Archive for category 2023 Rallies

Ireland 2023

September 2023 and, having taken the Porsche to France, it was now for the yellow Elan to take a trip. Our first destination was the Elan Valley, which we failed to visit in 2020. Our journey was marked by heavy rain and thunder storms an the western end of the A14 but we made Rhayader without incident. We had been warned that the bar might get noisy as Wales played Fiji but the publican’s hoped-for crowds failed to materialise and the narrow win didn’t excite much.
The valley is a marvel of late Victorian engineering.

at the Valley

A matter of size?

The City of Birmingham bought most of the valley in the 1890’s, constructing 4 dams with a fifth added in the 1950’s. The water had no need of pumps and flowed by gravity all the way to Birmingham – taking 2 1/2days to travel 73 miles and falling 52 metres in the process. From the Elan Valley we had planned to meander round North Wales to Holyhead but events intervened as a rubbing from the rear alerted us to a loose wheel nut and a roadside stop. The steering column dashboard bracket also came loose and fortunately we found a proper hardware store in Ffestiniog for a new bolt. Afternoon tea in a damp Betws y Coed and on to Holyhead for an overnight stop before the 8.00 ferry to Dublin.
The Irish Sea was calm and we arrived in Dublin in sunshine and onto the M50 Dublin ring. This is an electronic toll so I paid in advance – only to find they’d refunded me the next day! After we got back home we received a demand for payment of the toll plus a penalty for not paying on time! So they did manage to read the number plate – oh well I had hoped…. We stopped for lunch in Kildare and visited St Brigid’s Cathedral

St Brigid’s

before resuming a meander to sunny Westport, our first night where we met the other 3 cars in our group.

Westport Harbour

The E type had brought supplies of fuel additive as its all E10, 95 Octane in Ireland and the UK press has been full of the dangers to old cars in the high ethanol fuel; I just stuffed in whatever I found and had no ill effects though I was intrigued by the 95 octane “extra miles” alternative – I tried that as well but didn’t check the mpg in detail. The other cars were a modern Mazda and Porsche so they weren’t worried.
With Scenic, its group meals but as a lot of the hotels catered for coach tours as well, the dining room noise levels just rose and rose so that hearing yourself think was a major problem – followed by blessed quiet when the coach tables emptied!
Our next night was Galway but as it was a wet day we stopped for coffee at Leenane where Allison enjoyed a lecture on wool and weaving. After lunch it was still raining but as part of our tour of all available peninsulas we came upon Bunowen Bay, Ballyconneely,

In the drizzle at Bunowen Bay

near the site where Alcock and Brown landed in a bog after the first transatlantic flight in 1919.

Alcock & Brown – Breaking Atlantic Barriers

This remote spot was previously in the news in 1907 when Marconi transmitted the first commercial transatlantic radio message.
The following day was bright and sunny – just as well as we had booked a ferry to the Aran Islands and a couple of bicycles.

Island transport

Allison had an electric assist, which was fine but very heavy.

A very bleak landscape

There were surprisingly few sheep but the gift shops were still doing good trade in woolly pullies. Our return ferry was via the base of the cliffs of Moher (scene in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince).

The cliffs

We had the sea to ourselves but the E type crew who visited from above said it was packed and not worth it.
Our route to Killarney could have taken us to any number of castles but this was another damp day and our first stop was a chocolate factory, where the credit card was splashed! Castles being off the menu for the day, we chose the Flying Boats museum at Foynes on the Shannon – seemed a logical visit after our trip to the Zeppelin museum in Germany last year.

Replica front of a flying boat

Ultimate passenger comfort on board

Flying boats seemed the successor to airships for long haul flights in the early 1930’s but the war changed that and aircraft took over.

By the Shannon

. Another meander took us to the ruined cathedral of Ardfert and the nearby monastery

Ardfert Cathedral

Ardfert ruins

We had two nights in Killarney so on the rest day, bright and sunny we retraced our route back to the Dingle Peninsula on the lookout for a ruined castle. We found Rahinane

Rahinane Castle

Dingle sunshine

– but only because we stopped at a craft shop and asked the next customer where it was – she was off to see the local farmer, who owned it! At the end of the peninsula is Dunmore Head with views across a quiet sea to the Blasket Islands

The Blasket Islands from Dun Quin

but the greater prize was Kruger’s Bar which claims to be the most westerly pub in Ireland – good enough excuse for a lunch stop.

Off west

Then back via some Clochans, “Beehive huts”, stone built sometimes ancient but others modern used for storage – and at 3 euros per person to visit help the local farmer buy his Tesla.

near Dunmore Head


We had planned a scenic drive round the Beara Peninsula on the Sunday, missing the popular Ring of Kerry but events intervened. Before the trip I’d got new rear springs hoping to stop the car grounding and apart from a few gentle nudges that had worked – but not today! Over a bump and boom – the exhaust pipe pulled straight out of the Y piece and was digging into the road. Fortunately (as ever!) there was a handy track off the road which I could reverse into, jack the car, remove silencer, put the pipe back, reassemble and off we go? Not so easy, as I jacked the car down, it kept going down and the rear tyre got flatter and flatter. Allison refused to go any further without a spare so we returned to Kenmare where the garage put us in touch with Shane’s Ring of Kerry mobile tyre repairs – he already had a customer in a hire car waiting on the forecourt. An Irish 15 minutes later he arrived and from his van produced a new tyre for the hire car and a new inner tube for us. 30 euros and off we went. Now that was lucky!

Mizen Head Signal Station

Everyone has heard of Fastnet – the lighthouse, the rock and the yacht race – but getting there isn’t an option so we went to Mizen Head lighthouse instead where on a good day you have a clear view of Fastnet and today was nearly good. Nearby Crookhaven was another Marconi location where he tested ship to shore radio transmission before WW1. It was also a pirate lair in the16th century.

Reginald’s Tower, Waterford

Old City Walls in stock now!

Leaving Cork, we found Shanagarry and Ballycotton Bay.

RNLI lifeboat in Ballycotton Harbour

We had stopped at a craft shop but talking to a local farmer we found we were opposite Shanagarry House, the home of a teenage William Pitt in around 1669. We continued to Waterford, where we spent some time tracing the City walls and visiting the museums. One section of wall is preserved in the centre of a department store and we found a pub in a shopping street which closed at 6.30 in the evening! En route to Dublin we had a brief stop at another weaving factory in Avoca. Rescued from near bankruptcy in the 1920’s by three local sisters, who introduced modern and vibrant colours to its range, its now a large employer, exporting worldwide.

Looms at Avoca Mills

Storms were forecast for our return ferry and all the lorries were strapped down, delaying our disembarkation in Anglesey. The Elan – still damp from the outward journey was now exposed to sea spray on the upper deck. I should add that the handbrake was still working but we did get chocks just to be sure. An overnight stop in Prestatyn before the long haul home in time to collect the dogs from kennels – and with over 40 mpg on that journey I was well pleased with how the car performed. And I have now fitted more new rear springs – USA spec which give about 1 ½ inches more ground clearance – time will tell for how long that exhaust stays in place!

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