Trams were first introduced on Dublin streets in 1872. Over the next eighty or so years they were a major feature of life in the city, running over almost one hundred kilometres of track throughout a much smaller Dublin than the one we know today. The early trams were horse drawn, changing to electric cars on 14 January 1901, which helps date this photograph. Early trams were beautifully decorated, the interiors being 'richly cushioned in velvet and fitted all round with fitted plate glass windows and with sliding shutters of Venetian glass...the lamps are placed within ornamental plate glass compartments at the extremities, thus cutting off entirely any unpleasantness which might arise from the combustion of oil'. Such luxuries ensured that fares were high, and public squabbles over the prohibitive nature of tram fares were numerous over the lifetime of the old Dublin tram system.
Ironically, fifty years after the dismantling of the trams, Dublin found itself in dire need of a new light rail system. The Luas (above right) became operational in 2004.
A quirk of the changeover from trams to buses is that CIE retained many of the tram route numbers, which even today remain as a reminder of the history of public transport in Dublin. The tram in the above picture may have been on route number 10 (Donnybrook and the Phoenix Park, via St Stephen's Green). The 10 bus route from the Phoenix Park to Belfield (via St Stephens Green and Donnybrook) was only recently retired. Another example is the 31 bus to Howth - which is still operational today.
Left: CLAR164, National Photographic Archive
Michael Corcoran, Through Street Broad and Narrow: A History of Dublin Trams (2000).