Wednesday 11th May 2022
I forgot to mention it before, but the reason for Thomas and Edel’s delay on the final regularity on Monday was a lack of petrol. There were no leaks – just an oversight by the person in charge of petrol. You’ll have your own opinions as to which of them that ought to have been.
Anyway, back to today. It was showerier than it has been, though there was sufficient sunshine to show off the scenery to good effect.
Nick Fry was looking forward to redeeming the map shortcomings revealed yesterday.
Mark Berger had a more aesthetic ambition – he was relishing the opportunity to experience a further selection of brine bouquets. He thought the sea air atmosphere was very pleasantly invigorating.
Richard Wrightson & Will Stoneham had adopted a job sharing arrangement and they swapped seats each day. They weren’t prepared to reveal which of the arrangements was better.
Jack Brien and John Kelly were delayed when their ignition key absented itself overnight. It was eventually located and they were able to start. I won’t reveal who was in charge of the key but I will give you a hint – his initials are J? All went well until after lunch when their intermittent fault intervened again. However, another Lazarus-like recovery saw them get to the finish.
David & Jacky Hall went “on the attack” for the first two minutes until an engine issue, which David diagnosed as a “head gasket” malfunction, saw them grind to a halt. Interventions from passers-by saw them get to Dingle for lunch where Nicky and Matt did more fettling which saw them “home”, albeit at a sedate 40 mph. Apparently, an interesting tip in this situation is to remove a plug which relieves the pressure allowing the engine to function for longer than you might expect, if a little bit less enthusiastically.
The clutch on Keith Graham and Susan Hoffmann’s Derby Bentley was misbehaving so they decided to give the tests a miss. Their strategy paid off and they made it to the finish. They are serial/compulsive rallyists who have had a particularly hectic schedule recently, so I suspect they, themselves, were feeling the strain as well.
Monday’s Micra in the middle of the Springfort Hotel test had obviously been very disappointed that it had barely disrupted proceedings. It must have been sufficiently disappointed that it was moved to contact a few of its pals to properly sabotage the lunchtime test at the Dingle Skellig Hotel. They were certainly disruptive this time and, though the test went ahead, it was considerably compromised.
Another unscheduled glitch was discovered by the eagle-eyed Lesley Neal and confirmed by the equally optically accomplished Philippa Bailey. It was a “copy and paste” mishap towards the end of the “Speed Table” for the second last regularity. An adjusted table was distributed at “lunch”.
Willie Gilbertson made another grand lunchtime entrance. When asked how his morning had been, “WONDERFUL” was his response.
Frances & Marie Rhatigan went straight home after lunch. There was no mechanical mishap – but they needed to prepare for their son’s wedding at the weekend.
Unfortunately Wilfried & Sandra Schaefer broke down irretrievably during the afternoon and came back to the hotel behind a tow truck – a disappointing end to their rally.
The event finished up with a test and refreshments in Beaufort Golf Club. Alcoholic beverages were also available! There was a nice gravel carpark which allowed the more flamboyant drivers to show off and demonstrate their expertise to the admiring onlookers, some random spectators and a selection of competitors. A particularly virtuoso display was given by the Luke Roberts Bianchi. Quickest was Simon Echlin. The test did have to be interrupted briefly to allow Reto Mebes & Mark Berger and Rory Woodhouse and Nathalie Breitschwerdt to leave to catch planes.
To gain access to the parking area after the test, a gauntlet of Lee Vincent and Ian McCulloch (time cards and indemnity declaration) and Michael & Mary Jackson, (ceremonial arch and photograph) had to be run, before parking neatly in a grassy space. Lee was particularly impressed that the competitors had managed to park as neatly as they did without any marshal input! After everybody had arrived I sought and obtained sustenance which I enjoyed while chatting to Sue Shoosmith who was indulging in a pint of Guinness. She offered me a swig but I have never acquired a taste for it so politely declined.
So, after some tidying up and gravel raking (thank you to the “volunteers”,
encouraged by Philippa Bailey) it was back to the Dunloe Hotel for the concluding celebrations.
While it is not quite all over, I feel it is worth mentioning the goodwill and bonhomie, exhibited by both competitors and officials, which is so important in making the “Shamrock” the memorable event that it is.
Tuesday 10th May 2022
We had a chat with Pat Golden this morning as we were dropping off cones to protect the car park from unwelcome visitors to our test there this afternoon. We noticed a monument with an Australian flag flying alongside the Irish one and he gave us a potted history. His chat more than satisfied our curiosity. The memorial was erected in 2017 to commemorate Pat’s grand uncle, John O’Neill Golden, and his comrades, who took part in the Fenian Rising in 1867. After the Rising John escaped and got as far as Liverpool. He then embarked on a ship sailing to the US which stopped off at Cobh. The authorities had been monitoring his movements and mustered a boarding party which took him back to Tralee where he was charged for treason and convicted. He was aged about 19 at this stage. His sentence was seven years transportation to Fremantle in Western Australia. While in prison he wrote three letters home – but the prison authorities never posted them and as a result John thought his folk had disowned him – but this was not the case.
In the late 50s, thanks to research done by Walter (Wally) McGrath of the Cork Examiner newspaper, who had a particular interest in the Fenian Movement, he came across the name John O’Neill Golden and the only Golden he knew was Pat’s father, Jack, who immediately recognised that this man was his uncle. The following year Wally went back to the Mitchell Library in Sydney to research what had become of John O’Neill Golden and located his descendants in New South Wales. They travelled to Kerry for the centenary celebrations in 1967. Pat Golden and his brother Frank and various family members have since exchanged visits with them.
John O’Neill Golden received a Queen’s pardon after three years. On his release he sailed for New Zealand but because he was a convicted felon he wasn’t allowed to enter. He returned to Australia and settled in Berry, New South Wales. P.S. On the return visit to Goldens for the afternoon test there, Sue Boughton was side-tracked and purchased a coat!
Today was a memorable one for the Gilbertsons. While they didn’t manage to make the morning out control, which is their norm, lo and behold – lunchtime came around and there they were at pretty much the same time as everybody else. Well done, Sholto and Willie!
The meander around, and through, Waterville before lunch seems to have been enjoyed by most despite the lack of urgency. Even though you could take your time, Eric Kavanagh misread the date on the passage check plaque. Son, John, was disappointed! I wonder what the probability is of the visa versa occurrence, i.e. that of son misreading and dad being disappointed? John was also worried about his dad’s interpretation of “slow down” when they were 5s up for quite a while, despite reminders. Needless to say they arrived at a TP before the advice was heeded.
Out controls are great for discovering snippets. The fact that it is the navigators who attend to this chore means that the details are utterly reliable!
Nicky Murphy is sitting with Noel Nolan in Mickey Gabbett’s concours Alvis. He had signed up for what he thought would be a leisurely spin from one hostelry to another in the south west. It has been rather more demanding than he had been anticipating! They went for petrol immediately after the final test. Nicky noticed that it was only the drivers in the cars queueing up at the petrol station. He then realised that he ought to have handed in his time card before doing anything else. Sue Vincent was waiting patiently (?!) for the time card back at the hotel.
Emily Anderson was disappointed that they were slower in the tests than arch-rival Paul Dyas whose car she reckoned was quicker than theirs. Her disgruntlement was because Stuart had sold this quicker Bentley to Paul!
Jack Brien and John Kelly broke down again. As yesterday, the MG resurrected itself about an hour later. Nicky Bailey is puzzled (for once) by this intermittent fault – the worst kind.
Dave Alexander & Di Dugmore didn’t get quite as lost as yesterday on the map sections. The farmer, whose yard they inadvertently visited, was very understanding and helpful!
The Climbers Inn “pause” was a bit of a wash-out as the rain came down with a vengeance. Kevin Savage quipped that he could manage only four pints in the 15 minutes. There were a couple of navigators who mitigated the rain damage of their paperwork with a “Paperdry” plastic covered clipboard. Nick Fry was one and Ann Boland another, though by the time Ann had retrieved hers from the back of the car damage had been done. There were other tales of hood up/hood down prevarications and how they affected subsequent progress. Gavin Millington availed of an umbrella but reckoned all its efficacy was undone when he suffered quite a bit of water damage when putting it down after their 15 minutes were “up”. Mark Berger almost put the hood down but reckons that he & Reto are such a tight fit in the Bentley that not much rain gets in anyway.
Marina Goodwin reckoned that, if there had been a prize for most “NO” boards visited, she would have won it comfortably.
Simon Echlin who is a former autotester of note (an understatement) occasionally takes the wheel of Michael Cotter’s Bentley when Michael feels that a test may be too twisty or convoluted for him to enjoy. Simon deployed his expertise to good effect with a masterly handbrake manoeuvre on the final test of the day.
Chris Abrey & Sara Banham had a temperamental wiper issue to make the rain experience more exciting. She was surprised that mid-twiddling they arrived at a TP bang on time. She is considering a more casual strategy in tomorrow’s regularities.
Neil Sutton was pleased with his day, apart from having to recover from an almost WA at “A” on the last regularity.
Andrew Mann was happy that he and James were moving up the leaderboard every day. He is hoping to continue the climb tomorrow.
There were many who commented on the magnificence of the views – the weather being variable added to the variety of these.
To finish, when we returned to the hotel the porter said that it hadn’t rained here at all. When we said that this hadn’t been the case in Waterville and elsewhere he responded with a local quip – “if it is not raining in Waterville it is about to!”
Monday 9th May 2022
I spotted Stuart Anderson putting on a sturdy pair of shoes this morning before the “off”. I thought this might compromise his “heeling and toeing”. He explained that the drain hole in the Bentley floor is not capable of coping with the volumes of water that the “soft-top” lets in.
The weather forecasters proved to be correct and it was less clement than yesterday. This is all part of the variety provided by Michael and his team.
Having picked up various, now redundant, signage from the hotel and its environs we headed for Springfort Hall for lunch and a test. The test was made more of a challenge when the carpark in which it was taking place was found to contain an uninformed and immovable Micra. Miraculously, Shane Houlihan, in the course car, was the only one who felt that the extra obstacle slowed his gallop. There was a suggestion that the normal cone/line penalty of 10s would be doubled for contact with the Micra.
The reverse seeding had ramifications for some competitors who weren’t quite sure how to compute their “time out” after lunch. The test had a more major impact on our day when yesterday’s “Sooty & Sweep” made a claim to be renamed “Laurel & Hardy” after James O’Mahony’s attempt to show how it should be done resulted in contact with a solid object hidden in the long grass which he inadvertently strayed into. This encounter was sufficiently forceful to render the radiator inoperable. Thus we ended up sweeping. James summoned a trailer from Limerick which took away the wounded course car and replaced it with a substitute for the rest of the event.
The sweeping proved to be uneventful until we were almost home. It had included a visit to the Coleman farm which had offered quite a challenging section in the post-lunch regularity. This same regularity had a sting in the tail, when a tight driveway entrance near the final TP proved difficult to negotiate.
Approaching the final regularity there was a phone call to tell us that a car had broken down a mile from the start. Before we even got there we encountered David Gomes, Simon Brien’s navigator, attempting to get the Jack Brien/John Kelly MGNA Special going after it had “just stopped”. It was to no avail and Simon/David continued on to do the reg. before it was too late. Nicky Bailey was rung and his advice over the phone saw them get going again. They have rechristened Nicky the Car Whisperer.
As advised, one mile in there were Kevin Lee and Annabel Jones parked up in their driveless Frazer-Nash BMW 329. Nicky was not able to work any miracles with this one, or Start Marshal Robbie McGrath who is also mechanically gifted, so a tow truck was summoned to get them home.
Our excitement was not yet over. As we were almost at the end of the regularity there was the Riley Special of Thomas Houlihan and Edel Murphy emerging from a driveway having had to effect some repairs.
As we circumnavigated Killarney en route to Dunloe the clouds started to lift and on what hadn’t been as bad a day as had been expected, we caught a glimpse of the magnificent Kerry scenery that we will be treated to over the next couple of days.
So the day turned out to be more action packed than we had expected. It had the effect of reducing the amount of competitor liaising I could manage. Similarly trawling for anecdotes suitable for publication was compromised.
See you at the crack of dawn tomorrow.
Sunday 8th May 2022
Having spent part of yesterday afternoon in the “sign-on suite” filling paper bags with goodies and other potentially important event items such as numbers and roadbooks, the formalities passed off without incident this morning. The “time and motion” expertise of those in charge was certainly seen to good effect.
We were also able to observe the exclusive car park filling up with alluring machinery. Their equally alluring occupants were also to be seen, meandering through the hotel which was very busy. As well as a big wedding there were side-shows such as First Holy Communion celebrations and the exigencies associated with groups of coach tourists.
Things became busier as the competitors were arriving thick and fast. The reasonably slick sign-on, scrutiny and roadbook issuing set the tone for the day which passed off without too much drama.
Chris Abrey and Sara Banham had a tense morning as their battery gave up the ghost. A new one solved their problems but the removing of part of the carburetter in order to instal it was not the work of a moment.
Gavin Millington, navigator for James Tibbitts, wondered about the penalty arrangements for tests which weren’t quite in line with his autotesting experience in Northern Ireland. Mickey Gabbett assured him that his way was the only way!
The Bolands are here in force and were wondering about having a team of four in the Team Award – there are prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd so that would leave one brother very disappointed as there are only three awards available. Diarmaid Boland has MJ Morrissey in the hot seat. MJ is hoping not to have to go quite as quickly over the Conor Pass as he did when setting a Stage record many moons ago with Stephen Murphy in an Escort WRC. Stephen, of course, is here as well in his BMW Frazer Nash Special. Ann Boland had a good day especially when she retrieved the situation on the last test after she had suggested Andrew go the wrong way en route to the finish. Neil Sutton, with Jim Boland, when asked how his afternoon had been said he thought the views were exceptional!
Tom Callanan and Brendan O’Donoghue were constrained by a misfiring Brantz. When asked “how did that go?” James McClean replied “very well. Well, I had a great time!”
Mark and Susie Davenport had an interesting start when Catherine Gabbett sabotaged Susie’s time card. The chip became detached and Susie spent the rest of the afternoon offering two pieces of hardware to the marshals.
Chris and Ingrid Woodhouse broke down just after the final competitive element but they managed to fix the car and made it back to the Finish, albeit a bit late. Ingrid was pleased that their tardiness did not result in any penalties.
The main controversy of the afternoon was a Test code board which attracted many penalties. The CB written on the front was noted by many but it was the characters on the back which were being sought by the Finish marshal. While this was in the Regulations, the configuration of the code board had not been demonstrated at Drivers’ Briefing so penalties were scrubbed. There seemed also to be some issue with spectators obscuring the codeboard. There will be no excuses for the next three days.
Andrew Bailey hadn’t been responding as well to Philippa’s advice as she would have liked when she visited our Time Point. At the Finish I wondered whether the situation had improved – it hadn’t!
Michael Kunz and Carolyn Ward were held up for 1 minute 25 seconds by 19 Friesian cows on their way to being milked. Michael is having steak for dinner tonight. She actually has cows herself though she prefers Dexters. She thinks they are the right cows for her. Jayne Wignall and Kevin Savage were running behind them and, guess what, they dropped 25 seconds.
Lesley Neal was looking forward to the variety of Regularities on offer while Martin was keen to test his memory on the Tests. They were delighted with the extra power that the supercharger on their latest MG provides – it made for a more satisfying run.
James and Andrew Mann’s Josephine exhibited some electrical tantrums which saw Andrew having to resort to a mechanical watch which behaved like clockwork.
It was Rebecca Polson’s first time in the navigation seat – she and John are still at item.
Thomas Houlihan and Edel Murphy are also still talking.
Trina Harley overheard me asking Helen Stone how she had got on on her first outing with Will. She enquired as to whether he had asked “are you sure?” She said “he did”. Trina smiled.
The 1906 Bianchi of Peter and Luke Roberts was an amazing sight. Their distance is measured by an adapted bicycle speedometer from an output on the final drive socket. What I find more anachronistic is their deployment of an iPhone as their timing device.
John Kelly, who hasn’t navigated for quite a while, had a typical piece of navigator’s bad luck when his only overshoot of the afternoon turned out to be just before a time point.
Finally, marshal Richard McAllister was wondering if James O’Mahony and Frank Hussey who were following the last car should be styled “Sooty and Sweep”. The question is, which is which? Frank, with his pipe, could qualify for either appellation.
Have a good day tomorrow.