IVVCC Brass Brigade Run September 2021

We were all pleased to receive an email in mid summer to the effect that all going well and with health regulatory approval, the delightful Brass Brigade would take place in early September 2021 where the rally base would be at Lyrath Estate, a quick drive from Kilkenny, a medieval city with mix of renowned arts festivals, historical attractions and weekend partygoers. Surrounded by its 170-acre land and rolling hills beyond, Lyrath delivers the benefit of splendid isolation. 

Built in the 17th century, the entrance hall (often used for weddings) is as faithfully preserved as its exterior. Through  its main doors, the manor house is given over to a spectacular full-height foyer featuring a glass roof, contemporary art paintings, country manor furnishings and Roman statues – it’s spacious enough to mix styles. The classically furnished rooms are in one extended wing, while the leisure facilities are in another.  And so, those of us fortunate to have historic brass cars and being hale and hearty enough,  foregathered in the extensive car park, dismounted our steers and made our way to the extensive dining room where with social distancing in order, a superb evening dinner was served to the 50 entrants together with their navigators and passengers. 

President Myles O’Reilly welcomed all to the event, thanked them for their attendance and introduced Kevin Herron, clerk of the course.  In effect this was the drivers’ briefing where he indicated we could all pick up our event schedule in the foyer from Bernadette Wyer the IVVCC Secretary.  Our return journey of about 50 miles would take in a visit to Shankill Castle as a refreshment stop en route.

MORNING START

Weather wise, Sunday am could well be described as a soft morning.   Neither rain nor sunshine, probably misty at best might be the feeling we had when it came to the big decision whether to drive with tops down and hope for the best, or, carry on in expectation that the return trip would enable just that.  As it transpired this was the case.  At the appointed time of 9:30 am the brass fleet of beautifully turned out veteran cars made their way out of Lyrath Estate, one by one at minute intervals. 

There was present a goodly number of brass Model T Ford cars ranging in age from 1909 to 1915 that intermingled with others, Sunbeam, Fiat and Locomobile and an array Rover, Renault and Chevrolet beauties.  Of course there was a plentiful selection of interesting cars to hand, out of which mention is made of two White GA Touring cars.   

On examination, there is a remarkable change in some of the specifications of the two, given that they are only one year apart.  The 1911 GA was driven from home to Lysarth, a distance of 705 miles by a UK couple who have attended all brass brigade events.  There was a goodly number of hard tops and also early cars without front windscreens.  All colours of the rainbow were to be seen and polished brass radiators and lamps truly enhanced paintwork whether dull or otherwise.  No one was left behind, all cars started and ran as they should and reached our refreshment stop in good time and safely.

SHANKILL CASTLE

Shankill Castle, one of the Irish house castles, is a unique family home often described as a living museum. Shankill Castle was first built as a Butler tower-house near the ruins of a pre-reformation church. In 1708 it was rebuilt and set in a formal landscape, vista to the front and canal to the rear, by Peter Aylward. In the 19th century, it was enlarged and castellated, serpentine bays added to the canal and an unusual polyhedral sundial given pride of place on a sunken lawn.

The stable yard and castellated entrance to the demesne are attributed to Daniel Robertson. One can take a guided tour of the castle.  We were invited to walk around the gardens and explore the charming moated garden, peaceful pond,  Ireland’s only polyhedral sundial and Victorian walled garden where espaliered heritage apple and pear trees from a bygone era continue to fruit.

At Coach House Café, housed in the 300 year old stable yard, we could see the fruit of artist Elizabeth Cope’s unrestrained creativity exhibited on the walls and the stable yard’s tack room. Infusing Shankill’s tranquil greenery and stately corridors with a confident multitude of colours, her paintings add a burst of modernity amongst the antique tables and vintage vases.  In this setting, on a very fine Sunday mid day we enjoyed refreshments served up by Ruben Cope and his attentive assistants. 

The array of freshly tray bakes were simply delicious and not a crumb was left after our lot devoured the entire offering!  An opportunity to chat and mix in the company of fellow enthusiasts, catching up on an absence  of almost two years of social gatherings was very much appreciated by all.  Oh how time flies – tempus fugit.  It truly was wonderful meeting with past acquaintances and being introduced to new people with a common passion and hobby. 

The event schedule suggested that we fire up our cars a short time after the clock struck noon and allow time to make the somewhat hilly return journey back to our base at Lyrath and to lunch in the Ivy Restaurant for 2:30 pm. Timeliness means that after a relaxed meal there is sufficient time for all, particularly long distance folk, to get home safely in daylight.

BACK TO BASE

Our lunch was most enjoyable.  President Myles O’Reilly was pleased that the day went well, no breakdowns and everyone arrived safely back to base.  He thanked sponsors Barrett Private Insurances and CHUBB and Dublin Crystal for their continued and very welcome support of this event.  He mentioned the hard work that Kevin Herron and his team put into the event to make it happen.  He thanked members of The Irish Model T. Ford Club for their continuous support which IVVCC appreciates.

The brass brigade event is a non trophy one, but on this occasion there was merit in signaling something special.  Firstly, car number 20, a 1911 White GA Touring Car was driven from home to here by David and Mary Groves who were presented with a specially commissioned Dublin Crystal Vase, Spirit of the event Award,  in appreciation for their loyalty and considerable personal effort in attending all of these events. 

Secondly, in recognition of the unstinting dedication and expertise of club Secretary Bernadette Wyer,  Keith Managhan on behalf of the sponsors presented her with a Dublin Crystal Vase and a bouquet of flowers.  Both presentations were greeted with applause.  Invited to address the gathering, Irish Model T Ford Club Secretary thanked the members for supporting this worthy event, acknowledged their safety and courtesy on the road and their contribution to the preservation of the hobby of choice.  As an expression of thanks to the clerk of the course, William Cuddy presented Kevin Herron with a hand turned bowl out of a 2017 Ophelia storm fallen Cork beech tree.

And there is is.  Another year has passed so quickly and we hardly missed the two absentee years of the Brass Brigade.  We were well pleased that it came about this year and are most grateful to IVVCC in general and to Kevin Herron in particular for staging this 7th annual event in September 2021.  A very worthwhile and pleasant occasion which gave immense enjoyment to a lot of people.  Thank you very much.

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