Ballinadee June 2016
We foregathered at the home of John and Mary on Sunday 12th June 2016 for our first summer run of the year to be greeted by our hosts, family and grandchildren for morning coffee and fresh buttered scones. A chance to say hello to the members as they arrived in dribs and drabs but in good time.
Anne turned up from Co. Kildare to present Matt and Eileen with a standard rose and congratulations on their recently celebrated golden wedding anniversary. Very thoughtful indeed.
John chaired the drivers’ briefing setting out for us our route which was to take us to The Old Head of Kinsale via Ballinspittle. Maps and route layout were distributed and by 11.15am we were off and greeted by the villagers in Ballinadee.
We had to stop at the seaside if only to admire the full tide, the sandy beach and the beautiful coast line that the Wild Atlantic Way offers to all and sundry.
We arrived at The Old Head Signal Tower, built in 1804. It is the first one to be restored and officially opened to the public as a visitor heritage centre. The west, south and east coasts of Ireland are dotted with 81 such towers with line of sight visibility from one to the next. They represent the iPhones of their age, being the very first communications system that allowed the quick transmission of valuable information.
Signal Towers were designed to serve as lookout platforms and to act as intermediate signal stations between the neighbouring towers and also with ships at sea. This was achieved through a Flag and Ball signalling system which has now been recreated to the south of the signal tower. The signal and its history is explained in the ground floor of the signal tower. The first floor of the tower contains Lusitinia exhibits in recognition of the centenary commemorations of its sinking on 7th May 1915.
We were invited to enjoy the spectular scenery from the roof walk of the Tower. On looking out to sea in the immediate foreground is the De Courcey Castle and Curtain Wall built in the early 1400s and occupied until the late 17th centuary. In line of sight beyond this stands the lighthouse at The Old Head. The final resting place of RMS Lusitania is on the horizon, just a little to the right of the Lighthouse. For the past 101 years she has lain on her side on the sea floor in just 90 meters of water.
The parapet here is a fitting place to pause and remember all those people who lost their lives at exactly 2:10 pm on the 7th May 1915 when the U-boat U-20 fired a single torpedo which struck the wonder ship of the age somewhere under the bridge. She sank in eighteen minutes with the tragic loss of 1201 lives.
In the coming year there are plans to create a Lusitania Memorial Garden at this spot and hopefully the O’Neill family will include this in the next planned Model T trip in West Cork.
Time to go and say thank you to our guide and also the chairman of the local committee who made all this happen. Next stop Kinsale. A renowned coastal village noted for sailing activities and good food dining.
Having parked up and raised the Ford Flag, we were off to the quayside to be welcomed by the skipper of “Spirit of Kinsale” where we were taken on a trip of Kinsale Harbour. Here we enjoyed spectacular views of Charles Fort, Fort James and other historic sites. Seals, herons and other wildlife are to be seen but alas for us, we were huddled up inside the vessel, and these wonderful experiences were not for us. It was nonetheless a relaxing experience with an onboard informative commentary which made the trip interesting and where some members enjoyed the facilities of the complementary on board coffee dock.
By now it was well into the afternoon and the troops were feeling hungry. John & Mary directed us to Jim Edwards bar and restaurant where we all enjoyed Irish cuisine at its best. Sunday lunch from a varied menu was well appreciated. Afterwards John said a few words of welcome to members and especially welcomed Pauline Deasy on her first rally.
The Secretary presented John and Mary with an Irish hand turned wooden bowl created in the style of that of the Vikings where an original 1,000 year old walnut bowl was recently discovered in an excavation site in Dublin. Afterwards a group picture was taken for the record.
We made our way back to base via Brinny and Dunderrow, and Inishannon. Please remember that that the final leg of our journey is well worth repeating. The fresh leaves and foliage on native trees along the bank of the River Bandon and late afternoon sunshine percolating through made for a memorable drive, eminently suitable for a Model T. Grateful thanks to Bill Chambers and his Land Rover for acting as tail end Charlie; his services were not utilised but provided a source of great comfort nonetheless. Last word forthe O’Neills, grateful thanks and appreciation for another splendid day out. We surely will return.