Travel in the Past

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  • Aspects of Wicklow



Travelling in Times Past

Up to around 1815, travelling long distances was a very difficult thing to do. Most roads were bumpy earth tracks and could become very hazardous in bad weather. Such was the danger involved that it was not unusual for a traveller to make a will before setting out on a long coach journey.

Only mail coaches and a few day coaches ran with regularity. The cost of coach travel was very great, so poor and ordinary people had to walk everywhere.

However, all this was to change in 1815 with the innovations of the Italian, Mr Charles Bianconi, who moved to Ireland from Italy in 1802 at an early age.

He revolutionised public transport in Ireland by establishing his 'public cars' business in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

Charles Bianconi

Bianconi - Car Drawn by a Single Horse

On 5 July 1815, Bianconi started running an ordinary jaunting-car between Clonmel and Cahir, which could carry up to six people. For a while people were not interested in paying the small charge and failure was predicted by many. In total secrecy, Bianconi set up a second jaunting-car under a false name in opposition to his own. Fierce rivalry resulted in daily races to Cahir and back to Clonmel. Passenger lists grew as a result of the public interest. The second car was withdrawn and not even his employees knew its true owners. Later that year, he started cars to Limerick, Cashel and Thurles. The ordinary people had problems pronouncing the name Bianconi and started to refer to the cars as 'Bians'. Post was also carried on the Bians.

Taken from 'Charles Bianconi - A Biography', by Mrs Morgan John O'Connell.
Bianconi - Car Drawn by a Single Horse
Taken from 'Charles Bianconi - A Biography', by Mrs Morgan John O'Connell.

Bianconi - Car Drawn by a Single Horse

On 5 July 1815, Bianconi started running an ordinary jaunting-car between Clonmel and Cahir, which could carry up to six people. For a while people were not interested in paying the small charge and failure was predicted by many. In total secrecy, Bianconi set up a second jaunting-car under a false name in opposition to his own. Fierce rivalry resulted in daily races to Cahir and back to Clonmel. Passenger lists grew as a result of the public interest. The second car was withdrawn and not even his employees knew its true owners. Later that year, he started cars to Limerick, Cashel and Thurles. The ordinary people had problems pronouncing the name Bianconi and started to refer to the cars as 'Bians'. Post was also carried on the Bians.

Taken from 'Charles Bianconi - A Biography', by Mrs Morgan John O'Connell.
Enlarge image

Bianconi's horse-drawn carriage service soon become familiar to the people of Bray, as the coaches passed through the town daily.

Each wagon was capable of carrying up to twenty passengers, at a speed of eight to nine miles per hour.

A Bray to Dublin return trip was about three shillings, which was the average weekly wage for many labourers.