Artifacts & Documents: Pictures and Paintings

Mid 19th Century Irish Car

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In 1850, Orra and Edward Hitchcock rode in one of these "famous Irish cars" upon arriving in Ireland by boat at 10:00 at night, still having an 8-mile ride to their lodgings. Orra felt ridiculous, but it was only the first of many such rides, and they came to enjoy them. 

Irish cars were still in use decades later. An Englishman reported on this mode of transportation in Highways and Horses (1888). English snobbery toward the Irish and much of the rest of the world shows through, but his description of the "car" sounds much like Orra's:

"These vehicles are not to be found in common use in any other part of the civilised world. . . .

"The Irish car is inseparably connected in our minds with Ireland and the Irish; there is an eccentricity about it that appeals to our sense of the ludicrous. Both to the theoretical and practical coach-builder it is possessed of no good quality when balanced on two wheels, as the balance is rarely, if ever, true. In the dog-cart the weight is distributed almost over the axle, but this is not the case with Irish cars."

c. 1850
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