Wicklow Hills Bus Company

Wicklow Hills Bus Company fleet outside Powerscourt Arms Hotel

Wicklow Hills Bus Company fleet outside Powerscourt Arms Hotel

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).

Staff of the Wicklow Hills Bus Company. L to R back row; Tommy Gubbins, Parkie White, Fred Ollie, Paddy Donoghue. L to R middle row; Mick Windsor, Charlie Kelly, Paddy Savage, Duke Sheevers, Jim Byrne, ? Donoghue, unknown. L to R front row; Mutt Maguire, Paddy Mooney, unknown, Mr Fitzpatrick, Mrs Fitzpatrick, unknown, Paddy Nolan, unknown

L to R back row; Tommy Gubbins, Christopher White, Fred Olley, Paddy Donohoe. L to R middle row; Michael Windsor, Charlie Kelly, Paddy Savage, Duke Stephenson, Jim Byrne, Joseph Donohue , unknown. L to R front row; William “Mutt” Maguire, Paddy Mooney, unknown, Mr Fitzpatrick, Mrs Fitzpatrick, unknown, Paddy Nolan, unknown

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.

12 thoughts on “Wicklow Hills Bus Company

  1. Amazing to think a whole bus company was based in the village. The only “public” transport I remember was Barney Doogan and his horse and trap, he used to ferry us around when there was a shortage of tourists.

    • Yes it must have been quite a sight to see these huge buses go to work every day. Would love a photo of the depot…!

  2. I have only just found this fantastic article on the
    Wicklow Bus Company. Mr. Thomas Fitzpatrick who owned the bus company is my Grandfather. My mother is Marka (Fitzpatrick) O’Rourke who is now 80 yrs old, is Thomas’s daughter. My parent’s have told me a few stories over the years including one that my Grandfather was the first to use pneumatic tyres on his buses. If you want to know anything more, even though you have covered it quite extensively, I would be welcome to help.

  3. Hi Anna,

    That’s fantastic, thanks so much for getting in touch. It would be great if there were any stories or short snippets to share, so we could log them for posterity. Any photos too would be amazing of course! My email is enniskerrylocalhistory@gmail.com if you want to discuss more.

    All the best,

  4. Sorry Michael, I am only seeing your message now! i will gather some stories and get back to you. I’m not sure if there are any more photos but I’ll look into it.

    Regards, Anna.

    • Hi Anna,
      It’s great to see your interest in Enniskerry history and the Wicklow Hills buses. I’m not sure but that Marka has some other material &/or photos to show you, and which may be printable. When I get a moment between re-decorating the house, working on the 2 Classics, cutting the grass, walking the dog, cooking ,and keeping up with the interesting bits on telly and in the mags, I will have a look through whatever photos I have also. Hope you are taking and doing plenty of business with local photos.

      • I’m only just seeing these messages now John! I’ve been so busy with my course this year that I haven’t had a minute for much else. If you do find any more photos, let me know thanks.

  5. hi Anna,i would like to meet up with you and michael to chat about the bus garage,as i own the property behind .please reply,
    thank you,

    • Hi Bob! I ‘m sorry I have not replied until now. I’ve been very busy doing a full time course and haven’t had a chance to ask for more information from my mother. I will pass on your message to her as she is the one who would know most about the garage.

  6. Hi, Anna’s Grandfather was my Father and as far as I know when CIE moved the Bus company to Dublin most of the people lost their Jobs. My mother, Kathleen Fitzpatrick was in the Enniskerry ICA (Irish Country Women’s Association) for over 30 years and from the 1950’s to the 80’s took care of the roses around the clock. Thomas Fitzpatrick sadly passed away in 1980 aged 92.

  7. Hi. I have these 2 original photos. Patrick Donohoe. Knowing as Paddy was my Dad. Front right in the top coat was his brother Joe who was on day off and came in for photos on that day 1935

  8. Hello from Belfast. I am doing research on the house that THOMAS FITZPATRICK owned at 26, Coliemore Road, Dalkey. My connection with the house is that the owner of the house from 1952 to 1967, was Alphonsus J. O’Brien Twohig, who was married to Maisie Brennan, my father, EDWARD ALPHONSUS BRENNAN’S first cousin !!!!! In May 1962 we visited the O’Brien-Twohigs for afternoon tea……I have a photograph of us all standing on the front steps with my father’s sister, Sr. Mary Brennan. When we returned to Belfast we boasted that our ‘uncle Alphy has a grand house with a private boat house and a bathing area in the grounds of his house.

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