Callan Run June 2021

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We agreed that if a Sunday promised to be fine weather wise for a run, the call would go out on the preceding Tuesday with a follow up reminder on the Friday. It was Declan Grogan who thought up this idea. It worked! We foregathered at Jerry Crowley’s yard for a meet-up on 27th June. Seven Sevens turned up at 10:30 am and there were two Cork apologies, only on account of the dreadful COVID-19.

Unfortunately for us a contingent of four Chummies landed in the yard a day earlier; next time we will try and meet up on a day that suits everyone. That said, the yard owner was pleased to accept our invitation to join in with us although he possessed beautifully turned out 1911 Brass Model T Touring Car. We encouraged him by reminding that on all previous assemblies there were a couple of Ts in attendance.

We too were pleased that he joined in. Also another surprise visitor turned up in a really genuine unmolested Morris Minor soft top touring car who too was made feel welcome to our group. Declan hosted the drivers’ briefing, handed out tulip sheets for the outbound trip of 33 miles and the homeward leg of 27 miles. Just about right for our old cars and not too many hills To contend with. And so at 11:15 am, having signed in the attendance log and tendered the €5 fee which was handled efficiently by our Treasurer Chris O’Mahony, and on time may we add, the cavalcade of nine old cars headed off on the first leg of our journey where Declan led the way.

To say the scenery in Co Kilkenny is lovely is an understatement. The weather was warm and sunny, the skies blue and the roadways smooth and free of traffic. The spring/early summer foliage on the hedge rows was a treat to see as also was the fresh aroma of the countryside. We travelled along for half an hour as far as Tullahern where we parked up in the local Church car park.

Across the road is Tullaherin Monastic Site & Round Tower that dates from the early part of the 9th century and was probably built by Cearbhall Mac Dunghal as a fortification against the Norsemen. It consists of 7 stories and is 73 ft. high. The circumference at ground level is 50 ft. and at the top 44 ft. The walls are roughly 3 ft. in thickness. The upper storey of the Tower was built at a much later stage than the rest. From the type of stone used and the style of building it is thought that it was added at around the time that the adjoining church was built i.e. the 11th or 12th century.

The workmanship of this part is much inferior to the original building and a large part has since fallen away. This upper storey was once lighted by eight windows, a feature it shares with the Round Tower at Clonmacnoise, but many of these have since crumbled away. Entrance is gained through a doorway 11 ft. above ground-level. Some historians have suggested that there was once a connecting link between the Tower and the west gable of the church which was raised for the purpose.

The whole Tower is out of plumb, leaning 2 to 3 ft. towards the South. The church adjoining the Round Tower was built about the 11th or 12th century, although the eastern portion may not have been added until after the Reformation. It consists of a nave 65 ft. by 24 ft. and a choir 32 ft. by 19 ft. The west end was raised higher than the rest to either facilitate a connection to the Tower as mentioned, or to serve as a belfry.

Photos by Peter Miller

After our first stop, we continued on, criss crossing on C class roads free of traffic and we were left to the enjoyment of travelling on roads perhaps unchanged in the last 100 years, apart from newly laid top dressing which made for a very smooth passage. We continued on as far as the yard and premises of Kilkenny Gates whose owners Leslie and Daphne Byrne invited us to have our Sunday picnic in one of their many sheds, having prepared a suitable table made from trestles and wooden planks nicely covered off with a linen table cloth. In no time at all we all sat down and enjoyed the break and our food.

It is a strange thing to say but there is always some good in everything. COVID 19 has us all upset and made us careful, more so than we ever imagined. To everyone’s amazement the picnic style lunch in an old shed far outweighs the enjoyment that could never happen even in a five star hotel. It was fabulously entertaining and hopefully there will be more occasions such as this.

We were invited to walk around the yard and sheds. What a surprise was in store for us. Every conceivable type of machinery, tools and equipment from past times was present, carefully laid out in sections and available to touch and feel. The number of items to hand was countless. Leslie says it all started out as a hobby, the business of collecting what others would call junk, but thankfully it progressed to a passion, which only for the family’s enthusiasm, the relics of old glory would be long melted down into tins for cat food.

We extend our congratulations to Leslie and Daphne Byrne and as a mark of our appreciation, our Treasurer Chris O’Mahony presented the couple with a hand turned Viking bowl that was turned, on spalted beech from Co. Cork, based on an eleventh century bowl, recently uncovered on a Viking settlement in Dublin and now in the collection of The National Museum of Ireland. The Vikings left a bowl in Dublin after themselves; we did too in Kilkenny!

After being well fed with food and culture we were off again passing through Freshford Village, Tullaroan Village, and for the minority who were unable to read the tulip maps correctly, a scenic diversion into the heart of Kilkenny City, we ended up back at base, where our trailers and transport awaited reloading. We bid adieu to one another in the expectation that we meet again in the not too distant future on a sunny Sunday afternoon somewhere that is as equidistant to as many as is practicable. Members to keep an eye out for a group email on a Tuesday in about four or five weeks, following this event.

In closing we wish to thank our members for their support. It could have been 13 cars but at least they were all in active service over the week end. Declan and Chris for helping out in organisational mattes, sign on sheets, route maps and entry fee collection and our Landlord Jerry and Una Crowley for allowing us to use their facilities so that our carriage equipment was safe and sound while we were away.

Finally a special word of thanks to our gracious lunchtime hosts Leslie and Daphne Byrne. We hope we may visit again some time into the future.

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