• Newsletter 6

    Last minute route checking outings reminded us of the delights that await you. The images below from one of these exercises will, I hope, whet your appetite to a greater extent than it has been already whetted. Despite all the fabulous scenery and other distractions I suspect that this year’s edition of the Shamrock Vintage Challenge might well be remembered for its apparent fixation with galvanised gates. Finding “interesting” landmarks for the jogularities in some of the more remote territory was quite challenging. Recourse to galvanised gates was a welcome fallback on what transpired to be a considerably large number of occasions. Hence their insinuation into your grey matter.

    Following his success on the recent Flying Scotsman Bill Cleyndert has set himself up as a bit of a target. Let’s hope Jacqui doesn’t get caught in the cross-fire. Bill is bringing a different Bentley than he originally intended. Other Flying Scotsman good news was the announcement of the nuptials of Andy and Philippa (both now) Bailey. I suspect that seamless burgeoning of the liaison will be the order of the day. Further cause for celebration was their fine fifth overall.

    Mention of “galvanised” above, reminds me of my disappointment in the process as widely practised nowadays (galvanising that is). My formative education, such as it was, led me to believe that electrolysis with the gate, or other object to be treated, as the cathode, a zinc anode and zinc chloride as electrolyte resulted in a robust protective layer. This process is electroplating. I discovered recently that a more primitive approach is widely employed. The gate is just dipped into a vat of molten zinc which results in a layer of zinc remaining when the gate is removed. This is sufficiently thick to prevent corrosion. Incidentally, it is not actually the zinc itself which offers the protection but the coherent layer of zinc oxide which forms as soon as the zinc is in contact with the air. This prevents the ingress of corroding chemicals.

    More names from our entry list finished well up the order as well: Stuart & Emily Anderson, Graham Goodwin & Vincent Fairclough, Andrew & Ann Boland, Gavin & Diana Henderson and Eric & John Kavanagh. We trust that the Scotsman will have warmed them up for the Shamrock.

    Class and CC columns

    The updated Entry List includes two more columns than it has done previously, one for cc and the other for Class. The more assiduous amongst you filled in the cc space on the Entry Form with commendable accuracy. Others were more approximate and a dilatory few left it blank. As a result some of the numbers are guesses. I would like to think that they are educated guesses but given that I know the identity of the guesser, I would have my doubts! Whatever, the seemingly arbitrary cc categories have been carefully chosen for there to be a cosy 8/9 competitors in each class.

    Having spoken to competitors during, and since, last year’s inaugural event, one of the regularity elements which disconcerted some was that of the timing. While this issue may be better suited to a Bulletin, I think it is worth mentioning here.

    • Each section of a regularity is autonomous.
    • Start your stopwatch at the start.
    • Adjust your pace to conform with the accompanying Speed Table.
    • Compare your time at the first check (TP) with the Ideal Time on display there.
    • The discrepancy (if any!) should be added/ subtracted as appropriate from the subsequent Speed Table figures. (If it helps there is a column into which you can insert the Revised Time – don’t get lost while you are doing this!)
    • Repeat the procedure at the next check.
    • After the final check (there will be a sign) follow the Route Instructions at your own pace.

    I have just one last Pascal’s triangle insight. It is its relevance in the realm of probability. Those amongst you who enjoy the occasional flutter will have, unwittingly or otherwise, used it to assess the odds in wagers you have placed or contemplated. The six rows shown cover the chances ruling groups of one to six items.

    The sum of the numbers in any row gives the total number of combinations possible within that group. For instance, to determine the probability of any given boy/girl combination in a family of five children, the numbers in the fifth row are first added giving 32.

    The numbers at the end of the row stand for the least likely combinations – all boys (1 in 32) and all girls (1 in 32). The second and second-last numbers apply to the next most likely combination, 4 boys, 1 girl and 4 girls, 1 boy each of which has a probability of 5 in 32. The middle pair – 3 boys, 2 girls and vice versa – have a chance of 10 in 32. So, there you are. Head off to the bookies now with the wherewithal to effect a more informed betting strategy. P.S. You will maybe have noticed that the sum of all these probabilities is 1 – which is as it should be – there are no other variations possible. However, if you add up all the odds in say, a horse race, you will discover that the total falls slightly shy of 1. Guess who benefits from this discrepancy? Yes, the bookmakers! If you fancy discovering exactly what this disparity is you must convert the” horse racing odds” format, say “3 to 1”, to the format above, 1 in 4. “5 to 2 on” becomes 5 in 7. Then add them up. Happy punting.

    We received some good news from FIVA courtesy of Tony Davies, the details of which are below. Another award for you to aspire to.

    FIVA protects the responsible use of historic vehicles through legislative monitoring

    In 2016, the 50th Anniversary of FIVA, we introduced our “Best Preserved Vehicle” awards that have been presented at some high profile Concours d’Elegance events every year since. These awards continue to be awarded annually. However, in 2018, to encourage more historic vehicle enthusiasts a “Spirit of FIVA” award was created to enable FIVA to support more enthusiasts and events around the world. These “Spirit of FIVA” awards are now presented annually at 10 events world-wide and FIVA is delighted to include The Shamrock Vintage Challenge 2019 in its list of selected events for 2019.

    See you soon

  • Newsletter 5

    The proximity of St. Patrick’s Day prompted me to offer you some background to the flora that features in the event’s appellation.

    The tradition of wearing shamrock dates back centuries, and the small, three-leafed (or trefoil) plant is famously a symbol of Irishness. Yet, it’s a bit of a sham because – whisper it! – there is no such thing as ‘shamrock’. There were fanciful linguistic suggestions that the name Shamrock was originally Persian, but the word simply means ‘young clover’ (seamair óg). However, three very different clovers grow in Ireland, so which one is it? The small yellow-flowered Trifolium dubium? The larger, white-flowered T. repens? Or the even bigger red-flowered T. pratense? Or something else entirely? Seamsóg is the similarsounding Irish name for wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), sometimes known as sourgrass and – here’s a clue – ‘false shamrock’.

    there is no such thing as

    So, in the 1890s a Dublin naturalist set out to answer the question. Nathaniel Colgan began his detective work by writing to clergymen around the country, and asking for people to send him rooted samples of ‘shamrock’ at St Patrick’s day. According to Dr Matthew Jebb of the National Botanic Gardens, Colgan received dozens of samples, all trefoil plants that looked much the same. Colgan planted the rooted specimens and waited patiently till they flowered in early summer, at which point they could be identified. He found that he had five very different species, all of which were used around the country as shamrock. The timing of St Patrick’s Day in early spring is crucial in this botanical mix-up, according to Dr Jebb, as none of the five species is in flower in March. “With just their leaves they all look the same. Actually, when people see the small yellow clover later in the year, they think it’s such an insignificant flower!” He believes that this explains why Ireland has no national flower, though we do have an (unofficial) national plant. In 1988, a century after Colgan’s detective work, another naturalist repeated his shamrock experiment. Dr Charles Nelson again asked people around the country to send in shamrock specimens. Again, the same five species turned up – even though few people get their shamrock in the wild now, as they would have done in the past.

    Given his absence from Newsletter 4, you probably hoped that I had forgotten about Pascal – I hadn’t, so here are the ALMOST DIAGONALS of his triangle for you to ponder upon.

    Richard and Michael Squire

    Back to more relevant subject matter. Tracey Miklaucich is unable to accompany James Mann. He is having to make do with brother, Andrew. A back tribulation suffered by John has forced the Hickmans to withdraw altogether. Richard Squire and his son, Michael will be bringing their 1930 Bentley Corsica. This car was rebuilt in 1936 for Forrest Lycett to race at Brooklands. It hasn’t changed substantially since then.

    Three new Talbot 105s,

    Three new Talbot 105s, registered ‘BGH 21’, ’22 and ’23 were produced by the ‘works’ for the 1934 Alpine Trial. ‘BGH 21’ was allocated to the Wisdoms (Tommy and his wife Elsie), ‘BGH 22’ to Hugh Eaton, and ‘BGH 23’ to Mike Couper. The last of this trio will feature in this year’s “Shamrock” in the Wilfried/Sandra Schaefer respectively.

    Chris Abrey & Sara Banham’s BMW 328

    Chris Abrey & Sara Banham have arranged an agricultural ancillary and are coming back for another dose of punishment in their BMW 328.

    Michael Kunz & Carolyn Ward in their Dodge

    Hoping for a less eventful experience than last year when they won the “against all the odds” award, Michael Kunz & Carolyn Ward will be putting their Dodge to the test.

    David & Jacky Hall

    Even more unfortunate last year were David & Jacky Hall – terminal mechanical maladies saw them fail to make it to Ireland – let alone the start. They are looking forward to seeing what they missed. Steven Wilson & Trina Harley are satisfying their Irish inclinations with their second “Shamrock” to add to their previous “Emerald Isle”s.

    Other returnees include Rob and Jeanne Jeurissen

    Does this sequence ring any

    Each term is generated by
    adding together the two
    previous terms

    The Andersons, Stuart &
    daughter, Emily making a grand entrance.

    Nick Ward & Clifford Auld

    Among the plethora of Talbot 105s are front runners from last year, Nick Ward & Clifford Auld. Is attaching the Rally Plate really a “two man” job? On Hans Kuiper’s entry form he suggests that his Alvis was delivered in 1939 to the Glascow Police Department. I am confused. Does he mean Glasgow and, if so, do they have a “Department? I looked, unsuccessfully for a Glascow in northern mainland Europe that may more credibly have a Police Department. The plot thickens.

    Triumph Dolomite 6c

    Andy Bailey will be led by Philippa Spiller in the Triumph Dolomite 6c. His fellow imbiber, Eric Kavanagh will be behind the wheel this time, with son, John “on the maps”.

    Friendly Francis Rhatigan will have his wife, Marie alongside

    Bill Cleyndert & Jacqui Norman again hope their towrope will fulfil an ornamental role only.

    This Talbot will be Michael & Wendy Birch’s Challenge conveyance

    Martin & Olivia Hunt are part of the BMW brigade

    1937 Ford V8 Coupé

    Lorenz Imhof’s Lagonda has been experiencing engine gremlins so he and Adrian Bielser will be enjoying the comforts of a 1937 Ford V8 Coupé. I suggest that sunglasses will be an essential appurtenance for the pair.

    Martin & Lesley Neal

    Peter Little & Louise Cartledge

    Urs & Maxime Mezger

    Another BMW – this one Bertie & Charlotte Van Houttes’

    I hope that the denizens of the various metropolises/
    metropoles/metropleis which the Challenge visits will
    be as enthusiastic as those welcoming Christian & Sandra Thomi

    David Cook will have the legendary Dave Kirkham in the passenger seat. When I say legendary, I am of an age where essential reading in my youth was Motoring News. Dave, courtesy of his liaison with Mick Briant in the Navigation Road Races Rallies of that era, featured prominently, and regularly, in dispatches. Michael Cotter will have his 1923 Bentley 3/4.5 litre. He has made a shrewd move in bringing Simon Echlin as his navigator. Simon does more than read maps – he is a mechanical wizard. He could also take the wheel if Michael would prefer to enjoy the scenery. (The absence of a hydraulic handbrake might slow his gallop though.)

    Frazer Nash BMW 328

    Peter Neuman will have Andrew Hall alongside in, he hopes, his Frazer Nash BMW 328 which is scheduled to be finished a rehabilitation programme in time for the event. This car is one of just 45 RHD imported to the UK. Chassis No. 85301 was the actual car exhibited at the 1939 Earls Court motor show . First owner was Geoffrey Crossley an amateur racer and he sold it in 47 to Gilbert ‘Gillie ” Tyrer a well known privateer racer and car dealer. He had amazing success with the car winning virtually every event he entered. The car was sold in 1949 and ended up in the USA until it returned in 2005 and stayed with its owner until late 2018 when it was acquired by Peter.

    Nigel Odlum and son Matthew

    Sholto Gilbertson-Hart has deferred to his dad, Willie in the driving department. Sholto will be devoting himself to directional duties. They are bringing a 1928 Bentley 4.5 litre Tourer. David Cook will have the legendary Dave Kirkham in the passenger seat. When I say legendary, I am of an age where essential reading in my youth was Motoring News. Dave, courtesy of his liaison with Mick Briant in the Navigation Road Races Rallies of that era, featured prominently, and regularly, in despatches.

    Until next time.

  • Newsletter 4

    The C-o-C, who must be obeyed, has deemed that this edition ought to be a “special” to give you a more comprehensive flavour than heretofore of what is in store for you in May.

    My history teacher in school was nicknamed “Ghandi”, courtesy of his physiognomy rather than any pacifistic tendencies. He didn’t instill in me a lasting love of the subject – rather a fleeting flirtation. This will become all too apparent as you struggle through the historical references* in what follows. (*mostly garbled plagiarisms from the interweb) Whatever, here goes.

    Your odyssey begins in Castlemartyr, though I suspect that there will be some unforeseen episodes to be enjoyed/endured as you make your way to County Cork.

    Castlemartyr, County Cork

    Castlemartyr, County Cork

    The castle from which the village of Castlemartyr takes its name was first built in 1210 by The Knights Templar, who were one of the most famous of the Christian military orders under the leadership of Richard Earl de Clare, more commonly known as Strongbow. In the centuries that followed, the lands changed hands many times, among its owners were Sir Walter Raleigh and Richard Boyle, the first Earl of Cork. It was under Boyle’s stewardship that the construction of the magnificent Manor House took place in the 17th century. Painstakingly restored to its original grandeur, the Manor House now forms the centerpiece of the Castlemartyr Resort. Other historical features include the unique Templar Cross, which composes the centerpiece of the Castlemartyr’s Golf Club coat of arms. Following a rebellion in 1578, the Earl of Desmond James Fitzgerald had his estates forfeited to the Crown and awarded to Sir Walter Raleigh. In the more recent past, while on tour in Ireland in 1965, the Rolling Stones passed through the village on their way to play the Savoy Theatre in Cork. While Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts took tea at Mrs. Farrell’s eating house, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones had a drink across the street at Barry’s Bar.



    When you leave the “Resort” on Day 1, Sunday afternoon you will be connecting to the 2018 Shamrock with a visit (test and refreshments) to the Jameson girls’ Tourin House & Gardens after your first regularity takes you north along an interesting selection of roads west of the River Blackwater. Then it is across the river to David Keane’s orchard for a testing trip between the trees. Another test follows at Moorehill where Shane Maxwell runs an up-to-the-minute grass-based dairy operation. I suspect that the route will not take you through any milking parlours.

    Lismore Castle

    The Great Hall – Lismore Castle

    On the way here, you will have passed the magnificent Lismore Castle – well worth a visit if you can wangle one. I have managed to get in. The Great Hall’s stained glass windows stood out for me – in particular this pair of windows, two adjacent panes of which caught my eye. They featured Robert Boyle of Boyle’s Law fame and, maybe less well known, William Cavendish, the seventh Duke of Devonshire, who was the Chancellor of Cambridge University in the early 1850s. It was he who was responsible for the setting up of the famous Cavendish Laboratory.

    Castletown House

    Castletown House

    To get home to Castlemartyr you will have a Marked (by yourself, courtesy of some instructions) Map. You will be skirting Ballynatray which was also on last year’s itinerary. Also, the village of Mount Uniacke. The Uniacke family lived here in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of their houses, Castletown, occupied by three generations of Norman Uniacke, is not in great shape. In the mid 19th century the house was valued at £30. It was burnt in 1921 during a period when the Protestant “Ascendancy”was being beleaguered and it is no longer extant. On arrival in Castlemartyr, there will be another test of both your metal and mettle.

    Irish Distillers

    Irish Distillers

    Day 2 will begin with a rearranged reprise of the previous evening’s test before you head north for the Ballymonteen regularity which starts in what appears, on approach, to be the “middle of nowhere”. The impressive dual-carrigewayed entrance on the left is certainly a surprise. The photo reveals what is at the end of the driveway. The label on the premises is “Irish Distillers”. It is a maturation plant where whiskeys bide their time to achieve the quality which discerning tipplers like yourselves expect. The rectangles are warehouses, each surrounded by a bund so as to minimise losses in the event of a mishap – alcoholic accidents can be arresting.

    Blarney Stone

    Blarney Stone

    An uneventful run avoiding the relatively new M8 will bring you to Watergrasshill Kart World. More time than you might have expected has been allowed for this visit to give you an opportunity to study each others’ flair for persuading your steeds to adapt to an environment alien to their raison-d’êtres. On the far side of Watergrasshill the Bride’s Bridge regularity will bring you north into the foothills of the “Nagles Mountains”. Don’t let the “Bridge” in the regularity name lull you into a sense of false security – a periscope might be useful for one of the crossings of the River Bride. You will pass through Carrignavar after you finish the regularity. You might catch a glimpse of the local castle. This was built by one of the McCarthy/ Muskerry dynasty. You are on your way to a rather grander McCarthy/Muskerry residence – Blarney Castle. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland. Its USP (“unique selling point” for those unfamiliar with the increasingly bewildering array of acronyms/abbreviations we are bombarded with daily, e.g. YSYL – “answer” at end of the Day 2 spiel) is the Blarney Stone which has to be kissed from a precarious position. I don’t think you will get the opportunity to do this but you will be fed and there will be a test. The number of visitors to the House and Gardens means that we have to be circumspect with our running of the test. The visitors tend to wander hither & thither and need to be treated as an endangered species.

    An eight mile run brings us to Dripsey for the first of the aftenoon’s regularities. The village has an idiosyncratic “claim to fame” which is its entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the shortest St. Patricks Day Parade in the World – just 26 yards.This “shortest” St. Patrick’s Day parade went from one door to the next of the village’s two pubs, The Weigh Inn and The Lee Valley. It held the record for nine years (1999-2007) until the closure of The Lee Valley Inn. Heading west you will end up on the outskirts of Macroom. From 1976 to 1982 Macroom hosted the annual Mountain Dew festival, organised by young local business people. The festivals attracted up to 20,000 attendees each year. It was the first of its kind for Ireland, and was intended to reinvigorate a town that was then stagnant economically. According to one of the organisers, Martin Fitzgerald, “the town needed a bit of “shake, rattle and roll” to tempt, not just international investors, but Irish people to rest there a bit longer – a rock concert fitted the bill”. Line-ups included Rory Gallagher, Phil Lynott, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Marianne Faithfull and Horslips.

    Just before the next regularity (Lough Allua) you will arrive in Inchigeelagh. The River Lee, which flows into the sea at Cork City passes through the village. The nearby ‘pater noster’ string of lakes collectively known as Lough Allua were once popular with anglers and are now fished for large pike, perch and some brown trout. The decline of fishing and, along with it, the fortunes of the village as a location for angling, has coincided with the loss of salmon on the River Lee. This is alleged to be a consequence of the erection of hydroelectric dams down-river between 1952 and 1957.



    This regularity will feature the first mountains of note. Having continued west into the Gaeltacht (the term for those regions in the country where you will find significant numbers of folk who can converse in Irish) to Ballingeary, you then head north into the Sheehy Mountains and along the route of the Fuhiry Circuit of Ireland Special Stage, to the Top of Coom – the highest pub in Ireland. (One of many to claim thus!) The link below is for a video, which was made after a refurbishment in 2014.

    From the Top of Coom (video link)

    Healy-Rae Pub

    There will be a refreshment opportunity here, after which there will be a forestry test down the road. From there it will be down along the southern bank of the Roughty River to the Kenmare road. You will follow this through Kilgarvan. This village is most notable for its pair of politicians, Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, both of whom are extremely “colourful” TDs (members of the National Parliament). Danny recently suggested that the climate change narrative was as credible as the story of Noah’s Ark. Their father was Jackie. In jig time, you will have arrived in Sheen Falls Lodge.

    YSYL – You Snooze, You Lose.

    Priests Leap

    Priests Leap

    We have a nice, gentle start to Day 3 as we head for Bantry on the main road which mirrors the meanderings of the River Sheen until Gortnagappul, where we turn off and start climbing towards the Priests Leap, Irelands highest mountain pass at 1500 ft, from Bonane in Co. Kerry to Coomhola in Co. Cork. According to local tradition, the name stems from an old legend, in which a priest, pursued by soldiers, escaped by a miraculous leap of his horse from a mountain cliff in the townland of Cummeenshrule in Co. Kerry into the townland of Killabunane in Co. Cork. Not long after passing to the west of Coomhola Mountain, you will start your first regularity. This will be a zig-zag affair, via Pierson’s Bridge, around the hinterland of Ballylickey before it finishes on the outskirts of Bantry.

    Francis O’Neill statue

    Going around Bantry and climbing again will bring you to an al fresco coffee stop in the Captain Francis O’Neill Memorial carpark before you start the Inchybegga regularity. Inchybegga’s claim to fame is its prehistoric Five Stone Circle. Francis O’Neill is more interesting. Always referred to locally as The Chief, he was a West Cork hero who championed Irish traditional music. He was born in 1848 at Tralibane. His parents had a very strong background in Irish music. Like so many of his peers he left home at the age of 16, embarking in Cork city on a sailing vessel bound for England and from there found work on other ships which took him around the world. Among his many adventures was a shipwreck while aboard the Minnehaha in the South Pacific. He was rescued by a passing ship which eventually docked in San Francisco, where he decided for the time being to stay on dry land. His journeyings took him on to Chicago, where he joined the Police Force in 1873. At that time 40,000 residents of the city were Irish: by 1900 there were over a quarter of a million there: a huge reservoir of Irish music for Francis to garner – something he revelled in. All through his adult life he collected and wrote down tunes.



    The regularity finishes just north of Skibberreen at Hollybrook House where Morgan Teige Gerald The O’Donovan, a solicitor, now lives, with his family. His father, Morgan Gerald Daniel The O’Donovan was chief of one of the leading families of the old Gaelic nobility. Dan’s mother inherited Hollybrook. For the far-flung O’Donovans, it was a historic place to stay. From browsing the internet, they learned some of their ancient origins, and that, even after the fall of the Gaelic order, they were one of the few Irish families of Carbery and Munster still recognised by the English to be of royal extraction. No doubt they even learned The O’Donovan’s name in Irish: Murchadh Gearóid Dónal Ó Donnabháin. Dan’s younger daughter, Mary is married to Francis Chamberlain, grandson of former British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain. Your first test of the day will take place here.

    Skibberreen is celebrated for its local newspaper, the Skibberreen Eagle which signalled its cosmopolitan aspirations. This was typified on 5th September, 1898 when the following editorial appeared: “We will still keep our eye on the Emperor of Russia and on all such despotic enemies, whether at home or abroad, of human progression and man’s natural rights.” The Skibbereen Eagle is no longer with us, but Russia is, and the eyes of the world are still firmly fixed upon it.

    International standard croquet lawn

    Next, it’s off to Paul & Georgiana Keane’s fabulous Inish Beg for lunch and another test. A notterribly- obvious-to-the-untrained-eye feature here is an international-standard croquet lawn. I understand that this is a pretty cut-throat “game” so I suspect it would appeal to many of our competitors! Unfortunately, there won’t be time to wield any mallets. On a more historical note, Kay Summersby, who served as chauffeur and personal assistant for General Eisenhower while he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in London, was born at Inish Beg house in 1908. There was a scurrilous suggestion that the relationship might have been closer than the public were led to believe.

    After this, it’s back the way we came for a bit, then along the N71 to Ballydehob and on to the Mt. Gabriel regularity which starts just short of Schull. Mt. Gabriel is 407m high. From the summit there are views south over Schull Harbour and Long Island Bay. To the east and southeast, the views take in Roaring Water Bay and its many islands, popularly known as Carbery’s Hundred Isles (not a salad dressing). North and west is a view of the mountains of the Beara Peninsula and South Kerry. The Fastnet Rock is situated approximately 18 km to the South, and is visible in fine weather.

    Air India Memorial

    Air India Memorial

    The village of Durrus separates the end of this challenge and the beginning of the next one – The Goat’s Path regularity. This explores a selection of byways on the Sheep’s Head peninsula. I hope that no other farmyard animals will impinge on your endeavours. The Goat’s Path would seem to be somewhat nebulous and is used to describe any, or all, routes from Skibberreen to Bantry via Ahakista. This regularity certainly uses many of the roads defined thus. It is worth noting that no matter on which of these you choose to travel, you will not be disappointed from a scenic point of view. Discernment will be required if you wish to minimise penalties. If you fancy yourself as a celebrity spotter keep an eye out for BBC chatshow host (and author), Graham Norton who has a home in Ahakista. On a more sombre note, also in Ahakista is a memorial garden and sundial that honour the memory of the victims of the 1985 Air India disaster. The Boeing 747 was blown up by a bomb at an altitude of 9,400 m and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, while in Irish airspace, with the loss of all 329 people on board.

    Bantry Gate

    Bantry Gate

    After the regularity, there is a relaxed run along the northern side of the peninsula to Bantry House for a test and some refreshments. Originally built in the early 18th century, Bantry House has been owned and occupied by the White family (formerly Earls of Bantry) since the mid-18th century. Opened to the public since the 1940s, the house, estate and gardens are a popular tourist destination. You will be using the new entrance on arrival but will depart via this more interesting gate.

    Taking the main road north from Bantry, you will pass through Ballylickey before heading for the hills once more. This time you will have the opportunity to enjoy another former Circuit of Ireland Special Stage – Borlin. There will be a test at Letter Lower just five miles before you arrive back at Sheen Falls.


    The Beara peninsula will be your playground for Day 4. A heartwarming drive over the Caha Mountains will bring you to Glengariff. Remind yourself of the location of your headlights switch before you set off. Battle will commence on the Trafask regularity south of Glengariff. This finishes as you approach Adrigole, which is at the beginning of what should be one of the highlights of your May meanderings – yet another Circuit of Ireland stage, the Healy Pass. This was built in 1847 to provide employment during the famine years. It’s named for Tim Healy, a politician from Cork, who served as the first governor general of the Irish Free State. Upon his retirement, Healy asked that the bridleway winding through the pass be upgraded and improved. This request was complied with and the road continues to be in good shape. At the bottom of the other side is Lauragh and, soon after that, your first test of the day in Derreen House & Gardens.

    Derreeny House

    Derreeny House

    The land around Derreen came into the ownership of the Fitzmaurice family in 1657 through Sir William Petty, physician and surveyor to Oliver Cromwell. Petty’s daughter married The Earl of Kerry whose family later became Lansdowne. Until 1856 the house was let to the McFinnan Duffs, chiefs of the local O’Sullivan clan. When the fifth Marquess of Lansdowne succeeded in 1856 he was drawn to the place and decided to make Derreen his summer home. Today the house belongs to his descendants. The garden has been constantly looked after and improved since the 1870’s making it one of the most established gardens in Ireland. One of its quirky features is the community of Derreenies. They are about 2 inches tall but are much rarer than fairies. They have only ever been seen on the Derreen Estate. The last sighting of a Derreeny was in 1855. In 2012 some clearing was done along the walks and 20 very small houses, like the one pictured, were discovered. All the houses are vacant but look like they have recently been lived in. Children in the garden have reported hearing movements in the rhododendrons as they walk along the paths.

    Eyeries and the Eagle Hill regularity beckon 20 minutes “up the road”. Eyeries was the location for the shooting of the film The Purple Taxi (1977) starring Fred Astaire, Peter Ustinov & Charlotte Rampling and also the 1998 TV series Falling for a Dancer, a dramatisation of life and love in 1930s Ireland based on the novel by Deirdre Purcell. The regularity involves another traverse of the peninsula across the Slieve Miskish Mountains ending in Castletownbere for another test and some lunch. A “different” detail of the town’s history is that the US Navy established a naval air station there in April 1918 to operate a Lighter- Than-Air (LTA) Kite Balloon base during World War I. The base’s usefulness was short-lived as it closed shortly after the First Armistice at Compiègne.


    Dunboy Castle

    Your post-prandial regularity starts at the unprepossessing entrance to Dunboy Castle. The castle has been in ruins since the 1600s but there was an adjacent manor called Puxley Mansion. This had fallen into disrepair. In 1999 a consortium acquired the Dunboy Estate, planning to establish a luxury hotel in the grounds. Work eventually got going but it was never quite finished and plans to open “Dunboy Castle” in the summer of 2009 failed to materialise. Work on the project was suspended in January 2010. And so it remains, almost there, as pictured below.

    The regularity is named “Allihies”. From the Bronze Age the Allihies had been a site of coppermining. In 1812 John Lavallin Puxley, the same family as mentioned above, established a company to operate the Berehaven copper mines at Allihies. During the following 100 years, 297,000 tons of ore were recorded as passing through the smelter at Swansea in Wales from the mines at Allihies. Three ruined Cornish engine houses are visible from Allihies. The most Shamrock Vintage Challenge 2019 visually prominent is the Mountain Mine main engine house, located on the skyline above the village.

    You will be passing through more mining territory as you make your way to Eyeries for the final regularity. This will take you on a coastal loop to Ardgroom, which you visited already today.



    More step retracing – it is amazing how different the view is when you are travelling in the opposite direction not to mention the sun/earth (it will be shining throughout the event) having changed relative positions – to Derreen which we pass by en route to the final test in Bunaw. There will be refreshments there to fortify you for your drive back to the Sheen Falls.


  • Newsletter 3

    I mentioned our “Magee” support in Newsletter 2. This time I would like to acknowledge the backing being provided by Robert Glover, who, much to his chagrin, will not now be able to take part. The good news is that Sholto Gilbertson of Bonhams has managed to locate an homologated pre-war baby seat and will be joining us. We have another benefactor on board for the event. Anthony Tindal with his eponymous Wine Merchants has been persuaded to offer support.

    Bantry House and Gardens

    M&M have been out and about again. M&M are, of course, C-o-C Michael and his muse, the Machiavellian Mickey. Even though both have sweet temperaments, they are not to be confused with the more usual interpretation of M&M. In 1941, Forrest Mars Sr., of the Mars candy company, struck a deal with Bruce Murrie, son of famed Hershey president William Murrie, to develop a hard-shelled colorful button-shaped chocolates branded as “M&Ms”. After another couple of days in the scenic south west they have identified sufficient test locations and regularity routes to keep you entertained. Indeed, so diligent have they been that some culling may have to be done so as to avoid keeping you up too late!

    Bantry House and Gardens aerial view

    There is a gathering consensus that classic Circuit of Ireland special stages like Borlin and the Tim Healy Pass should be free driving sections. This will give you a choice: meander and enjoy the view or motor on in a bid to emulate the stage rally heroes of yore. A happy medium is recommended. Without revealing too much, there will be tests at Castlemartyr, am and pm. Also, at the stunning Bantry House, where afternoon tea will give you a caffeine boost for the driving challenge.

    You probably hoped that I might forget about Pascal – I’m sorry to have to disappoint you. Incidentally, the “solution” to the second of the last Newsletter’s posers was compromised by the transition from my pdf submission to whatever arcane “language” our web guru employs. The “20 21 22 23 24 25” ought to have appeared as “20 21 22 23 24 25”. The first revelation this time is mundane, I will concede.

    Paul and Georgiana Keane’s fabulous Inish Beg will also be on the agenda.

    Just to keep you guessing and maybe inspiring some of the more enthusiastic navigators to do some detective work, below are two images which might be relevant to proceedings.The Entry List is now full. If any casual readers of this epistle are keen to compete, there is a Reserve List to which your name can be added on receipt of a completed Entry Form.

    The C-o-C has been shopping recently. He has acquired a robotic vacuum cleaner so he can spend more time getting everything right for you without compromising domestic hygiene standards – these are as lofty as all of his other norms. As with most, if not all panaceas, there is a side-effect. The machine demands that Michael’s wifi is exclusively at its beck and call while working. So, if attempts to contact Michael are fitful, you can rest assured that his and Mary’s house is spotless. PS The dogs are not too impressed with with the newcomer. A few of you have apprised us of “Dietary Requirements”. I would like to remind you, I suspect unnecessarily for the informed imbibers amongst you – a majority? – that whisky is “Scotch” and whiskEy is “Irish”.

    You may have noticed that our Supreme Leader, Shane isn’t mentioned much in dispatches. This is not because his input is less worthy than others. Rather it is because of its ephemeral nature – it is difficult to write about “encouraging” exchanges with prospective competitors and establishing fruitful connections with memorable places to visit. His contribution, no less than the other principals, is invaluable.

    – Norbury

    Once again, I have some traveling companion snippets for your edification.

    John and Catherine Hickman’s Bentley

    John & Catherine Hickman

    John Hickman is a semi-retired chartered surveyor and property developer, once a developer. His wife, Catherine, is an historian as well as keen mother and grandmother. John enjoys other vintage and veteran cars. The Bentley has no history of importance but runs jolly nicely!

    The Rakers’ Ford Model A

    John & Melinda Raker

    The Rakers’ Ford Model A has taken part in the 2010 Peking-Paris, 2013 Buenos Aires-Ushuaia, Paris-Madrid, Paris-Vienna and the Tourais Irish rally. John & Melinda, when rallying, are usually in the picnic basket/gardening category although Betty Ford was second to a Bugatti on the speed tests on the Tourais rally and fourth in the Benjafield Bentley Stubble Racing Day.

    1933 TD 8966

    Goodwin Family

    TD 8966 is an original bodied car from 1933. Built by McKenzies, it raced at Brighton, Donington and the RAC Rally in 1939. It has a D-type box from the first original Blower Bentley. It was restored in 2018 by William Medcalf. The Goodwins have competed in many rallies including the Flying Scotsman, 1000 Mile Trial, Rally of the Incas, the Baltic Classic and the Himalayan Challenge.

    Vincent Fairclough’s MG TC

    Vincent Fairclough

    Vincent Fairclough has competed in his MG TC on many rallies since 1993 including the Peking to Paris, Rally of the Incas, Monte Carlos, Le Jogs, Winter Trials etc. Vicky has been navigating since 1998 on Classic Marathons, Liege-Rome-Liege, Flying Scotsman etc.

    Detlef Heyer’s Frazer Nash-BMW

    Detlef Heyer

    Detlef Heyer’s Frazer Nash-BMW was built in September/October 1938 and delivered to A.F.N. Limited, Falcon Works in London. It was first registered in November 1938 to Mr C.B. Cave of Warwickshire. According to the records of John Giles, the UK BMW specialist, there were only 19 FNBMW 327/28 Coupes ever built – only 9 still exist. This particular car was used after WW2 for Hillclimbs and Speed Trials in the UK. Detlef bought the car in 2012 from J.R. Stokes in Ipswich who had owned the car for the previous 24 years. In 2013 Fa. Feieraben, Wuerzburg, Germany did a full overhaul. Since then it has performed well in many international rallies.

    1931 Lagonda 3-litre

    Roland & Helen Frey

    Roland & Helen Frey have discovered logistical hurdles since the last Newsletter and will now be bringing their 1931 Lagonda 3-litre.

    Talbot AV105s

    Boland Family

    It is great to have the full complement of Bolands back again. In Talbot AV105s are Andrew & Ann, pictured above (courtesy of Gerard Brown), Anthony & Orla and Jim & Mary. Diarmaid & Fiona will be in a Talbot 110.

    Urs & Susanne Müller’s Bentley

    Urs & Susanne Müller

    Urs & Susanne Müller are bringing their Bentley -details below. After the takeover by Rolls Royce in 1931 no Bentley racing cars were built anymore. There was a strict No Motorsport policy. E. Hall, a well known English driver, begged Rolls Royce for three years to produce a racing car and eventually they gave in. For the 1934 season W.O. Bentley at RR constructed two cars for him. The body was built by Abbott of Farnham who were also responsible for the contemporary Alfa Romeos and Lagondas (the rear ends look similar). The specifications of the car are:

    • Year of construction 1934
    • Engine capacity 3850 cc
    • Power 155 PS
    • Weight 1250 kg
    • Tank capacity 156 l
    • Brakes 4 Drums

    This information was translated aus Deutsch by my son’s brother-in-law, Carsten.

    The second Pascal disclosure is, I’m sure you’ll agree, more interesting. Yes! Next time you are in for an even more fascinating treat as we will be looking at the ALMOST DIAGONALS

  • Newsletter 2

    As you will have realised from Newsletter 1, following the success of the inaugural “Shamrock”, the team responsible was sufficiently encouraged to stay on board for 2019. It now considers itself to be a reasonably well-oiled machine and, as such, there is very little of significance to report on herein. Consequently, I need to deviate in order to provide you with something to peruse.

    If you fancy a bigger one, try to construct it yourself
    with another two “lines”.

    In one of the early Newsletters during the run-up to last year’s event I was confronted with a dilemma. I can’t remember what this was but I did avail of the mathematical interpretation of “dilemma” to digress into lemmas and corollaries. Not being possessed of a great imagination I have decided that my space filler, totally unjustified this time, will be another mathematical excursion. In a nod to our even more cosmopolitan than last year competitors I propose to expose you to some of the delights of Pascal’s Triangle. Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French mathematician/physicist. Such was his contribution to the understanding of fluids that the SI unit of pressure is named after him. He is also commemorated for his mathematical exploits, courtesy of the above-mentioned eponymous triangle. The triangle, a modest example of which is shown to the right can grow as big as you wish to make it.

    Regularity sections to rouse you

    Back to more germane news. The two Michaels, Mick and Mickey – or Jackson & Gabbett, depending on your disposition, have been doing some resolute recceing. Regularity sections to rouse you in a route to delight you have been provisionally established. This section of road will definitely be included. Those masochists among you who enjoy exploring courtesy of Google Street View might like to go looking for it to seek out some perceived advantage on the event. It is in either Co. Cork or Co. Kerry.

    Allihies Copper Mine

    Another landmark which you will encounter on your travels is what remains of the Allihies Copper Mine. Mining was started here in 1812 by John Puxley, a local landlord. Initial mining began with a tunnel or adit driven into the quartz lode from the beach below. In 1821 two shafts were sunk. Flooding was a continuous problem and in 1823 the engine house was erected to house a steam engine brought over from Cornwall to pump water from the depths. The remains of this building with the base of the chimney can be seen in the photo. There is also evidence of a steam powered stamp engine to the left of the chimney and dressing floors in front of the engine house. All the rubble on the cliff at the sea side of the road is the crushed useless quartz rock left over after the copper was extracted.

    Now add up the numbers in each line.

    This is one of six productive mines in the Allihies area and continued its operation until 1838 when it closed due to failing ore. John Puxley died in 1860 and in 1868 his son, Henry sold the mines to the new Berehaven Mining Company who reopened the mine and installed a new 22 inch steam engine in 1872. Little ore was produced though in this period and the mine was finally abandoned in 1878. Those of you of a literary bent will be more interested to learn that Daphne du Maurier lived on the Beara Peninsula for a while. During this period she wrote “Hungry Hill” which follows the fortunes of a tin mining family in Cornwall. This was based on the Huxleys and there is a “Hungry Hill” in the vicinity.

    Rosy and Lynn

    Potential pitstop and test venues continue to be evaluated. Those of you who appreciate timeless elegance – I suspect most of you, given your stylish steeds – will be pleased that “Magee” are once again offering support. The shy, retiring Rosy, who joined us at the Awards Dinner in May this year, will be weaving away between now and next May. As you can see from the photograph, her dad, Lynn, is of a similar disposition. The location is Salthill Pier adjacent to the family home in Mountcharles, Donegal.

    James Mann’s “Josephine”

    James Mann will be back with “Josephine”. I hope she behaves herself and doesn’t succumb to a fit of jealousy as he is bringing Tracey Mikloucich with him this year, rather than his brother, Andrew. James has kindly provided a bit more information about “Josephine” than he did last year. I have reproduced this below:

    This Lagonda M45 tourer was registered by T.C. (Conrad) Mann on 7th February 1934. He was a regular competitor in the big pre-war rallies and AXD56 competed in the 134 and 1935 RAC rallies. He achieved a gold award in 1935. He also was placed 60th overall in the 1936 Monte Carlo rally, having had an “off” in deep snow in Scotland with his brother at the wheel, and suffered some mechanical problems. He and his brother, Cig, started in John O’Groats.

    The Lagonda M45 was introduced in 1933 and was the largest sports car made in England at the time. This Meadows-engined (4.5l) tourer is a rare one-familyfrom- new car bought by the aforementioned Conrad who specially ordered the vehicle to be fitted with the earlier 3-litre type of body (T5) rather than the one normally fitted to the 4.5-litre chassis (T7) as it gave more space and comfort when rallying. It is believed that Lagonda made three M45 tourers with the T5 body, but the other two are not thought to exist any more.

    Conrad used Josephine as his everyday transport to and from the Albion Brewery in London which was his place of work from 1946-72, but did not take part in any more rallies. Josephine was given to James and Andrew’s father, Richard, in 1988 and had by then covered 331,000 miles. It was now in need of a running restoration and this gradual process took about 10 years to get the car into good driving condition. One objective was to re-enact the Rally of 1936 and once again drive her to Monte Carlo, which was achieved in 1998 in the CRA Monte Carlo Challenge. The Monte Carlo Classique (2016) has given James and Andrew the opportunity to re-enact the John O’Groats start 80 years later. Josephine has been used very regularly in rallies and tours over the last 20 years.

    James and Andrew competed in her on the first Shamrock Vintage Challenge in 2018 which was a wonderful introduction to Irish hospitality. Josephine has covered over 9000 miles in 2018.

    This wonderful car has now covered 435,000 miles, has a top speed of over 90 mph and was 89 years old on 7th February 2014 – a superb example of British engineering in the 1930s.

    1, 2, 4, 8 ,16, 32 aren’t just a random set of numbers.
    They can be written as 20 21 22 23 24 25

    The Entry List is filling up steadily. For those of you reading this who are not yet on the list and wish not to be disappointed, prevaricate no longer – swing into action NOW. Below you will find a few more of the cars that will be complementing the beautiful south-west of Ireland in May. You can look forward to more Pascalian revelations like those on the right in the next Newsletter!

    – Norbury

    James & Katy Tibbits’s Talbot AV105 Brooklands which
    has been fully restored by marque specialist, Ian Polson.
    It is now used extensively across Europe, including
    rallies in the Alps and Pyrenees. It has completed two
    Flying Scotsmans

    Christian & Matthew Brash’s Aston Martin 15/98

    Roland & Helen Frey’s Bentley 4.5

  • Newsletter 1

    It’s been such a long time since I have been in touch that the contents of my inkwell had evaporated. Fortunately, there was a residue which, when refreshed with some water, has enabled me to string a few words together. To what end I’m not sure – I suppose some reassurance that arrangements for the Shamrock are evolving is welcome. This presumes, of course, that what follows is non-fiction.

    The most important development since we last met is that Mickey Gabbett is now a grandfather. Kitty Delaney Gabbett emerged in August. Others in the organising team have had interventions to improve their functionality – I will spare you the gory details – suffice it to say that your needs will be catered for in an even more efficient manner than they were in 2018.

    Speaking of needs, this year’s accommodation arrangements are first-class. The Sheen Falls Lodge is a superb hotel which is sufficiently bijou for there to be no guests other than those associated with the Shamrock Vintage Challenge. As I write, our leader, Shane Houlihan & Zuzana are enjoying a fortnight touring Ireland’s perimeter in Shane’s 1929 Blower Bentley He is in the company of five other like-minded and similarly mounted couples. I suspect that he might be wandering off-piste occasionally to explore potential routes/destinations – not only for the 2019 event, but for future iterations as well.

    Tim Healy Pass

    All is fluid at the moment regarding tests/ regularities but I can reveal that you will be visiting Blarney Castle for a test in the grounds. I’m sure a kiss of the Blarney Stone can be arranged as well if you are sure your immune system is up to it. In deference to the 2018 post-event questionnaire “stately home” visits will be more cursory this time. Also, there will be no “joker” facility for the regularities. The territory available for these latter in this part of the world is fabulous. When the Circuit of Ireland Rally was in its prime, special stages across the Tim Healy Pass and through Ballaghbeama Gap (sheep not guaranteed) amongst many others, were legendary. Maybe we might allow you to drive over some of these at your own pace and use more mundane byways for regularity purposes. It is great to see so many of you coming back for more and, of course, those of you who will be Shamrockly challenged for the first time.

    1934 Bentley Derby

    We are grateful to those of you who have responded to the “Background Box” on the entry form. Some of the information from there is presented here. The Rito Mebes/Hans Jürgen Benze 1934 Bentley Derby has had three owners since new. It boasts a rally history too extensive to include here and carries its original registration number.

    Bentley Corsica

    Graham & Marina Goodwin’s Bentley Corsica is an original bodied car from 1933, built by McKenzies. It raced at Brighton, Donington and took part in the RAC rally in 1939. It features a D-type gearbox from the first original Blower Bentley. It was restored this year by William Medcalf. The Goodwins are seasoned competitors. They have taken part in the Flying Scotsman, the 1000 Mile Trial, the Rally of the Incas, the Baltic Classic and the Himalayan Challenge.

    Fraser Nash BMW

    Gavin & Diana Henderson’s Fraser Nash BMW 328 was one of the first five to be imported into England in 1939 by Fraser Nash who were the exclusive dealers for BMW in England. It was purchased by A.F.P. Fane, a then well-known celebrity racing driver and aviator. In 1938, driving for BMW, he won his class on the Mille Miglia. He also raced it at Brooklands, Crystal Palace, Shelsley Walsh and other venues. Fane won the RAC Rally in 1939 in JMP 5. The Hendersons have competed in the Mille Miglia, the Goodyear Revival, the Hampton Court Royal Concours as well as four Flying Scotsmans (Scotsmen?) and an Alpine Trial. In another rally car, they have competed in a trans-America rally, an Inca rally, an African Safari and a Sahara Challenge, as well as a number of shorter events.

    BMW 319/1 Roadster

    Irvine Laidlaw’s BMW 319/1 Roadster was sold in 1935 in Munich and taxed for road use until 1938, by which time the registration document was stamped with swastikas. Little is known of the car’s history other than that it was in Cologne in 1949. Rescued from partially dismantled and poor storage conditions in the 1990s it was totally restored by dedicated enthusiasts using a mainly new wood frame and all original body panels. Little used until bought by Irvine from a German dealer in 2014, it is just one of 178 examples of the 319/1 Roadster built. Irvine came second in the 2018 Shamrock. He is hoping that Tony Davies will help him to go one better in 2019!

    1939 Lancia Aprilia

    Fred Gallagher and Neil Oatley will be bringing a 1939 Lancia Aprilia. Whatever about the car, the Shamrock Vintage Challenge 2019 occupants certainly have formidable motorsport pedigrees. Fred was a co-driver for nearly all of the WRC/ERC/Cross-Country factory teams from the mid-70s till the late-90s. Neil worked for 30 years at McLaren in various capacities including engineer to Senna and Prost, Chief Designer from 1989 until 2003 when he became Executive Director of Engineering was race engineer to Senna and Prost.