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|Irish Mail Route|
This route to London has been travelled by generations of Irish migrants. It originated with the regular, official postal service from London to Dublin via Holyhead, which later developed a mail-coach service that also carried passengers. By 1819, this normally left London at 8pm and arrived in Dublin, favourable winds permitting, early evening two days later.
A through sea/railway service began in 1848, when the Chester-to-Holyhead railway was completed. The first Irish Mail train left Euston Station in London at 8.45pm on 1 August 1848, due to arrive at Holyhead at 6.45am the following morning. Four new mail packets (boats) were provided by the Admiralty, all paddle steamers - Banshee, Caradoc, Llewelyn and St Columba.
In 1850, the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company took over this steamship service; later, the contract went to the London North Western Railway Company. By 1885, journey times on the London to Dublin night mail had been cut to ten hours and 20 minutes.
For many Irish migrants, the Irish Mail route to Euston proved a depressing introduction to England. Reardon Connor recalled in A Plain Tale from the Bogs (1937) how
'from Chester onwards there is nothing but flatlands and sights of industry, mine-tops, slag heaps, fields of green that seem sickly after the emerald grass of Ireland, cows of a colour and shape never seen on the other side of the Irish Sea, wagon-loads of coal, poultry farms, and very rarely the sight of even a low hill'.
Creators: Aidan Lawes
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