The Roads of Inishowen

Map of Donegal c. 1790

We can thank the members of the Grand Jury for the design and structure of the roads in the peninsula. The Grand Jury was a non-elected body of landlords who met monthly in Lifford to manage the road network, built bridges and even offer bounties for the killing of otters. There was a flurry of road-making from 1750 to 1800 and the Presentment Sessions record the monies allocated usually by a length called a perch. Each year the landlords nominated one of their number to act as road surveyor for his parish. Thus we find Mr. Carey of Redcastle is in receipt of an allowance of £2 to act as Director of Roads for Moville parish in 1766. George Cary received a grant of £100 for the construction of 600 perches of road starting at Clair’s bridge and ending at Vance’s Bridge. In 1766 Mr. Young and Mr. Harvey received a grant to build a bridge at Craignacatten on the Buncrana-carn road in 1766. Charles McManus and George Gill received £31 to build a section of road at Baskill. Mr Young and Mr Hart were later appointed overseers of roads in Culdaff parish in 1768. Roads in Clonmany were granted funds between 1777 and 1780 when Richard and George Charleton were members of the Grand Jury. In general the best roads served the interests of the “Big Three” – Harvey, Hart of Muff and Young of Culdaff. The map shown here clearly shows their influence on road-making in the 1790s. Many of the maritime access roads were of good quality because all of them were involved in the fishing industry. By the 1800’s the construction of military structures at Buncrana, Greencastle, Leenan and Dunree resulted in access roads being developed to a high standard.

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