Browsing articles tagged with "Bula Bus Archives - I Love Saturday"
Aug 28, 2013

The Marble City – Kilkenny Steam Train

Choo Choo! I was up and at ’em early on Sunday morning for my steam train adventure. Me, Dad and the Bloke were off to Kilkenny for the day. The Marble City trip was organised by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland. Dad, being a train buff, had booked us seats on the beautifully restored locomotive. We met up at Connolly Station and joined an excited crowd. Big kids and little kids!

The No. 461 was a beauty. Inside and out. Restored to her former glory in a coat of CIE green with black and red trimmings, she was very impressive. Run on coal and man power, No.461 took us a return journey of seven hours in total. Fair play to the lads! The Railway Preservation Society has been restoring steam locomotives and rolling stock since 1964 and is instrumental in Ireland’s rail heritage.

We settled into our carriage, all wood panelling, metal luggage racks, plush check upholstery and granite effect tables. Trundling up through North County Dublin, we snaked around Croke Park and were soon out onto the open track, chugging away. Our view was something else. The rolling green of Kildare, Carlow and Kilkenny. Horses, cows and sheep at pasture. A welcome break from city life.

After a pit stop in Athy to take on water, we rocked into Kilkenny Station. We hadn’t far to go, just down the hill to Billy Byrne’s, an old skool pub and guesthouse. My men didn’t need encouragement and ordered two full Irish breakfasts. I went for the veggie version. Lashings of tea all round, naturellement. Billy Byrne’s serves breakfast all day, as well as a lunch menu. I was told about the Bula Bus out back, so out I went.

Very funky and with a great ever-changing menu to boot, the Bula Bus cranks up in the evenings and puts on a good party, including movie nights and hangover Sundays. Gotta get me in there! We finished our meal with lovely homemade apple tart and cream and a nice stroll through Kilkenny. There was hen party chicks everywhere. It might explain Kilkenny’s glut of quirky girl shops? Not to mention bars! Last time I was here was for a girlfriend’s send off, actually…

Back on board for the return leg, we soon found ourselves parked at the bar in the buffet car. Great craic altogether with trad musicians on the go and a gang of old boys bantering on high. The Guinness was the best I’ve tasted in years. No kidding! Supping, laughing and watching the world whizz by, resting my pint on the window rail in between. Bliss. Train journeys were something to savour in days gone by.

The No.461 had been all over the country in her time and it was a joy to experience such a train in action. Watching the thick black smoke billowing. The sound of the steam chimney whistling. Men with sooty faces shovelling away. Magic. Tired but happy we were transported back to Dublin. Into the Brew Dock for a settler. The Railway Preservation Society runs regular jaunts all over Ireland. Book one!

www.steamtrainsireland.com /Billy Byrne’s, 39 John Street Lower, Kilkenny / www.billybyrnes.com