Wexford Spring Run: 14th April 2024

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Most of us in the northern hemisphere look forward to summer time when the clocks move forward with the heralding of Spring. 

It was noticeable on the day, how the cherry blossoms were in full flower, the primroses in abundance along the verges and, in County Wexford, masses of wild garlic adding a spectacular colour and scent as we drove along. 

The newspapers currently cover extensively the plight of the farming community where it is reported the spring sowing is at least six weeks behind on account of extra rain in April and part May.  It was evident that the Wexford seed potato planting has been delayed as there was no sighting of drills crafted out nor the green foliage visible from sprouting crops.

Our hosts for the Sunny South East Austin Seven Rally, Peter & Hazel Miller greeted us on arrival in the overflow car park at Johnstown Castle.  After unloading, we proceeded to the main car park. 

The restaurant at Johnstown Castle provided us with morning refreshments of a very high standard. 

To our surprise, there were many people out and about, enjoying teas and coffees with many folk outside taking an opportunity to inspect and admire our modest fleet of six Austin Sevens with many variants spread over most of the time frame of manufacturing;  1922 to 1939; no two were the same, age, style or colour.

At 11:30 am, Peter Miller addressed the group with his drivers’ briefing.  We were on a circuitous, counter clockwise route of 45 miles or so, would visit an old Church of historical importance and have our mid-day lunch stop in the village of Kilmore Quay.

On arrival at Bannow Church, Peter gave us a brief talk on the history of the building and the disappeared town of Bannow. 

The Norman conquest of Ireland began in Bannow Bay in 1169, when three ships landed.  Further landings took place in the following year on the far side of Bannow Bay.   There was a small promontory fort there, easy for the Normans to defend and thereby ensure a safe landing.  

Bannow Borough was a borough constituency returning two members to the Parliament of Ireland until the Act of Union 1800 disenfranchised it.

The most prominent local landlords in Bannow from the late 17th century were the Boyse family, who lived at Bannow House. The last member of the Boyse family left the area in 1948.  

During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the fleeing loyalist garrison of the town of Wexford crossed the nearby Scar at Baellrrystown on their way to Duncannon Fort.  In the late 19th century, the area was heavily involved in the Land Wars. 

We took the opportunity to walk inside the walled curtilage to view the stone craftmanship that has lasted one thousand years.

In bright sunshine and an onshore breeze, we headed off in the direction of Kilmore having passed through Baldwinstown and Duncormick villages as well as Carrig on Bannow. 

There was no doubt in our minds as we were in close proximity to the Irish sea, we could sense it in the fresh air. 

Kilmore Quay is a busy spot with many people out enjoying shoreline walks and taking in the experience of viewing the many sea crafts tied up in the extensive harbour piers.  We parked up in line on the public car park, much to the admiration of young and old.

Little Saltee Est 2007 Chipper and Restaurant, was the recommended stopover for our mid-day meal.  We were not disappointed.  The cuisine was delicious, fresh, and hot, and served with a smile.  One places an order at the shop counter; when ready and freshly cooked, it is collected in the adjacent building for dining inside, or, al fresco in the glass walled courtyards.  Well worth a visit. 

Kilmore Quay (Irish: Cé na Cille Móire, meaning “Quay of the big church”) is a fishing village near Kilmore, in County Wexford, Ireland.  As of 2016, it has a population of 372.  

Kilmore Quay is a fishing village, but its leisure facilities such as sailing and sea angling charters are also of economic importance.  The village holds a seafood festival during the summer with seafood served every day, live music, and activities such as races and family events.  

Architecturally notable buildings in the village include St Peter’s Church, which was built in 1875.

The Saltee Islands lie off the coast near Kilmore Quay, and boat trips to these islands are available from the village.

The two islands, Great Saltee and Little Saltee, are known for being Ireland’s largest bird sanctuary with gannets, gulls, puffins, cormorants, razorbills, and guillemots living on the islands.

We journeyed on via Kilmore Village, Ballycogley and Piercetown to arrive safely back at base at Johnstown Castle. 

Our chairman, on behalf of participating members, extended grateful thanks to Hazel and Peter for hosting and organising a very interesting route, full of scenery, properly surfaced blacktop roads with a minimum of traffic; ideal for what we wished for.  All in all, a very successful occasion for everyone.

The weather held up very well with blue skies, warmish conditions with light coastal on shore winds. 

In appreciation for their efforts and leadership, Chairman Declan thanked Hazel and Peter.  The rally instructions, itinerary and route overview were well presented and a useful guide for afterwards reminiscing.  He presented a hand turned beech bowl with our gratitude and appreciation.  We will certainly return to County Wexford.

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A one marque organisation, catering for the Austin Seven, is what makes The Irish Austin Seven Club unique. Prospective owners are always welcome to make contact with our membership who will be pleased to present and demonstrate the Seven’s special characteristics and driving experience.

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