Autumn Run: 1st October 2023
The Munster Vales is a region of Ireland in which you’ll encounter an exhilarating blend of adventure and slowness.
The Galtees, the Comeraghs, the Ballyhouras, the Knockmealdowns and the Nagles – the Munster Vales, reach from the mid-west southwards to the sea through the magnificent counties of Tipperary, Waterford, Cork and Limerick taking in the patchwork of towns and villages, wilderness and farmland that lies around them.
So that you will know when you are travelling south from Cahir, the Galtees are to your right and the Knockmealdowns to your left, both in County Tipperary. We were to experience these in full colour.
Our senior member Colin Pressey planned for our autumn run 2023. He carefully crafted out a route where we would have visibility of these two mountain ranges and have the pleasure of admiring the greenery of the hills and valleys.
On Sunday Colin called in and asked Chris to stand in.
We foregathered at Cahir Castle car park. No sooner had we our cars in position, we were inundated with a bus load of tourists from USA, many of whom were not familiar with the Austin brand, but they were truly impressed with the design and twenties look of such a compact mode of transport.
Chris engaged in conversation with the Bus Eireann driver who was on his rest break. Before loading up his passengers for Waterford he declared that on his retirement he will surely procure a prewar car; maybe who knows an Austin Seven. He posed for a photo!
We were lucky enough to see a whole group of swans swimming together on the River Suir as it flowed alongside Cahir castle.
Baby swans are called cygnets and as adults they’re cobs (male) or pens.
The rivers Nore and Barrow join the Suir, collectively known as the Three Sisters, to form an estuary called Waterford Harbour.
After Chris delivered his drivers’ briefing, we were off in a southerly direction heading for Ballyporeen and in full sight of the Knockmealdowns.
On the 3rd June 1984, the 40th President of USA, Ronald Reagan arrived in his ancestral hometown, as part of a visit to Ireland.
Although Ballyporeen is a relatively small village, thousands showed out to welcome President Reagan. He and First Lady Nancy, were entertained by traditional Irish dancers from Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann before being presented with a number of gifts from the people of Ballyporeen.
We crossed the border into County Cork when driving in the direction of Kilworth for our mid-day stop, at J14 on M8. The sun shon brilliantly and the light breeze was warm, allowing ideal conditions to enjoy our picnic lunch.
A coincidence and surprise was to hand for Tony and Maureen. Unexpectedly their daughter Linda and son in law Paul Cullen, all the way from Ratoath, Co. Meath, met up at the entrance to the Circle K shop and restaurant.
Linda and Paul had been in West Cork, following the Michael Collins trail. A possible run for us in 2024.
Our group photograph shows Tony holding a lottery ticket from daughter as a memento of the occasion.
Lunch over, chatting completed, we were on our return journey, but this time heading for Kilcoran Lodge Hotel, for afternoon tea. Our journey took us back into County Tipperary on different through the village of Clogheen having experienceed the gentle climb and decent of the Knockmealdowns and the sight of the lush green fields of dairy farmlands.
It was remarkable how well the Tipperary householders presented their homes and gardens making for colourful postcard scenic rural Ireland, a gift to behold.
Clogheen is the gateway, so to speak, of one of Ireland’s Beautiful Scenic Drive and viewing point. The Rhododendrums have grown in their natural habitat and have spread over many, many years, covering hundreds of acres are the most glorious sight to behold. We were there last year; we will surely return.
In the warm afternoon sunshine, the full vista of the Galtees was in full sight. Wonderful colours, mixtures of greens and lighter shades of browns, an indication that Autumn leaves will soon fall, but not just yet.
We travelled in a criss cross fashion along single lane rural roads completely free of traffic apart from a couple of cyclists enjoying themselves, just like us in harmony with nature.
We eventually joined up on the R639, passed by the entrance to the car park and assembly area for those energetically inclined to climb Galtees, and arrived safely at Kilcoran Lodge.
Kilcoran Lodge Hotel & Leisure Centre is nestled in the foothills of the Galtee Mountains, a charming Country House Hotel overlooking the Knockmealdown Mountains with majestic views and gardens.
Built as the Earl of Glengall’s Hunting Lodge in the 19th century, it is ideally located to explore the Munster Vale.
So, there you have it; our autumn run completed safely in ideal weather conditions; a memorable route thanks to Colin Pressey and to Chris O’Mahony for taking up the leadership role at short notice.
Too, this was the final run in an active year for our club. As a reminder, in March we held our AGM, followed by runs in April – West Cork, May – Armagh, June – Rosscarbery, July – Athy, September – Carlow weekend and October our Autumn run.
With grateful thanks to our members for taking up the hosting and leading duties; thanks of course, to our members for their continuous support and enthusiasm where we aspire to grow and develop our one marque Club for Austin Seven owners and interested parties.
Thank you, Colin, our member who initiated the very first run for us, all those years ago, based at his hometown in Cahir, Co Tipperary. We wish you well.