Road Works Ahead

The Grand Jury* in the 18th Century

(*The Grand Jury was the forerunner of our modern county councils.)

Mr. Wray of Ards, Creeslough, one of the more industrious landlords, made his district more accessible with the construction of new roads and bridges. Richard Pococke in his 1752 tour of Donegal described the style of road building initiated by Wray in the Lough Salt area:

They are 21 feet broad, with a margin on each side of the green turf about 2 feet wide; they are first raised with the earth that is thrown up to make a fosse (ditch) on each side, then they lay a coat of broken quarry stone, on that some earth & then gravel at top. These roads …almost answer the end of water carriage, for they will draw a hogs head of wine, or anything not exceeding 600lb weight & one man will attend three or four of them: they commonly feed their horses on the grass they find in the road, so that they will carry 150 miles for about 3 shillings a hundred.

So these roads had a dual role in both facilitating transport and providing fuel for it! The following extract is from the 1786 Grand Jury Assizes; William Wray's name is third on the list of Grand Jurors at the top of the page:

We present the sum of sixty pounds to be levied in the usual manner and paid to the Treasurer and by him paid to William Wray Esquire and Mr Daniel McSwine (being the last gale [payment] of one hundred and twenty four pounds and formerly presented), who are therewith to stone and gravel 394 perches of new road beginning at Classeroon and ending at Glenhollagh on the great road from Dunfanaghy to Killybegs, and to make a water pipe on said road and William Wray and Daniel McSwine to oversee the work and account on oath for the same. We bequeath the sum of ten pounds to be levied and paid to the treasurer for his last half year's salary.

This Taylor and Skinner map from 1772 shows the newly-constructed road from Killybegs to Donegal Town. This road opened up the fishing port of Killybegs and its construction was of vital importance in providing a link from the port to the markets.


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