Mallow: 20th August 2023

As enthusiasts, we were delighted with the opportunity of having a Sunday run in north of County Cork, if nothing else that as a group, it was a first for our Club and for that matter, a first for the majority in attendance. 

We met up at OC Motors showrooms in Mallow where our hosts Liam & Margaret O’Connor laid on for us an array of morning refreshments, so attractive that in quick time were consumed by the appreciative travellers.

Liam conducted the drivers’ briefing and handed out a colour pamphlet giving cursory directions and details of the day’s offerings.   Interestingly, there are two ways to get to Liscarroll – the short or the long drive. 

Wisely, Liam picked the longer route because he foresaw that the gradual gradient was kinder to our centurion vehicles combined with unsurpassed scenery.  Our group were very pleased to arrive safe and sound at the Donkey Sanctuary a little distance from the Village itself.

Mallow: Sunday 20th August 2023

The Donkey Sanctuary’s mission is to transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules; and people worldwide through greater understanding, collaboration and support, by promoting lasting, mutually life-enhancing relationships.

Having parked up we took the opportunity to visit the grounds where to hand and at touching distance, there were 133 animals only too delighted to have us around and admire these absolutely beautiful creatures, so tame and affectionate.

EVIE is the youngest and was born on St. Stephen’s day 2022;  MABELLA is the eldest of the population.

Elsewhere on two separate farms, there 1,600 donkeys, enjoying peaceful living while being cared with love and affection by the dedicated sanctuary staff.

At front of shop in the reception area, your scribe had a very interesting conversation with Ms. Kay Fahy and Ms. Katie Colgan.  President Paul thanked Kay & Katie for receiving us and making our stop educational and interesting.

At the sanctuary there is an abundance of visitor facilities from restaurant to gift shop and loads of areas for dining and picnics.  Well worth a visit if in the area.

We moved on to Doneraile and to visit the grand old house.  It was heritage week in Ireland as it happens, and accordingly, we were invited to drive up the treelined avenue and park on the pea gravel apron

Doneraile Court is the stunning centrepiece of one of Ireland’s most beautiful estates. Located on the banks of the Awbeg river in north Co. Cork, the house dates from the 1720s, when it was built by Arthur St. Leger, the first Viscount Doneraile and father of the renowned Lady Freemason.

The house was modified extensively in the 19th century by later generations of St. Legers, creating the imposing and characterful building that can be enjoyed today.

The kitchen wing from this period now serves as the home of the Doneraile Court tearooms and is a perfect way to start or finish your visit.  This we can vouch for; our hosts arranged for us delightful mid-morning refreshments with linen table cloths, silver cutlery and china delph ware. All very posh!

The St. Leger family remained in residence until 1969, when the property was sold to the Land Commission. The house then passed to the care of Irish Georgian Society, before coming to the stewardship of the Office of Public Works in 1994.

The estate and surrounding village has a strong literary tradition, incorporating figures such as Edmund Spenser, who immortalised the river Awbeg in his poem The Faerie Queene, Elizabeth Bowen, and Canon Sheehan.

Next port of call was Annes Grove Gardens, on an historic estate located near Castletownroche Co. Cork. It was the home of the Annesley family from the 1600s until 2015 when it was gifted to the Irish state and entered the care of the Office of Public Works.  The Office of Public Works has carried out extensive works to the house, outbuildings and gardens and re-opened the site to the public in 2022.

Richard Arthur Grove Annesley, inherited Anne’s Grove in 1892 and developed the landscape in the Robinsonian style in the early 1900s.  He supported the plant-hunting expeditions led by Frank Kingdon-Ward to Tibet, Yunan Province, Burma and Bhutan  and assembled an exotic collection of plants. Some of the spectacular flowering shrubs dating from this period include Cornus cousa, embothrium, eucryphia and hoheria.

After a walk around the gardens for some, with others chit chatting to their heart’s content in the glorious sunshine, we were off again for our main meal of the day at Springfort House. 

President Paul Murphy welcomed our members and guests, thanked the background organisers, out riders and the O’Connor family for hosting the run. 

On behalf of our members President Paul presented Liam & Margaret with a hand turned beech bowl in grateful thanks and appreciation for providing us all with an enjoyable, and safe Sunday run with our friends.

So, there you have it;  North Cork has lots to offer for those likeminded as ourselves; the terrain is suitable, scenic and safe and the people are welcoming and appreciative of being able to inspect at close quarter, a magnificent fleet of yesteryear motor vehicles. 

We surely will return. 

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