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Friday, 28 November 2014

Howth tram

The Howth-Sutton tram was in operation for six decades, from the first year of the twentieth century to 1959, It circled Howth hill, ferrying passengers between Howth and Sutton train stations and was a service provided by the GNR(I), the Great Northern Railways (Ireland).

In 1958, the Northern Ireland Great Northern Railways Act ceded control of all railways south of the border to Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), who closed the Howth tramline in 1959. The last run took place on 31 May of that year.

CIÉ provided a bus service to replace the tram, the 88 and the 88a. The roads were so narrow at some points that two services were necessary. Once the roads were widened, these buses were replaced by the 31/a/b buses, which still operate out there to this day. However, in bad weather, when the hill roads get very icy and slippery, the bus service is sometimes curtailed, which was never an issue for the trams.

The railway was very popular with tourists, as it took a scenic route right around the hill, overlooking the seas. The seating arrangements on the top deck of the No. 9 and 10 trams were especially popular with tourists and sightseers.

Getting the Howth tram ready for Christmas
20 December 1956
After the tramline was closed, most of the trams were sent abroad. No 10 went to a museum in England, but No.9 was the only tram to survive vandalism and outdoor storage in Ireland. A group of enthusiasts, led by Jim Kilroy, started the Herculean task of restoring the tram, importing parts from the Netherlands or sometimes just building parts themselves.

The restored No. 9 tram is now housed at the NationalTransport Museum in Howth village. You will be able to view it before you attempt to climb Howth Head on foot, or catch one of the buses to the top.

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