By Fiach Kelly
EAMONN Quinn, the father of Superquinn founder Feargal, was so encouraged by a successful holiday business at Red Island in Skerries (see page 20) that he cast around for more ideas to expand his activities, eventually buying a site in Bray, Co Wicklow.
Although it never achieved the same success as Red Island, the Bray venture became known for its cable car.
Eamonn Quinn actually bought two sites in the town -- one was a field, and the second was the Eagle's Nest Restaurant and Ballroom high above the field. There was one problem, however, and a major one at that.
How to connect the two? The incline was too steep from the original site to the Eagle's Nest to be walked comfortably. So, Mr Quinn hit on the novel idea of the chair lift, which his son Feargal said "would open up Bray Head and the Eagle's Nest to greater numbers of people".
"There was at the time no role-model in Ireland for this type of passenger conveyance," Feargal said. "It was the first of its kind."
There was a cable car used in the Drogheda Cement Factory, but this was for purely industrial use. Eamonn Quinn transferred one of his key employees at Red Island, Jimmy Coleman, to oversee the cable car's construction.
It ran successfully from 1950 to 1970 without any serious incident, and Feargal Quinn remembers queues forming from 10am on summer mornings.
The chairlift would ferry passengers up to the Eagle's Nest for morning coffee, as they set out for the day, with some heading as far as the viewing point built for Queen Victoria's golden jubilee in 1887.
During the summer season, there were day tours from Red Island, with up to 100 people making the trip from Skerries to Bray.
As well as the Eagle's Nest, the Ballroom built a successful business over the years, although dancers had to negotiate the chairlift in their finery before they even shook a leg for the evening.