Sunday, 7 July 2013

4/4 to Kerry

As we drove along the A55 in North Wales, in light rain and extremely bad visibility, ruining what would have been a lovely view over the Dee estuary, I noticed that a section of the rubber on our offside wiper blade had split and was coming adrift.
This is not the sort of situation that you need, as you embark on a week’s holiday in Ireland, not noted for its warm, dry climate! Neither is it a moment to contact your local dealer for a replacement, more a case of buying some Super Glue and temporarily fixing it, which is what I did in that thriving metropolis of Menai Town on our arrival in Anglesey.
Waiting to board the ferry
Our high speed ferry, from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire was leaving the following day and the night was spent at ‘The Seacroft’ an excellent pub and restaurant with rooms, at Treaddur Bay, just 10 minutes down the road from the port.
While we were there, we noticed another couple, arriving in a Range Rover and towing a splendid bespoke trailer. Being somewhat inquisitive (nosey!) we were intrigued to know what was inside it and the following day we were to learn the answer.
During an uneventful crossing, we were approached by a chap who asked us how we enjoyed our Morgan. This led to a very interesting conversation during which it transpired that the man was Alan Beardshaw, MSCC member Number 74, I think he said, and in the trailer was one of his cars, a 1934 MG K3 that he was taking to the 75th Anniversary celebration of the 1938 Cork Motor Race, in which it had taken part.
Ballaghtobin Country House
Following our landfall at the terminal in Dun Laoghaire, it was a two hour drive to our first night’s  accommodation at the lovely Ballaghtobin Country House situated at Callan, near Kilkenny and owned by Mickey and Catherine Gabbett, who farm their 350 acres as well as accepting guests in their beautiful home.
Whilst there, Mickey showed us his amazing collection of vehicles that includes a Plus 8, restored from ‘barn find’ condition. He has taken part in a number of rallies including the ‘Paris-Peking’ and the ‘Flying Scotsman’ in his Alvis 12/60 ‘Beetleback’ and has recently bought an Austin Chummy for trialing.
Just three of Mickey's cars
After a restful night, in lavish surroundings, we set off on the 150 miles last leg of our journey, via Clonmel, Mitchelstown, Mallow and Killarney, to Castle Cove on the ‘Ring of Kerry’.
It was very noticeable that the farther west we travelled the roads got appreciably worse and by the time we had left Killarney and were driving up to ‘Moll’s Gap’ in the shadow of ‘Macgillycuddy’s Reeks’ on the Inveragh Peninsula, the Morgan’s suspension was taking a considerable battering.

High speeds were out of the question and the frequent need to pull off to allow faster traffic to pass, meant that the journey took longer than expected. But what the heck, the scenery was magical and we arrived safely at our self catering apartment at ‘Westcove Farmhouse’ , just in time for our first G&T!!

Westcove Farmhouse. our base in Kerry

The view from our apartment at West Cove
The view from our home for a week was spectacular, encompassing the little harbour, offshore islands and the Beara Peninsular in the distance with the very real possibility of seeing basking sharks, seals or otters in the waters. What a fabulous area this is, washed by the Gulf Stream, allowing many tropical plants to flourish and with wonderful beaches and walks, it certainly measured up to all our expectations
Derrynane House
During our stay we visited Derrynane House, home of Daniel O’Connell, Ireland’s great liberator, with its superb beach used by smugglers in the past, Kenmare, a sophisticated, picturesque heritage town and perhaps our best day of all, a lovely drive to Valencia Island.
The beach at Derrynane
The weather on the day we visited Valencia was gorgeous; off came the sidescreens, on went the sun cream and an early start was made.
'The Blind Piper', Caherdaniel
We left the main road to Cahersiveen and joined the Skellig Ring, on what was to be a thoroughly memorable drive. With fabulous sea views, the distant Skelligs, famous for their thriving puffin and gannet populations, were visible in the misty morning sunshine and we stopped for a coffee just before dropping down into Portmagee and the bridge on to Valencia Island.

En route to Valencia Island, the Skelligs in the far distance left
Portmagee is close to the place where the ‘Great Eastern’ laid the second Transatlantic Cable in 1866. From here we pootled around the island towards Knightstown, from where the first cable was laid in 1858 by ‘HMS Agamemnon’ linking Knightstown to Hearts Content in Newfoundland.
Portmagee and Valencia Island in the distance
The ferry from Knightstown to Renards Point delivered us to a splendid hostelry called ‘The Point’, which has a totally justified reputation for its seafood, portions of which were consumed with relish.
On Valencia
Valencia Lighthouse
In Knightstown awaiting the ferry to Renards Point
On the drive back to Westcove I was getting a little worried about a clattering noise emanating from the offside front of the car as it travelled across the worst sections of road surface.  It was only after our return to the UK, when I was washing the car, that I realised it had been caused by the offside overrider rattling against the indicator lens and not, that I hadn’t put the wheel on properly as my wife had suggested! 
Killarney Lakes our journey back to Callan
The weather on our last day was ghastly, so our ramblings were limited to a short visit to the local market in Caherdaniel and then to the local pub, ‘The Blind Piper’.
As we were enjoying our chowder and Guinness, the landlady approached us and told us that when we had visited previously, the Morgan had been photographed outside the pub and will appear on their new website which is currently being constructed.
That bit of news really brightened a rather gloomy day.
Inistioge, a  lovely watering hole
We set off early on our return journey, as we were once again staying the night at Callan and wanted to spend time in the city of Kilkenny. It was a prudent decision, as I was able to drive over the worst roads before traffic intensified, straddling the white line to avoid the potholes and broken edges!
A bit of history!
On Sunday we drove to Dun Laoghaire and parked to await the arrival of the ferry and spotted that bespoke trailer again, which of course prompted another meeting with Alan and his wife Tina. However, on this occasion we got to look inside the trailer at his magnificent MG, part of a very large collection that includes a vintage Bentley (‘The fastest lorry in the world’...Ettore Bugatti), an SS Jaguar, an HRG, a couple of Astons etc.,etc. In his words, a shed full!!!!
1934 MG K3
What a wonderful trip we had, covering a total mileage of 1085 miles. The Irish were so friendly and wherever we went the car attracted even more attention than it usually gets, not just from the locals but Americans, of which there were many, and the many other tourists visiting that gorgeous part of the world.


  1. What a fantastic trip with some beautiful photos. It is one that I would like to do if I ever get the opportunity. Thank you for sharing. Frank.

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