Welcome to our first blog article. As an introduction, we thought we’d provide a bit of information on our background, why we decided to form this committee, and what we hope to achieve with Táilte Tours, Ireland’s newest railtour promoter.
Who are Táilte Tours?
The Táilte Tours is a voluntary committee was founded in early 2022 by Niall Kelly, Alex Richardson, and David Walsh. Combined, we probably have about 40 years of experience volunteering in the heritage railway sector in Ireland, both on the mainline and at heritage railways. This includes everything from restoring rolling stock to acting as steward and support crew on mainline Irish railtours to committee and board experience in managing voluntary run heritage rail operations. Our professional backgrounds include a healthy mix of Administration, Entertainment, Events, Finance & Marketing, skills which we want to use for the benefit of Ireland’s railway preservation sector.
Where did the idea come from?
A few different elements came together. We knew of the great success operators in Great Britain were having with fundraising through mainline railtours, and loved the idea of trying something different from what has been the norm for railtours in Ireland over the past decade or so. In 2021, some of us were involved in a project to preserve a particular type of vehicle and were toying with the idea of using such a railtour as a fundraising event. While that project ultimately didn’t work out due to other reasons (although we were happy to learn a safe home has since been found for it), we liked the idea so much that we thought it still had merit in of itself. After all, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of Ireland’s railway preservation groups were significantly down on income. With an easing of restrictions on the horizon and pent-up demand for railtours in Ireland, we felt this would be an ideal way to give those groups a bit of a boost as they reopen. There is some fantastic work being done by some of the smaller groups and yet they just don’t get the attention or funding they deserve—we want to change that.
How do you plan to run Irish railtours with your own rolling stock?
Our aim is to charter rolling stock from operators, and run events involving an unusual routing or rolling stock choice. We’re also hoping to hold events and ‘mini tours’ at heritage railways throughout Ireland, again with interesting choices in traction and rolling stock. We’re also considering running tours by bus to locations of railway interest in Ireland that are no longer accessible by service train.
Where did the name Táilte come from?
We toyed with a few different names for our committee, before ultimately settling on Táilte. It’s stuck well, for already we’ve forgotten what some of the other contenders were! For some, the name is obvious. For others, it might warrant a bit of an explanation. In short, Táilte was the third member of the Great Southern Railways 800 class steam locos, the largest to run in Ireland. You may have heard of her more famous sister, Maedbh, who is now on display at the Ulster Folk Museum, at Cultra near Belfast. We’ve a more thorough explanation of our committee name here.
What are your railtour plans for the future?
At the time of writing, all efforts are on making our first railtour, The Premier Rose, a success and hopefully raise as many funds as we can for some of Ireland’s railway preservation groups, along with a ‘mini tour’ the following day an Irish heritage railway location, making for a great Irish railtour weekend. After that, well, we’ve no formal plans made or discussed, but let’s, just say, we have some ideas… watch this space!
In summary, our committee aims to provide rail enthusiasts and train fans with new, interesting railtour opportunities with a bit of a quirk. All while helping to support Ireland's smaller railway preservation groups. What's not to like?
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