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Táilte Tours to Revive GNR "Hills of Donegal" Excursions




Táilte Tours is pleased to announce that it is to revive the famed Hills of Donegal excursions operated by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) in the last century. Quick to spot the potential of railway tourism, the GNR operated Hills of Donegal excursions taking participants from Dublin and Belfast to the land of Tyrconnell using a combination of standard gauge trains and bus or narrow gauge County Donegal Railway steam trains. Some were so popular that they required two steam locomotives to haul eleven carriages on the later. While the last rail connection to Donegal was removed over six decades ago, the volunteers at Táilte Tours have organised a special direct bus connection from Dublin to some of the heritage railway centres in Donegal today.


Departing the Luas stop at Dublin Connolly at 9am, the bus will run directly to the Difflin Lake Railway at Oakfield House, where passengers will enjoy a trip behind the "Duchess of Difflin", Ireland's first 21st-century steam locomotive. Normally steam trains only operate on this railway on the last Sunday of each month, but we have made arrangements with the Difflin Lake Railway to provide steam haulage for our passenger' visit. The fare will also include tea/coffee and sandwiches at Difflin. This railway is also home to one of Ireland's few licensed railway bars, should passengers wish to wet their whistles.


Following the visit to Difflin, the Hills of Donegal tour will proceed to Donegal town for a visit to the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre, which is home to original County Donegal Railways Joint Committee 2-6-4 tank engine No.5 Drumboe. Guests will also be able to try their hand at the museum's steam locomotive simulator. The day tour will arrive back in Dublin at 21:30.


Niall Kelly, Marketing Officer for the Táilte Tours Committee, said "We're always looking at ways to run tours with a difference, and a day trip from Dublin to Donegal seemed like an ambitious choice. There's plenty of railway heritage in Donegal today but awkward public transport connections make some locations it difficult visit on a day trip from Dublin—this aims to make it easy for people. As for the name, we felt that a nod to the historic GNR Hills of Donegal excursions seemed appropriate. The GNR were quick to see the potential of promoting rail travel for leisure, which is one of our aims too. The tour name speaks to that idea".




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