RIAC Pioneer Run August 2021

We foregathered at Farringtons pub in Rathcoffey, Co Kildare, parked up our trailers and got ready our vehicles for the 25 mile journey to the capital city of Dublin and the RIAC car park in Dawson Street.  The weather forecasters sent out a yellow weather warning to the effect that eastwards of a line drawn from Sligo to Wexford would for part of the day be at least challenging.   

SATURDAY DRIVE 

We did experience a downpour of great magnitude but happily not for too long as we arrived at our destination dry and in good spirits.  The carefully planned route under the hand of Don Larkin brought us through the countryside of County Kildare via Manooth and Leixlip, through Lucan and then on to the Strawberry Beds, cheek by jowl with the River Liffey.  The Blue Max movie starred George Peppard, James Mason and Ursula Andress and is best remembered for its dog fight sequence where German biplanes and triplanes flew underneath the adjacent bridge’s main span. 

That brought us, with the kind assistance of An Garda Siochana motor cycle escort, safely on to the entrance gates of Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed public parks in any capital city in Europe. It was originally formed as a royal hunting Park in the 1660s and opened to the public in 1747. A large herd of fallow deer still remain to this day. The Park is also home to the Zoological Gardens, Áras an Uachtaráin, and Victorian flower gardens. The Phoenix Park is only a mile and a half from O’Connell Street. Both passive and active recreational pursuits may be viewed or pursued such as walking, running, polo, cricket, hurling, and many more.

The Glen Pond is set in very scenic surrounds in the Furry Glen. There are many walks and cycle trails available to the public.  The Phoenix Park is open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, all year round. The main gates of the Park at Parkgate Street and Castleknock Gate are open 24 hours. The side gates to the Park are open from approximately 7.00am until approximately 10.45pm.  Really, the drive through was a true surprise, especially for those of us living beyond the pale. 

We trundled along the quays of the capital, transversed bridges, passed along historical sites, Christ Church Cathedrial etc. and ended up in Dawson Street at the entrance to the RIAC garage.  We parked up our vehicles in a tight formation, given that space is a premium with some larger cars than out Model T Ford’s taking up a disproportionate area.   

RIAC GARAGE 

Don Larkin our event organiser welcomed members and friends to the RIAC garage.  He outlined that for some this was a nostalgic occasion and likely to be the end of the road as we know it for the garage in exictance since the year 1901 on the formation of the club.  There is a major redevelopment under way in the not too distant future. 

The proposed scheme will cover the buildings at 33 to 36 Dawson Street and several properties to the rear.  It will deliver a significant upgrade to facilities at the RIAC club at 33 to 34 Dawson Street, including a new members’ restaurant, bar, reading room, meeting rooms, offices for the RIAC and Motorsport Ireland, a new location for the Club’s Guinness Seagrave Library, and a 61-space car park.  A return visit some day perhaps when all is in position. 

Bob Montgomery was also present on Sunday morning to receive an award from the President of Royal Irish Automobile Club in recognition as Founder of the Pioneer run for early cars.  In his address to drivers and passengers for the 2021 event, Arthur Collier thanked Bob on behalf of us all present for providing us with a forum where owners of brass cars had an opportunity to meet and mingle, unbridle our cars for a good day out and allow passers-by to have a glimpse of past motoring history. 

The fact that the Pioneer Run had been run on fifteen successive occasions, COVID-19 excepted, gives testimony to his far sighted approach and his deep interest in fostering and promoting an interest in veteran aged transport. It of interest to note that Bob Montgomery is a motoring and aviation writer with over twenty titles to his name and also curator of the unique Royal Irish Automobile Club archive.  The President’s award to Bob was acknowledged by all present with appreciation.  

SUNDAY START 

At the off, Don Larkin asked drivers to take their time in driving in Dublin, taking account of the Luas tram system, Dublin buses and light domestic traffic that would prevail for the course of the morning while we made our way to our coffee stop at Coolquay.  A route sheet and a window sticker was presented to our navigators and a professional photographer was on hand to capture the image of each veteran car leaving the garage for the last time with the Royal Irish Automobile Club name over the exit door clearly visible.  We made our way gracefully and without incident to about the half way mark of the return journey for a rest spot at Coolquay.   

COOLQUAY 

Here at Brady’s at Coolquay coffee stop D11 K24Y our cars were parked up in a neat formation giving participants and members of the general public plenty of room and time to look at and admire the fine stock of preserved veteran vehicles in excellent condition and running order.  Surely a credit is due to all the owners for their interest and perseverance in preserving these wonderful machines. 

Beverages aplenty were on offer and accepted by most, lending to congenial conversation and all round enjoyment.   Libby, partner of Don Larkin, made our members especially welcome to the event.  These were Jim Boland, Michael Loughran, Benny O’Gorman, Sean O’Gorman and William Cuddy who were accompanied by their spouses.  Thank you Libby.  Rested and refreshed, fuel taps turned on and ignition properly retarded, the old motors sprung into life  and we were soon on our way on the last lap. 

RATHCOFFEY 

To say the least, the journey back to base was amid glorious rural countryside with roads and hedgerows near enough to what our immediate predecessors would have experienced.   The warmth of the sun beating down on those of us with Touring Cars and the gentle airflow left a memory of fond motoring times in our minds.  Safe and sound, we all arrived at Rathcoffey.  Local member Peter Duffy accompanied by grandchildren George and Annie welcomed our T friends to their home village. 

Our final stop was at Farrington’s Mill Restaurant, Cafe & Bar W91 W017. The licensed pub has existed on this premises for 200 years. The current building was built around an old thatch cottage in 1945.  Garret Whelan proprietor, having welcomed us to his property, invited us to visit a newly constructed workshop to the rear of the pub.  In addition to being a publican and restranteur, Gar is a restorer of old MB vehicles enjoying an international cohort of customers.  His firm Cardock Classics are Mercedes restoration specialists, based in Kildare, Ireland.

Their entire focus is on quality and originality.  They work hard to learn from the experience of restorers who have gone before them as well as developing their own techniques. They adhere to the the ‘restore where possible, replace if required’ philosophy.  Ideally all of their restored cars will be identical to the original artifact that came off the production line.  

Time to go home for some.  For others to relax in the warm sunshine, enjoy nicely presented beverages and keep an ear out for the ongoing result of the all Ireland match between Munster rivals Cork and Limerick.  By the way Limerick were victorious on this occasion.  Over Sunday lunch there was much to chatter about. 

It is not forgotten that the dreadful COVID -19 episode in all our lives put our motoring hobby in abeyance for a year and a half and as a consequence it was delightful to catch up with old acquaintances and meet new friends in veteran  motoring.  In signing off on this occasion, renewed congratulations to Bob Montgomery for his initiative of fifteen years past and a special thank you to Libby and Don for making this most successful and enjoyable event happen.  We will be back. 

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