Kilkeel carters

The carters usually sat on cross-boards when travelling light but when their vehicles were loaded with pink sucking piglets, calves or lambs, the driver walked alongside.

As they breasted the brae they appreciated a helping hand from anybody who was about. It was normal for adult pedestrians or able young lads to push from behind while the farmer trotted alongside the horse, encouraging, threatening, cajoling his straining animal to renewed efforts.

In those far-off days, stone carts from the granite-dressing sheds regularly hauled their loads of cribben and square sets down Mountain Road, quickening speed on the flat to provide impetus to climb the sharp hill and swing left, at right angles to the shore road. The going was easier then to the quay where the carters tipped the loads of road-paving blocks. In time the granite was loaded on to the sailing schooners for delivery to distant parts of Ireland and to Lancashire, South Wales and London.

One side of Mountain Road was on Fair Days always lined with carts – tipped back, their shafts pointing skywards. Sometimes the horses were stabled in nearby yards; sometimes when the weather was good they were tethered to the butts of bushes that overhung one side of the street and kept happy with nosebags or oats or straw.


 more to follow ….

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