This photograph was originally taken circa. 1930. at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day at Dillon's Corner as the bus belonging to the Gaiway General Omnibus Company heads for Salthill. The bus was a Morris-Commercial with the registration number IM 1834. It seated 20 people and the bodywork was all done by Fahy Brothers in Forster Street. Fahys made the bodywork on virtually all of the cars, vans and buses in Galway at the time.
There had been a horse drawn tramway connecting Galway and Salthill, but most of its horses were commandeered by the British Army during the First World War. Motorised transport was becoming the in-thing, and the availability of ex-Army and ex-RAF vehicles in quantity and at cheap prices after the war was a big help in getting many of the early Irish bus companies started. The Galway General Omnibus Company was also known as "Bus-Chomhlucht na Gaillimhe Teoranta" and started operataions between Eyre Square and Salthill with three vehicles; a 35-seater Charabanc (probably a Lancia), a 49-seater Karrier double-decker with an open upper deck, and the 20-seater in our photograph. All of these buses were chain driven, and were fitted with solid tyres. They had carbide lamps to show the driver where he was going at night.
Breakdowns were frequent occurrences. The chain coming off was a regular complaint, and the passengers would have to get out and push. Joe Young and Philip O'Gorman were among the directors of the company, John Leech was the secretary and Joe Garvey was the manager. Among the staff were J O'Loughlin, P. Tuohy, P. MacSweeney who was a mechanic; Tommy Coen, "Hycie" D'Arcy, Christy Gilbert and Paddy Lally were all conductors; Paddy O'Neill was probably the first student to take up Summer work as a conductor, and he was promoted to acting inspector while still a student; P. Ryan, M.J.O'Neill, M. Craughwell, J.MacDermott, J. MacNamara, P. Cotter, and P. Coyne were also on the staff, and Martin McGrath was one of the drivers.
The crest on the side panels of the buses was the Arms of Galway, with the company's full name enclosed in a circle; the Irish version appeared in Gaelic Script underneath the windows. The garage was in Victoria Place, behind the railway station. The Company was taken over by Great Southern Railways on August 5th, 1936.
This is one of the photographs which appears in a new book entitled Wheels around Connaught by Cyril McIntyre which has just been published by Stenlake Publishing. It is a delightful collection of nostalgic photographs of various forms of wheeled transport, with the emphasis on road passenger transport. There are some wonderful old photographs of Galway included.
Our thanks to Criostoir Mac Gearailt for much of the above information. Birdwatch Galway presents a lecture with slides: "An Irish naturalist in the Azores" by Gordon D'Arcy, Friday 4th February 2005 at 8pm, Anno Santo Hotel, Threadneedle Road, Salthill. All are welcome! For information (091) 523910 / 552519 or visit Birdwatch Galway.