Thursday 15 May 2014

Olden-Day Stage Coach Travelling

Facsimile of passenger to Newry ticket in 1828.
IN the Dublin Penny Journal for 1833, a correspondent, under the signature "P," gives some interesting notes relating to the above subject. "If history be an old almanack," says he "then an old almanack is history, and a curious feature in the history of the progress of civilization in Ireland I now offer you, taken from one of these rare annuals, imprinted in Dublin in the year 1742."

"The Belfast Stage Coach sets up with James Smith at the Unicorn in Capel-street. Sets out from Dublin every Monday, and from Belfast every Thursday. In Winter it takes 3 days; and leaves Dublin at 8, and Belfast at 7 in the morning. In Summer it will take only 2 days, and set out from each place about 5 in the morning. This Coach will always run with 6 able horses."

"The Newry Stage Coach, sets up with James Bell, at the Bunch of Grapes, facing the Linen Hall. Sets out in Winter at 8 in the morning on Friday, and returns on Tuesday. Rate to Drogheda, where it stops the first night, 5s. 5d; and to Newry 13s. In the Summer it goes out twice a week, viz., on Tuesday and Saturday, and returns on Monday and Friday."

A Stage Driver in 1788.

DEOS anyone remember Dominick Roche and his Drogheda coach? It would make a capital caricature! It started -- oh! inappropriate word -- at 9, and reached Drogheda at 4. I think I see him as he drove me in 1788: he had a wig, at all variance with a jarvie's true Caxon, -- and yet it was not a lawyer's nor a bishop's, -- it was a sui-generis concern. He had a blue coat, a red waistcoat over a pot-belly, leather breeches, blue stockings, and buckles in his shoes. Dominick was the proprietor as well as the driver of the above coach, which was thickly studded with brass nails, like a hair-bottom chair. The machine had two iron affairs called springs, but nearly perpendicular, and scarcely flexible. These were in front, but behind there were two stout posts and chains, and woe be to the person whose teeth were loose! He stopped at the Black Bull -- (where is that now?) -- within five miles, I think, of Dublin -- for nearly an hour; then at Swords, and at the Man of War for about one hour and a-half. He had the same horses to the latter place, and but a pair. Everyone knew him, and he had a word for all. He was about 70 the last time I saw him; and you might as well bend one of his springs or posts as to put him out of his way.

Newry Stage Coaches in 1819.1

The Belfast and Dublin Royal Bay Mail starts from the office, No. 10 Castle-street, Belfast, every morning at 5 o'clock; breakfasts at Newry, and arrives at the Waterford Hotel, Sackville-street, at 7 o'clock in the evening; from whence it starts for Belfast at 7 every morning dines at Newry, and arrives in Belfast at half-past 9 in the evening.

The Belfast and Dublin Royal Night Mail starts from the above office at Belfast, every day at 4 in the afternoon; arrives in Newry at half-past 9, and in Dublin, at the same office as the above coach, at 7 o'clock next morning; from whence it starts for Belfast at 8 o'clock in the evening, breakfasts next morning in Newry, and arrives in Belfast at 11.

The Lark Day Coach starts from Williams's Hotel, Newry, precisely at 7 o'clock every morning, breakfasts at Dundalk, and arrives in Dublin at 5 in the evening, at No. 6 Bolton Street; starts every morning at 7 o'clock for Newry.

The Armagh Coach starts from Mrs. Hillan's Hotel, Water Street, Newry, every evening, and leaves McKean's Inn, Armagh, for Newry, at 6 o'clock in the morning.

The Downpatrick Coach starts from Mrs. Hillan's on the mornings of Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; returns every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, from Mr. Ward's, Downpatrick.

Belfast to Dublin in 1819.2

ONE of the chief scenes of organized highway robbery in the North of Ireland was the mountain road between NEWRY and DUNDALK, and a district called LURGAN GREEN, between DUNDALK and DROHEDA. I remember the first occasion of my visiting Dublin was some time before 1820. I took my seat outside the Day Mail Coach, starting from Belfast at 6 o'clock on a fine summer morning. The coach was only allowed to carry eight in all -- four inside and four outside. None of the latter allowed to sit behind with the mails and guards. The two guards occupied the seat at the back of the coach, each armed with a polished brass blunderbuss of formidable dimensions, and loaded pistols in belt. At Newry the coach was joined by a number of armed dragoons (I think six), who accompanied us to Dundalk, where they exchanged for another party of dragoons, who conveyed us to Drogheda. It was a grand turn-out. I had not the luck to witness a fight; but I have some recollection of the feeling while going through Lurgan Green. The authorities, some time after, succeeded in capturing this gang of bandits, many of whom were hanged.

1. From an old Directory of Newry, published in 1819, by Alexander Wilkinson, at the Telegraph Office. This old volume bears the imprint, "James Spence, Newry."

2. From "Personal Recollections of the beginning of the Century," by Thomas McTear, in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 1899.

This article was originally published in "The Open Window Illustrated - Literary Annual and Year Book of Local Annals" in 1900 which was centred on the Newry area.

1 comment:

  1. Eddie, thank you for posting this to Y-IRL and 'm sharing it with my Irish Genealogy FB page.