway gets linked in now that the new 226 is in place. Now, it is possible to get directly from anywhere on the Irish railway network to Cork Airport or destinations on the way to Kinsale too. The latter makes a West Cork getaway using public transport a more realistic possibility, for those in Ireland as much as those from beyond its shores. It also works to the advantage of those living around Kinsale too though Garretstown has lost its occasional bus service in the process.
236: Cork - Dunmanway - Bantry - Glengarriff - Castletownbere
237: Cork - Clonakilty - Skibbereen - Schull - Goleen
239: Cork - Bandon - Courtmacsherry - Butlerstown
The main reason for bundling together these services is that they all serve Bandon before going on different routes beyond there and the 239 timetable is a summary one for the others. It is the scenery that is to be found that makes these routes attractive though the service timings may not make day trips a possibility always. Some places are served at different times on different days of the week, so these timetables need studying though there is a reasonable service level for much of that day across all the week.
245: Cork - Fermoy - Mitchelstown - Ballyporeen - Clogheen - Ardfinnan - Clonmel
The mainstay of this route is the portion between Cork and Fermoy that enjoys an hourly frequency every day of the week apart from Sunday. There also are Monday to Friday inbound morning extensions to Munster Technological University during that college’s term time, but there is nothing in the opposite direction, so students need to change buses in Cork city centre on their way home.
What particularly interests me are those extensions as far as Clonmel (Mitchelstown is a terminus in some cases)since that is near the northern edge of the Comeragh Mountains. Both Ballyporeen (which has associations with former U.S. President Ronald Reagan) and Clogheen (associated with Roman Catholic martyr Fr. Nicholas Sheehy) are access points for the Knockmealdown Mountains with their selection of long-distance walking routes. The latter of these also is near the scenic vantage point that is The Vee. Weekends see two or three journeys over the whole route while this doubles on other days of the week. Journey times are around two hours so that may limit some day trips but extensive coverage from early morning to late evening on many days of the week may allow early starts and late finishes that compensate for this.
270: Killarney - Glenflesk - Kilgarvan - Kenmare
One thing that has entered my mind is the possibility of walking from Kenmare using part of the route of the Kerry Way. That happened during a visit to the place that saw me hike to the top of Torc Mountain. To make that happen, this bus service would help but service frequencies are not extensive with one each-way journey on Sundays and bank holidays, two each-way journeys on Saturdays and three each-way journeys on other days of the week (there is an additional service between Kenmare and Sneem on Fridays). It does not help that the last departure of the day from Kenmare is at around 16:00 when you are based in Killarney. The service clearly is one for local people and that makes sense when visitors are transitory. Nevertheless, it does have a use during the longer hours of daylight in the summer months.
275: Tralee - Blennerville - Camp - Annascaul - Lispole - Dingle
Perhaps because there was a previous railway connection that no longer exists, Tralee and Dingle are well-connected by this bus service. On Sundays and bank holidays, there are five or six journeys in each direction while this rises to nine or ten on other days of the week. That is just as well since there is mountainous countryside to explore along the Dingle Peninsula and I made good use of the service for doing just that when the weather allowed during a stay in Tralee.
277: Dingle - Ventry - Ballyferriter - Dunquin
There was a time when this route was served by Bus Éireann, yet that is no longer the case, and it is no part of the Kerry Local Link network. Most are door-to-door services that need advance booking, but this one is scheduled to operate every day of the week. There are three journeys in each direction on Sundays and bank holidays while other days of the week get eight journeys in each direction, even if some have Ventry as a terminus instead of Dunquin. Many offer connections with ongoing bus services to and from Tralee.
314: Limerick - Askeaton - Foynes - Tarbert - Listowel - Moyvane - Ballybunion
This is one of the longer local routes in Ireland with the whole route taking in excess of two hours to travel. There are four journeys in each direction seven days a week, while the section between Limerick and Foynes sees additional journeys from Monday to Saturday to bring the frequency to near two-hourly. In fact, the shorter portion once comprised the whole route, with extensions into Kerry only happening during the Irish primary school holiday season. The added service level and newer buses mean that this feels more usable than it ever did, as I found out for myself not so long ago.
323: Limerick - Nenagh
It was for getting back to Limerick after a day out along Lough Derg and the hills near Killaloe that I first made use of this service. Though linked by a long single track bridge, Killaloe and Ballina are separate places in different counties (the first is in Clare while the second is in Tipperary) even if they work together to promote themselves as visitor destinations.
Returning to the bus service, there are three journeys in each direction on Sundays while there are seven covering the full length of the route on other days of the week. You will find extra supplementary ones serving different places in the Monday to Friday timetable. Timings are useful too, so this is a worthwhile service to know.
343: Limerick - Shannon Airport - Ennis
While the 51 Cork-Galway timetable is a good one, I am adding this local service to complete the picture for you and there seem to be plenty of possible journeys too. Hopefully, they’ll cut down on the need for car hire for getting about.
345: Limerick - Scarriff
On Sundays, there are two journeys in each direction on this route and the frequency increases to three on other days of the week. What brought the Bus Éireann offering to my notice was that it could get me to Killaloe on the banks of the River Shannon while Lough Derg was not far away either. There are some hills nearby and the East Clare Way is a useful walking route around them, so the lure was heightened.
350: Galway - Kinvara - Doolin - Cliffs of Moher - Ennis
This route was made from the combination of no less than three predecessors and runs each day of the week too. There also seems to be a year-round core service with extra journeys during the peak tourist season. With the delights in west Clare like the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, that is perhaps not too surprising and there is Dunguaire Castle near Kinvara too. The timetable may need some studying if you use the service, but it is not the only route with that quality.
360: Waterford - Tramore
360A: Waterford - Waterford Institute of Technology - Tramore
When I saw the announcement of this new timetable on the Bus Éireann website, curiosity led me to check it out and the half-hourly frequency for so much of the week amazed me; it is only Sunday mornings and early afternoons or later on weekday evenings that see an hourly service. The spread of the day that is covered starts early in the morning and extends late into the night. The 360A operates to and from WIT at peak times from Monday to Friday with the 360 operating at all other times.
363: Dungarvan - Cappoquin - Lismore - Tallow
It was my curiosity about getting to Cappoquin for some hill wandering in the Knockmealdown Mountains and maybe a visit to Mount Melleray Abbey, a former haunt of my late parents whenever rhododendrons bloomed around there. Lismore is another worthwhile post of call with its well-known castle and gardens. Handily, there is a regular seven-day service for getting to these places from Dungarvan, itself well-connected by Bus Éireann and Dublin Coach services. There are four return journeys on Sundays and an up to hourly frequency on other days of the week.
391: Thurles - Newport - Limerick
My interest in this daily service arose because it got me from Limerick to Newport, from where I could walk to the Clare Glens and into the Slieve Felim hills. There are three journeys in each direction every day and these extend coverage from early morning to early evening depending on where you need to catch the coach that is used. Aside from leisure users like me, students and commuters also make good use of the service since it gets to the University of Limerick and Limerick’s city centre at a good time every morning. The first departure of the day from Limerick may not leave as scheduled but does so a few minutes afterwards, but that caused no trouble for me.
419: Galway - Clifden (- Westport)
This is a Bus Éireann service and some route variations complicate the timetable, but it is usable all the same. Irish Citylink offering (see below) serve many of the same places so combining the two can open up a lot of options, especially on a Sunday when the Bus Éireann is much more limited than on other days of the day. The Westport extension seems to be a peak summer holiday operation with one journey in each direction when it is available.
424: Galway - Carraroe - Lettermullen/Carna
Access to the Aran Islands via ferry connections from Rossaveal get facilitated by this seven-day service that follows the southern coastline of County Galway and Connemara. Service times are somewhat irregular, so close attention to the timetable is a must even for the main route between Galway and Carraroe with other termini like Lettermullen or Carna getting one journey in each direction on most days of the week.
456: Galway - Headford - Kilmaine - Ballinrobe - Castlebar
It is the more regular service to Westport that caused this service to catch my eye since it sits at the head of Clew Bay. The seven-day service enjoys a three hourly frequency on all days, so there is regularity about the operation even with the wide spacings across the day.
490: Donegal - Killybegs - Glencolumbkille
492: Donegal - Killybegs - Glenties - Dungloe
Both of these services head into the Donegal Gaeltacht from Donegal town, so I have bundled them together here. Though Bus Éireann is the main licence holder for these routes, local firm McGeehan’s Coaches work with them to operate many of the journeys. Very oddly, there seem to be more journeys to the likes of Glencolumbkille and Dungloe than there is from them, so it looks as if things are set up to meet Expressway services between Donegal and Dublin rather than serving the local area; that may explain the number of evening services starting from Donegal in the evening too. That may explain how timings are not set up for an out and back day trip from Donegal town though the opposite is possible. In a way, that’s a pity because there is plenty of alluring coastal scenery around here with Slieve League being beside the route of the 490 and Dungloe being at the head of a bay with islands at its foot. However, staying longer than a mere day might be warranted anyway with what’s on offer.
521: Newcastle West - Castlemahon - Feoghanagh - Kilmeedy - Feenagh - Dromcollogher - Milford - Newtownshandrum - Charleville
For a long time, there has been no public bus service operating within reach of the place where I had my upbringing. This useful seven day hail and ride offering only started a few years ago as a Local Link concession for Transport for Ireland, and its times of operation often extend from early until late too. There are four journeys in each direction on Sundays, seven journeys in each direction from Monday to Wednesday and nine journeys in each direction from Thursday to Saturday. Even with the now extensive service level, there are some gaps in the timetable that can catch you out, so it pays to take care, especially if making a connection to or from another service.
923: Galway - Clifden - Cleggan - Letterfrack
All bus routes in Ireland are supposed to be numbered, but there is no sign of one for this one. That does nothing to take from the fact that the timings are useful and there are those valuable extensions to Letterfrack and/or Cleggan too. The Irish Citylink service not only offers a useful way to reach Connemara because connections to the Inishbofin are possible at Cleggan. Then, there’s the matter of the timetable being more standardised than its Bus Éireann counterpart.
C4: Maynooth - Celbridge - Dublin (Ringsend)
C6: Dublin (Ringsend Road) - Celbridge - Maynooth
X28: Celbridge (Salesian College) - UCD/St. Stephen’s Green
There used to be a time when visits to Éire took me to Celbridge at times and forbears to these services came in very handy though the numbering changed during a reorganisation in November 2021. The C4 is the main daytime service and the frequency largely is half-hourly with the C6 being a nighttime bus service. By all accounts, the X28 is a university student service that operates at peak times only from Monday-Friday and not on bank holidays; UCD is one of Ireland’s largest universities.