Stradbally: 6th August 2023

Our President Paul Murphy paid a fleeting visit to our site at Stradbally to perform his final check on work undertaken in advance of the big day on Sunday.  This was Saturday evening.  He would be AWOL on Sunday.  His assistant John was elevated to Member in Charge for the big two-day event.  What a big responsibility for the broad shoulders of Mr. John, or so it would appear from our President’s perspective. 

The anticipated weather forecast for the country for the August 2023 Bank holiday was dreadful: wind, cold and wet conditions were to prevail.  Throughout Saturday evening and from early Sunday morning, the phones were hopping, particularly from those travelling long distances, Roscommon, Galway and Kerry, to mention but a few.  Nothing but the Sorrowful Mysteries to hand.

As luck would have it, all of the pessimistic forecasters got it entirely wrong.  There must surely have been a record number of exhibitors and attendees in Stradbally.  As regards the weather, it was fabulous; dry as a bone, calm as a cucumber and warm as toast.  From what we observed, it was a terrific day for everyone concerned.  As regards our Club, our half acre lawn pitch was manicured to the last with chalk lines prepared for the orderly parking of cars.  Speaking of which, there was an ample and abundant display of Ts from all ages, right from 1909 to 1927, with different body styles, colour and polished brass for at least half of them. 

One 1906 Mosel N took pride of place, being the elder queen of the crop, much admired by all.  Our hospitality tent was up and running right from the start with the larder full of freshly baked scones and cakes together with an array of mouth-watering sandwiches which surely, went down a treat and appreciated by the many guests and visitors.  Even the carpet in the hospitality tent got a deep clean makeover.  Lots of tea and coffee for all, made for conversation and social interaction.  This is what it really is about.

We had visitors from USA who are T owners and enthusiasts. Interesting to hear of their travel remorse:  a few days in Paris and a pickpocket nabbed while plying his trade;  a few days in UK looking at the sites but lonesome for human contact:  far too few days allocated to our Green Island where everyone they come across greeted them with kindness and inclusiveness to the extent that some members took them in hand for the duration.  They were really appreciative of the spin in the Model N for which they will recount to friends back home.  We bid you Frank and Diane Kelly, a Cead Mile Failte and au revoir.

Lorraine and Vincent have extended the merchandise offering of our Club considerably and they are to be congratulated. Without over emphasis, one element we amplify is the promotion of our brand: The Model T.  It follows, we get increased membership and more demand for Model Ts which does not do their valuation any harm, not that this matters too much, but nonetheless a happy benefit.  The merchandise on offer, newly created, and now on sale by prior order comprise high quality navy blazers with crest on the left-hand top pocket; really nice and great value at €125. 

Next item that is practical is a hold-all, colour green with sewn on embroidery crest at €25.  Great idea for a birthday or. Christmas present. The best of all must be the ponchos priced at €15 with our logo printed there on.  Frank Kelly was our model on this occasion. At €15 each, it must be a must, should unexpected inclement conditions prevail.  Every car should have a pair of these in stock.  Last but not least, is a car rug, made of the finest material and ideal for picnics or, for that matter, providing that extra lair of comfort for your guest.

We were very pleased to welcome Rev. Alec Purser, Rector of the Parish of Stradbally St Patrick, who no doubt called to see whether his flock were absent from Sunday Service for a community endeavour, that at least for the day that it was, took precedence for once.  We would hope that he and Mrs. Gillian Purser would repeat their visit next year.

There was a display of Ts in action in the centre parade ring at the hour of 3:00 pm.  John Hendy in his 1909 brass Model T Ford took the lead in the procession.  The compare on the viewing stand noted that the car comprised of two Presidents, namely President Emeritus Hendy of our Club and Mrs. Anna May McHugh, President of the National Ploughing Championships.  The ploughing event takes place next September 2023 not 5 miles distant from where we stand. 

To the surprise of all, well under the radar, there was an intruder in the cavalcade of Model Ts.  Beautifully adorned in polished Chrome and dazzling maroon paint stood this very attractive Model A touring car.  Happily, it was of benefit to our audience, for it was in live contrast to the later Model Ts produced in the last two years of manufacture, being 1926 and 1927.  Many would be forgiven for mixing up the later Ts with the Model A. 

So, in fact the presence of the said intruder was both educational and interesting. Thank you, John E, for your good humour and fun.  That is what it is all about. Finally, at the tail end of the circular clockwise drive in the show arena was a 1906 Model N two-seater boat tail roadster, a real eye catcher and a car for comment.  Our man on the podium remarked that Henry Ford was born on 30th July 1863. 

If you do your sums you will find that he built his first car, a Model A when he was 40 years of age.  When the Model N on parade was built, Henry was 43.  Looking around at the thousands of people present, one would wonder whether any of us, at the mid age of 43 or so, ever built anything that would last for over the following 100 years and be a game changer for civilisation.

It would be remiss of your scribe to pass by and not pay attention to the sterling, unheralded hospitality of our catering corps.  We believe that social interaction and friendship amongst T people is a feature of our Club that we are so proud of and which we cherish.  Part of this culture is the setting where, be it fine, sunny or wet, we have the facilities, tailored to meet our needs.  Many years ago, we first started up with a small tent, a few plastic mugs and a couple of flasks. 

Down through the years, everything grew, one in compensation with the other and not in competition.  Membership and attendance increased each year. So also, the offering to our members.  We now have a fully fitted store of utensils and crockery, an abundant supply of hot water, and comfortable carpeted seating area to hold as many as is required in our hospitality tent.  

Forgive the expression for if we used the term Container or such like noun, we would not be giving our Hospitality Tent justice, for what it is, something of huge value to our membership and deeply appreciated.  And so, our merry team of Ladies, as always, do us proud. They feed the peckish and offer a setting that is conducive to friendly chat and gossip, all things T related.  A wonderful service. We thank you all and appreciate what you do for us.

In polishing off this article, it remains to be seen how the Stradbally report will be received by President Paul Murphy. We await our first visit to Mallow on Sunday 20th August where President Murphy will express his result at Bowl presentation time. 

Until then, we await with eagerness.

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