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Trunk Services: Éire

Reading time: 7 minutes.

There was a time when all of the services that you’ll find highlighted here are operated by Bus Éireann as part of their commercial Expressway network. The ongoing pandemic has had a marked effect on operations as has the growth of private operators like J. J. Kavanagh, Irish Citylink, Aircoach and Dublin Coach. Both pressures have meant the withdrawal of services between Dublin and city destinations like Cork, Galway and Limerick so it looks as if I need to add routes belonging to those other companies to make things a little more complete. This is a living list so it will change over time anyway.

Bus Éireann Expressway coach at Limerick Bus Station, Éire

2: Dublin Airport - Dublin - Arklow - Gorey - Enniscorthy - Wexford - Rosslare

Here’s an admission: I have been playing with the idea of crossing to Dublin from Holyhead and then returning home via a Rosslare-Pembrokeshire ferry instead. Train timings don’t make this work so well but this hourly service makes things a lot easier. Handily, it serves Dublin Airport too as well as places in Wicklow and other parts of Wexford county. All in all, it makes a daft notion workable should I ever choose to make it happen.

2 Timetable

13: Limerick - Listowel - Tralee

This service shares part of its route with the Limerick - Killarney Expressway service (14, see below for more on this) between Limerick and Abbeyfeale making for an hourly service along the County Limerick portion of the N21. In County Kerry, the frequency becomes two hourly for much of the day and it extends later into the evening than I had expected too.

13 Timetable

14: Limerick - Castleisland - Kerry Airport - Killarney

For the record, this service calls at all the major towns near the N21 in West Limerick and that makes it interesting to me for more than getting between Limerick city and the airport at Farranfore or Killarney. Service frequency is two-hourly and covers a good stretch of the day too. This looks like a useful one for those planning a visit to what is a scenic part of the planet.

14 Timetable

30: Dublin - Dublin Airport - Cavan - Donegal - West Donegal

Here’s an intriguing prospect, a fairly straightforward way of getting from the heart of Dublin and its airport to the western reaches of Donegal. While you may have to study the timetable carefully and make sure that you change buses as needed, it’s still nice to have a possible route mapped out for you and I suspect that this is a part of Ireland that’s worth exploring too. Also, I have a suspicion that it won’t be all that crowded either.

30 Timetable

40: Rosslare Harbour - Waterford - Cork - Tralee

For some reason, I managed to get it into my head that the connection between Cork and Killarney was poor but the discovery of this route changes all of that. After all, the service frequency between Cork and Tralee is hourly most of the time so I am wondering quite how I managed not to find the service before now. The next to the hourly extension to Rosslare is a revelation too though I have to admit that going to Ireland via Rosslare would make a massive round trip for me. Nevertheless, it’s an option that might need to be considered if arctic weather ever blights Dublin Airport again.

40 Timetable

51: Cork - Limerick - Shannon Airport - Ennis - Galway

In my U.C.C. days, there were times during the summer when I made use of the southern section of this service to travel between Charleville and Cork. Then, the frequency was near to two-hourly and there were occasions when two vehicles operated some departures from Parnell Place Bus Station in Cork. On one occasion, the second vehicle was an elderly interurban bus mainly used for services to West Cork and it felt a comedown from the more usual coaches. Something tells me that things have moved on a lot since then with the service frequency extended to hourly for most of the timetable. Interestingly, not much distinction is made between Sundays and Public Holidays either. Another change has been the making more calls to Shannon Airport and my spending several frustrating hours there before Christmas 2010 is what’s caused me to look at what travel options are available from the airport. Unlike my tarnished impressions of Aer Lingus, this service doesn’t look at all shabby nowadays.

51 Timetable

55: Limerick - Waterford

For a long time, I often saw buses operating this service waiting to depart at Limerick bus station while awaiting those going to other places yet I paid no attention to where it went. On surveying OSi maps, that has changed because I have noticed that the towns of Tipperary and Clonmel have hill country on their doorsteps. The latter is on the route of the Ballyhoura Way and near to both the Glen of Aherlow and the Galtee Mountains while the Comeragh Mountains are abutting the latter.

For getting to these places, it helps that there are plenty of buses operating to a near clockface timetable every day of the week. What you do not get is an hourly service frequency over the whole day so you need to check your departure times since some of the hourly slots are not taken or are used only on certain days of the week. Given that, it should be useful for getting into these Irish hills.

55 Timetable

64: Galway − Ireland West Airport (Knock) − Sligo − Derry

This is one of the more unusual Expressway services that Bus Éireann operates. It is both a cross-country and cross-border service that crosses the counties of Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and Derry. The timetable may have its eccentricities but there are up to ten journeys each way a day even if not all of those go the full length of the route. Using one of those might be a way of passing through a part of Ireland that I scarcely have seen in the flesh at all.

64 Timetable

245X: Cork - Dublin

For a long time, Bus Éireann did not operate any long-distance service between Cork and Dublin apart from one offered as part of a joint venture with GoBus that appears to have come to an end. That only served Dublin city centre in addition to its termini of Cork and Dublin Airport and now appears to be an entirely GoBus offering. In contrast, the 245X runs between both city centres four times daily with calls to Fermoy, Mitchelstown, Caher and Cashel that complement stops at Newlands Cross, Heuston train station and Busáras in Dublin itself. This is no reprise of the defunct X8 but it does make one wonder about the return of another service between Limerick and Dublin.

245X Timetable

300: Ennis/Killarney/Tralee - Limerick - Kildare - Dublin

The operator of this service first came to my notice during the Great Recession and I remarked that it was an odd time to be starting a new transport venture but it has persisted and thrived. The extensive timetable of this daily service is ample evidence of that with half-hourly departures from Dublin and Limerick for much of the day and the same extent applies to the hourly frequency that is enjoyed by Ennis. Tralee and Killarney are serviced on an alternate basis with places in West Limerick like Adare, Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale also enjoying an hourly service level. While Dublin is not served between 00:00 and 06:00 unless there are delayed arrivals, the same cannot be said for the counties of Clare, Kerry and Limerick since they get the elements of a useful overnight service that I can see nighttime revellers using. You do have to change at the Red Cow interchange to get to Dublin Airport though, while other operators like J. J. Kavanagh and Irish Citylink (using their Eireagle brand) offer a direct service from Limerick to that destination.

300 Timetable

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