Anti-government forces in the Irish Civil War attacked the Listowel and Ballybunion Railway several times in early 1923. Damage to the rolling stock and stations of the 9-mile monorail between the two Kerry towns, and the impracticalities of operating such a unique line in the newly consolidated Irish rail system, forced its permanent closure in October 1924.
Passengers and mail on the LBR had been targeted by Irish republican forces during the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921. In January 1923, during the civil war, armed men forced the Ballybunion stationmaster to open the line’s office, goods store, and waiting room, which they doused with petrol and paraffin oil and set on fire. Within an hour a similar attack occurred at the Lisselton station, about halfway between the two terminuses.”Destruction In Kerry”, Freeman’s Journal, Jan. 25, 1923.
Such destruction is generally attributed to the IRA forces opposed to the Irish Free State. These “irregulars” also cut down about 1,700 yards of telegraph wire and six poles between Listowel and Ballybunion, matching attacks along other Irish rail routes.”The Wire Cutters”, The Belfast News-Letter, Jan. 25, 1923.
Nicknamed the Lartigue after inventor Charles Lartigue, the monorail was “suspended indefinitely” in early February 1923 due to the sabotage. Nearly 40 employees lost their jobs, impacting about 100 family members and ancillary businesses.”Kerry Railway Destruction” , The Irish Examiner, Feb. 2, 1923. With the train out of service, a char-a-banc and motor car service began operating between the two towns, but it also came under attack in March.
Once the civil war ended later that spring, the Lartigue was repaired in time for the busy summer season at Ballybunion, a seaside resort. By mid-July, the Freeman’s Journal reported the Lartigue “has already, particularly on Sundays, been taxed to almost its fullest capacity in the conveyance of visitors.””Provincial News In Brief, Ballybunion Season Opened”, Freeman’s Journal, July 17, 1923.
Like the Lartigue, however, the national newspaper also would have its run ended in 1924.
See my earlier work on the Lartigue monorail:
Return Journey: Ireland’s Lartigue Railway, History Magazine, 2009
Old letter raises questions about Kerry’s Lartigue monorail, August 2015
New clue in mystery about Kerry’s Lartigue monorail, October 2015
Irish history movie ideas: the Lartigue monorail, October 2020