Turtle Bunbury

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Charles Bianconi



Charles Bianconi (1786 - 1875)

Born in Lombardy on 24th September 1786, the young Italian is celebrated as the man who gave Ireland with its first ever public transport system. Bianconi came to Ireland at the age of 15 serving as an apprentice to a fellow Italian print-seller. He gradually saved up his coppers, invested in a car service and launched the first of the Bianconi Cars, running from Hearn's Hotel in Clonmel to Cahir, on 6th July 1815.

Just a few weeks earlier, the Duke of Wellington had trounced the French at Waterloo. The end of the Napoleonic Wars saw Ireland flooded with cheap army horses and carriages, enabling massive a expansion of Bianconi's network. By 1864, receipts from passengers and freight totalled £40,000 and the service covered nearly 4000 miles of road. A fervent Catholic and close colleague of Daniel O’Connell, Bianconi became a naturalised Irish citizen in 1831. Some years later, he was elected Mayor of Clonmel. Bianconi recognised that the advent of railways would spell the end of his coaches and so he invested heavily in purchasing railway shares. He retired in 1865, selling his business on liberal terms to his agents and employees. He died at his home, Longfield House, 5m north of Caher, in September 1875 - more than 60 years after the first coach ran. He is buried in the family vault of the Catholic Church at Boherlahan.