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The Farm Cart

Implements Used on Irish Farms.

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Farm Carts.

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 become general.

Note. In the north the slide cars or crooks referred to above were in places called slipes.

Video below shows retyring a cart wheel.