St Johnston and Carrigans Donegal



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Transport in the 1800's

In the 19th Century, there were no hard roads like today locally.  Roads consisted of lanes and dirt tracks.  They were full of holes and they were full of mud on wet days. 

The area was always linked to heavy exporting and importing mainly through the Port of Derry.  Lengthy lines of horse and carts would have started their journey to Donegal, Ballyshannon and Sligo there.  These passed through the village of St Johnston nearly every day.

There were no wheeled vehicles.  People used horses and donkeys for transporting their wares and goods and belongings. 

The slipe was invented and became popular.  It was like a crude cart without wheels.  It was a contraption made up of two boards that were attached to the horse or donkey and trailed on the ground.  There were boards arranged to join the two boards together and items were placed on this board.  Slipes allowed the horse to be ridden as goods were transported.

People rarely had shoes.  Even in the thirties and forties it was common for children to have to walk to school barefoot.  The situation was much worse in the nineteen hundreds.  It was common for men and women to walk to Derry, especially for the Derry market, and back.  Some women took their children on their backs. 

Postmen went on horseback or walked.  They carried big bags on their backs that were so heavy.  They used a weight at the front where the straps crossed their chests in order to keep the balance.