RREC Central Southern Section
Past Events

Friday 3 to Friday 10 September 2010

Swansea ferry terminal   An interesting array of Club cars arrived at Swansea ferry port, ready to embark onto our ferry 'Julia' for the overnight trip to Cork in Southern Ireland. The cars ranged from Andy Courtney's 1924 Ghost open tourer, to a wonder transformation, by the pixies no doubt, of Ronald Hazell's Flying Spur, which had miraculously transformed into a stunningly beautiful brand new 2010 Ghost. Depending in which camp you are, both these beauties, the cars that is, not the owners of course, received many a longing glance.

Apparently the trip over became a little lumpy during the night, but we and more importantly to some, our cars, all arrived in one piece onto the moorings in a rather misty Cork harbour. The sun broke through as we disembarked and we had a splendid run to Rosscarberry along a beautiful coastal road taking in Kinsale and other beautiful views and locations. A first class full Irish breakfast at the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarberry started the eating experience for the rest of the week, all meals being to a superb standard.

Swansea ferry terminal.

The Rally then made off towards Killarney travelling along the coastal road to Bantry Bay and the mountain of Kenmare. We then travelled on a small section of the Ring of Kerry on our way to The Lake Hotel, our lodgings for the week.

It was quite hot on our arrival at the hotel and our bedroom had been left with all the windows shut, so the room was particularly hot. The first thing to do was fling open the sliding doors; in our case leading onto the open balcony, and then gasp in astonishment at the stunning views. With mountains in the background some of which were very close by, just on the other side of a shining, glittering, tranquil lake. A ruin, part of a long gone medieval castle standing on a peninsula of land with trees, grasses, shrubs and rocky steps lending an air of mystery to the view that shall be fondly remembered for many a year. All the rooms had been booked on the condition we all had a lake view; that was quite an achievement it has to be said. The bedroom view changed almost hourly, sometimes the mountains appearing really close and brightly sunlit, sometimes the tops shrouded in white and grey clouds, sometimes the clouds forming a collar or ruffle allowing the viewer to see just the top and lower slopes.

  View from bedroom window
View from bedroom window.

As the evening approached and we prepared for dinner one irresistible last glance revealed a herd of Irish red deer secretly making their way through the reeds in the shallow water that was the edge of the lake.

The hotel provided our own dining room and waiting staff, all of whom were very pleasant and obliging. I think, bearing in mind the number of diners arriving simultaneously, they did exceedingly well and served up a first class meal.

The first full day was planned so that we did not have to travel any great distance. The lack of sleep on the ferry on top of the 230+ mile trip to Swansea had been expertly recognised by Tony Leach and David Gray as a day needed to gather our wits, so we visited Muckross House and Abbey a few kilometres from the hotel. Some of us decided to walk from Muckross House, whilst others travelled in jaunting cars, an Irish open pony and trap, to the waterfall at Torc some two kilometres away. It poured with rain, but remained mild and so was a very pleasant walk there. I understand that some actually made it to the top of the waterfall, but the truth of that has yet to be seen!

We had the next day as a free day and members disappeared in dribs and drabs returning later to prepare for the evening coach trip into Killarney, where we were to be entertained by Liam O'Conner and his group of Irish singers, musicians and Irish dancers. It was a splendid show with great musical skills and dancing talents meeting with rapturous applause.

  Torc Waterfall
Torc Waterfall.

Blarney Castle  

Parknasalla Hotel, with quite stunning bay views and private beaches, was our lunchtime venue the following day. Arrived at once again by a beautiful road trip, this magnificent and famous hotel provided us with a first class lunch. Many of us then wandered around the grounds taking 'secret' paths and meeting up with other members who had taken other 'secret' paths.

  Parknasalla Hotel
Parknasalla beach
Blarney Castle. Parknasalla beach. Parknasalla Hotel.

As many had driven the Ring of Kerry or parts of it on the previous day, the official Club rally round the ring was somewhat depleted, that however was probably no bad thing and gave those who did go a little more space. The roads in this part of Southern Ireland suffer from considerable wear and tear and required some caution when being negotiated, particularly by the older cars, but that was part of the charm of this truly beautiful country with its stunning views.

Eagle   Ross Castle, Kilarney   Ross Behy
Sea eagle.   Ross Castle, Killarney.   Ross Behy.

Bantry Bay  

The following day, we took a boat trip on the Killarney Lakes. We had two boats allocated for our sole use and we all had an hour's trip. It was another lovely day and we spotted several White Tailed Sea Eagles which have been re-introduced into the area and are hopefully starting to breed. We wandered around Ross Castle which was next to the boat moorings and enjoyed a relaxed cuppa in the castle café.

  Kilarney Lakes
Bantry Bay. Killarney Lakes.

The organising team  

Later the same day, in the evening, which like most of our days was pleasantly warm, we all dressed for the Gala dinner, meeting up outside in the hotel grounds where we had a few glasses of fizzy and a general chit chat before going into the dining room. The room was splendidly laid out and as ever we had a good old feast followed by some very amusing speeches from David and Tony. Ted made presentations of Irish pottery - hand-made Rossa plates to Tony and David, with thanks and appreciation for organising the Rally.

All too soon, the last day dawned. Owing to the ferry times we needed to be kept occupied until the sailing at 21:00 hrs.

  Kissing the Blarney stone
The organising team. Kissing the Blarney stone.

We therefore headed off to Blarney Castle. Having parked our cars outside the Blarney House we walked through the grounds to the nearby old woollen mills shopping area. The climb up to the castle to see the Blarney stone was pretty exhausting but, of course, if at all possible it had to be done. Mostly American tourists and a considerable contingency of Germans also made their way up the spiral stairway to the top. Kissing the Blarney stone was not one of my priorities, but none the less amusing to see others, for all the world looking as though they were being reluctantly posted through an oversized letter box backwards!

The last trip was to Jameson the Irish whiskey distillery where we were given a tour of the recently re-opened original distillery. The building is now a museum and no longer used as a distillery but contained many of the original vats and machinery, including a water wheel and a very early steam driven beam engine. This visit was ended with a tasting and the inevitable shop on the way out. Here of course one had to buy a bottle of ten year old!

Our thanks and appreciation to Tony Leach and David Gray, who together, and no doubt, with the able and willing assistance from their respective wives, Daphne and Jackie, put together a truly magnificent holiday itinerary.

I have one, and only one complaint - it was not long enough!

Chris Tween - Section Magazine Editor
(with parts from the Magazine article by Celia Tiley)


Photos: Andrew Honour, Chris & Rosemary Tween.