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 History / Heritage


Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) came into being in 1945, inheriting a rich history and tradition from its predecessors in rail, road and water transport disciplines. In order to ensure that this history is safeguarded for the future, the CIÉ Heritage Project was established to protect the CIÉ Group's historical assets.​

The Heritage Office works closely with the rail and bus companies to highlight areas of historical interest and promote awareness among staff of the need to conserve worthy buildings, equipment, documents and rolling stock.

In addition, the Heritage Office actively encourages individuals and groups outside the company who take a special interest in the transportation methods of bygone days.

A key objective of the CIÉ Heritage Project is the promotion of a centre to house the national transport collection. Envisaged is a working museum, with an abundance of interactive opportunities, including live steam exhibits.

Outlined below are the main functions of the Heritage Office:
  • Manage the preservation of important examples of locomotives, rolling stock and equipment.
  • Facilitate the restoration of old vehicles by outside interest groups,
  • Assemble a collection of artefacts and written material pertaining to transport in bygone days.
  • Assist local community groups in milestone celebrations of transport events.
  • Provide expertise in refurbishment of buildings and vehicles on a transport theme.
  • Promote displays on a historical theme at public transport stations and depots.
  • Encourage and produce new publications, films and videos on transport history.
  • Establish a "Collectors' Corner" for the sale of transport memorabilia in Ireland and abroad.
  • Set up a National Transport Heritage Centre. Such a centre would also aim to save skills in danger of being lost in today’s technological age.

Preservation and Restoration

There are three main interest groups involved in these activities. They are:

  • The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, which restores, maintains and operates steam-hauled trains on the CIÉ system.
  • The Irish Traction Group, which does similar work with preserved diesel locomotives. 
  • The Transport Museum Society of Ireland which houses a collection of reserved buses, trams and other road vehicles.

A number of other vehicles are preserved by individuals in a private capacity.

CIÉ, through the Heritage Office, facilitates all of these in their work, principally at Iarnród Éireann's engineering works located at Inchicore, Dublin, alongside the main Cork railway line.

New parts are made where necessary, castings reproduced at the works’ foundry and old designs copied in the Drawing Office.

CIÉ’s subsidiary company, Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) is one of the few railway undertakings to allow broad access for steam train operations on main lines.

You can contact the Heritage Office by phone on +353 1 703 3919 or fax +353 1 703 3920

The Heritage Collection

CIÉ staff are constantly gathering up old artefacts to add to the Transport Collection that is in the care of the Heritage Office. Fine examples of Victorian electrical engineering vie with cast iron "No Trespass" signs. Station name-boards from Edwardian times sit alongside locomotive whistles, makers’ plates and bronze carriage-keys.

An impressive archive of photographs, maps, drawings and documentation dating back to the dawn of public transport in Ireland is updated and handed into the care of the Irish Railway Record Society, whose premises is located in CIÉ property beside the main Dublin railway terminal at Heuston Station.

You can contact the Heritage Office by phone on +353 1 703 3919 or fax +353 1 703 3920

Heritage and the Community

Commemoration of significant dates in transport history is always a matter of community celebration. This is especially so at the present time when so many locations are marking or have celebrated the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the railways.

The CIÉ Heritage Office provides a wealth of data for publications including contemporary accounts of the first trains, engravings of the scene where possible, photographic records of the location down through the years and advice on the format of celebrations.

You can contact the Heritage Office by phone on +353 1 703 3919 or fax +353 1 703 3920

Refurbishment of Buildings and Heritage Displays

The keen interest in transport matters is shared as much by CIÉ staff as by enthusiasts or the general public. Displays of historic photographs or artefacts pertaining to the locality are displayed at many transport locations, especially railway and bus stations.

When buildings are being refurbished, the CIÉ Heritage Office will provide advice and material in order to help to create a focal point of interest for the customers when they arrive for their train or coach.

This service is also availed of by private individuals and commercial concerns. The CIÉ Heritage Office provided artefacts, furniture photography and documentary exhibits for the Railway Theme Bar at Fitzpatrick’s Grand Central Hotel in New York.

You can contact the Heritage Office by phone on +353 1 703 3919 or fax +353 1 703 3920

Transport Publications

The Irish transport scene is a fascinating subject, not least because many innovations and inventions adopted worldwide were pioneered in Ireland.

CIÉ Heritage has produced a number of publications, including "The Works" - a History of Inchicore Railway Works (founded 1846), and "The Station Masters"- a celebration of Dublin’s mainline stations, both titles by the Group Heritage Officer, Gregg Ryan.

Videos, produced by railway preservation societies, are also available and CIÉ is in the process of producing its own titles.

National Transport Heritage Centre

CIÉ is committed to safeguarding the treasures of the past for future generations. The Centre, planned for a location on Iarnród Éireann's railway system, will also offer a secure base for exhibits in private ownership.

The National Transport Collection will include facilities for the enthusiast groups who are doing such a magnificent job in maintaining and running preserved trains, buses and other vehicles from a bygone era.

Locomotives, rolling stock, road motor vehicles and associated artefacts are being recovered and restored for future display. It is intended that this work will encourage strong community involvement through Government assisted schemes and will allow the public to view restoration projects in progress. Skills in danger of being lost to modern technology will be preserved.

You can contact the Heritage Office by phone on +353 1 703 3919 or fax +353 1 703 3920