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CABBIES OF NEWCASTLE

The old Irish Jaunting car was slowly dying out as could be seen by the number of licenses granted in the Newcastle area. In 1906 there was 81 licenses, and this rose to 106, but in 1950 there were only four, held by Messrs. James, John and Hugh Meaney, Tollymore and H. McConville, of Ballyloughlin, Dundrum. Although the motor car had superseded the horse drawn jaunting car, American, English and Scottish visitors still looked forward to getting a ride on the old Irish jaunting car.

{Source: Mourne Observer 7th August 1975, p.5 (published under the heading 'Twenty-five Years Ago')}

THE OLD GREY MARE'S STILL GOING STRONG

"Time marches on" was the theme of the annual licensing meeting of Newcastle Urban Council when only two of the original 97 Hackney licences were renewed for the coming season. 

Gone are the quips and cracks and the comic cards with the "visitors impression" of a six-feet jump from the Irish jaunting car, but the tradition is still carried on by two old-timers, Hugh Meaney, Maghera, Dundrum, and Henry McConville, Ballyloughlin, Dundrum. Both now in their seventy-third year, have been driving for over sixty years, and recall the "good old days" of the gay nineties, when about 150 cars plied for hire. 

Commenting on changed times, Hughie, as he is known on the hackney stand, says despite the numbers of jaunting cars available they were never idle for more than five minutes, whereas now the main trade is at the week-ends. Both recall the times when the only transport available to Warrenpoint was by jaunting car, and remember trains of fifty and fifty-five cars end to end ferrying passengers round the coast for £1 per car for the fifty mile round journey.

Mr Meaney on one occasion after returning from Warrenpoint and stabling his horse had to turn out again for a run to Belfast. Starting his fifty-sixth consecutive year driving at Newcastle, Harry says: "It's not only the passengers who won't make the journey now, it's the horses. The horses were better bred then and the corn feeding was better. Horses in the early days did the fifty-mile coast journey with ease; now I would not do more than ten miles."

Despite the competition of modern conveyances when "everybody wants to go faster,"  the two old stagers are preparing the cars and hitching up old Dobbin for the coming season.

{I am unsure of the source of this article; I am told it is the Mourne Observer and from the age reference suspect it was c.1953}

Also see MEET THE OLD FOLKS ------WHEN NEWCASTLE HAD 98 LICENSED HACKNEY – CAR OWNERS. ANNSBOROUGH DRIVER’S REMINISCENCES