Times past with Brian Gabriel

Half-Year Report for Muskerry Tram February 1897 (Cork and Muskerry Light Railway) It showed that comparing the receipts of the company with the corresponding period of 1895 the traffic was normal, except passengers, which showed a decrease of £97. The gross expenditure showed a diminution of £5 as compared with 1895. After paying all expenses, £698 18s 6d was carried to net revenue as against £785 15s 11d for same period last year, 1896. The Chairman, Mr R. Barter, J.P., in moving the adoption of the report and statement of accounts, said that most of the railways in the South of Ireland, and indeed in most parts of Ireland, had rather adverse reports for the last half year, showing a diminution in most parts of traffic, but he was glad to tell them that in all their items but one, their traffic had been normal. They did not show any decided advance, but still he thought they could congratulate themselves on the fact that they had held their own. The only item that showed a decrease was the passenger traffic, and that occurred chiefly in the month of September, and they all remembered how inclement that month was. They had no football or hurling tournaments as they had in preceding years, to bring in a heavy traffic, and that, explained the falling off of £97, which was practically the whole decrease for the half year. He was sure that the bicycle traffic was affecting their line, and he knew that in his own district, parties that used to come into town by train, now cycled to the city. Bicycles were normally carried free on all trains but not on the 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. of the Cork to Blackrock line and was remarked on. A young man went down to Blackrock the other day. He paid only 4d for himself and had to pay 6d for his bicycle. The Directors were asked to consider reducing the rate for bicycles on those trains. Well, the Chairman thought they might help the cycle traffic and at the same time help their own line. It was well known that their line to Blarney and Coachford traversed very pretty scenery, and a little scheme occurred to them within the last few days. There was a pretty place of his opposite Dripsey Castle – Myshell; there was a large empty house there to which he had sent a quantity of ware etc., and anyone forming a bicycle party, a Sunday school fete, etc., could obtain from Mr. Wilson, a free pass into the place, and there was a caretaker there from whom they could get all the adjuncts, such as cream, hot water etc., for a picnic (laughter); and he might mention that the train would be stopped in the grounds to leave parties of ten or twelve out. In that way, he hoped the bicycle traffic, instead of telling against them, would bring them as increased revenue. He was glad to say that, in regard to their merchandise and mineral traffic, they could show a good increase of 506 tons, and there was also an increase of 32 tons in miscellaneous traffic. Boxes and firkins of butter were down. All the farmers knew very well how seriously the produce of the cows had been affected by the dry weather of May and June, and he was sure when the returns were made up there would be found a very serious falling off in butter all over the country. Fortunately, however, for the farmers the prices would go up, and one would go against the other. The decrease in boxes of butter had been 903 and in firkins 331. The number of boxes of eggs, he was sorry to say, showed a decrease of 69 boxes. He had great belief in the efficiency of the minor industries of Ireland and he believed above all that they should be developed. He had listened to a lecture by Professor Brown in Cork where he stated that 50 years ago, the imports of eggs and butter was £300,000, whereas last year the imports of these goods exceeded 4 millions of money, and he pointed out that the South of Ireland was particularly suitable for the raising of poultry and butter-making. He also showed the different ways that they might improve these things. Some might say that this was not railway work but unless the farmers made the money by their efforts, they could not travel. Cattle, he was glad to say, showed an increase of 261. He thanked the Board for the excellent way that they had managed the line and he thought they should also include in that vote the entire staff. They had tried, as far as they could to give the greatest possible accommodation in every possible way, and they were always glad to hear any suggestion that would improve the traffic and develop the prosperity of that little line. (hear, hear). The Donoughmore Extension Light Railway Report The Chairman of the Extension, Sir George Colthurst, read the report which showed that the gross receipts amounted to £574 0s 1d, as against £575 18s 4d for the corresponding period of ’95. The working expenses showed a decrease of £107 9s 3d. The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said that after the remarks, far reaching in their consequence, extending from the Continent of America to the smallest holding in Ireland, given by the Chairman of the Muskerry Railway, they would not expect him to say much. He was glad to tell them that they occupied an unique position, insomuch as they were the only railway – small though they were – in the South of Ireland that could show an increase in their passenger traffic for the last six months. It was quite true that up to the present they had not earned sufficient money to prevent them from going to the barony for a contribution to the working expenses but he might mention that while last year they had to ask the ratepayers for £165, this year they had only to ask for £59 (hear, hear). As he said before the passenger traffic had increased but there was a decrease in merchandise owing to the shortage in the making of butter. The gross receipts were about £1 18s less than last year but the working expenses showed a decrease of £107 9s 3d, indicating the great care that had been taken in the working of the line. It was only to be expected that when a small line had been made, with perhaps hardly sufficient capital to equip it thoroughly, that they should be obliged from time to time to pay sums of money to put it in order here and there. Therefore, they might hope that the decrease in working expenses would continue from that out and he was sure that when in a year like the last, the passenger traffic had increased they might look to all the other branches of traffic to increase during next year. The Directors, Mr. Ogilvie, Mr. Mullen and Mr. Daly, had come to the conclusion that until the line paid its way they would not take fees. That money was spent in certain things connected with the railway, which otherwise, by law, they would have found it very hard to have done. The Chairman thanked them for the time and trouble they had taken in making this railway a success and it was the greatest compliment that could be paid them, when three gentlemen of such business capacity and such prominence in business circles came to help a few poor countrymen to make that line, which had done so much for the Donoughmore district (laughter). Mr. Barter, as the largest ratepayer concerned in the line, proposed a vote of thanks to Sir George Colthurst who then said that the aid of the City gentlemen had been invaluable