The last Tram to Dalkey
Barry Mullen
King of Dalkey Festival Yearbook 1989

The month of July in the summer of 1949 did not provide any worldwide incident of note which people would be able to recall instantly in the years ahead. The economies and inhabitants of most nations were still recovering from the traumas of World War 11 or The Emergency as it was known here. The port of London experienced a three week long strike by Dockers, Ireland's Harry Bradshaw lost the British Open Golf Championship following a play off and Pope Pius X11 warned that any catholic found to be aiding the Communists would be excommunicated.

The people of Dalkey of that time who are still with us remember that particular month for an entirely different reason. An event took place in the town, which brought an era to a close. The happening in question was the departure of the No. 8 tram from Nelson's Pillar for its last journey to the terminus in Castle Street, Dalkey. On board the tram that fine Saturday evening apart from those there for purely nostalgic reasons were driver, the late Wally Hayes from Glasthule and conductor, Michael Roche from Dalkey. Michael, who worked with the Dublin United Tram Company for 45 years remembers the occasion well. He can still recall the festive atmosphere generated by the large crowds in the main street many of who were souvenir hunters. They were determined to get their hands on some part of the tram to take home and keep as a momento of their old means of transport. The trams were viewed favourable by most as they ran on a regular and efficient basis.

A No. 8 tram left the City Centre for Dalkey on average every eight minutes. The No. 7 tram from town to Marine Road in Dun Laoghaire ran at intervals of four minutes. Nowadays the general public more or less accepts the fact that buses don't run to schedule at times or they don't care because they have cars but in the era of the tram it was different. People demanded service and they got it too.

Although large crowds stood on the main street that evening there was no campaign to keep the trams in service and the following day the buses ran. Everything returned to normality within a short space of time. It also brought to an end Michael Roches's days of working on a transport system that he and plenty of others regarded as one of the finest in Europe. Michael went on to work on various bus routes serving Blackrock, Kilmacud and of course Dalkey. He was not fully in favour of the decision to do away with the trams as he held the view that they could still provide a more than adequate service for the people of Dublin. Michael was not alone in his belief. Not long after the No. 8 tram ceased to operate he met a priest from Brisbane, Australia. When the priest was told by Michael about the trams been phased out he was astonished. In Brisbane the success of the trams had been so great that they were undergoing a major extension of the network. Forty years down the road there is little left in Dalkey to remind people of what was once taken for granted as a part of everyday life.

The tramyard and its few tracks are all that is left on the main street. Those who walked along Barnhill Road up to a couple of years ago were able to see on of the old trams. It was used not for passengers but to transport directors of the company along the lines and to the various garages. There are some people who managed to get souvenirs such as cushions or nuts and bolts off the trams before they were sold to a Spanish Company in Bilbao. It was not deemed necessary however to advertise false times for the running of the last trams to prevent extensive damage as took place in London when their era of trams came to an end. Michael however does not need any such souvenirs, as he is quite contented with the memories he has of his many years working on the trams


 


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