WHEN he was a young boy, travelling between Glasgow and Ireland on boats and trains was a real adventure for Phil Quigley.

Phil, who now lives in Rutherglen, got in touch with Times Past after our story calling for memories of the old County Donegal Railways.

The County Donegal Railway Heritage Centre is creating an audio archive celebrating the life and times of the narrow gauge CDR trains, which carried thousands travelling to and from Donegal and Scotland over the years until it closed in 1959.

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Phil told us: “What a great idea – I am now 81 and Donegal is still fresh in my mind.

“I have visited the County Donegal Heritage Centre a few times and what a sight it is.”

Many Glaswegians travelled by boat from the city to Derry, or from Ardrossan to Belfast, and took the Great Northern Railway train to Strabane.

There they caught the CDRs, unique diesel railbuses, to Stranorlar, Glenties, Donegal, Killybegs and Ballyshannon.

Phil recalls: “I was born in Strabane in 1940. After we moved to Glasgow, my first trip back was in 1951, when I took the rail car to Ballybofey to see my uncle who worked in Brogan’s butcher shop on the main street.

“I’m sure the rail cars had wooden slatted seats and never ran to time.”

He adds: “Strabane in those days was a real hive of activity.

Glasgow Times:

“I used to go to the station just to watch the fascinating rail cars and also, the steam trains connecting with them. It was great fun for a youngster.”

Phil travelled between Glasgow and Ireland many times in the 50s and always made sure he took a trip on the rail cars during his visit.

“On that first trip in 1951, I travelled on the Derry boat which left Glasgow at 5pm arriving in Derry at 8am the next day,” he says. “The name of the boat was the Lairds Loch. I also travelled Ardrossan to Belfast which only ran in the summertime. The most popular boat ran between Glasgow and Belfast every night except on Sunday.”

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Phil adds: “The company was Burns and Laird and used two boats, called The Royal Scotsman and the Royal Ulsterman. Eventually they were withdrawn and the car ferries took over from Stranraer, now Cairnryan.”

Burns & Laird ships, with their distinctive red, white and black coloured funnels, were a very familiar sight at Glasgow’s Broomielaw.

The ‘Derry’ (or ‘Scotch’) boats, such as the Lairds Loch that Phil recalls, operated between Glasgow to Derry until 1966, regularly transporting passengers, cattle and cargo.

Glasgow City Archives holds Burns & Laird records, including ships’ logs recording voyages and crew, photographs, company minutes and a wealth of eye-catching advertising material.

Archivist Nerys Tunnicliffe explains: “The travel experience was not always first class, as passengers were sometimes overcrowded on uncomfortable wooden seating amongst smells lingering from the cattle previously unloaded at Merklands.”

READ MORE: Glasgow memories: who was the Angel of the Gorbals?

Established in 1922, following a merger of two companies - G & J Burns and Laird Line – the offices were based on Robertson Street.

The fleet was requisitioned by the navy in the Second World War and for one campaign in 1944, the Royal Scotsman was used as the headquarters ship carrying Winston Churchill and his commanders on board. Another company vessel, the Lairds Isle, was among the first vessels to arrive at the Normandy beaches during D-Day.

Did you travel to Donegal from Glasgow and use the famous rail cars? Get in touch with Times Past to share your stories and photos.