Hail to the bus driver! – Anglo Celt

Fay’s Coaches purchased by Streamline
It’s not quite the end of the road, but it’s fast approaching for one of the friendliest faces on Cavan’s thoroughfares – Kevin Fay of Fay’s Coaches – who formally announced his impending retirement and the sale of his business to fellow local bus hire business, Streamline.
In a deal struck last summer, and finalised towards the end of the 2021, Kevin will relinquish a position he has commanded for more than 30 years, starting after McCormack’s Milk Factory in Killeshandra closed in 1990.
“I’d been working there for 22 years,” says Kevin remembering back. “… and with the redundancy I bought a mini bus from Paul Reilly in Ballyconnell.”
He’s speaking to the Celt, sitting in the row directly behind the driver’s seat, a spot he’d often occupy while parked up and waiting for the thousands of customers he’s ferried to and from various places and events over the years.
The mini-bus, purchased by Kevin for around £10-12,000, came with a school run carrying a small number of students from the extremities of West Cavan to attend study in the county town. “It was a good bus in all fairness, a 16 seater, and it all started with a few runs up to St Pat’s and Loreto [College], private parties and weddings; trips to Knock as well, plenty of them.”
But while the school runs made sure there was “milk and bread” on the table, the canny Kevin invested himself in the business with one eye on an nearby emerging market – the opening of the Slieve Russell Hotel by local entrepreneur Seán Quinn.
“It was still a building site at that time, and that’s what focused my mind on going into the transport business. I knew it’d be open at the end of 1990, or 1991, and there was an opportunity there to provide a service from the whole locality to and from the Russell, the night discos and the like, and they went good for me for a number of years.”
As the business grew so too did Kevin’s investment. He added a second bus, eventually expanding his fleet to five in number – two large coaches and three smaller vehicles.
As other opportunities arose, particularly outside of the school season, Kevin even began offering his own tour service.
Aside from his kindly smile, with Kevin at the helm, drivers approaching from the opposite direction were treated to a friendly flick of the thumb in recognition. “I’ve been to every county in Ireland,” he chuckles. “Twice or three times maybe.”
And of the school runs, Kevin is now bringing the children of youths he once carried. “That’s life,” he sums up succinctly.
Jolly boys’ outing
Of all the trips made it is a journey to Galway with the Wren Boys from Killeshandra – Ted Sweeney, Edmund McManus et al – during one of the worst winds in Kevin’s memory that stands out most. “We partied and sang the whole way, and I was never as glad to stay late any place because the craic was mighty. We waited for the wind to die down and headed back the following morning, arriving back in Killeshandra about 6am, the storm settling behind us.”
Kevin shied the business away from the perhaps more lucrative market of travelling over to the UK, instead preferring to operate closer to home if possible.
It was only when the pandemic struck that Kevin realised he wanted more time to do the things he loved.
“I’d have been running to stay in the one place – all hands on deck and everyone rowing in behind,” he says looking back at the demands of the job pre-Covid.
The lockdown, for one, afforded Kevin the time to fully restore an vintage tractor – a 1964 Massey Ferguson 35X – which, up until then, had simply been taking up space in the shed.
“I really enjoyed that break. Absolutely, and I got great work done about the house. I had [the tractor] for almost 30 years as well, bought from a local man in Killeshandra, Seán Brady. He worked in the factory with me. Every time I looked at it, I felt guilty and I was getting annoyed I was too busy to do anything with it.”
The sale of Fay’s Coaches came about after the business was advertised through Kelly Rahill & Co accountants in Cavan.
By his own admission, Kenny Brady says Streamline’s business was “decimated” almost overnight by the Covid pandemic, with restrictions placed on transport, capacity and trips abroad.
‘No brainer’
Some 40 years in business, started by Kenny’s father Tommy, Streamline saw value in the foothold Fay’s Coaches had established in the local school market.
“When the pandemic hit there was no tourism, our business was kind of decimated for almost the first year, so we began looking at different areas that would be more secure, like school transport, which is an essential service.”
The deal for Fay’s Coaches, in that respect, was a “no brainer”, with both men attesting to being happy and satisfied with the value of the transaction agreed.
Looking forward, Kenny has committed to investing in the fleet into the future.
“My father would have known Kevin, I’d have known Kevin well over the years. Going forward, with Streamline Coaches in Belturbet, we will invest in newer coaches in the coming years, and provide the same high standard of service we have always done, and continue what Kevin himself has been able to achieve also.”
Kevin himself concludes by saying: “I have to wish Kenny the very best of luck. I’m staying with him for a bit, just to help out, but it means I’m able to wind down myself.
“I’d like to think I still have driving ability in me for another year or two yet,” chuckles Kevin who thanks all of Fay’s Coaches’ customers over the years, their drivers and staff, and his many colleagues in the coach business for their cooperation and camaraderie.
Lastly, Kevin thanked his own family, his wife Ann, their friends and neighbours for their well wishes and support.


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