Wicklow Hills Bus Company
Several photographs of Enniskerry exist showing a fleet of buses outside the Powerscourt Arms Hotel. These belonged to the Wicklow Hills Bus Company, the penultimate independent bus company to operate between Dublin and Wicklow before nationalisation brought all buses under one of a handful of national companies in the 1930s. The only exception was St Kevin’s bus service, still in operation.
Wicklow Hills was started by Thomas Fitzpatrick, a business man from Mullingar, who lived in Palermo in Bray. In his essay on public transport, James Scannell mentions that it was previously called the Residents Bus Company – certainly there was a long tradition in Enniskerry of bus transport between Bray and Enniskerry, operated by, among others, the Darlington family. Wicklow Hills ran from 1926 to 1936. The depot was located opposite the Bog Meadow, now site of “The Courtyard” houses.
The bus ran a service from St Stephen’s Green to Enniskerry (now Dublin Bus route 44) and from D’Olier St to Greystones (now Dublin Bus route 84). Some destinations on the buses can just about be made out from the photograph of the fleet. These include the Scalp, Kilcoole, Stephen’s Green and possibly Delgany. There was a fleet of 10 buses: one Ford, one Leyland Lion and seven Associated Daimler Company as well as another unnamed make (source).
A list of staff exists, along with a photograph of the staff with the owner, Thomas Fitzpatrick and his wife, taken at the Town Clock. These include seven drivers, five conductors, and four garage men: a body builder, a mechanic and assistant, and a greaser who doubled as a driver. Two of the staff: Charles F Olley (Enniskerry) and James Kelly (2, Rockboard, Greystones) are recorded as being on the staff since 1924, so perhaps they worked the the predecessor, the Residents Bus Company mentioned by Scannell.
Enniskerry men among the staff were Olley, James Rafferty, Patrick Nolan, Charles Kelly, Laurence Byrne, Patrick Mooney, Michael Windsor, Christopher White and James Synnott. The remaining staff came from Bray (Duke Stephenson, mechanic, James Kelly), and Greystones/Delgany, perhaps reflecting the destinations of the buses. These latter men were Patrick Donohoe, William McGuire, Joseph Donohoe and Thomas Gubbins. Salaries ranged from £1 per week for Christopher White (subsequently raised to £2 per week) up to £5 per week for the mechanic.
By 1936, the company was purchased compulsorily by the Dublin United Tramway Company using the powers given to it by the 1933 Road Transport Act. We can only hope that the staff were able to continue their jobs in the new company. This company would ultimately become Dublin Bus. So while you are stuck in traffic on the 44 bus, it can be a prompt to recall the history of this service!
Thanks to Mervyn Tyndall, Brian White for sharing photos and expertise, and the article by James Scannell for background context (“From Horse Drawn Trams to LUAS: A Look at Public Transport in Dublin from the 1870’s to the Present Time”, James Scannell, 2006, Dublin Historical Record, 59(1), 5-18.