The beginning of the railways in Ireland is the starting point for this major work on a significant Irish institution, Coras Iompair Eireann - the national public transport organisation. The troubled stories of the railways is outlined, through to the political controversy that attended CIE's birth in 1944. The rise of the motor car and the privately-owned lorry affected the demand for public transport and the author describes CIE's struggle with an inherently conflicting mandate which required it to serve an undefined 'national interest' while meeting sometimes arbitrary financial targets. Conversion of railways from steam to diesel power, unsuccessful efforts by the Dublin and Belfast governments to preserve the Great Northern Railway, bitter protests at various railway closures, the saga of the canals and of CIE's hotels, are all recorded. Bus operations also feature, including the Van Hool and Bombardier stories, the success of Expressway, growing urban traffic congestion and industrial relations problems, particularly concerning one-person bus operation.