Page 12 - Demo
P. 12

 Kerry Motor Fanatics
Hurricane Lorenzo wasn’t going to stop musician Ger Healy who drove his tractor from his home near The Gap of Dunloe Killarney the 10 miles to The Castlerosse Hotel to fulfill a music gig. Known as ‘The Singing Jarvey’ Ger ensured guests at the hotel had a good sing-a-long while the wind howled outside.
John and Joan Mitchel Kilgarvan Motor Museum
a major attraction for visitors throughout the year particularly as vintage car collections are dying out and they are fewer and fewer museums left to display such a wonderful collection of history. “Most of these collections are gone now. There are very few left. We have kept ours going as it is family run.”So if you are looking for something to do during the Christmas holidays then this could be the ideal day out to remember days gone by and see some of the finest cars in history. And it is not only John who has picked up the bug his sons, Alan and Trevor and his wife Joan are also car enthusi- asts. “The whole family are involved. The boys have their own collection of classic cars as well and Joan shows people around the museum.”And when the family all get together around Christmas they often take the classic cars out for a drive. “At times like Christmas and on Sundays we would go for a drive. They don’t attract attention around Kilgarvan now as they used to as they are used to it but they do in other places.” Looking for the ideal Christmas gift for the man in your life than the solution could be very simple with the gift of a model vintage car – a collector’s item that could start off the hobby of a life-time.
by Sinead Kelleher
 Jerry’s dream machine ...
   When Jerry O’Brien (65) started his first job as an apprentice mechanic in Culloty’s Garage, College Street, Killarney in 1965, it also started a fascination with the Austin A40 car that would take another 50 years to realise his dream of owning one of them. He finally got his hands on his own model three years ago and has spent many hours lovingly restoring the car to gleam like she just came off the assembly line. The five seater, 1960 Austin A40 is known as the ‘Farina Countryman’ and cost a staggering £676 at the time, to purchase. To put the price in perspective a three bedroom house that time cost about £2,000. And if you wanted luxury it would cost another £20 to include a heater! Jerry bought his model for €1200 and has spent much more in restoring her beauty. The two door, 948cc engine does 40mpg and costs €56 euro to tax for one year because of its vintage status. He loves nothing better than
meandering the byways of South Kerry, wife Eileen in the front seat and the grandchildren in the back.
As a member of the Killarney Valley Vintage Club and the A40 owners club, he gets to share experiences with like minded enthusiasts and one of his favourite drives is in the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Killorglin.
Under the bonnet the A40 is like new and as the shiny engine starts with one turn of the key, it purrs like an Austin should. He made a special frame to mount the car and then stripped it to its bare essentials. He sourced the headlights, exhaust pipes, rear springs and shock absorbers and a few switches from all over England although getting tyres is still proving difficult. He got the main bodywork resprayed in its original two tone Horizon Blue complete with its signature black roof. After fixing up the engine and all its internal bits he painstakingly re-assembled the car and is proud that every switch, bulb and pedal work to perfection. At home Jerry protects the bodywork by covering the vehicle with blankets and polishing it once a week. Rust free, the car has only 61,000 miles on the clock and so far the only part he cannot source is the floor carpet.
“I just love old cars... ever since my days as a mechanic I loved nothing better than driving and it’s so nostalgic bringing me back to my own youth when we go on a Sunday drive. The smell of the leather seats, the open windows, children singing in the back seats and the smell of the countryside, it’s just heavenly bliss. As we coast along at our ease, other drivers will hoot their horns at us, tourists wave and flash their lights and of course other A40 enthusiasts want to chat forever about their own memories of the A40’. We’re in a world of our own, pure motor heaven’ concludes the now retired Jerry as he sets off towards Carrauntoohill on another vintage drive.
     We all known that men and their cars go hand in hand and one man that knows more about this than other is John Mitchell who runs Kilgarvan Motor Museum. The Kilgarvan man has been collecting vintage cars for the last 36 years and now has 30 cars in his collection at the Kilgarvan Motor Museum. John’s collection spans decades with models from the 1920’s
began from there.”“I get them from old sheds and car dealers the odd thing always crops up. I do all the work myself. My first car was an Armstrong Siddeley from 1946 and I still take that out every year.”Aside from spending his time restoring them he spends his weekend attending vintage rallies in the summer. His collection attracts visitors from all over the world to the museum in Kilgarvan but many of his cars have also had starring roles in TV series and films as well. “We hire them out for film companies. They make a great for backdrops,” he said. His cars have starred in the famed series
– 1970’s and it is without doubt the centre of his life.While his own collection incorporates many models from around Ireland and beyond for those who do not have access to these classic cars then a model car could be the way to go. Among his own collection are replica models cars which he says are the ideal Christmas gift for car-lovers. “Model cars do make a great Christmas present,” he says. But John’s own collection centres more on the ‘real’ thing and for the last 36 years he has travelled far and wide to bring back that special car for his collection. “It is my hobby. I spend most evenings working on the cars restoring them and looking after them and weekends too. It is time consuming but it is my major passion. There are no foreign holidays or anything for me it is my cars,” he says.
‘ Falling for a dancer’ and the Irish film ‘Circle of Friends’ as well in the TV series ‘Heartbeat’ and just after Christmas this year, one of his cars will be appearing on ‘The Royale’. “They are using a Ford Popular as a Garda Car from the 1960’s. It was filmed during the summer and will be on TV after Christmas,” says John. Another famous link to his collection is his Trabant which is an East German car that was brought to Ireland by U2’s Bono and was used for various official functions in Dublin before coming to the Kilgarvan Motor Museum. The car was also used on the album cover of one of U2’s album in the 1980’s. Aside from many of his cars being famous the museum itself is also
James Looney, Killarney in his Hillman Imp.
Cortina fanatics, John Murphy, Barraduff and Dan O’Donoghue from Clydagh, Killarney pictured in their Ford Cortina Mark 2 while taking part in the annual Ford Cortina Clubs of Ireland tour.
 “I trained as a motor mechanic and then I picked up an old vintage car and restored it and it

   10   11   12   13   14