|Source:||On an Irish Jaunting-Car through Donegal and Connemara | 1902 | S. G. Bayne|
THE Aran Isles lie out in the Atlantic, some twenty-nine miles from shore, being visited by a small steamer twice a week. We took passage on the Duras with Mr. Walker one morning soon after our arrival. All kinds of people and a great variety of cargo were on board. We stood out to sea steadily, and in a few hours reached what is known as the South Island. Here we dropped anchor about five hundred yards from shore and commenced unloading our cargo into the sea, to be taken care of by a great crowd of curraghs which swarmed about the ship. (In explanation it may be stated that the curragh is a great institution: it is a lightly framed, skeleton boat covered with raw cowhide or canvas and thoroughly tarred, in which the skilled native can go anywhere in all weathers. It is universally used on the coast from Donegal to Connemara.)
Boards were tossed into the sea, which were quickly gathered together by the curragh-men, bound with ropes, and towed ashore. We had a drove of pigs on board, and their feet were tied together with ropes, the four in a bunch, and the animals piled up in the curraghs till the boats would hold no more; then they were taken near the shore, liberated, and allowed to swim to land themselves. Their squealing and grunting was like an untrained Wagnerian band. There was a cow on board, and she was pushed from the gangway by main strength, plunging headlong into the waves; there was a short pause, when she reappeared, swam ashore, shook herself, and unconcernedly began eating grass, none the worse for her bath. Mr. Walker took a snap-shot of her, reaching land. (We are also indebted to this fine photographer for the many excellent views he took for us in this locality and on the mainland.) Then there were all sorts of other things piled into the curraghs, and, lastly, we too managed to get into one and were rowed ashore.
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|Contents:||On an Irish Jaunting-Car through Donegal and Connemara|
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Samuel Gamble Bayne was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, and educated at Queen's University in Belfast. At the age of twenty-five he left for America with a view to making his fortune. He invested in an oil well in Pennsylvania and later founded a bank which subsequently came to be the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. By the time this book was written he was wealthy enough to be referred to as a billionaire. His account of the tour through the north, west and south of Ireland is a pleasant snapshot of how that part of the country was in the early part of the 20th century. He describes what is to be seen, gives some background history and, through the illustrations especially, provides wonderful glimpses of the area's social history.
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