Cork Tram


In the recent Cork Area Strategic Development Plan one of the proposals put forward to ease the chronic traffic congestion in Cork is the development of a light rail or tram system. Ironically, in the previous 130 years two tramway systems had been laid and later dug up in Cork. The first, a horse-drawn system, had only a brief existence; the second, an electrically-powered system, was an integral part of Cork City life for more than 30 years and is still within living memory.

The Horse-Drawn Tram

The proposal to establish an horse-drawn tram system in Cork was first made in the 1860s by a talented, if eccentric, American named George Train. As well as being an early advocate of trams, he was a Fenian sympathiser, a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for the presidency of the USA and is credited with being the original of Phineas Fogg in Jules Verne's novel Around the world in eighty days. His plan for Cork was to link the termini of the existing railway system with horse-drawn trams. Due to the peculiar geography of Cork, with its city centre surrounded by the River Lee on both sides, the route laid out by Train was circuitous. His ideas were not put into practice until 1872 by the Cork Tramway Company. The route chosen was that which Train had laid out 12 years before and the trams were popularly known as 'Train cars'.

From the beginning the enterprise was dogged by ill feeling between the directors of the company and Cork Corporation. The horse trams never really became popular and when Cork Corporation refused to allow an extension to the line the company folded in 1875.

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