Virginia Spring Run May 2022

We very pleased that relatively new members of the Irish Model T Ford Club volunteered to host our second Spring Run based at their home.  Nearby the Coote’s family business, CRAFTS OF IRELAND, demonstrate and teach traditional skills and crafts to people of all ages.  Some of us remember a time when handmade was not a description on a label, it was an everyday necessity for clothing and household items. Baking, churning butter, growing vegetables, and making jam were everyday tasks.  

Most women knew how to bake bread, knit, sew, and darn.  Many of us have fond memories of the warm Aran jumpers that were knit for us and the smell of the freshly baked bread. Unfortunately, through modernisation and changes to our lifestyles, we are losing many of these skills.  In 2016 Alan & Sandra established Crafts of Ireland to allow them to share the many skills that they have learned and to do their part in preserving our rich craft heritage. They would love to hear from you and you can also follow them on Facebook. 

Thus, a group of shining Model T Fords, led by President Paul Murphy descended at Knocknaveagh, near Virginia, Co. Cavan at about 10:15 am on Sunday 22nd May 2022, to be welcomed by Alan, Sandra and son Eoin into their extensive modern workshop for morning breakfast, freshly cooked especially for us.  What a surprise and a great start to our day.  Social interaction was instantaneous, as you would expect.  In or around11 ‘ish our Secretary introduced our hosts whereupon Alan delivered his drivers’ briefing. 

We in some way or another were to visit three counties in Ireland.  Alan & Sandra led a score of Model Ts into the countryside.  For those who are unfamiliar with Co. Cavan, let us say it is ideal country for old car aficionados.  The roads are free of traffic, they undulate somewhat but are free of steep hills, and the countryside is very green with sheep & cows grazing to their hearts content.  After 25 minutes or so we arrived for our first stop at Loughcrew Historic Gardens.  Loughcrew is an estate made up of 200 acres of picturesque rolling parkland complete with a stunning house and gardens. It provides the perfect family friendly day out as there is something to suit all ages and interests. 

The House and Gardens within at Loughcrew Estate date back to the 17th century – making it a landscape of historical and religious significance. Here, you’ll find a medieval motte and St. Oliver Plunkett’s family church among other old buildings. You’ll also find lime and yew avenues, extensive lawns and terraces, a water garden and a magnificent herbaceous border.  There is a Fairy Trail for children and a coffee shop too!.  Louchrew Estate is a 1 hour from Dublin and is located below the Neolithic cairn topped, Loughcrew Hills.  It is close to the Boyne Valley.  It truly was a glorious setting for photographs, a tranquil setting in the fresh green pastel colours of spring.  We took advantage of the situation as the pictures will tell.

By one o clock we were on our away heading for the village of Fore.  Fore (Irish: Baile Fhobhair, meaning ‘Townland of the Spring’ ) is a village, next to the old Benedictine Abbey ruin of Fore Abbey, situated to the north of Lough Lene in County Westmeath, in Ireland.  The village is situated within a valley between two hills: the Hill of Ben, the Hill of Houndslow, and the Ankerland rise area. There can be found the ruins of a Christian monastery, which had been populated at one time by French Benedictine monks from Évreux, Normandy.

Fore is the anglicised version of the Irish name that signifies “the town of the water-springs” and was given to the area after Saint Feichin’s spring or well, which is next to the old church a short distance from where the ruined monastery still stands. It was St. Feichin who founded the ancient Fore Abbey around 630. By 665 (the time of the yellow plague) there were 300 monks living in the community.

Another important aspect of Fore is the Fore Crosses one of which is in the village of Fore. There are 18 crosses; some crosses are plain (most likely to wind and rain erosion) whilst others still remain carved. These are spread out over 7 miles on roadways and in fields and bore witness to religious persecution during penal times.

The Monk Gerald of Wales related the following legend of Féchín:

Chapter LII (Of the mill which no women enter)

"There is a mill at Foure, in Meath, which St. Fechin made most miraculously with his own hands, in the side of a certain rock. No women are allowed to enter either this mill or the church of the saint; and the mill is held in as much reverence by the natives as any of the churches dedicated to the saint. 

It happened that when Hugh de Lacy was leading his troops through this place, an archer dragged a girl into the mill and there violated her. Sudden punishment overtook him; for being struck with infernal fire in the offending parts, it spread throughout his whole body, and he died the same night".

Local historian MALACHY HAND greeted us to the village of Fore, explained the history of the Benediction Abbey and its occupants and took us on a site visit to see for ourselves and walk in the footsteps of the former priests and monks who resided there all those centuries ago.  No one could fail to be impressed nor feel the spirit of bygone days being revealed to us by a knowledgeable and interesting gentleman.  It was yet another highlight of our visit.

We availed of the fine weather to hold our own picnic lunch.  What a splendid idea.  Only for Covid-19 it would be unheard of.  Sure it is an ill wind that blows no good.  Some of us were ill prepared but the local coffee shop produced delightful buns and tasteful apple tart with lemonade and hot tea did the business for us.  Soon enough it was time for communication and a group photograph.  President Paul Murphy conveyed to the gathering his thanks for supporting our club in strong numbers.  He paid special appreciation to the Coote family in arranging a great and enjoyable day out for us all.  On behalf of The Irish Model T Ford Club, he presented Alan and Sandra with a hand turned beech bowl as a memento of our visit to County Cavan.

We duly made our way back to base, enjoying the scenery and the pleasure of driving our ubiquitous machinery many now exceeding a century of operation amid country lanes and boreens mostr appropriate for our needs.  It was truly a great day out; good food, marvellous weather and friendly company.  What more can one ask for !

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