Irish Model T Ford Club at Classic Fest Galway 2023
Our good friend Tom Heavey, managing editor of the Irish Vintage Scene put a call out to the old car brigade to support their second annual Classic Fest 2023 on 2nd July at Galway Racecourse. No entry fee for entrants, a change in the layout from last year and new side shows and attractions made for a super Sunday day out for anyone interested in vehicles pre 1980. From our Club’s point of view and experience, there is an overwhelming interest in runs around the countryside, picnic lunches and an abundance of socialising, translating into a lack of desire for the static show.
This resistance is borne out of the irresponsible behaviour of parents who willingly let their off-spring run amuck in our treasured vehicles. However, we are happy to report that we were very happy with our experience at this show, which did not come by accident. It started off months ago when John O’Neill proposed we would mount a stand at the show, having spoken with Tom who in turn welcomed us with open arms, so much so, as we managed to get the prime display spot by a country mile. John’s careful planning and strategy deserves top marks.
Our line up of ten cars, the brass ones glistening in the summer sunshine alongside the commercials and black radiator cars made for contrast. That being the old style brass showing at its best for the pre 1916 cars and the familiar Laurel & Hardy black ones we are all so familiar with. Imagine that, the same car with separate profiles just as attractive to the people of today as to our ancestors of two generations back.
On the dot of 10:30 am, our cortege of 10 vehicles was led by John Eagers, posing, black humour but of course, as the funeral director with a 1915 Model T Hearse, fully loaded and doing business with the customary walkers supporting the merry widow woman as they slowly progressed right into the main area of the racecourse reception area. To say the least, the large crowd of attenders clearly demonstrated their amusement and merriment, as first timers witnessing such a display, where they parted leaving a line of safe passage for our group to park up in a neat formation. Surely thousands of photographs must have been taken by members of the public, young and old alike, in equal measure.
John O’Neill brought along his cut away Model T power plant in full working order which we believe is of interesting and educational value to everyone showing the slightest interest in mechanical things. Throughout our stay there was a constant presence of onlookers in admiration of the simplicity and practicality of the power unit. Well photographed, lots of questions and answers and sheer appreciation of John’s skill and effort was perfectly in evidence.
At the other end of the line, President Paul Murphy brought along his Model T Ford Tractor conversion unit. Passers by would be forgiven to think that this somewhat unruly piece of gear was just an ornament, as compared with the splendid line up of cars. Not so, my friends, for from time to time when the spirit moved him, Paul set about going through the process of firing up his trusted steed to the wholesome delight of the spectators who marvelled at the simplicity of the whole operation.
The trade stands were aplenty with lots of items for sale. Probably the best line up of motor parts vendors we have come across in our travels. Not to be outdone, there was goodly array of ice cream and coffee stalls which with the loud musical band giving us all free entertainment, made for a fun atmosphere clearly enjoyed especially by the under ten children. Indoor fun and games were among the attractions with the added bonus of a magician who played wonders with a piece of rope, dividing it up into three sections and rejoining at the click of a finger. Even the adults gazed and wondered.
Outside in the car park, there was an array of cars of all sizes, ages and colours. Our brief is Model Ts; all it is necessary to say that a book could be written about the displays themselves not a mind the owners and their companions. It isa fair to say that the venue is excellent in all respects, particularly as regards entrance and egress; the many stewards at the pinch points and junctions, well trained for their job and good mannered.
The hour of the noble call soon came where President Paul Murphy gathered his followers to say thanks for their support. Our presence in Galway is an important feature for our club as it helps to build the brand and attract interest from admirers who get an opportunity to inspect and enquire of the practicalities of T ownership. It was a noted feature that many Club members in the Western hinterland turned up to wish us well.
To John O’Neill, a special thanks for his background work in making the event happen and for providing us all with enjoyment and entertainment, and as a token of our appreciation on behalf of our Club, he made a presentation of a bowl, turned from a piece of beach, the product of storm Ophelia of a few years ago. In response, John thanked his colleagues for coming along, showing their cars to the visitors, and answering the many questions that arose. He too paid tribute to the catering corps for providing tea/coffee and lots of home made buns; empty plates signified satisfied customers.
All in all, it was another good outing. The hearse, first to pull out of its sedentary position, led the cavalcade of Model Ts through the thronging crowds at about 4:30 pm, with a fresh batch of attendees smiling, taking pictures and, we think, amused at our creativity in entertainment. Last word to Tom; it was a good show, well organised and we hope that you got as much satisfaction out of it as we did.
Thank you Tom.