A monorail system which operated between Listowel and Ballybunion could be an inspiration for solving the traffic problem of some of the world's major cities.
From 1888 to 1924 the steam powered Lartigue monorail operated between the town of Listowel and the seaside resort of Ballybunion, a distance of ten miles.
Carrying passengers, freight and livestock it was developed by the French engineer Charles Lartigue in the nineteenth century. It consisted of pannier-like wagons whose wheels ran on both sides of a single rail mounted on A-shaped trestles.
Damaged during the Civil War the decline of the Lartigue line was hastened when it was made not made part of the Great Southern Railways a company created by the Irish Government in 1925.
Keeping transport history alive for another generation is Michael Ash, who presents a model of the Lartigue to the joint principals of the Boys’ National School Listowel, Bryan MacMahon and Michael Caine. His next project will be a working model of the monorail.
The school already has in its possession a bell used on the first Lartigue, and principal Michael Caine welcomes the gift of the model to the school, which he describes as,
A most excellent model of a unique railway.
It is also a valuable resource for the teaching of local history, as many of the pupils’ ancestors worked on the monorail. One boy Paddy Fitzgerald has donated a collection of train tickets issued to passengers on the Lartigue dating from the early days of its operation up to 1909.
Principal Bryan MacMahon has very happy memories of journeys of travelling to Ballybunion on the monorail. He explains to the boys how hard the guard had to work to ensure the passengers sat on the right seats, as the pannier wagon system meant discrepancies in weight would cause the wagons to tip over.
This led to some very amusing situations.
This report for ‘Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 7 December 1964.