Boyne Valley Picnic Run August 2021

With the uncertain times we are enduring arising out of COVID-19 together with restrictions on gatherings and keeping a safe distance from one another, we as a group of veteran enthusiasts are ready and willing to partake in a day’s outing of enjoyment in a safe and sound setting.  John and Frances Brady called it for Sunday 15th August 2021 where we would be brought on a picnic run in the celebrated Boyne Valley, to drive part of the heritage trail, inspect wonderful former monastic settlements and enjoy good home prepared food in the company of our extended family of friends and colleagues.

The meeting assembly was scheduled for 10:30 am with take off at 11:15 am.  We pride ourselves on good timekeeping, for in doing so we understand the rhythm of organisation so that we may maximise our T time without the pressures of clock watching. John Brady opened up proceedings at the drivers’ briefing by first welcoming the 17 T owners who traversed the country from the four compass points with special mention to a host of families and friends and youngsters who came along for the run. 

He thanked Brain King of K Circle Gala Filling station for making his facilities available to us all.  John outlined the 30 mile outbound itinerary, pointed out the various key sites of interest along the way that we would just have a glimpse while passing and described our first stop where we could relax for half an hour, for historical building inspection or just chitchat amongst ourselves. 

FIRST STOP

Bective Abbey was founded in 1147 for the Cistercian Order by Murchad O’Maeil- Sheachlainn, King of Meath. It was Ireland’s second Cistercian Abbey; a ‘daughter house’ to nearby Old Mellifont Abbey. The Order had been founded to recapture the original simplicity of monastic life; this was reflected in their restrained buildings.  Bective became an important monastic settlement. The remains now visible at the Abbey date mainly from the 13th to 15th centuries. They include the church, chapter house and cloister.

The cloister ruins are particularly well preserved and feature pointed, gothic arches typical of Cistercian architecture.  The abbey was suppressed following the dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII in1543. The lands were then rented, and the monastery began to be used as a fortified house. 

Today, the ruins provide a maze of passageways with dead ends and interrupted staircases, all asking to be explored. Due to the attraction of its medieval ruins, Bective Abbey has been used three times by Hollywood producers: in 1995 for Captain Lightfootstarring Rock Hudson, the 1995 blockbuster Braveheart and most recently in 2020 by Ridley Scott for his medieval epic The Last Duel, starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Afleck.  An opportunity to take a few photographs as a record for viewing in the comfort of our own homes was not missed. 

Happily the weather was kind to us all and the blue skies and warmth of the sunshine added to our enjoyment of each other’s company.  That said, it was time to go ;  each car started and loaded up with passengers saw us all continuing along the beautiful Boyne Valley route through the villages of Kilmessan, Dunsany and Dunshauglin.

PICNIC LUNCH

We duly arrived at Meath Eco Park, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath.  A85 RR58. The website describes this location as a little bit of heaven where we are invited to walk, amble, stand, stare, observe, sit, listen, hear, see, understand and breathe.  How true it is.  One must visit to experience this magic place. Alongside the lake was a large swarth of lawn freshly mowed for the occasion where seventeen Model T vehicles parked up in a crescent formation like soldiers on parade.  On site there is a covered picnic area and other facilities that were made available to us courtesy of Mr. David Robinson. 

Prior to the picnic festivity, David extended a warm welcome to us all and said how pleased he was that we chose to visit his Eco Park.  He asked if we would convey to our friends in our hobby that groups such as ours were more than welcome to visit whenever, the Meath Eco Park being most suitable for occasions such as to hand.  Picknic baskets aplenty were opened and young and old and everyone in between tucked into the freshly prepared home goodies.  Some were even grander with electronic temperature controlled lunch boxes where chilled foods were served up chilled.  How posh!   

It was very nice to meet with two new members, Vincent Mackleen with his original TT one ton truck and Tom Halton who came along with his uncle Michael Harris, a long standing club member.  During the course of the meal as we circulated it was nice to meet with Noel O’Brien who acted as our tail end Charlie and William Hall who with Heather Brady undertook the safety measures of guiding traffic at our stops and important junctions.  Every little helps to make our travels safe and enjoyable. 

Next off was music and song.  Kevin Molloy came along with his guitar and sound equipment and entertained us with popular sing along lyrics.  It did not take too long for our members to join in and take over the microphone.  Frances’ blues renderings followed up by Heather’s Ellis Island and Joan’s rendering of  The Gold and Silver Days were all received with aplomb. Not to be outdone, John Kane strummed his guitar accompanying himself with a ballad or two.  In short the post picnic musical extravaganza was top class.  At John Brady’s request, we all stood up straight with pride while Kevin played our National Anthem Amhran na bhFiann.

HOMEWARD BOUND

One of the essential records to keep is the group photograph.  We lined up with a lakeside background in front of some polished brass cars and the customary photographs were taken. This is a very nice thing to do on an occasion such as this for in the weary winter months that are ahead, we can always reminisce on past times and look forward to good times.  It was a busy time as drivers switched on ignitions, turned on fuel cocks and set the levers in the correct position, ahead of cranking up, in steady quarter turns, in anticipation of firing up. 

All were successful.  Passengers and crews jumped on board and the convey led by the Brady family were off again heading back to base on the R154 to reach our destination at the appointed hour of 5:00 pm, thus allowing the longer distance travellers a chance to get home in daylight.

It has to be said that the newly incorporation out of necessity of picnic runs has taken everyone by surprise if nothing else but of simplicity.  When many of us were growing up in the 1950’s it was common enough for parents and children to head out on a day trip with a picnic.  We did not travel far from home but we certainly enjoyed the occasion, sufficient to say that it left a lasting impression on many of us. Now today, as a result of the dreadful COVID-19, our club has stumbled on a formulae that really works. 

The Boyne Valley picnic run was a success on foot of many headings.  The company of families and friends plus grandchildren was terrific.  The plain and simple home made picnics were a joy to witness.  The self generated musical interlood generated a spark on the proceedings.  It was a great day and most enjoyable.  Nothing really happens by chance.  The success of the day was down to the detailed planning of the Brady bunch to whom we extend our sincere thanks for their organising skills in providing us all with a glorious and happy Sunny Summer Sunday picnic run.

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