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Leinster Leader 28 June 2007
Great ocean liners and cross-channel cattle boats
Travel advertisements appear in the Leader in modern times in the context of advertisements for holidays and leisure travel. Advertisements highlighting modes of transport overseas are indeed nothing new in the paper. The major contrast being that travel advertisements in the old days were generally for one-way journeys and aimed at those who had given up the attempt to scratch a living in Kildare soil and head for better prospects across the Atlantic.
Kildare is not normally thought of as being an emigrant county and yet its population dropped by 45,000 between 1841 and 1911. Many perished in the locality from hardship and disease but many more joined the emigrant throngs from other counties and sought sustenance in North America. Of course, not all emigration was of the despairing kind and in succeeding generations many people left the locality to join older family members abroad and experience a new way of life. Whatever the reasons, there was no shortage of advertisements from shipping lines to win the custom of those setting off for abroad.
The Leader issues of June 1907 featured advertisements from the Cunard Line, one of the great transatlantic shipping companies. It announced three sailings that month from Queenstown (Cobh) to New York and another two to Boston. Alive to the networks of Irish emigrants in the States the advertisement stated: ‘ Second and Third Class passengers via New York may travel without extra charge to Boston and Philadelphia.’   The advertisement listed the local ticket agents – mainly local newsagents and general merchants. Among the agents in 1901 for the Cunard line were: ‘ Denis Donohoe, Naas; T.J. Brennan, Athy; Miss Lily Malone, Kildare; T F O’Toole, auctioneer, Edenderry; Miss Farrell, Newbridge.
The names of the ships on the route suggest an exotic era of travel – ‘Etruria’, ‘ Lucania’ and ‘Caronia’ and passengers could avail of ‘ Orchestras, Lounges and Daily Newspapers’ on board. Also mentioned is the notice is the ‘Lusitania’ which sixteen years later was also to meet a terrible fate when it was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1917.
Emigrant travel to North America was not the only itinerary featuring in the advertising columns. There was also a healthy local market in shipping across the Irish Sea judging from the prominent notices placed in the Leinster Leader by the ferry companies.   The ‘City of Dublin Steam Packet Company’ for instance advertised its ‘Royal Mail New Rapid Service’ between Kingstown (Dun Laoire) and Holyhead’ . The shipping line boasted four ‘ Magnificent Twin Screw Steamers’ named after each of the four provinces. And although nobody in 1907 could have foretold the future one of the ships, the Leinster, was to meet a tragic fate during the First World War when it was torpedoed in the Irish Sea with much loss of life.
In the more peaceful era of 1907 however the Irish Sea passenger was offered a comprehensive service with trains connecting seamlessly with the ferries at Kingstown and Holyhead and ample availability of refreshments as the advertisement notes: ‘ Luncheon and Refreshment cars for First, Second and Third class passengers attached to the Daily Mail Trains between London and Holyhead.’
The same company offered a range of travel options in its Leader advertisements hinting at the extent of travel by local merchants, cattle dealers, military officers, and bloodstock industry personnel travelling between different venues in the then United Kingdom.   Their Dublin-Liverpool service was offered at a saloon class return fare of 21 shillings or the much humbler steerage at 6 shillings and 6 pence. And intriguingly the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company also offered a connection within the island of Ireland by advertising a ‘Dublin and Belfast’ ferry service three times weekly – the sub-heading of the advertisment indicating an interesting order of priorities ‘ Cattle, Goods and Passengers’ , no doubt reflecting the importance of the livestock trade from the pastures of Kildare for the shipping companies of the era.
Compiled from the newspaper files, Local History Dept, Kildare Co. Library.
Series No. 22

Travel arrangements from the advertising columns of the Leinster Leader 1907 - by Liam Kenny form his regular feature, 'Nothing New Under the Sun' - Leinster Leader 28 June 2007. Our thanks to Liam 

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