For those walkers who don’t have someone to pick them up by car when they finish a walk, a leisurely trip by bus or train back to Dublin is in order. Fortunately if you need to return from the eastern County Offaly towns, say Tullamore and eastward, you are in luck. Both the national rail service (www.irishrail.ie) and national bus service (www.buseireann.ie) connect Dublin and Tullamore as well as some towns in between.
For those going on to the western end of the Grand Canal at the River Shannon, choices are fewer.
Irish Rail trains leave Heuston Station west of the Dublin city centre frequently (the Dublin-Galway route) and stop in Adamstown, Hazelhatch, Sallins and Tullamore. When the rail line leaves Tullamore it moves further and further away from the Grand Canal so Tullamore is the last station with any value to Grand Canal walkers. Those going on toward the River Shannon are out of luck for rail service. Athlone to the north and Ballinasloe to the northwest have stops on the Dublin-Galway route, but they are too far to be helpful.
Bus Eireann stops in four of the towns in east Offaly—Allenwood, Edenderry, Daingean and Tullamore. Bus route table 120 shows this schedule, the Dublin-Edenderry-Tullamore-Birr route.
West of Tullamore, service is more scant. When I finished my walk to the River Shannon in 2003 I walked on another 5 or 6 km to Banagher and after a night in the hostel, took a bus to Dublin. Kearns Transport’s 2008 timetable shows bus service between Banagher, Tullamore and Dublin. Kearns can be reached at +353 (0) 57 912 0124 or www.kearnstransport.com
In 2006 when I returned to Ireland and needed to start my west-to-Galway walk in Banagher on the River Shannon, I took the Bus Eireann from Limerick to Birr and then waited about 5 hours for a small shuttle bus to Banagher. My notes are incomplete, but when I saw reference on the web to the O’Meara Bros. bus service (+353 (0) 57 915 1486), the name looked familiar. O’Meara does serve Banagher, but I don’t know what other cities. I didn’t find a website for O’Meara Bros.
John McCarthy Bus Service (+353 (0) 57 935 2416) is based in Tullamore. I couldn’t find a schedule on the web.
Readers—let me know if you have corrections or updates
This isn't the local transportation I had in mind, but I'm game! These boaters were on the Barrow Way.