Monday 5th June: Michael and Mary Jackson, Talbot 105 Coupe des Alpes
Following a very pleasant evening at the Pembroke Hotel in Kilkenny, where the entire city seemed to be in party mode, we all set off on the first leg of our tour to the west coast. Our destination was the Dunraven Arms Hotel in the pretty estate village of Adare, Co. Limerick.
Even as we left Kilkenny, the weather was warm with nothing but blue skies, and more to the point, all cars were running well. We had agreed to meet up in Cashel County Tipperary, for morning coffee and a cultural tour of the famous Rock of Cashel. The coffee venue was to be Mikey Ryan’s Bar, owned by race horse breeder John Magnier. However, despite it being after midday, there was little sign of activity at the 19th century pub. But a fair damsel came to our rescue and literally shepherded us across to road to her own establishment and treated us to good Tipperary hospitality. Those who were still feeling fit enough then climbed the Rock.
After this it was a fairly straightforward cross-country run to Adare. However, we did note a green Talbot taking a rather more scenic route through Kilmallock than might have been necessary. Adare is one of the best examples of an estate village in Ireland, with nearly all of its thatched cottages still intact and now housing a mixture of craft shops, wine bars, restaurants and a very tempting but dangerous chocolate emporium.
The Dunraven Arms is famous for its roast beef, usually a risky choice from most hotel kitchens. But this hotel prides itself in being able to serve its beef in just the way you want it. They didn’t let us down. We really should have been out and enjoying the night life of Adare, but having spent the day in the sun, in old open cars, we all felt pleasantly exhausted and retired to our rooms.
Tuesday 6th June: Derek Plowright, Sunbeam 23.8 Dhc
Tuesday 6th June saw another glorious day with sunshine from dawn ‘til dusk. Leaving the Dunraven Arms in Adare we headed west following the south shore of the Shannon. A ferry crossing at Tarbert added a nautical experience to double de-clutching and crashing gearboxes. Who should we meet? David and Glyn……. looking somewhat perplexed due to a dynamo and battery issue. Problem solved: a jump battery pack from my extensive collection of tools (but no spares……. more of that in the footnote later!)
The route from the ferry included The Vandeleur Walled Garden, a beautiful botanical garden; a worthy diversion down to Loop Head paid many visual dividends.
The popular seaside town of Lahinch rewards visitors with a mile wide sandy beach and the usual holiday destination attractions.
En route we decided to visit the Trump International Hotel and golf centre with a promise to Kath of afternoon tea……. in reality a bag of cheese and onion crisps and a glass of Guinness. “Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen” doesn’t seem to work universally! Not worth the detour or the earache.
The Falls Hotel in Ennistymon was our destination for the day. An excellent hotel but the walk to the rooms involved a compass and a sextant.
A footnote: The following day we had a catastrophic failure of HT coil at a set of traffic lights on a busy high street. Picked up by a low loader and transported to our hotel, The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. In the spirit of friendship and bonhomie, the following morning David and Glyn had swapped out my faulty coil and substituted a brand new unit from Nick Ward’s travelling parts store. A big thank you to these exemplary Samaritans.
Finally, did you know three cars on this tour suffered coil failure – a bad dose of coilitus!
Wednesday 7th June: Des and Marj Burnett, Talbot AV105 Vanden Plas Tourer
We were somewhat disappointed to be leaving Ennistymon without having a good look around the town. We felt we hadn't given it a "fair crack of the whip" after the previous night's arrival in the middle of a hot and sticky traffic jam. Yes, you read that right - a traffic jam! On the west coast of Ireland? It must have been school's-out time.
Today was yet another beautiful day and the mile long sandy beach at Lahinch looked very inviting, but we had to press on to our first stop at the Cliffs of Mohr. A huge car park and visitor centre suggested we were in for something special, but it just looked like a few ... well, cliffs to me. The pulling power of Harry Potter is obviously quite something! I had some notion that Ryan's Daughter was filmed here, but apparently that was West Cork. I remember seeing Ryan's Daughter, but have not yet been tempted by Harry Potter. Too busy reading Blight's Bible. The toilets were quite nice though, as long as you didn't have to queue for the ladies. I am obviously doing the place a bit of a disservice here. It is a beautiful spot, but just a little over-egged for me.
By this time Marj was feeling the draw of the Burren. We first went there in 2017 and were blown away by the spirituality of the place. You can't touch it, but you can certainly feel it. Some folks don't get it, but they probably won't get the true essence of the place and people that form modern Ireland either. Firstly, we had to drive through Lisdoonvarna, a very pretty market town. Marj told me all about the match-making festival and I began wondering why we were here. Thankfully, the festival is in September so Marj will have to wait a few months before she can come back and find a rather younger replacement for me. Heading down the Corkscrew towards Ballyvaughan gives wonderful expansive views over the Burren. You get a good idea of the scale of the place, but you really need to stop in a quiet spot and peer down into the deep fissures in the rock. Many plants growing here in this unique environment are not to be found anywhere else on the planet.
Then on down to the coast into Ballyvaughan. Like virtually all the towns we visited in Ireland, it was spotlessly clean and definitely worth a future visit. We had a light lunch and, yet again, our stop involved lots of chat with the locals. Kath and Delboy trundled in just as we were about to leave. This was a recurring (Derek had to sleep off his meds before venturing out onto the road), and very pleasant, theme of our holiday. More chatting ensued - how did we manage to actually drive anywhere??
Fortified for what we were advised would be a nightmare circumnavigating the traffic-infested metropolis of Galway City, we set off with some apprehension. The road approaching town did indeed become somewhat busier, but, before we knew it, we were in the centre of Galway, passing the university and impressive cathedral and onto the N59 for Clifden. No sweat! I suppose it is all relative: I have spent the last 50 years driving through London. I have now managed to drive through Galway twice, allegedly to avoid the shops (or, in Ulster speak, "the shaps"). Marj is adamant that sometime soon it will be third time lucky and we can spend some time there. I agree: it does look like a vibrant and interesting city.
Marj's family spent idyllic summer holidays in Oughterard on Lough Corrib back in the early sixties with farmer Quinn and his family of countless children running around in bare feet. The bed of the lough is razor-sharp volcanic rock so those kids must have been tough. We stopped for coffee and, yet again, were surrounded by chatty locals. We met a charming young history graduate who was running cycling tours and proclaimed himself a nationalist; sounds like an interesting prospect for a future cycling adventure! Marj thought she should ask about the Quinns only to be met with the retort "everyone is called Quinn round here"! However, a little perseverance paid off and she felt she may have located the family's whereabouts. Obviously, we were just passing through, but I suspect that Mr and Mrs Quinn will have heard pretty quickly that someone was asking after them!
The road on to Clifden is what I would call a "Talbot" road. We all know what that is ... long sweeping bends sitting in the seventy plus zone where the whole car comes alive in one harmonious piece. So enjoyable in fact that I was never going to break off from all the fun and drive round the little coast road which featured towards the end of today's drive. Before we knew it, we were in Clifden, driving through the pretty town and up to the majestic Abbeyglen Castle Hotel for a wonderful evening of lobster (in my case) and traditional music laid on by very-much-hands-on host, Brian Hughes. A very hard-working boy is Brian and not a bad singer either!
Truly, a day to remember.
Thursday 8th June: David Roxburgh, Talbot AG 14/45 Tourer
We stayed for two nights at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel in Clifden. Free prosecco and an enthusiastically delivered history of the hotel by our host - who certainly had that wonderful Irish gift of fluent speaking! – prepared us for a more relaxing fourth day.
As it was a rest day, in the morning, Glyn Lloyd and I took a walk with Daithy O’Cealiagh for coffee to the nearby yacht club overlooking the bay. Daithy’s diplomatic career has been fascinating and we enjoyed his company.
Dan Nicholson had kindly loaned us his fairly recently acquired 14/45 Tourer at rather short notice, so it was hardly ‘rally-prepared’ and we experienced some minor issues of charging and fuel vaporisation. Nonetheless, I am now a convert to this lovely older design; Georges Roesch’s famous ‘one-model policy’ certainly produced an extraordinarily capable car. Although the top speed is about 45mph, it will cruise beautifully at 40 and, anyway, who cares when the idyllic Irish country lanes hardly encourage anything faster? Not only that, but it looks sweet and generates smiles and positive reactions wherever it goes.
After lunch at the hotel, we went for a delightful tour along the Sky Road, a 12-mile coastal hilltop loop, part of the Wild Atlantic Way scenic drive. The ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ proved a wildly inaccurate description of the conditions - which were blissful beyond belief and certainly not ‘Wild’.
The car purred along beautifully, just the ideal conveyance for these narrow country lanes. By this stage, Glyn and I were getting better – though by no means perfect – at changing gear on the crash box. I think there are still some teeth left on the cogs!
That evening, we all dined at Mitchells Fish restaurant in town, just near the Alcock and Brown memorial. They ended their ground-breaking Transatlantic crossing nearby in 1919, four kilometres south of Clifden on the site of Marconi's first transatlantic wireless station from which the aviators transmitted their success to London.
Friday 9th June: Roger and Maggie Adams, Talbot 75/90 Vanden Plas Tourer
We left the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel at Clifden on yet another sunny day. We were heading to our final hotel of the tour at Newbridge, some 304 kms distant, so we left fairly promptly at about 9 am. Nick and Sue had suggested a route through beautiful countryside alongside lakes with rhododendrons and woolly sheep strolling alongside the road or verge.
Further on we passed Killary Harbour which is the most dramatic of Ireland’s three fjords. 20,000 years ago, you could walk from there to Norway. Glaciers carved out a u-shaped valley and as the ice melted, sea levels rose and flooded it; hence it is called the Drowned Valley.
At Leenaun, we headed to Cong, passing between the Partry and the Maumturk mountains and then alongside Laugh Corrib, which is the largest lake in the republic of Ireland.
In Cong, a busy little village, we stopped for our mandatory coffee break at the Puddleducks Café by the river Clare.
We then travelled on minor roads to Tuam before stopping for lunch at Athenry, by which time we had broken the back of our journey.
The 75/90 was running well and by this time it was beginning to feel well run in after its engine rebuild.
After Athenry we joined the motorway M6 to junction 3 where unfortunately the route which we planned to take was closed for resurfacing. The young man on duty was reluctant to let our car though because of the state of the road. We then followed the detour signs, which was a big mistake, and landed up taking a 30 kms detour. We finally arrived at our hotel, the Keadeen, situated near the Curragh race course.
It was our first visit to Ireland and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The scenery, hotels and company were great. The Irish people added to our enjoyment with their banter and friendliness at every encounter and there were a few!
We would also like to thank Nick and Sue Ward for organising a magnificent tour.
The Talbot Owners Club magazine is published bi-monthly and contains news, updates and informative articles. It is edited by club secretary David Roxburgh.GO TO DOWNLOADS
The essence of the Club is to ensure that members meet and enjoy themselves; the Club is open and democratic, dialogie is encouraged. It is for people of all ages who like Talbot cars and want to enjoy the company of like-minded people and also to support current Talbot involvement in historic competition.