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What's in a name, you may well ask? We chose the Táilte after the third member of the Great Southern Railways 800 class 4-6-0 locomotives, No.802 Táilte. All three of these locomotives, the largest steam engines to run in Ireland, were named after Celtic goddesses. Táilte was the last to be built, in 1940, yet was also the first to be withdrawn, in 1955, though her sister locos Maeḋḃ and Maċa managed to survive a bit longer. Various factors, including war time fuel constraints and the oncoming of diesel traction in the 1950s, meant that the class never really got to properly stretch their legs. While Táilte did not survive, her sister Maeḋḃ was preserved and can be seen today in the Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra, near Belfast (we recommend a visit).
Táilte at Dublin Amiens Street on the Dublin-Cork leg of the "Enterprise" service. Photo from the Philly Maher Collection, kind courtesy of Billy Maher.
Possibly owing to her shorter service life, in some ways Táilte is perhaps the least prolific of the three GSR 800 class locos. When trying to choose a title for our railtour committee, one idea was to evoke those days when the GSR operated premier services on the mainline of Dublin. Táilte fits this. At the same time, our aim is to raise funds and awareness for the smaller railway preservation and heritage groups in Ireland through the running of railtours. These groups don't always get the attention and the limelight that they deserve. Arguably, neither did Táilte, so of all the 800 class, perhaps it's most fitting that she was the inspiration behind the name Táilte Tours.
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