Of all farm equipment the
cart was the most versatile,being used for a variety of general
carrying of goods tools or produce, it is generally acknowledged
that a horse and cart could transport a load of one ton, the cart
illustrated on the left is on display in the farm yard at Castle
Ward Estate County Down.
The construction of a cart entails quite
simple carpentry with the exception of the wheels which required
considerably more skill.
The wheel consists of the wooden hub, in
the centre of which is fitted a piece of cast iron with a tapering
hole which forms the bearing. Around the outside of the hub twelve
square or oblong holes or mortises were cut to accept the spokes.
The spokes were in turn mortised into the
fellows, these were semicircular pieces of wood, usually six in
number which fitted together making the complete wheel, a circular
iron band or tire was then fitted to the wheel. This skilled job
was usually accomplished by the local blacksmith who heated the
iron tire to a red hot heat; when metal is heated it expands,
so as the tire gets bigger allowing it to be fitted around the
wheel. When the tire and the wheel where lined up, the tire was
then cooled with water, this contracted the metal rim clamping
the whole wheel together. Blacksmiths who specialized in this
work usually had a large circular slightly convex cast iron slab
set in the ground outside their forge, assembling the wheel on
this ensured it ran true and had the correct shape.
Most of the carts used on Irish farms were
made by specialist companies of which many existed through out
the country. Like many agricultural occupations have resulted
in many of the sir names in the English language such as Carter,
Cartwright and Wainwright.
The text below is taken
from Lewis' Topographical Directory of Ireland, 1837.
It describes farm transport in County Cork.
Formerly hay and corn were
brought from the fields on slide cars or crooks, both of which
are still used in the west; but the general improvement of the
roads has introduced the wheel car, which, however, is of very
rude construction, consisting of little more than a pair of shafts
connected by a few cross bars, and resting upon a wooden axletree
fixed into small solid wheels of ash plank, and turning with them
; in all the low districts the cart, or “butt,” has
Note. In the north the
slide cars or crooks referred to above were in places called slipes.