On Friday the 4th May we set off on our trip to Omagh, Co. Tyrone. Larry & Bernie in their newly restored XK120 FHC and myself and Miriam in the MK2 stopping at Slane and Newgrange on our way up. We arrived at the Silver Birch Hotel about 5pm. The National Day itself doesn’t officially start until the Saturday but quite a few cars were already in situ. Shortly after arriving I was told of the sad passing of our dear friend Bertie Baird who we have known ever since the first meeting many years ago from when we first established contact with the Jaguar Drivers Club Area 30. His funeral had only taken place the previous day and sadly I was unaware that Bertie had died. Both he and his wife Anne were regular attendees at the National Weekend and at the Terenure Car Show, he will be sadly missed.
Saturday morning we had the choice of going to the Ulster American Folk Park at 11am or 2pm. We chose 2pm which allowed us time to walk into Omagh town and give ourselves a break from the driving. When we got back to the hotel Rodney and Frances had arrived with their lovely XJS complete with the roof off. Parking was arranged for us at the entrance. The park is very enjoyable with plenty to see. It is the story of emigration to America from Ulster and shows homes from that period and also the type of houses people lived in when they got to America and the changes in their lives. By the time we got back to the hotel Pat, Louise & David O’Brien had arrived in their lovely S-Type 1965. Despite the fact that their bumpers had not arrived back in time from the U.K. the car looked very well and was driving beautifully after all the hard work and TLC that has gone into it on David’s part assisted by Pat.
Dinner was arranged for 7.30pm and there was about 80 of us. We also met up with Christy & Mary Byrne from Galway who are members of both clubs. On Sunday we drove to Castlearchdale Country Park which was used by the RAF during WW2 and the flying boats took off from here on Lough Erne. We went around the small museum and learned about the Donegal corridor which was secretly agreed with Eamonn De Valera which allowed flights over the Irish State reducing the distance for the RAF to land by about 100 miles.
Leaving Castlearchdale we drove back through Omagh and visited the Abingdon Collection. This is a private collection of cars, motor bikes and items from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Philip Faithfull who is the owner of the collection is a very keen collector of cars, motoring ephemera as well as a large collection of German military items mostly from WW2.
Returning to the hotel at 3.30 we had a light snack lunch and met up later for the main Dinner at 8pm. The dinner was followed by music and dancing and the presentation to all the drivers who attended the weekend. The Joey Wickham trophy is awarded each year to the car chosen by the attendees and I am delighted to say our own Larry Mohally took the coveted cup for his magnificent XK120 Black FHC. Many congratulations to Larry, a very deserving winner. The music and dancing continued until 1am when the evening came to a close.
On Monday after breakfast a group photo was taken with the winning car out front. We headed off on our journey home stopping on route in Co. Louth at Oldbridge House which is the site of the Battle of the Boyne Centre. We toured the exhibit showing the battle which took place between the armies of King James and King William which is infamous in our history. We enjoyed lunch sitting in the sun in the lovely walled garden and went our separate ways.
It was a great weekend and thank you to all the members and committee of the Jaguar drivers Club Area 30 for arranging a wonderful event.
John F. Sheehan
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