Irish Bus Companies

AirCoach vehicle in Dublin, Ireland

Though not an exhaustive list of all the bus companies operating in the Republic of Ireland, this hopefully sends you to the right places for more information on services that are being operated. Only, companies operating scheduled services are listed here and the compilation is bound to change over time; not only do companies come and go but I also discover new ones on an ongoing basis. If you are looking for Northern Irish companies, they are included on the British Bus Companies list but there may be a time when I turn this one into an all island list.

Aircoach

Formerly a home-grown Irish company, this First Group subsidiary has moved on from its days of getting passengers between Dublin’s city centre and from its airport to serving Galway, Cork and Belfast as well as having a number of routes operating around Dublin and Wicklow.

Bus Éireann

The company that runs the majority of the Éire’s bus services outside Dublin as well as maintaining all the Republic’s bus stations. Besides services which run between different towns and cities, Bus Éireann also runs bus services within the other cities in the Republic.

Bus Feda

The name that actually appears on these coaches is that of Feda Ó Dónaill but it is easy to see that we would be talking about the same operation. There is a bi-daily route between Donegal and Galway via Sligo and Mayo that was the cause of my realising this operation existed and there is a Donegal to Glasgow route as well. Otherwise, private hire and excursion services complete what is on offer.

Dublin Bus

Even after tendering of some of their routes to another service provider, this state owned subsidiary still runs most of the bus services in the Irish capital together with numerous commuter counterparts linking the city with areas surrounding it.

Dublin Coach

2009 wouldn’t have struck me as the best time to starting up an hourly coach service in Éire but that is what this operation is. Looking again at the website, it would appear that this is an enterprise founded by the founder of Aircoach who has gone onto other things since that enterprise was sold to First. The appearance of Quickparks on the site footer would suggest that and there also is a coach touring company catering for visitors to Ireland too.

With the start date for the new company, one had to wonder if it would succeed. It would appear that they are doing OK because they now have two routes: the M7 between Limerick and Dublin and the original N7 from Portlaoise to Dublin Airport. Frequencies are hourly on both and look very good services to be offering too, particularly given that they use coaches.

Dublin Express

This National Express currently limits itself to just one thing: running coaches between Dublin’s city centre and its airport, much as Aircoach did in its early days. The service frequency is half-hourly and even includes the city’s Heuston Station, its western train terminus, as one of its stops along the quays together with Tara Street Station for connecting with suburban and east coast train services.

Eirebus

Though primarily a private hire operation across Ireland and Scotland, their Swords Express and Fingal Express routes are enough to get them mentioned here. Both are commuter services to and from the city centre with the purpose of the first of these being self explanatory. The second one serves such localities as Skerries, Rush and Lusk at peak times on working weekdays while the first is a seven day service  offering at least a half-hourly frequency throughout the day.

Go-Ahead Ireland

There was a time when Dublin Bus operated nearly all the Irish capital city’s metropolitan bus services as well as many extending into nearby counties where commuters live. The tendering of 25 Outer Dublin Metropolitan Area (ODMA) routes changed that and Go-Ahead became the sole beneficiary. In addition, they also operate 5 Dublin Commuter routes. The state owns most if not all of the vehicles used in both contracts and Go-Ahead needed to set up new depots as well as recruited a new team of staff.

gobus.ie

This company was first an independent operator before being acquired by Veolia. However, it is independent again and based in Tuam. They run coach services that ply their way between Cork or Galway and Dublin Airport and between Ballina and Galway. The last of these is of more interest to me than limited stop airport services because it is another way explore parts of the West of Ireland.

Irish Citylink

This is the Irish cousin of Scottish Citylink and providers of services to places such as Clifden, Cork, Limerick, Shannon Airport, Galway and Dublin Airport. For a time, they actually directly owned many if not all of their coaches but that has changed to a franchising model. Unlike in Scotland where there are a number of contractors operating Citylink services, there is only one in Ireland and that is based in Galway. The result is that Citylink feels like a Galway headquartered organisation from the information presented on its website. It certainly is a counterpoint in a country where so much is headquartered in its capital city so it’s good to see that success doesn’t need it either.

J. J. Kavanagh & Sons

When I was at university in Cork, I saw coaches from this long-established (since 1919, apparently) family owned operation quite a lot. Even so, they seem to have expanded from their original Urlingford base since then to amass a not inconsiderable number of routes served by a fleet of coaches. Private hire is part of their business too but it’s the services to places like Dublin Airport and Clonmel that earns them their place in this list.

Kilbride Coaches

In addition to their private hire work, this company also operates rural routes between Kilkenny, New Ross and Graiguenamangh so that gets them an entry here and makes local explorations all the more feasible. In fact, it was a section of an Irish outdoor adventure guidebook that brought this to my attention while highlighting water sports possibilities in the area.

LocalLink

Probably more of a transport network than a bus company, this organisation complements other Irish operators by offering additional rural bus services to be used by local people. Kerry is one stronghold and there are routes in numerous other counties with one bus travelling from Skibbereen to Kinsale looking well patronised when I saw it.

M & A Coaches

It was the dropping of some stops from Bus Éireann’s Cork-Dublin Expressway coach service that was the cause of this Kilkenny-based (Ballyragget, actually) coach hire operator providing a local service to cover for the omissions after securing a contract to do so from the National Transport Authority. That was the 828 between Urlingford, Abbeyleix and Portlaoise and a newer service 828X began between Cashel, Urlingford and Portlaoise. Timetables for both of these are on the website and offer several departures a day with a more extensive service offering from Monday to Saturday than on Sundays. The main focus is on daytime services with none early in the morning and later ones on Fridays and Sundays, possibly because of folk travelling home from elsewhere, more likely Dublin, for weekends. Sometimes, focus on faster journeys can cut out others while making opportunities for more.

Matthews Coaches

On forays via Dublin Airport, I have noticed coaches operated by these people working what appeared to be scheduled services. Their website confirms that impression with places such as Dundalk, Drogheda and Bettystown being connected with Dublin’s city centre.

Wexford Bus

Not only does this operator run services around Wexford town and county but they also connect the county with Dublin and Cork too. Until the Christmas 2010 arctic weather, I hadn’t heard of them but their service frequencies look impressive for most of what they provide.