Bianconi's Coach Service

From the early-18th century, Durrow was serviced by His Majesty's mail coaches. These coaches ran between Dublin and Cork, a journey which, it is recorded, took 20 hours. Sadly, little is known about the old service even nationally, but its halting site in Durrow from 1832, beyond doubt, was The Red Lion. This coach route is shown on sheet 29 of the Ordinance Survey Map of 1841 and was also referred to by the Leinster Express of September 8th 1832 in its report on the Cholera epidemic. Wilson's book, "The Post Chase Companion," was written for the lady or gentleman travelling by coach at this time. It mentions places of interest en route and names the occupiers of Estate Houses.

This old service was superseded in 1842 by Bianconi's famous long cars. These cars travelled daily from Mountmellick to Kilkenny, leaving Mountmellick every morning at 5 o'clock carrying mail and passengers. Its arrival time at The Red Lion Hotel in Durrow was 9 o'clock where Mr. Richard Forde, Bianconi's agent, had fresh horses ready. As speed was of the essence, a frequent change of horses was necessary - generally every eight to ten miles. On approaching the town, the driver sounded a trumpet. Horses fully harnessed ready to make the quick change were immediately led out and were waiting when the car arrived. The tired horses were unyoked and the fresh team continued the journey to Ballyragget.

On the return trip, the car left Kilkenny at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and arrived in Durrow at 4.30. Passengers for Dublin travelled to Mountmellick to catch the Limerick/Dublin coach, or to Kilkenny to connect with the Cork/Clonmel/Dublin line. Bianconi's Coaches departed Kilkenny every morning at 5.45 a.m. for Carlow and Dublin. The fare for passengers travelling to Dublin inside the coach was 1.6.0d and for those outside exposed to the elements 10/0d. This service continued to operate for almost 30 years, but in the end became a feeder system for the railways. Bianconi's long cars were nationally known as Bians, an abbreviation of the founder's name, who was born in 1786 and died in 1875.


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