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British Industrial History

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Great Southern Railways

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The Great Southern Railways was an Irish company that from 1925 until 1945 owned and operated all railways that lay wholly within the Irish Free State (the present-day Republic of Ireland).

It was created by the Railways Act 1924, which provided for the amalgamation of all railways wholly within the Irish Free State. Only cross-border railways, most notably the Great Northern Railway (Ireland), remained outside its control.

The Great Southern Railways succeeded the slightly differently named Great Southern Railway, which had been formed in late 1924 in a preliminary scheme under the Railways Act of that year which amalgamated the Great Southern and Western Railway, the Midland Great Western Railway, and the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway. The Dublin and South Eastern Railway joined these companies in the final amalgamation.

CIÉ maintain a full list of the twenty five companies which constituted the Great Southern Railways in 1925. This is not entirely accurate, as it includes the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways & Harbours Company which still exists today.

From 1929, when it acquired a stake in the Irish Omnibus Company, the company also ran bus services. These operations became the responsibility from 1 January 1934 of the Great Southern Railways Omnibus Department. The hotel group formed by the company, Great Southern Hotels, continued to bear the company's name until its privatisation in 2006. Some of the hotels continue to use the Great Southern name as of 2007.

The Transport Act 1944 dissolved the Company and transferred its assets, together with those of the Dublin United Transport Company to Coras Iompair Éireann, from 1 January 1945.

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