Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sepia Saturday #249: 'Clip, clop & clatter': A driving life in Dublin City

Car Proprietor: Patrick Geraghty, 1860-1947.
Listen. Do you hear them? 'Clip, clop, clatter, clip, clop, clatter', the strikes of horses' hooves,  the roll of wooden wheels, the shifting and jaunting of carriages travelling along the streets of Dublin City. Tanned leather reins are drawn hard back, the racket stops, and willing captives are drawn out from their rolling seats. The horses shake against the bit, snort and whinny, and impatiently clap their hooves against the stone. Steam emits from their noses, spent muscles lax momentarily at rest, glossy coats glisten in the light rain, until the crack of a whip orders them 'Away!'.

In the late 19th and early 20th century you might have come across my paternal great-grandfather Patrick Geraghty as master of the whip, driving such a horse and carriage through the cobbled streets of Dublin City.

In 1887, Patrick Geraghty, his wife Margaret Toole and their baby Thomas, moved from County Mayo to Dublin. They began their urban life in a poor area of town, living in a tenement on Townsend Street, with Patrick working as a labourer; however, sometime between 1889 and 1895, Patrick's working life changed from that of a labourer to that of a 'car-man', piloting fly carriages, hansom cabs, landau carriages and the like. 

By 1899, the shingle over the 'car' proprietorship at 6.5 Bow Bridge in Dublin bore Patrick Geraghty's name. No longer an employee, he was now an employer, and over time his business grew to become a great success. In the early 20th century when the horse drawn carriage gave way to the horseless carriage, Patrick's proprietorship made the change too.

It is alleged that during the Irish War of Independence, Patrick's car company provided vehicles to the British army, but I have yet to find definitive proof of that claim. Whether or not he worked for the British, Patrick was able to wrangle some pretty impressive clientele, including Mr. Jameson of the famed distillery, as well as the controversial Lord Lieutenant French, Viceroy of Ireland. By the time of his death in 1947, Patrick had long since sold the business. He and his family were 'independently wealthy', and had been living in one of the finest areas of Dublin.

Sometimes when I am walking in Dublin, I hear the sound of horses' hooves striking the blacktop of the roadways, or see a carriage spiriting joyful tourists around the city centre, and I pause for a moment to think about my great-grandfather Patrick. Since this is a Sepia Saturday post, in order to evoke the feeling of the time period in which he worked, I have edited these images to give them a vintage look.

Although present-day car-men, jarveys and coachmen, are rarely seen in drivers' hats and frock coats, still I might imagine my great-grandfather dressed just so, sitting atop a grand landau and cracking the whip, in his driving life of so long ago in Dublin City.

A horse and carriage at St. Stephen's Green,
perhaps similar to one owned by my great-grandfather.
Looking right, while turning left, good thing the horse knows where he's going.
Splendid in red, trotting away from Christ Church Cathedral.
A gentle gait for moving past the Georgian Houses of Mount Street Crescent.
Be sure to stop by the Sepia Saturday blog to see how others have interpreted today's inspiration image, and perhaps you'll be inspired too.


©irisheyesjg2014.


26 comments:

  1. Very evocative Jennifer, and a perfect story to match the prompt.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comment Pauleen. I only wish I had photographs of my great-grandfather atop one of those carriages...sigh.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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    1. Thanks very much for your comment Postcardy. Glad you can hear that clip-clopping sound.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. You just reminded me that I have a photo of an old Irish man driving a horse and carriage up to Guinness's!!!

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    1. Hi Jackie, let's have a look at him. Maybe he's a relation!

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. I hope he made good friends with Mr. Jameson. I enjoyed reading about your great-grandfather and how he prospered through hard work to be his own boss. Good for him!

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Wendy. I'm glad you enjoyed his story.

      As it happens my other paternal great-grandfather Patrick Magee was the manager of Jameson's Smithfield Distillery in Dublin.

      After Patrick Geraghty became the owner of his own car proprietorship, his son John, (my grandfather) was the driver who ferried Mr. Jameson about town. In this way he got to know Patrick Magee at the distillery, and I believe this may be how he came to be introduced to my grandmother Anne, Patrick Magee's daughter.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  5. Very well written. I really enjoyed this Jennifer. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Sharon. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  6. You paint a vibrant image of old Dublin, Jennifer. The parallels in our research often surprise me, my GG-grandfather was a gentleman's coachman, first in Swords and later in the city. I can now clearly picture him in his 'frock coat', driving his carriage onward.

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  7. Thanks very much for your comments Dara. I am also intrigued by the parallels in our research. I'm glad the post elicits images in your imagination of your gg-grandfather in his frock coat, driving his carriage onward.

    Cheers,
    Jennifer

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  8. Thank you for the pictures of the Dublin carriages, they were a treat to see . To have a relative like Patrick in your family tree must be a matter of pride.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Bob. It is a point of pride to have Patrick on our family tree; 'the boy made good' is the phrase most usually associated with him.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  9. Thanik you so much for such a colorful and interesting post! The TopShop is it a hat shop?

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Karen. Top Shop is a British owned trendy clothing store for women.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  10. I had to Google Topshop, it appears it's like a top of the line clothing store, for women!

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  11. Jenn, a lovely post. Seems to me you have quite a few people in your family tree who made good, there's a good work ethic that's been passed down too.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Charlotte. We do! I guess it's all in the blood.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  12. Wonderful pictures and just right to go with your stories about your grandfather. I can definitely hear the clip-clopping!

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Little Nell. I love the photos too. I only wish I had a few of my great-grandfather clip-clopping past.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  13. I'd never heard of the word "jarvey" before. I always learn so much in Sepia Saturday posts. And aren't the jarveys beautiful! What a wonderful way to see the city.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Alex. I was not familiar with the word 'jarvey' either, until I started to do research into the life of my great-grandfather.

      'Jarvey' is the name used to describe the driver of a hackney coach, but is used more widely to refer to the job of driving. They are also called 'drivers', 'pilots', and 'coachmen', and probably lots of other things too, especially by people trying to negotiate around them in heavy traffic. :-) :-)

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  14. I am just slightly envious that you know so much about your great-grandfather's employment. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have owned a carriage business during the transition from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles. Did the owners buy one automobile, then another? And what happened to the horses and carriages? Sold, retired, ....? I like your photos and that you included several different kinds of carriages.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Nancy. I do feel very fortunate to know so much about him. It comes from having interviewed the eldest members of the Geraghty family who actually knew him, and then getting corroborating stories from the eldest members of the Magee family who also knew him. Also, it is very fortunate that in Ireland the civil registration records of birth, marriage and death, indicate the father's/husband's profession. I was able to trace via the birth registrations of his children the years in which he was employed as a labourer, and then a car-man and finally owner of the business. City directories helped too.

      Like you, I also wonder what those times were like with the transition from horse-drawn carriages to cars. Thanks to advertisements in Irish newspapers, I do know he sold off some of the horses, but don't know what became of the carriages. There is a transportation museum in Dublin that is said to have loads of carriages, but I don't know if they know who once owned them.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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