33rd Annual Rally 9th and 10th July 2022
Castle Hyde House
The Irish Model T. Ford Club held its 33rd Annual Rally over the week end of 9th and 10th July. Being a National one marque veteran car club, the location varies from year to year. Last year it was in Sligo and this year in Cork. We tend to like short spins and long stops so that we may mingle and socialise, with the men fold discussing cars and their lady passengers keeping up with the news. Following Covid-19, picnic runs have become the new normal for us, and what a success they are.
So in running this year’s event, Michael and Joan Rigney, well known garage people in the Munster region, together with their adult children went about organising routes that are suitable for old cars, keeping clear of main roads and traffic congestion and taking in and enjoying the wonderful scenery that our region has to offer us all. Their family firm, in existence since 1931, serves the wider population of Cork East and Cork North in supplying new and nearly new cars and commercials and afterwards keeping them rolling safely on our roads and highways.
We received a very kind invitation from Michael and Niamh Flatley to visit them at home for morning refreshments on Sunday last, where we could park up our cars on the lawn in front of Castle Hyde house and enjoy their hospitality. At about 11:00 am, and on time of course, our cavalcade of near enough to 70 veteran cars drove up the tree lined avenue and parked up in neat formation on the lawn, in a setting where the river blackwater gently flows in a zig zag fashion at the end of the garden.
Our party was led by our hosts Michael & Joan Rigney who were greeted by Michael & Niamh Flatley offering our group a “Chead Mile Failte”. After introductions we were invited to partake in hot teas and coffees with Michael Flatley holding trays of delicious lemon cakes topped with icing and an assortment of chocolate cakes, the contrasting colour scheme made them so attractive that in no time at all he was surrounded by well-wishers. We were so pleased with the generosity of time and sense of community that the Flatleys showed to us all; a very approachable family with no bounds of hospitality for us.
Michael thought it a good idea if a group photograph could be arranged. Breda Morgan from Frank Morgan Studio in Fermoy, a local photographer, was on hand, who helped to amass our group into a setting that would create the image for us to treasure afterwards. Our club secretary, William Cuddy, introduced our club President Paul Murphy and his wife Sandra to Mr & Mrs Flatley. As a token of our appreciation for receiving our group, William Cuddy presented Michael & Niamh with a hand turned bowl, made from Spalted Beech from Glounthaune, a mere 20 miles away. The Bowl was created last week especially for the occasion. He was also presented with a brass plaque, in the style of a T radiator an date stamped 2022. Only drivers receive such a commemorative piece of memorability but on this occasion, one more couple was added.
Damien Rigney, upon being introduced, then handed to our hosts, a presentation box of a specially blended bottle of 2022 Midleton Very Rare Whiskey. Michael was very surprised and impressed on two counts: first, his and Niamh’s name was engraved on the bottle and secondly, Damien Rigney is an employee of the distillery, representing his employer on this occasion. Michael asked that Damien convey to the management and staff of Jameson Distillery in Midleton, of his appreciation and thoughtfulness of the gift. Lots of photographs were taken by others. In all there were in or around 150 people present and so the task of having them all easily identified was almost impossible. That said they soon settled down with cameras clicking and Phones flashing “in jig time.”
The next half hour was true Irish style socialising. Our group of 70 or so cars contained 20 from UK, England, Wales and Scotland. To say the least, whatever about the surprise that was in store for the Irish contingent, words are hard to compose of the reaction of our UK friends. There is no doubt that in their own country they could not pull off such an occasion. They were quietly told that there is an Irish way of doing business, and this occasion was par for the course. The event was a boom for Irish tourism and no doubt the word will spread far and wide, not just in the car lovers but the wider sphere of their friends and families.
Not to be outdone, Michael & Niamh asked if we would give them a spin in a Model T. No reason to ask at all as there was a contingent of T owners ready and waiting for the honour. And so it was the next twenty minutes was for spins in Model Ts around the gardens and tree lined avenues of the magnificent estate.
In too short a time frame, it was time to bid adieu to our most friendly and encouraging family. Michael & Joan Rigney thanked Michael & Niamh and then led the cavalcade of beautifully running and shining veteran motorcars, the majority well over 100 years old, the vehicles created by a Cork man that put the world on wheels. Michael Flatley is a world renowned artist and he too put Irish dancing on the world stage for every one to enjoy. Although the passage of time span 100 years, the same story emerge; the children of Irish parents, who went abroad created something special for mankind and did us Irish proud, Henry for the motor car and Michael for the arts.
Thank you Michael & Niamh.
Jameson Distillery Midleton
On schedule at 9:15 am, our secretary called to order the 70 or so drivers who assembled at Radisson Hotel foyer, to hear of the drivers’ briefing for the day. In the case of two corporate visits, we were all reminded that once we park up our cars, there was to be no loitering, and make straight away for the receptions being laid out for us. At key junctions and roundabouts, An Gardai – the Irish Police force – readily agreed to man key junctions and give priority to our traffic so as to avoid congestion and of course our visitors getting lost. Agreed that no maps would be issued – waste of time and money – given that the post codes in Ireland provide pin point accuracy and since the souvenir programme contained same, no need to say any more.
And so, leading the parade of beautifully turned out Model T Fords, Michael and Joan Rigney had the honour of taking us on our journey in an eastwards direction, via the colourful village of GLOUNTHAUNE, in ship shape condition and ready for the tidy towns competition, to the busy market town of Midleton. Here we foregathered at the Lakeview roundabout, and proudly, our hosts slowly led the cavalcade of veteran cars down the Main Street to the surprise and delight of the Saturday morning shoppers, old folk, children and even our canine friends, where we pulled up at the extensive grounds of Midleton Rugby Club.
First to greet us was MRFC President Con Walsh who extended a welcome to one and all. Our President Paul Murphy duly reciprocated and was then introduced to the head of marketing of Jameson Distillery, located just across the road. For our enjoyment, an ice cream van was on site offering 99 Cones, together with tea or coffee and a generous helping of freshly made cakes and buns.
After a short recess we were invited into the Rugby Clubhouse where we were given a slide presentation of the history of the distillery and the wide appetite for their products, making Jameson the overall leading brand worldwide. The journey of Jameson Irish Whiskey truly begins in Midleton, where distilling first began in 1825. In 2015, they completed a €220m investment which doubled their production capacity to meet global demand for their products. Irish Distillers is Ireland’s leading supplier of spirits and wines and producer of some of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys.
Led by Jameson Irish whiskey, the world’s best-selling Irish whiskey, their brands are driving the global renaissance of Irish whiskey and are exported to over 130 markets. At the core of everything they do is a passion for their craft, a commitment to sustainability and an ambition to create drinks that can be enjoyed the world over. Irish Distillers employ over 600 people across their operations in Cork, Dublin and Belfast.
As we took in all of the presentation, each driver and passenger were presented with a presentation pack of miniatures which they can taste and enjoy at their leisure. President Paul Murphy, on behalf of the then assembled, thanked Midleton Rugby Club for the use of the hall and the management and staff of Jameson Distillery for being so generous with their time and gifts of whisky together with refreshments, and presented Jamie Jordan with a hand turned beech bowl as a souvenir in remembrance of our visit which was accepted with acclaim.
After a short regrouping of men and machines, the Ford Flag was lowered, a sure sign we were about to be on our way. With engines cranked up and purring, Michael Rigney and Joan led the troops across the road, duly signalled by An Garda, where we went on a driving tour around the extensive distillery property. There to greet us were the very many plant operatives and workers, waiving us well in appreciation of the care and attention we give to our old cars, just as we appreciate likewise of them for helping our local company in Midleton produce a par excellence product that is appreciated everywhere.
In a peculiar way we had a lot in common. They appreciated our cars and many of us their products.
We emerged back on the public road and yes, another parade through the busy Main Street of Midleton where bunches of well-wishers greeted us and complimented our passage with iPhones flashing to their hearts content. By now it was 12:30, we were running to time and with glorious weather we could ask for nothing more.
Irving Oil Whitegate Refinery
The drive of about 20 kms from Midleton to Whitegate is a joy, any time of year, but in glorious sunshine at midsummer, it is ecstasy; one could not ask for more. The road heads due south. It is rolling countryside, cattle grazing on the golden vale fields aplenty with barley and oats ripening nicely for the forthcoming harvest two or three weeks hence. Michael & Joan Rigney were well out in front as we passed through the picturesque villages of Saleen, Farsid and Aghada, where we embraced the eastern shores of Cork Harbour with maritime views second to none.
Gateway to Ireland’s premier tourist region and nestled in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Cork is the country’s third largest city. Dating back to the sixth century when the monks of St. Finbarr first settled there, the city began life as an island. It took until the early tenth century to begin to develop significantly when Viking Settlers founded a trading port. Today, Cork City spans both sides of the River Lee and is a thriving business centre as well as a popular holiday destination.
The city’s nautical roots have left an indelible mark and the stunning natural harbour remains one of Ireland’s most important seaports. It also attracts thousands of visitors from the yachting and boating fraternity drawn by the choice of both river and sea exploration. Moorings are plentiful, marine services extensive and when you feel like some time on dry land you have the fascinating city itself.
At the appointed hour we arrived at Irving Oil Whitegate Refinery, parked up our cars in a neat fashion, with Ford flag raised, headed for the security area turnstiles, where on our roll call, we were admitted to the Irving Oil reception suite. Here to hand was a bountiful supply of food and drinks that would more that satisfy the happy travellers. President Paul Murphy was on hand to receive an Irving Oil welcome from plant executive Austin Broderick and expressed his thanks form our group for the delightful array of beverages and nourishment on offer and of course their hospitality. We were the first large group to be received following a more than two-year closure of corporate entertainment following COVID-19.
We enjoyed a slide presentation showing the history of the refinery where a sod turning took place in 1959. It surely has grown in the intervening years. A special welcome was extended to our honorary member and former accountant at the firm Timothy Keane. We learned that the Whitegate refinery, near Whitegate, County Cork, is Ireland’s only oil refinery. It has a capacity of 75,000 barrels of oil per day, sufficient to provide 40 percent of Ireland’s fuel requirements. Since it was commissioned in 1959 it was redeveloped several times and produces a range of petroleum products. Whitegate Oil Refinery has a throughput of 2.2 million tonnes per annum. The refinery terminal facilities were also recently upgraded.
They can now accommodate tankers up to 100,000 tonnes total displacement at Berth No.1. The second berth caters for smaller coastal tankers up to 3,000 tonnes. Road loading facilities have been installed which cater for a variety of oil products. Two ocean going tugs, with a bollard pull of 49 tonnes each, are retained at Whitegate Refinery in Cork Harbour, to assist in berthing large vessels.
With thanks to our Irving Hosts, Michael Rigney presented Irving executive with a hand turned bowl as a token of our gratitude for receiving our group and treating us so well. After mingling and chatting with staff, some took the opportunity of a bus tour of the plant. Two luxury coaches were on hand, conducting and hosting a guided tour of the full facility, of great interest to those of us with an engineering mind and an inquisitive background. Others preferred to soak up the post mid day sunshine and take in the views of Cork’s beautiful lower harbour.
Like everything else, time and tide wait for none, and thus we were through the turnstiles and back to cranking up our worthy steeds. The head count having been reconciled with the ingress of visitors, we were free to go, once John Quinn lowered the Ford Flag. It was now 3:30 pm, the hour of full tide was approaching and we were off on a coastal journey, heading for our rally base, with one more stop.
Glounthaune Coastal Drive
It was agreed that our secretary would fall into second place on our return journey back to base, as the next stop involved parking up in a community park close by a tiny village, childrens’ playground with wholesome respect for walkers and youngsters present. Our hosts Michael and Joan Rigney led us all off, somewhat repeating our inbound journey but with a difference. Here we had a panorama view of Cork’s lower harbour for miles in blazing sunshine. Blue skies and blue water with contrasting irish greenery made this segment of our trip postcard perfect.
At the village of Saleen, Michael took a left that brought us on a coastal winding country lane of about 4 miles, known as East Ferry. It was noteworthy that other than locals on our trip, we all were taken by surprise of the unexpected beauty that was before our very eyes. Perhaps, apart from road dressing, the road way has not changed in 200 years. The trees would of course have matured but the ebb and flow of the tidal waters would have had a constant lapping ring since time immortal. For your information, East Ferry is an area of East Cork overlooking Cork Harbour in Ireland.
The area takes its name from a ferry which historically crossed the channel separating Garranekinnefeake promontory (close to Midleton) from Great Island (close to Cobh). East Ferry, a residential area on the Eastern side of this channel, is in the civil parish of Garranekinnefeake. Notable buildings in the area include Holy Trinity church, a 19th-century church in the Church of Ireland Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, which was designed by architect William Atkins. A coastguard station was also previously located in the area. East Ferry Marina, a commercial marina on the Western side of the channel, is in the Marlogue area of Great Island. A sailing school, ‘SailCork’, operates from the marina
We soon we’re back on the main road, bypassing Midleton and back on a dual carriageway for a short distance. We were then heading for GLOUNTHAUNE in all its colour and refurbishment and at the junction alongside the Parish Church, we entered the ancient village itself and carefully parked up in the village park. Our Secretary together with volunteers from Men’s Shed, Tidy Towns and Community Association directed traffic in an orderly manner so as to fill the space available. There was method in our madness as we were anxious to have a group photograph of cars and people. The village park is bounded to the North by a suburban rail line, with 15 minute frequency to Cork, as well as Midleton and Cobh, and to the South by the River Lee. The West end is a cul de sac: and so, our audience were captive.
Not to worry about anything, Theresa Broderick from Leahy’s Open Farm came along just in time, to offer us complementary ice cream, made fresh from their own dairy herd. Delicious is the only word that comes to mind. Second helpings were taken by those bashful punters who really like ice cream. Needless to mention, old folk, young folk and everyone within the age spectrum who were present, locals and villagers alike, partook in the viewing of a very fine selection of veteran cars and sampling bespoken ice cream. With the tide fully in and our desire for fresh ice cream fully satisfied, we were off again to our rally base, with Michael and Joan showing us the way.
We are grateful to our keen photographers Nuala Grogan and Gerry McCabe for their attention to detail and making available to us all, the product of their excellent work, a very nice reminder for time to come, of the happiness and joviality we enjoyed among ourselves on the full first day of the 33rd Annual Rally of The Irish Model T Ford Club.
As one would expect, and it is a given, the best form of getting to know each other and sharing common interests is a sit down meal with the opportunity of relaxing in conversation and laughter. The Radisson Hotel in Little Island did us proud. With 130 persons sitting down comfortably, the restaurant was full. The hotel staff served us delicious meals in an efficient fashion and made us all feel the welcome on offer.
At coffee time our President Paul Murphy addressed the gathering. He thanked our members for supporting our event, which with 74 cars on our entry list, was the largest turnout in our Club’s 33 year history. Of course, this could not have come about, save for the wisdom of Michael and Joan and the hard work of their family of five, Aidan, Damien, Grainne, Micheal and Paul. In his view the rally was a success, something that only comes about after careful planning and attention to detail. He offered his congratulations to the Rigney family and presented Michael with a hand turned bowl in appreciation.
Russel Hodgson, the leader of the UK visitors group took to the microphone. He expressed his appreciation of the friendship that appertains as between the Model T Register of Great Britain and The Irish Model T Ford Club. He made a presentation of a gift to President Murphy. Peter Laurence was on hand to present the Register’s silver salver to Alan & Paula Deasy.
Aidan Rigney, on behalf of his family, spoke of his parents’ eager-ness to host such an event where everyone was welcome to the home his Dad has shared with his mother Joan for almost half a century, and to inspect his life long modest collection of vehicles he amassed meanwhile since a schoolboy. He thanked our Secretary for facilitating the essential administrative background and made a gift of woodworking chisels to encourage him to keep on turning.
William Cuddy, Secretary thanked all in attendance with special tribute to the Rigney family. He mentioned the crucial help received so generously from An Garda, our two tail end Charlies, John & Mary Hayes and Kevin & Amanda Barry, his sister and three brothers, together with a host of well wishers, Rigney employees and personal friends who came up trumps in making the event safe, secure and enjoyable.
Each driver received a brass plaque, date stamped in the shape of a T radiator, as the band played on, the patrons danced, others sang to their heart’s content and the whole gathering descended into party mood. The spirit of renowned Irish hospitality was alive and well. Our UK friends would say we all had a jolly good time.
Clonmult Ambush Site
As noon approached, we were off again, led by Michael and Joan Rigney, destined for their home place but with one more stop. Up to 1921, Ireland was governed by British rule. In 1922, Ireland became a republic. As is often the case, as other countries have experienced, not all our citizens were in harmony. Rigney Family received an invitation from Christy & Geraldine O’Sullivan, land owners and farmers, for our group to visit the historical site at Clonmult, conveniently on the road home.
The terrain is that of farming with a narrow entrance passageway. For such a large group of veteran vehicles, together with supporting transporters and stewards, there was no facility to park up without congestion and an ability to exit safely, for that matter quickly should the need arise. The only way out was through grassland. Livestock were marshalled out to other pastures and our fleet of seventy or so Model Ts tramped their way through the fields of green down to the public road, an experience many of the urban citizens had read about but never experienced. What joy in unexpected circumstances.
We record our thanks to the O’Sullivan family for hosting the event, speaking clearly in historical context and making information leaflets available to us all. Next stop, the Rigney homestead, a mere few Irish miles away. Anticipation reached heightened levels given the exciting stops we had enjoyed over the week end thus far.
OPTIONAL READING… In the interest of recording historical fact, we reproduce a description of the events of Clonmult taken from the information leaflets to hand as follows:
Clonmult Ambush Site: Historically our area is well known for “The Battle of Clonmult”. A Monument to commemorate this event stands at the “Clonmult Ambush Site”.
A very proud couple, respected by family, friends and community, had the honour of inviting their extended curtilage of veteran aficionados to their homestead where they shared for many a year and raised a family of five.
Just like the preparation for the Stations, the yard was swept, the windows cleaned and the grass cut, so much so that their home never looked better, all in preparation of the special visit of the many who were delighted to accept Sunday lunch prepared by renowned chief and daughter Grainne. Needless to say, the garage was cleared of vintage and replaced by vintage. Here we talk of the substitution of trestles and benches from the local community hall for a rake of post war light Ford vans and cars, Anglias, Prefects and Thames commercials, that Michael, over the years since a boy, had lovingly restored after a hard life on not so good roads and lanes of rural Ireland.
The setting was magical. The guests were herded into the dining hall where an array of freshly prepared food was on offer to all comers. Grainne was present overseeing daughters in law, family friends and office workers taking on the new role of catering assistants. And what a splendid job they did. The sound of happy folk, enjoying being in each other’s company at the Rigney home is something that will be long remembered for its simplicity. A genuine product from a genuine family, all for the betterment of the community and friends that they share their lives with.
Going to and fro the garage, where the old car collection is stored, was a motoring adventure in itself, particularly the chit chat of the admiring visitors. Let it be recorded, we veteran lovers, all have collections, some small and not so small, born out of enthusiasts and preservers of matters historical. One could describe them as safe keepers for the next generation, for without these folk the vehicles would be lost for all time and recycled into cans for the packing of cat food.
You may therefore delude that the conversation all round was dynamic. Not so much as elevating the Rigney’s as wondrous, but in deep appreciation with what they have achieved over a lifetime of dedication and interest together with the generosity of spirit, by handing and sharing information to others and in particular to the next generation of followers.
The band played on, so to speak. Dancing in the dining hall was facilitated by moving back trestles and benches. So also was music making from young and old. As they say in Ireland, the craic was mighty. We had a great time in socialising, renewing acquaintances and getting to know and converse with new friends.
As good times start, so do they end. Happily, we record happiness all round. No incidents on the road. Every driver acted with prudence and care. All cars turned out magnificently. Road marshals kept us on the straight and narrow without getting lost. Tail end Charlies were a comfort. The Rigney’s excelled themselves. What more can we record that the end result of our 33rd Annual Rally was the creation of happy holiday memories that will last a lifetime.
Thank you Michael, Joan and Children: you did us proud.