Rathcoole June 2021
On 6th June 2021, the 77th anniversary of D-Day landings in France, members from 11 counties in Ireland, stretching from Cork to Donegal and everything in between, foregathered at the home of our hosts John and Ann Eagers for a social catch up and the meeting point for the first late Spring run, our Club having been in hibernation since October 2019 and the arrival of the dreadful Covid-19 to our shores early on last year.
After delicious fare and refreshments, John led the convoy of 17 beautifully adorned cars through his village, a short burst on the M8 motorway and a quick turn off to land in roads most suitable for 100 year old vehicles, with hedge rows blooming in all the seven colours of the rainbow that nature offers in early summer.
SOCIAL AND PERSONAL
It was really nice to catch up with Jim and Breda Boland who came along to meet and support us on the first leg of our journey. On 21st February 2001 Jim celebrated his 90th Birthday, to whom we extend our belated congratulations. Vincent Macklin from Co. Monaghan joined our club just before the emergency lock down. Now a member in his third year, this was his first outing with our Club. He was ably assisted with his youngster. Finally, new member without a T at present but looking earnestly for a nice touring car was Noel O’Shea from Co. Clare who too was accompanied by his son.
Noel was unable to stay with us for the day; some other time we will extend a Club welcome. Interestingly the journey at 227 kms is equidistant from either Dungourney or Donegal, per Google maps, but the Cork time check is thirty minutes shorter. Maybe the Stinsons and Rigneys may compare notes. Eoin Corry, our tour guide, is an award winning journalist, author and TV travel presenter and gave us the insights on a place that is cheek by jowl with M7 motorway and heavily density populations and is practically unknow.
Just as well as in solitude it is protected from harm. Kabina is manager at OPW at Castletown House on whose invitation to visit we accepted for us to hold our summer picnic on the front lawn. Finally, trailer supervison and recovery was overseen by Pat Morley and Owen Delaney of Commercial Hurling Club. Did you know that the Delaney Leinster Cup was called after Owen’s late father and three uncles?
After a short meander along countryside lanes, we were kindly permitted to park up our cars in a meadow adjacent to the Sacred Site at Ardclough, Oughtererd Hill, County Kildare. The graveyard has been in use for 1.500 years, and it’s the burial place of princes, paupers, patriots and tyrants and is still in use for local families. Oughterard’s round tower is the oldest building on the site, likely built in the late 900’s of local limestone and shale with a doorway dressed with Wicklow granite. The tower is one of 65 surviving round towers in Ireland, five of which are in County Kildare.
It is possible Oughterard tower was once whitewashed making it visible for fifty miles. The date and purpose of round towers remain a mystery, but the name cloighteacht (meaning bell house) suggests they housed the valuable bells that the most powerful Irish monasteries started to acquire from the 800’s. We are grateful to Eoin Corry, historian and TV presenter, for taking the time to greet us and share his deep historical knowledge and his insight into the graveyard and the Adrclough hinterland. Our photos of members in attendance, the limestone buildings and the scenic views, particularly from the rooftop of the Church tell a story in itself.
ARDCLOUGH VILLAGE CENTRE
We duly made our way over a short couple of miles to the only interpretative centre of burial place of Arthur Guinness who died in 1803 and was buried in the ruins of the Churchyard just visited. The exhibition explores the sixth century graveyard, and its ruined castle, round tower and numerous Guinness family member tombs. Arthur’s way will take you from Ardclough village, via the Grand Canal to Hazelhatch, over to Celbridge, crossing the River Liffey and on to Leixlip, within a stone’s throw from the Royal canal. We were to traverse these delightful places, particularly along the Grand Canal way on our journey to Castletown House.
When it was built in the 1720s, Castletown set a radical precedent and it is an extraordinary part of our cultural inheritance. Now, as the OPW breathes contemporary life into Ireland’s earliest and finest Palladian house, it is trailblazing once more. Castletown is the first and largest Palladian style mansion in Ireland and is just 20km from Dublin City Centre and sits on the banks of the River Liffey.
The house is open daily for tours from April to October and access to the house is by guided or self-guided tour. Free admission to the restored 18th century parklands, open daily throughout the year. Extensive events programme which includes: Children’s art and craft workshops, music recitals, parkland tours, evening concerts, ‘Family nights’ in the Courtyard Cafe for all this and more refer to their website.
We truly enjoyed our visit. All seventeen cars parked up in front of the house, each one looking splendid and admired by many visitor to Castletown on the Sunday of the June bank holiday week end. The weather forecasters predicted that Sunday was going to be the warmest and most pleasant. That is was, for our group of 17 had brought their own picnic which we all enjoyed on the front lawn. The menu per household were varied; some like your author bought pre-prepared salads and mixed fresh fruits whilst others treated themselves with an array of delights one could only imagine that came straight from the kitchen of the old house particularly when fresh strawberries and chilled cream was on offer to anyone who wished to indulge.
Surely a must, our group photo. With the masses of people around, visitors and our group, we eventually rounded up as many as we could on the steps of the grand house. We extended a cordial welcome to Vincent Macklin and Son to their first event with our Club and their late ‘20s Model TT One Ton Truck. With the assembled members, our president Ann Duffy welcomed members, thanked them for their support and reminded all that our 32nd Annual Rally will take place after all Sligo Park Hotel over the first weekend in July.
She emphasised that attendance to our gala dinner on the Saturday evening is only for those hotel residence; a bi-product of Covid-19 restrictions to help keep our distance and stay safe. Finally, President Duffy, on behalf of the Club, thanked John Eagers for his initiative, hospitality and generosity in hosting our late Spring run of 2021 and as a mark of gratitude presented him with a hand turned bowl of native Cork beech. John duly responded, thanked those who attended, thanked those who would have attended but were unable and said he would keep the bowl in a special place at home of a remembrance of a wonderful picnic run with his many friends and T lovers.
After catching up socially, for many of us with a two year break, it was a joyous gathering especially to see everyone hale and hearty having cocooned themselves for such a long time. The summer weather, the happiness of people and the opportunity of bringing our old cars out for a spin was some what overwhelming. We parted as we met, very content with our picnic run, each one already looking forward to our next special occasion.
Thank you once more, Ann and John Eagers.