|At a glance:|
|Builder:||Córas Iompair Éireann (Inchicore Works)|
|Original company:||An Post|
|Final company:||An Post|
|Arrived at DCDR:||2017|
|Current status:||Museum display|
|Current owner:||Privately owned|
Travelling Post Offices (TPOs) were first used by the railways in the 1830s, and greatly enhanced the efficiency of postal communication from the outset. Instead of horse-drawn mail carriages travelling along unsurfaced roads, rail travel reduced journeys that would otherwise take days into a matter of a few hours. TPOs provided accommodation for postal workers to sort and store letters and parcels while the train was travelling, picking up and dropping off satchels at their appropriate stations on the move using the ‘snatching’ apparatus. These trains were once a common sight throughout Britain and Ireland, until a decline in postal traffic led to their eventual withdrawal.
Coras Iompair Éireann built several of these 61-foot-long coaches in 1958 to replace their ageing fleet of existing TPOs, some of which dated from the 19th century. They incorporated the latest design features which contrasted them greatly to their wooden predecessors, including a timber body with steel cladding, fluorescent lighting, and even tea-making facilities! The new carriages even came complete with a letterbox for the public to use while the postal train was standing at platforms – although an extra ‘1d’ (one old penny) stamp was required.
The mail trains featured regularly at night on the Galway and Cork lines, with 2977 belonging to the ‘Cork Mails’. As integral steel stock began to replace them, the wooden-bodied carriages were restricted in their speed and route availability . As their usability became reduced, their ‘snatchers’ were removed in the 1970s, and the final mail train ran in Ireland in 1992.
After withdrawal, 2977 was selected for restoration by An Post which was complete with authentic 1950s livery. It featured at a number special events around the country behind heritage steam trains, including the Thurles 150 celebrations and an exhibition at Pearse station in 2005. However in order to make the carriage more accessible to the public, the company decided to offer 2977 to the DCDR in 2017 for long-term loan to allow it to be displayed in our Carriage Gallery museum. Several years of exposure to the elements has meant that we’re currently carrying out some minor refurbishment and upgrades to 2977’s roof and interior – this is in addition to an audio-visual display which will soon be fully accessible to the public.
We are very thankful to our friends at An Post for their help and cooperation in ensuring that this historic coach is on display for the public to enjoy.