Posted by: Jim Bell | February 21, 2011

Galloway Gigs

Now the farmers, we suppose, return in these decent days from Dumfries market by rail to Dalbeattie and Castle-Douglas ; but formerly there used to be quite a little Derby-scene every Wednesday evening along the road; and capital roads they make in Galloway. Gigs and dandy-carts made a regular race of it; and apropos of gigs, one may mention as a curious fact in Galloway idiosyncrasy that the whole farming and trading community believed in gigs with the tenacity and exclusiveness of a faith. Long after dogcarts and other conveyances had been found much more serviceable wherever more than two have to travel, Galloway held on to the gig as an Irishman does to his car. But what is more curious still, we never saw a new gig in the Stewartry. It seemed as if the whole old gigs in the three kingdoms (or rather in the two kingdoms, for there are no gigs in Ireland) had congregated in Galloway before finally converting themselves into “sticks and whistles.” Or perhaps they never were new; perhaps they were old when they were made, like the pictures, antiques, and ancient coins manufactured in Paris for the virtuoso markets of Europe. Three in a gig – the farmer’s wife seated a la unicorn – does not seem the perfection of comfort; but neither horse nor man, the drivers nor the driven, seemed to object to the arrangement; so by all means let there be gigs ! The country hacks, too, something between pony and horse, when used in the saddle, were invariably ornamented with that obsolete caudal appendage, the crupper – a disfiguration, we suspect, caused by the big round bellies of the steeds being oftener lined with grass than with oats and hay.

Journal of Agriculture July 1865 – April 1866. (This contains a fairly long article on life in the Stewartry)

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